Our last check-in for the MLS Power Rankings was back in Week 10. We now fast forward to the end of the season. The 2016 US Open Cup and Supporters' Shield champions, FC Dallas, are rightfully the #1 rank, but don't count the New York Red Bulls out of the conversation for MLS Cup champion yet.
If you follow that bold red line, the beginning of the season was rather tumultuous for the team. They hit as low as 19th out of 20 after a 1-6-0 start. In Week 18, they had landed at 10th after a loss to New York City FC. Then, the front office did something unpopular (but not as unpopular as the Petke's firing). They traded fan favorite Lloyd Sam to D.C. United. Fans were not happy. But something wonderful happened. That would be the last time they lost. That's right. FOUR months of unbeaten soccer. 21 straight games in all competitions. As long as they can keep replicating the defensive effort in the last game of the season, this team is primed for their second MLS Cup appearance in history.
Enough about the Red Bulls. Here are other team and individual superlatives:
The "Worst to First" Award: Colorado Rapids (+17). They were left for dead at #20 in the preseason rankings. Then by Week 11, they were #1. Ending at #3 isn't too shabby either. The beginning of the season was immensely helped with the addition of Jermaine Jones, but even after his injury, they still held their own. The only team not to lose at home this season will be a tough out in the playoffs. And Jones comes back to the lineup. Scary.
The "First to Worst" Award: Portland Timbers (-14). They won MLS Cup last year. They were ranked #1 out of the gate this year. They hardly lost anyone. They end... 15th? Fans wanted to bow down to Caleb Porter last year, but now have changed their tone. And this article was written at the right time. To rub more salt on the wound, did you see the Jack Gleeson & Liam Ridgewell fiasco Monday night? Yikes. **Close 2nd: MLS Cup finalist Columbus Crew (also -14).
The "They Are Who We Thought They Were" Award: FC Dallas (+1). Start #2. Never drop below #6. End #1. Win USOC. Win SS. Yup... they are good. So good, they technically qualified twice for CONCACAF Champions league twice already and can qualify three times by winning MLS Cup. Would be quite a feat. No US-based team has ever won the treble. (RIP Dennis Green). **Honorable mention: Chicago Fire (-1). Start #19. Never higher than #18. Ended #20. Yeesh.
The "That's What I'm Talkin' About" Award: Bradley Wright-Phillips. Yes. Of course I had to put a Red Bull on this list. After all, he is the Golden Boot Winner. He was held scoreless in his first seven, then finally woke up. Of his 24 goals, he scored 15 in his final 13 games to edge out David Villa by one to take the title. By the way, Villa needed 5 PKs in order to reach 23 goals. BWP had NONE. "THAT'S WHAT I'M TALKIN' ABOUT!!!"
The "Ironman" Award: Keegan Rosenberry. I know what you are going to say. LUIS ROBLES???? Yes. I totally get it. Any other day of the week, I'd concur. But I have to give credit where it is due. Robles and Joe Bednik played in every minute of every game this season. The only field player to play in all 3,060 minutes is Philadelphia Union's Rosenberry. Michael Parkhurst was close (3,036). Oh by the way... Rosenberry is a rookie. And he is a defenseman. HE DID NOT GET ONE YELLOW OR RED CARD ALL SEASON. Take a bow Mr. Rosenberry.
The Red Bulls await their opponent for their upcoming series starting this weekend. Wednesday night's game will determine for the most part which team they will travel to first, before hosting on November 6th.