The introduction of video review was MLS’s big story this week, but for all the supposedly big changes that was supposed to make the league went on more or less as it usually does: With no predictability whatsoever. This week saw the league’s best team struggle to earn a draw against the league’s worst, a team coming off a 4–0 win get that same result reversed back on them, and David Villa’s first MLS hat trick.
The Power Rankings reflect this unpredictability. A couple weeks of bad form have FC Dallas tumbling down the rankings after being at the top or close to it for most of the last two seasons, while Real Salt Lake continues its push upward after yet another positive result.
Here's how MLS is looking after 22 weeks and with the league's summer transfer window shutting amid a flurry of action:
1. Toronto FC
On its face, a 1–1 draw away from home wouldn’t be so bad for TFC. But when that comes against a woeful D.C. United team, and the one goal in your favor is an own goal from an awkward scramble, it looks less good. Still, TFC hasn’t lost in five and still looks like the class of the league. It deserves to keep the top spot.
2. New York City FC
Patrick Vieira’s side bounced back from a 4–0 loss to Toronto with a 3–2 win over its local rivals. NYCFC seems to always rely on David Villa, but it did so especially in this game, as the Spaniard scored all three goals. The past two games more or less sum up NYCFC under Vieira so far: Capable of great performances in equal measure as awful ones.
3. Chicago Fire
Coming off two straight losses, the pressure was on Chicago to reverse the trend at home against New England. That’s exactly what the team did in a 4–1 win in which the team got goals from unlikely sources. Matt Polster and Juninho both scored their first goals of the season, with additional strikes from Michael de Leeuw and Luis Solignac.
4. New York Red Bulls
The Red Bulls surged into the second spot last week on the back of a four-game win streak, but that game to an end with a 3–2 loss to rivals NYCFC in the Hudson River Derby on Sunday. If the loss wasn’t bad enough, the Red Bulls also lost Daniel Royer, who has been on fire lately, to a scary-looking knee injury. The Red Bulls will try to start another streak this Saturday at Orlando.
5. Atlanta United FC
Atlanta United started off the first of three straight games on the road with a positive result, using a late Jacob Peterson goal to force a 1–1 draw at Sporting Kansas City. Atlanta takes this weekend off before playing at D.C. midweek next week then Philadelphia three days later. Then, it’s on to the club’s fancy new digs at the Mercedes-Benz Dome.
6. Sporting Kansas City
FC Dallas’s late-summer swoon and Houston’s draw meant Sporting KC still hangs onto the top spot in the West, but Sunday’s 1–1 draw with Atlanta will feel like a missed opportunity to put some real distance between itself and its Western Conference rivals. All eyes remain on the team to see what, if anything, it will do to replace Dom Dwyer, but it may not be too intent of shaking things up too much–SKC has extended its unbeaten run to nine games since Dwyer’s exit.
7. FC Dallas
All of a sudden, there are reasons to doubt FC Dallas. The team looked strangely disjointed and reactive in its 3–1 loss to Philadelphia this week. It’s not often you can describe any Oscar Pareja’s side that way, but something has clearly gone a little screwy in the last two games, which the team has lost by a combined 7–1 scoreline. This week’s game against Colorado could say a lot about the mental character of this team.
8. Houston Dynamo
For a team that struggles as much as the Dynamo have on the road, earning a 0–0 draw at Real Salt Lake counts as a very positive result. That said, the team missed the chance to match Sporting KC at the top of the West. Head Coach Wilmer Cabrera elected for an experimental starting lineup for this one, but with a chance to stake a claim in the conference, one wonders whether that was wise.
9. Portland Timbers
The Timbers scored almost immediately, then gave up an equalizer immediately again after that. After that hectic start, though, the Timbers settled down, and used some magic from Diego Valeri to get a 3–1 win over the LA Galaxy. This match saw the return of Liam Ridgewell to game action, but also saw him exit the game with a blow to the head. For a defense that has struggled at times, his availability is something to keep an eye on.
10. Seattle Sounders
Last week’s 0–0 draw may have been interpreted as a sign that the Sounders’ attack had suddenly dried up, but that’s obviously not the case. Clint Dempsey scored twice in Seattle’s 4–0 demolition of Minnesota United away from home. That extends Seattle’s unbeaten run to seven games, during which time the team has scored 17 goals. Not a bad little offensive outburst.
11. Vancouver Whitecaps
The Whitecaps continue to perform well on the road, coming back from 2–1 down to earn a 2–2 draw at Colorado. That’s the Whitecaps’ third straight solid road result, and Fredy Montero now has four goals in his last five games. Vancouver will have a chance to extend its good road form this weekend at New England. The 'Caps fall two spots thanks mostly to movement of teams around them.
12. Philadelphia Union
The Union have put together some of the league’s most unexpected results this season, and they continued that trend with Saturday’s 3–1 win over FC Dallas. CJ Sapong and Ilsinho were a joy to watch in this one, with Sapong extending his career-best for goals to 12 in the process. The key, as always, is for Jim Curtin to find a way for his team to maintain this form into the stretch run of the season.
13. Real Salt Lake
A 0–0 draw may not be a sexy result, but RSL is way past needing its results to be sexy. That scoreless result against Houston extends the club's unbeaten run to a season-high five games. The team hasn’t always been fun to watch, but it has ground out results ever since Mike Petke complained about the club’s printer.
14. San Jose Earthquakes
The Earthquakes moved into the final playoff spot in the West thanks to a 2–1 win over Columbus that saw Chris Wondolowski get on the scoresheet and Tommy Thompson record yet another solid, creative performance. The San Jose homegrown player is getting more mintues than at any previous point in his career, and he’s slowly proving he belongs at this level.
15. New England Revolution
The story of the season for the Revolution has been the inability to get any kind of momentum. That trend continued this week, as the Revs followed up two solid wins with a bad performance in a 4–1 loss to Chicago. That sinks the Revs farther down the standings in the ultra-competitive East, ahead of only D.C. United.
16. Orlando City SC
Cyle Larin scored his first goal since May 31, but the Orlando City defense faltered in allowing Montreal to come back for a 2–1 win. Outside of Larin’s goal, the Lions looked stagnant on the offensive end as well, and that’s not a new trend; even with Larin, Kaka and new addition Dom Dwyer, Orlando has one of the worst goal-scoring records in the league.
17. Columbus Crew SC
Columbus’s struggles away from home continued in San Jose, as the team lost 2–1 to the Earthquakes. Adam Jahn made things interesting with a late goal, but the end result means the Crew, who are reportedly dealing Ethan Finlay to Minnesota, are inching ever closer to the wrong side of the playoff line. They face a stern test this weekend when hosting Chicago.
18. Montreal Impact
Anthony Jackson-Hamel scored his fifth goal in eight substitute appearances as the Impact got a nice home win over Orlando City. Jackson-Hamel has been the most effective of Montreal’s strikers this season, with Matteo Mancosu struggling to make an impact as a starter. The time may have come for him to start.
19. Minnesota United FC
If Minnesota got too excited after last week's 4–0 win, this week’s 4–0 loss must have negated every single one of those feelings. The Loons were second-best on the field the entire game against Seattle, and it’s not the first time Adrian Heath’s side has put forth that kind of performance at home this season. Expansion team or no, the Loons can (and should) be better.
20. Colorado Rapids
After being near unbeatable last season, the Colorado Rapids own one of the league’s worst home records this season. That’s mostly thanks to games like this past week’s 2–2 draw against Vancouver, in which the Rapids allowed a late equalizer from Fredy Montero. It’ll be a long climb if Pablo Mastroeni wants to take his team to the postseason.
21. LA Galaxy
The Galaxy proved that they can respond to a challenge after immediately equalizing early against the Timbers, but Sigi Schmid was denied his first win back in charge of the team as Portland ran out 3–1 winners. It’s now been seven games since the Galaxy won a game, a stretch going back to June 21. Jonathan Dos Santos will be called upon to make an instant impact for the struggling power.
22. D.C. United
D.C. scored early on vs. Toronto thanks to a Kofi Opare header, but it shot itself in the foot by conceding a sloppy own goal on a goal-line scramble for a 1–1 draw against the league’s best team. It says a lot about how this season has gone that such a giant missed opportunity can still be counted as a positive. Reinforcements are on the way, though, with the signings of Hungarian Zoltan Stieber, young Bolivian Bruno Miranda and the reported additions of U.S. internationals Paul Arriola and Russell Canouse.