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MLS Power Rankings, Week 18: Sporting Kansas City on the rise, FC Dallas on top

A big win pitches KC into the top five.

Denny Medley-USA TODAY Sports

Easy start this week: there is one team in MLS nobody wants to play right now...

1. FC Dallas (up one place)

  • 37 points, 1st in Western Conference
  • 1st in Supporters' Shield race
  • Last result: San Jose 0-1 FC Dallas

You want power? FCD has the longest active winning streak in the league (three games) and hasn't conceded a goal since its last loss, on June 19 (the 0-2 loss to Sporting Kansas City - the only game Dallas has lost in its last nine league matches). That form has put FCD at the top of the Western Conference and out front in the Supporters' Shield race.

The top team in MLS also happens to be the hottest.

2. Sporting Kansas City (up five places)

  • 28 points, 5th in West
  • 7th in Shield race
  • Last result: KC 3-1 NYCFC

KC slapped down NYCFC this week, extending their current unbeaten streak to five games. This was Sporting's second consecutive win, and its third in its last four league matches. And the first of those wins was over FCD. KC is the only team to have beaten Dallas since the beginning of May, and now it has a win over NYCFC, which was the hottest team in the league until in ran into red-hot Sporting.

3. Colorado Rapids (down one place)

  • 34 points, 2nd in West
  • 2nd in Shield race
  • Last result: Vancouver 2-2 Colorado

Another draw - the third in a row for Colorado - suggests the Rapids are cooling off. They have slipped below Dallas in the West and the Shield race (though they have two games in hand over FCD), and they have only won two of their last six games in MLS. But Colorado is also currently on a 13-game unbeaten streak in the league. And this week's effort showed impressive resolve: having conceded a late goal to Vancouver that looked likely to be the Whitecaps' winner, the Rapids dug deep and grabbed an even later equalizer, on the road. Colorado remains the hardest team to beat in MLS.

4. LA Galaxy (no movement)

  • 29 points, 4th in West
  • 6th in Shield race
  • Last result: Seattle 0-1 LA

Beating Seattle in Seattle isn't what it used to be: the Sounders haven't won a home game since May 7. Still, LA hadn't won a road game since April 15, and only snapped a seven-game winless streak on July 4. Now the Galaxy has followed the 2-0 win over Vancouver with a 1-0 win in Seattle, it feels dangerously as though LA might have woken up again.

5. NYCFC (down four places)

  • 30 points, 1st in Eastern Conference
  • 3rd in Shield race
  • Last result: KC 3-1 NYCFC

Power rankings are cruel. NYCFC has been the top team on this list for the past two weeks, and has since added a road win - 1-0 over the Revolution. That extended the team's winning streak to four consecutive games. But the week didn't end in New England for New York's blue team. The 3-1 loss to Kansas City brought the streak to an abrupt halt - and now NYCFC is looking at four of its next five games on the road. This team is either going to be back up the top of these rankings in a hurry, or this is the start of a month-long slide.

6. Portland Timbers (up two places)

  • 25 points, 7th in West
  • 10th in Shield race
  • Last result: RBNY 0-0 Timbers

The Timbers got a 0-0 draw this week, to add to the 0-0 draw they got in Week 17. To their credit, however, both those results were on the road, and Portland is now unbeaten in its last seven.

7. Montreal Impact (down one place)

  • 25 points, 3rd in East
  • 9th in Shield race
  • Last result: RSL 1-1 Montreal

L'Impact has only won two of its last 10 league games, but it has also only lost once in that stretch. This week's 1-1 draw at Real Salt Lake extends Montreal's current unbeaten streak to five games. Montreal has games in hand on the two teams above it in the East - Philadelphia and NYCFC - and it will play them both before the end of this month.

8. Real Salt Lake (down three places)

  • 29 points, 3rd in West
  • 5th in Shield race
  • Last result: RSL 1-1 Montreal

Starting to worry a little about RSL. This week's 1-1 draw with Montreal was the team's second consecutive tie at home, it has won just one of its last five league games and none of its last three. That shouldn't really be top 10 form in a 20-team power ranking, but RSL keeps doing just enough to convince that its glass is still half full. For now.

9. Philadelphia Union (up four places)

  • 29 points, 2nd in East
  • 4th in Shield race
  • Last result: Union 3-0 DCU

The 3-0 thrashing of D.C. United was this week's biggest win in MLS. The Union has been slipping, losing three of its last four league games before Week 18, but this was an emphatic re-assertion of the form that had put Philly at the top of the Eastern Conference. And despite the slip in form, the Union is still just one point behind NYCFC with a game in hand and a home game against the slumping Red Bulls up next. The Union might be back on top of the East fairly soon.

10. Vancouver Whitecaps (no movement)

  • 25 points, 6th in West
  • 8th in Shield race
  • Last result: Vancouver 2-2 Colorado

In Week 18, the 'Caps dropped two points at home to a last-minute equalizer, which is not a great result. But the 'Caps are also just the second team to put two goals past Colorado in MLS this season - Montreal was the first, and that game finished 2-2 also. So maybe we're undervaluing Vancouver's performance this week by simply letting the team stand still in these rankings.

11. New England Revolution (up five places)

  • 22 points, 6th in East
  • 14th in the Shield race
  • Last result: Revs 3-1 Columbus

The Revs have been in shaky form all season, and looked to be finally settling down to being bad as they stumbled into a three-game losing skid. But they snapped out of it, at least for this week, with a 3-1 home win over Columbus. The Crew is about as bad a team as MLS has to offer at the moment, but the Revs at least won convincingly in a week when goals weren't coming easy for most teams in the league.

12. Houston Dynamo (down one place)

  • 18 points, 9th in West
  • 17th in Shield race
  • Last result: Orlando 0-0 Houston

Whisper it: Houston might be good. Since Owen Coyle was relieved of head coaching duties on May 25, the Dynamo has lost one league game in six outings. The team had three clean sheets in its first 12 MLS matches of this year; it has three shutouts in its last four, including this week's 0-0 draw in Orlando - just the second time this season OCSC hasn't scored in a league match.

13. Orlando City (up five places)

  • 21 points, 8th in East
  • 16th in Shield race
  • Last result: Orlando 0-0 Houston

OCSC had a terrible week. On July 4, the team lost 4-0 to FC Dallas. On July 5, news broke that midfielder Adrian Winter had decided to head home to Switzerland. And on July 6, head coach Adrian Heath was let go. Under those circumstances, holding on for a 0-0 draw against a lively Dynamo side just two days after losing quite so much in seems like a positive achievement.

14. Toronto FC (down two places)

  • 23 points, 5th in East
  • 12th in Shield race
  • Last result: TFC 1-0 Chicago

TFC won this week, which generally isn't a reason to slide down the table - but home wins over Chicago are nothing to get too excited about. Also, this was Toronto's third win in its last 10 games, and they have all been 1-0 at home. TFC has games in hand over most teams above it in the East and a dose of power will see it surge up the table and these rankings. But the effect of an extraordinary concentration of injuries to key players does appear to be hampering Toronto at the moment.

15. D.C. United (down six places)

  • 21 points, 7th in East
  • 15th in Shield race
  • Last result: Philly 3-0 DCU

DCU had been putting together a reasonable string of results before it ran into Philly: three games unbeaten, three wins from its last seven games. But the Union had DCU well beaten shortly after the second half kicked off - and the 3-0 loss was the first of a three-game road trip. A quick return to form is required to prevent this result from spiraling the team into a losing streak.

16. New York Red Bulls (up one place)

  • 24 points, 4th in East
  • 11th in Shield race
  • Last result: RBNY 0-0 Timbers
It is still hard to believe the Red Bulls - now winless in four straight league matches - are fourth in the East. This team has scored two goals and picked up just two points from its last four games: it's not playing well. Orlando upcoming mid-week visit is a welcome opportunity to try to quickly consign recent struggles to the past.

17. Chicago Fire (down three places)

  • 14 points, 10th in East
  • 20th in Shield race
  • Last result: TFC 1-0 Fire

Bottom-of-the-league Chicago is not bottom of these rankings because it won a game last week and only lost by one goal on the road this week. The Fire is not good: there is no arguing with 14 points from 16 games. But there are teams with more to worry about in MLS at the moment, unlikely as that may seem.

18. Seattle Sounders (down three places)

  • 17 points, 10th in West
  • 18th in Shield race
  • Last result: Sounders 0-1 LA

This week's loss was the Sounders' third in their last four games and sixth of their last eight. And they have the distinction of being the first team this season to reach 10 losses. The Sounders are in dreadful form, but at least they have somehow managed to fit in three wins in their last 10 games, unlike the teams below them in this ranking.

T20. Columbus Crew & San Jose Earthquakes (Crew down one place; no movement for SJ)

  • Crew: 16 points, 9th in East. SJ: 22 points, 8th in West.
  • Crew: 19th in Shield race; SJ: 13th.
  • Crew last result: NE Revs 3-1 Columbus. SJ Last result: Quakes 0-1

Is it worth trying to separate the Crew and the Quakes? No. They have both lost back-to-back games, they have both won just once in their last 10 games: they are both terrible. The differences between them are not as significant at the similarities: they're not good, and no teams in the league are offering fewer reasons to believe they could be good.