Break out the San Jose Earthquakes. They finished last in Major League Soccer in 2018, and while they entered the season improved, no one thought they would compete for a playoff spot. The Earthquakes displayed what they are capable of with victories over the contending Houston Dynamo and Los Angeles Galaxy. They now hold the fifth seed out west.
Meanwhile, the Dynamo’s freefall hit full speed this week with losses to San Jose and New England. Houston possesses too much talent to lose four of its last five MLS matches. Time will tell if the Dynamo can right the ship in the second half of the season.
Here is a look at our MLS Power Rankings after Week 17:
(Legend: (W-L-T, LW: last week’s rankings )
1. Los Angeles FC (11-2-4, LW: 1)
A loss to the Colorado Rapids would have sent shockwaves across MLS two months ago. Now it’s fair to chalk it up as an offday for LAFC and a big win for the suddenly inspired Rapids.
2. New York City FC (6-1-8, LW: 4)
Name a team playing better than NYCFC in the Eastern Conference right now. Its 4-2 victory over first place Philadelphia solidified its standing.
3. Philadelphia Union (9-5-5, LW: 2)
The Union’s consistent performances throughout the season remain proof that they belong at or near the top of the Eastern Conference. However, their defensive collapse at NYCFC cannot be overlooked.
4. D.C. United (8-4-7, LW: 5)
What a goal by Wayne Rooney at Orlando to beat Orlando City. He may a bit long in the tooth, but Rooney still possesses the skill to make a little magic happen.
5. Seattle Sounders FC (8-4-5, LW: 8)
It’s never easy to earn a victory in the Cascadia Cup. The Sounders will gladly take the 1-0 win over the tough Vancouver Whitecaps.
6. Atlanta United FC (9-6-2, LW: 3)
Atlanta’s offensive struggles this season have been well-known, but its back line’s performances have been phenomenal. That’s why giving up three goals at Toronto raised some eyebrows across the league.
7. New York Red Bulls (8-6-3, LW: 9)
The Chicago Fire outplayed the Red Bulls for much of their match, but New York somehow kept it together despite being outshot 26-10.
8. Los Angeles Galaxy (10-7-1, LW: 6)
The Galaxy miss Jonathan dos Santos, but the bigger question is whether or not Zlatan Ibrahimovic is alright. Los Angeles enters Week 17 with the second-most wins in MLS, but it simply doesn’t look like a contender right now. Its 3-0 loss to San Jose in the California Clasico showed where it is right now.
9. San Jose Earthquakes (7-6-4, LW: 12)
Don’t look now, but the Earthquakes are a threat out west. A rematch with the Galaxy lingers, but Minnesota United and Real Salt Lake come first.
10. Montreal Impact (9-8-3, LW: 10)
Montreal stays put with its solid win over Portland and late loss at Atlanta. Who would have thought that a Justin Meram brace would keep the Impact from their 10th win?
11. Houston Dynamo (7-6-3, LW: 7)
Houston’s schedule over the next four games has plenty of opportunity. They face three serious playoff contenders, including the defending MLS Cup champion Atlanta United and current league-best LAFC. However, Houston also gets a reprieve with struggling FC Cincinnati on Saturday. If the Dynamo can maximize their points, they will be right back in it out west.
12. Minnesota United FC (7-7-3, LW: 13)
Minnesota United’s 7-1 victory can be taken two ways. First, it was FC Cincinnati. Second, it doesn’t matter who it was. Seven goals matter, especially for a franchise trying to establish itself as a factor in the playoff race.
13. FC Dallas (7-7-5, LW: 11)
Dr. Jekyll, meet Mr. Hyde. Mr. Hyde, meet Dr. Jekyll. You never know what you’re going to get when FC Dallas takes the field.
14. Real Salt Lake (7-8-2, LW: 16)
The Rio Tinto home field advantage struck again in RSL’s 2-0 win over Sporting Kansas City. Sam Johnson’s early brace sealed for Real Salt Lake.
15. Portland Timbers (6-8-2, LW: 14)
Portland recovered well from an early week road loss at Montreal thanks to Brian Fernandez’s goal in the 42nd minute. Fernandez set an MLS record with a goal in his fifth consecutive league match.
16. Orlando City (6-8-3, LW: 17)
There’s no doubt that Orlando City is better than last year, but the question is now how much can it grow? A stunning loss to D.C. United showed how vulnerable it is, but days later it handled its business against the collapsing Columbus Crew.
17. Toronto FC (6-7-5, LW: 20)
Alejandro Pozuelo scored the game-winner four minutes into stoppage time to beat Atlanta 3-2 on June 26. Three days later, Toronto FC salvaged a point at D.C. United as well. Maybe, just maybe, Toronto is salvaging its season.
18. New England Revolution (5-8-5, LW: 21)
Break out the Revolution. New England looks completely different under Bruce Arena, and it may just work its way into a playoff spot.
19. Colorado Rapids (5-9-4, LW: 21)
Colorado’s 1-0 victory over LAFC shouldn’t shock anyone. The Rapids’ back line held them back for much of the year. It’s still an issue, but Colorado has improved enough to hang with the league’s best. Wins over both Los Angeles teams prove that.
20. Sporting Kansas City (4-6-7, LW: 15)
SKC needed points against Western Conference rival RSL. Instead, it found itself sitting in last place after a 2-0 loss.
21. Chicago Fire (4-7-7, LW: 18)
Chicago’s devastating 3-1 loss at the Red Bulls puts it four points behind Toronto FC for the final playoff spot.
22. Vancouver Whitecaps (4-7-8, LW: 19)
Time is running out for Vancouver to put it all together.
23. Columbus Crew SC (5-11-2, LW: 23)
Hell is real alright…
24. FC Cincinnati (3-13-2, LW: 24)
FC Cincinnati’s lack of organizational depth sat completely exposed in its 7-1 loss at Minnesota. Like I said above, hell is real.