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MLS Power Rankings, Week 20: Toronto FC on the rise; LA Galaxy at the top

TFC's biggest win of the season caused a stir, and LA just keeps on winning.

Dan Hamilton-USA TODAY Sports

1. LA Galaxy (up two places)

  • 35 points, 3rd in Western Conference
  • 3rd in Supporters' Shield race
  • Last result: Portland 1-2 LA

Yes, Colorado is now unbeaten in 15. And yes, FC Dallas just went to Colorado and got a point. But it's hard to get behind a tie as a sign of league-leading power. Power is best expressed by wins. LA got a win this week. And it was a good one: 2-1 in Portland, handing the Timbers their first loss in MLS since May 15. Winning on the road is power. Handing the Timbers their first league loss since May 15 is power. And four wins in a row - which is the Galaxy's current streak in MLS - is power.

Welcome to the #1 spot in these rankings, LA.

T2. Colorado Rapids (down one place) and FC Dallas (up two places)

  • Colorado - 38 points; 2nd in West; FCD - 41 points; 1st in West.
  • Colorado - 2nd in Shield race; FCD - 1st in Shield race.
  • Last result: Colorado 1-1 FCD

Can't separate 'em. On the one hand, Colorado has a 15-game unbeaten streak, comfortably the highest points-per-game average in the league, and three games in hand on league-leading FC Dallas. On the other hand, FCD is the Shield race leader, and is better at winning than the Rapids (four wins in its last six MLS games; Colorado has won two of its last six), and just took a point out of a road trip to Colorado.

They're both very good teams, and they didn't lose to each other this week: calling them even at the moment.

4. New York Red Bulls (up three places)

  • 31 points, 2nd in Eastern Conference
  • 5th in Shield race
  • Last result: RBNY 4-1 NYCFC

RBNY is riding high in the Power Rankings? The team must either have just played NYCFC or at home. Both? Well, of course the Red Bulls are high on this list. They didn't just beat the top team in the Eastern Conference by three goals, they also have now got a four-game unbeaten streak going.

RBNY is terrible on the road this season, and will play three of its next four games away from home - so the likelihood is this ranking will be the team's high-water mark on this list for the next few weeks.

5. Montreal Impact (up four places)

  • 29 points, 4th in East
  • 10th in Shield race
  • Last result: Montreal 5-1 Philadelphia

L'Impact's big win over Philly this week was a reminder that this team has games in hand over all three of the teams above it in the Eastern Conference. It doesn't win nearly often enough - this week's victory was Montreal's third win in its last 14 games - but it also doesn't lose often (only three losses in that 14-game stretch also). If L'Impact has finally figured out how to bring its unquestionable attacking talent to the service of winning games, then it will be camped out in the upper reaches of this ranking for a while.

6. New England Revolution (up four places)

  • 26 points, 6th in East
  • 14th in Shield race
  • Last result: Revs 1-0 Chicago
A narrow home win over Chicago isn't great evidence of power, but the Revs have quietly strung together a three-game unbeaten streak with just one goal conceded in that run. New England's overall record remains modest, and there are more testing opponents ahead than Columbus, RSL, and Chicago. But credit where it is due: the Revs have quietly turned out of a three-game losing skid and started to look capable of putting a terrible start to the season (one win in their first 11 league matches) behind them.

7. Vancouver Whitecaps (down one place)

  • 30 points, 6th in West
  • 9th in Shield race
  • Last result: Houston 0-0 Vancouver

The 'Caps tied again this week - as they have done in three of their last four games. This team is either gently powering up or quietly cooling down. The results of its next two matches - on the road against FCD and Colorado - will be instructive.

8. Toronto FC (up eight places)

  • 27 points, 5th in East
  • 12th in Shield race
  • Last result: TFC 4-1 DCU

It's possible this ranking is giving too much credit to TFC's big win over D.C. United. DCU is, after all, the bottom team on this list. But Toronto has been struggling since concluding the eight-game road trip that started its season. Prior to this week, TFC had won just three out of seven home matches - and each win was 1-0. This week's 4-1 trouncing of DCU wasn't just a demonstration of scoring power, it was the first such demonstration TFC has put on at home this season.

9. Portland Timbers (down four places)

  • 29 points, 7th in West
  • 11th in Shield race
  • Last result: Portland 1-2 LA

Quite the slide down the rankings for a team suffering its first loss since mid-May. The Timbers needed that nine-game unbeaten streak to shrug off a slow start to the season. This week's loss dropped Portland back out of the playoff places in the West, and is a reminder the team hasn't quite made up for losing six of its first 12 league games. Losing to an in-form La Galaxy is not going to derail the Timbers' season, but they do need to get back to winning ways quickly.

10. Sporting Kansas City (up three places)

  • 31 points, 4th in West
  • 6th in Shield race
  • Last result: SKC 3-0 Seattle

KC rebounded from back-to-back losses with a solid thumping of Seattle that turned out to be the last game of Sigi Schmid's career as head coach of the Sounders.

Beating an imploding team isn't compelling power, but KC has had its own problems this season. Three goals and three points was an encouraging return to the sort of form Sporting will hope to sustain for the rest of 2016.

11. New York City FC (down nine places)

  • 33 points, 1st in East
  • 4th in Shield race
  • Last result: RBNY 4-1 NYCFC

NYCFC shrugged off the last embarrassing loss to RBNY, so no reason to believe this week's defeat signals a terminal decline in form. The team is still top of the East, and has proven its ability to recover from defeat. So there is every chance NYCFC bounces back from this week's loss. But it has now lost two of its last three, albeit as part of a four-game road trip.

12. San Jose Earthquakes (up two places)

  • 26 points, 8th in West
  • 13th in Shield race
  • Last result: RSL 1-1 San Jose

The Quakes aren't in great form, but Real Salt Lake is still a top 10 team in the Shield race and taking a point out of Utah still counts for something. Mostly it counts as a better result than the teams in the bottom eight of this ranking managed this week.

13. Philadelphia Union (down five places)

  • 30 points, 3rd in East
  • 8th in Shield race
  • Last result: Montreal 5-1 Philadelphia

The Union suffered the biggest defeat of Week 20. The 5-1 loss to Montreal tips Philly's recent results from "uneven" to "troubled". The team has won just one of its last five and now lost three in that run. Something positive has to come out of its next game - at home against struggling RSL - or the hard-won gains of this season will start to look very vulnerable.

14. Real Salt Lake (down three places)

  • 31 points, 5th in West
  • 7th in Shield race
  • Last result: RSL 1-1 San Jose

RSL is now winless in its last six games; only Columbus has gone longer without a league win. A succession of draws has helped to slow Real's slide down the standings, but it is sliding - and will continue to do so if it doesn't find a route back to regular wins soon.

15. Orlando City SC (up four places)

  • 23 points, 7th in East
  • 15th in Shield race
  • Last result: Columbus 2-2 OCSC

Sure, it was yet another tie this week for OCSC, the best team at finding a way to draw in MLS this year - and it was a tie against Columbus, the second-best  tying team in the league. But it was also an impressive fight back from two goals down on the road. New coach Jason Kreis takes over a team with a little positive momentum behind it.

16. Columbus Crew (up one place)

  • 19 points, 9th in East
  • 19th in Shield race
  • Last result: Columbus 2-2 Orlando

The league's longest active winless streak now stands at eight games, but the Crew did at least score twice and not lose this week. On the last two occasions Columbus scored two goals in MLS, the team lost 3-2. And although the Crew has just one win in its last 13 league games, it is also now unbeaten in its last three. By the standards it has set for itself this season, Columbus is enjoying a modest surge in power.

17. Chicago Fire (down five places)

  • 17 points, 10th in East
  • 20th in Shield race
  • Last result: NE Revs 1-0 Chicago

Another road loss for the league's worst road team (two points away from home so far this season). Chicago has games in hand on the entire Eastern Conference, and a winning record at home - but that away form continues to weight it down. The Fire could win every one of its remaining home games and likely still miss the playoffs, since it doesn't have enough points available to be won in Bridgeview (eight league matches left to play; 24 points to play for) to compensate for its desultory road form.

18. Houston Dynamo (no movement)

  • 19 points, 10th in West
  • 18th in Shield race
  • Last result: Houston 0-0 Vancouver

Add this week's 0-0 draw with Vancouver to last week's 1-0 loss to LA and the 0-0 tie in Orlando the week before and you see the problem: the Dynamo isn't very good at scoring goals right now. Houston is already bottom of the Western Conference; next stop will be bottom of these rankings if the team doesn't at least start scoring again.

19. Seattle Sounders (down four places)

  • 20 points, 9th in West
  • 17th in Shield race
  • Last result: Sporting KC 3-0 Seattle

This week's loss was Seattle's league-leading 12th of the season - and that cost Sigi Schmid his job as head coach of the Sounders. It feels like the change may have come a little too late to rescue Seattle's season, but it's hard to see how things can get much worse. Schmid's replacement just needs to find a way to get more than a point per game over the club's remaining 14 league games to be able to say the team has improved.

20. D.C. United (no movement)

  • 22 points, 8th in East
  • 16th in Shield race
  • Last result: Toronto 4-1 DCU

DCU got dropped down to the bottom of this list last week. That seemed a little harsh, but then DC went to Toronto and handed TFC its biggest win of the season. If there's an argument for a 4-1 loss raising a team's position on these rankings, you won't find it here. Still bottom, DCU.