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MLS Power Rankings, Week 17: Galaxy ride fireworks up 13 places

And San Jose endure the explosion and drift to the bottom.

MLS: Vancouver Whitecaps FC at LA Galaxy Jayne Kamin-Oncea-USA TODAY Sports

Decisions, decisions. The top stop wasn’t a difficult one, so let’s get this over with (again)...

  1. New York City FC (no movement)
  • 27 points, 1st in East
  • 4th in Shield race
  • Last result: NYCFC 2-0 NYRB

How does one abdicate a throne atop the Once A Metro after a thoroughly convincing 2-0 win against rivals? Hint: One doesn’t.

NYCFC didn’t exactly drub the Red Bulls 7-0, but they did exact some revenge for losing by a touchdown a month and half ago by comprehensibly taking all three points at Yankee Stadium.

Well if Connor Lade can reach the near post on a throw in, your "field" should be used for a seven-a-side tournament or Steve Nash’s annual charity NYC match, not MLS fixtures.

Anyway. They’re in fine form with their third win on the bounce, which included knocking Philadelphia off 3-2 before usurping them atop the East this week. Whatever. What did we used to say in grade school, first is the worst, right???

2. FC Dallas (up one place)

  • 34 points, 1st in West
  • 1st in Shield race
  • Last result: Dallas 4-0 OCSC

Recent form is what keeps NYCFC ahead of Dallas despite a (slightly) stronger performance this week.

Dallas extensively dismantled Orlando, belligerently rummaging all three points. Not surprisingly considering the scoreline, FCD out-possessed and out-shot OCSC easily. An old fashioned romp.

With the win, Dallas jumps over Colorado in all three of the Western Conference standings, Shield race and the coveted Once A Metro week 17 power rankings.

3. Colorado Rapids (down one place)

  • 33 points, 2nd in West
  • 2nd in Shield race
  • Last result: Rapids 0-0 Timbers

Tim Howard era klaxon!

The former Everton keeper begins his Mile High reign holding a clean sheet, bolstering the league’s best defense just one bald head greater.

Twitter is fun because you can actually find a few people who displayed rage that Howard was just handed the start despite the team being in first blah blah blah. Was there nothing else to be outraged about on a Monday night that they had to find their fix toiling away in the MLS? Maybe not all is awful in the world if there was nothing more pressing at that moment in time.

4. LA Galaxy (up 13 places)

  • 26 points, 4th in West
  • 6th in Shield race
  • Last result: Galaxy 2-0 Whitecaps

Can someone run Nigel de Jong through a psychological test? Please?

The only stain on their classy, professional 2-0 victory was de Jong’s shockingly silly red card. Does he understand that it’s 2016 and it’s illegal to, you know, try and rupture ankle ligaments as a regular tactic in regaining possession? Does he suffer from generational neurosis in which he operates under the foundation that it’s 1975?

Robbie Keane scored against Vancouver to get things rolling before Jeff Larentowicz (!) effectively put the game out of reach before de Jong did his part to lunge a pair of studs with a lifeline on the end of it to his opponents. All for naught, though, as Vancouver didn’t capitalize on the superior numerical advantage.

When this team gets it right, they can play with anyone.

5. Real Salt Lake (no movement)

  • 28 points, 3rd in West
  • 3rd in Shield race
  • Last result: RSL 1-1 DC

In a reverse from what they did to the Red Bulls, RSL were unable to keep hold of a one goal lead in Utah. Not so easy being the hunted rather than the hunters.

At any rate, they still were able to take something from the game and remain on the right side of the table in the West. They’re positioned well to have a fruitful end to 2016.

6. Montreal Impact (up two places)

  • 24 points, 3rd in East
  • 8th in Shield race
  • Last result: Impact 3-2 Revolution

Down two goals? No problem.

Montreal found themselves in a less than desirable predicament after 33 minutes north of the border, but the Canadian side did the most American thing to a team called the "Revolution" on Fourth of July weekend by coming back against the odds to win 3-2.

That narrative would’ve been so much better had it been the Revs. Opportunity missed.

7. Sporting Kansas City (up three places)

  • 25 points, 5th in West
  • 7th in Shield race
  • Last result: SKC 3-2 Crew

SKC nearly caught a disastrously disappointing result against Columbus. They were a man up, a goal up and inexplicably coughed that lead, allowing Columbus to tie the game 2-2. Even if it ended there, that would have been more difficult to swallow than an overstocked Chipotle burrito.

To borrow a neat #sports! cliche: this is why you play the whole game, amirite? Matt Besler bagged a stoppage time winner (his first goal in five years!) and now all of a sudden things feel so much better because of a two yard header.

8. Portland Timbers (down four places)

  • 24 points, 6th in West
  • 9th in Shield race
  • Last result: Rapids 0-0 Timbers

They were unable to breach the league’s staunchest defense, as well as being unable to completely spoil Howard’s return to MLS, but keeping a clean sheet and splitting the points with the Rapids in Colorado can be nothing but a success.

The point draws them level on points with Vancouver, nudging past them in goal difference for the final playoff spot in the West.

9. DC United (up four places)

  • 21 points, 5th in East
  • 13th in Shield race
  • Last result: RSL 1-1 DC

A draw on the road to Real Salt Lake is a quality result. Thanks to Jared Jeffrey’s stoppage time equalizer, DC were able to spoil an impending victory celebration in Utah for the home side.

10. Vancouver Whitecaps (down one place)

  • 24 points, 7th in West
  • 10th in Shield race
  • Last result: Galaxy 2-0 Whitecaps

Despite de Jong being convicted for attempted murder with a deadly weapon (the bottom of his cleats) and sentenced to a red card (subject to further punishment), Vancouver couldn’t rally around that act of war to come back against Los Angeles. It was too late.

11. Houston Dynamo (up seven places)

  • 17 points, 9th in West
  • 16th in Shield race
  • Last result: Dynamo 1-0 Union

An impressive victory for the Dynamo, knocking the Union out of first place in the East. This would usually be news for Red Bull fans to celebrate, except that helped nudged NYCFC into first. Unlucky.

12. Toronto FC (up four places)

  • 20 points, 6th in East
  • 14th in Shield race
  • Last result: Toronto 1-1 Seattle

What is going on with Toronto? When assembled, this team was meant to be perennially challenging at the top. Poor Sebastian Giovinco.

Shockingly, because East, they’re still in the thick of the playoff race.

13. Philadelphia Union (down six places)

  • 26 points, 2nd in East
  • 5th in Shield race
  • Last result: Dynamo 1-0 Union

Like most teams in the league, the Union have a difficult time picking up points on the road. They have just one win in nine tries outside of Philadelphia which will prove detrimental if uncorrected by the time the playoffs start.

14. Chicago Fire (up five places)

  • 14 points, 10th in East
  • 20th in Shield race
  • Fire 1-0 Quakes

Last place in the East, last place in the league. But... NOT LAST PLACE IN THE POWER RANKINGS!

A rare victory for the Fire, though they’re actually adequate at home, with 3 wins, 2 losses and 3 draws. Their problem is that they’re one of four teams in the league who haven’t won on the road.

15. Seattle Sounders (up five places)

  • 17 points, 10th in West
  • 18th in Shield race
  • Last result: Toronto 1-1 Seattle

What happens when two of the league’s most disappointing teams clash in Canada on Fourth of July weekend? Some fireworks. Well, maybe just firecrackers.

The two teams had the same possession stats, shots and shots on goal. The goals were separated by a minute.

Bad news: Seattle just have 17 points and their midseason change of gear hasn’t materialized yet.

Good news: Jordan Morris has been just about as good as advertised and is rolling, scoring a beauty of a goal this weekend. Got to take the positives where they can be found.

Make no mistake about it: they haven’t risen five places on the back of merit. It’s purely due to the ineptitude of those below them this week.

16. New England Revolution (down two places)

  • 19 points, 8th in East
  • 16th in Shield race
  • Last result: Impact 3-2 Revolution

Kei Kamara rustled his way from one disappointing team to another. Despite the enigmatic forward scoring a brace to set the Revs on their way up 2-0 after 33 minutes, they conceded three unanswered goals to lose. Cold world.

17. New York Red Bulls (down six places)

  • 23 points, 4th in East
  • 12th in Shield race
  • Last result: NYCFC 2-0 NYRB

Hahahahahaha how is this team still top four in the East...

Man, oh man. The Red Bulls are looking like a sinking ship (again) after having the ruse that they’d fixed the leak. But nope.

That 7-0 drubbing of New York City in May feels like last season with the run the Red Bulls are on now. They’ve lost to City and choked up successive leads on the road, grabbing one point when they conceivably could’ve (should’ve?) had six with the positions they had themselves in.

Thankfully due to the lack of importance placed on the regular season in the MLS, so long that they make the playoffs, they’ve always got a chance to make something happen. Wacky things happen in November, not just way-too-early Christmas commercials.

18. Orlando City SC (down 12 places)

  • 20 points, 7th in East
  • 15th in Shield race
  • Last result: FCD 4-0 OCSC

Let’s start with the good news: thanks in half to geography and half to an opprobrious percentage of teams qualifying for the playoffs in this league, Orlando are a long way from being done. That’s about it at this juncture, despite a dramatic 3-2 win against Toronto two matches ago that belied their true form.

But the bad news is more plentiful: they struggle mightily at defending, just one clean sheet this year, their inability to turn draws into victories as well as Kaka’s frangibility.

They’ll hope to bottle that 4-0 loss to Dallas, contain it to disallow it to permeate their upcoming fixtures.

19. Columbus Crew (down seven places)

  • 17 points, 9th in East
  • 19th in Shield race
  • Last result: SKC 3-2 Crew

Surprise, surprise: Columbus almost drew a game. But they didn’t, thanks to a red card and a valiant Sporting effort.

But back to their egalitarian ways, Columbus are the anti Red Bulls, who always seem to find ways not to tie games (except when they play Columbus), because the Crew have seven draws in just 16 games. I always value the teams who risk one point to try and win three.


20. San Jose Earthquakes (down five places)

  • 22 points, 8th in West
  • 12th in Shield race
  • Last result: Fire 1-0 Quakes

You know what happens when you lose to the league’s worst side? You toboggan to the bottom of Once A Metro’s highly volatile and unstable power rankings! Remember, the toilet bowl here is earned, not given, and San Jose earned it.

Not only did they lose to the Fire, they were out-shot 16-6, allowing John Goossens to score a weak goal at the near post. Plus San Jose out-possessed Chicago 60-40%, making nothing with their possession. Useless, empty passing stats don’t get rewarded in these parts.

They’ve yet to win away from home this season, yielding just four points in nine matches.