Week 21 of the 2019 MLS season showed which teams are rising to the top, and which ones are pretenders. The week also featured a possible MLS Cup preview with Los Angeles FC holding off a late surge to beat Atlanta United 4-3.
Here are our power rankings after a thrilling weekend in MLS:
(Legend: (W-L-T, LW: last week’s rankings )
1. Los Angeles FC (15-3-4, LW: 1
LAFC’s 4-3 victory over Atlanta holds special significance. Bob Bradley’s squad faced a bit of renewed criticism following their loss to the Los Angeles Galaxy in Week 20. Some fans pointed back to the club’s ouster from the U.S. Open Cup, last year’s MLS Playoffs and previous matchups with the Galaxy to show that LAFC folds in big games.
Well what bigger match is there for LAFC than the talented defending champions? Atlanta nearly pulled off a comeback, but LAFC stood tall under pressure and earned the 4-3 victory.
2. San Jose Earthquakes (11-7-4, LW: 3)
The Earthquakes’ style continues to baffle many teams across the league. No one saw them improving this much from their disastrous 2018 campaign, but they appear to be in for the long haul.
3. Seattle Sounders FC (11-6-5, LW: 6)
The Sounders earned a bit of respect for their 1-0 victory at Houston. They have often struggled on the road this season, and they played this match without injured striker Raul Ruidiaz. However, Seattle displayed plenty of grit as it withstood the Dynamo’s early dominance and held the line after Jordan Morris’s 59th minute goal.
4. New York City FC (9-3-8, LW: 8)
I’m still picking on Boston Brazzell for knocking New York City FC in the Week 19 power rankings. Apparently my esteemed colleague underestimated its recent accomplishments. Or maybe there is an even more plausible explanation: NYCFC is flying under the radar. Raise your hand if you knew that NYCFC has the league’s second-best goal differential? Seriously, don’t lie. Watch out for NYCFC. It plays well as a club despite not having the same star power they’ve had in the past.
5. Philadelphia Union (11-7-6, LW: 2)
Every team lays an egg from time to time. However, the Union’s 4-0 drubbing at the Montreal Impact concerns me. I just praised the Union last week for their fundamentals, but where were those fundamentals on the back line against the Impact? Yes, the Impact played their best match of the season, but the Union collapsed defensively.
6. Minnesota United FC (10-7-5, LW: 5)
Minnesota United will be kicking themselves for not taking all three points against the Vancouver Whitecaps. It could cost them a home match in the playoffs.
7. Los Angeles Galaxy (12-9-1, LW: 4)
Think the 4-0 loss at Portland was ugly? Wait till you see what Atlanta United does to the Galaxy with Zlatan Ibrahimovic, Efrain Alvarez and Diego Polenta all out next week serving suspensions.
8. Atlanta United FC (11-9-3, LW: 7)
Atlanta United displayed its championship pedigree by giving LAFC a run for its money despite falling behind early. The question is whether or not Atlanta has enough in it to regain its form long-term. Its inconsistency both on the back line and in the attack continues to burn it.
9. Portland Timbers (9-8-4, LW: 14)
Talk about sending a statement. The Timbers slammed the door on any Galaxy comeback late in the match. I’ve been preaching from the rooftops that Portland is a threat out west, and it appears to be making good on my prediction.
10. New England Revolution (9-8-6, LW: 15)
Yes, D.C. United secured a point on the road. Yet given how both teams have played in the last two months, I’m taking New England here.
11. D.C. United (9-6-9, LW: 9)
D.C. United needed three points last weekend, road game or not.
12. FC Dallas (9-8-6, LW: 11)
FC Dallas and Real Salt Lake played a tough one, but only one side likely left this match happy. Dallas currently sits on the right side of the Western Conference playoff race. A win would have solidified its place. Instead, a rather dull match left RSL in striking distance with a game in hand on Dallas.
13. Real Salt Lake (9-9-4, LW: 12)
RSL hosts NYCFC next weekend in a huge test for both teams.
14. New York Red Bulls (10-9-4, LW: 10)
There are no excuses for the Red Bulls. It’s unfathomable that one of the league’s worst offensive clubs put up three on the road at New York. Honestly, this result is more stunning than Montreal’s clubbing of the Union.
15. Montreal Impact (10-11-3, LW: 17)
Team Jekyll and Hyde returned with a mind-blowing 4-0 dismantling of the conference-leading Philadelphia Union. What’s even more impressive is that score isn’t even indicative of how much the Impact dominated. Montreal outpassed the Union 558-313, including 399-147 in the attacking half of the field. It maintained possession at 64.2 percent rate. How does this club possess a 10-11-3 record when it’s capable of dominance like this?
16. Toronto FC (9-9-5, LW: 16)
Toronto FC did what it needed to do with the 2-1 victory over FC Cincinnati. It will get a much tougher test at the New York Red Bulls next week.
17. Houston Dynamo (9-10-3, LW: 13)
What was I thinking last week when I bet on the Dynamo making the playoffs? This franchise looks lost right now.
18. Sporting Kansas City (6-9-7, LW: 18)
Will we see heads roll in Kansas City after the season?
19. Orlando City (7-11-5, LW: 19)
It appears that James O’Connor is losing his team in Orlando. City’s schedule doesn’t get any easier with FC Dallas and Atlanta United on deck.
20. Columbus Crew (7-14-3, LW: 20)
You may be wondering why I kept the Crew in the same spot despite the 3-2 win. The truth is their 14 overall losses aren’t easy to forget. Most of those losses were ugly to watch, especially for a club with a talent level like the Crew’s.
21. Chicago Fire (5-10-9, LW: 21)
Chicago earned a tie with D.C. United, but it’s getting to the point where the Fire need to pull it together. Ties won’t earn the Fire a playoff spot.
22. Vancouver Whitecaps (4-11-9, 23)
Vancouver stood tall in a tough venue to earn a point last week.
23. Colorado Rapids (5-12-5, LW: 22)
Colorado’s back line betrayed the Rapids again. Back to the bottom of the Western Conference they go.
24. FC Cincinnati (5-16-2, LW: 23)
Hey at least FC Cincinnati finally released the new stadium design. Oh and it has hired an academy staff and, according to reports, a head coach. It’s hard to see it, but the club is slowly getting it together.