Canadian teams are rising in the East and sinking in the West in MLS...
1. Toronto FC (up three places)
- 36 points, 2nd in Eastern Conference
- 4th in Supporters' Shield race
- Last results: TFC 1-0 RSL; TFC 4-1 New England
TFC played twice and won twice in Week 22. No other team in MLS can say the same, so that alone makes Toronto the hottest team in the league at this moment. Further, those back-to-back wins concluded a four-game home stand with maximum points: 12 points from 12 available over those four matches. And that is the longest active winning streak in MLS: more evidence of power.
TFC's recent surge has made it a contender for the Eastern Conference title. It has a game in hand on East-leading NYCFC and is just a point behind the top of the conference. Toronto now faces a three-game road trip, which will test its East-winning aspirations.
2. LA Galaxy (up two places)
- 37 points, 4th in Western Conference
- 5th in Shield race
- Last result: LA 2-2 RBNY
Lucky to get out of Week 22 with a point, after falling two goals behind RBNY and needing a late surge and considerable help from referee Hilario Grajeda to square the game. But it takes a little luck to stay ahead in MLS, and LA is now eight games unbeaten.
The longest active unbeaten streak in the league is a measure of power. Up next is a home game against MLS points-per-game leading Colorado Rapids: if the Galaxy wins that one, it will start to look very powerful indeed.
3. New York Red Bulls (up four places)
- 33 points, 3rd in East
- 8th in Shield race
- Last result: LA 2-2 RBNY
The Red Bulls are stockpiling grievances and injuries at the moment, and the litany of (justifiable) complaints coming out of Harrison has perhaps overshadowed RBNY's six-game unbeaten streak. The streak has been built on the team's offensive power: 12 goals in those six matches. And RBNY added to its attack this week.
The Red Bulls need to win pretty much all their remaining home games to offset their unconvincing road form and their terrible start to the season. But the scare they gave an in-form Galaxy in LA suggests their road form might be capable of turning itself around. If that happens, and Red Bull Arena remains a reliable source of points for RBNY: this team will ride into the post-season as a favorite.
4. Montreal Impact (up eight places)
- 33 points, 4th in East
- 9th in Shield race
- Last result: Impact 1-0 Houston
How does a modest 1-0 home win over lamentable Houston Dynamo raise a team eight places in the Power Rankings? It was a modest 1-0 home win that raised Montreal's record to just one loss in its last 10 games. Only Colorado and LA can say the same in MLS at the moment. And that is pretty good company.
5. FC Dallas (down four places)
- 44 points, 1st in West
- 1st in Shield race
- Last result (July 31): FCD 2-0 Vancouver
Tumbled off the top spot for no greater sin than simply not playing in Week 22, FCD has to fit into these rankings somewhere. Fifth seems about as far as we can drop the league's leading team while it's back is turned.
6. Colorado Rapids (up four places)
- 41 points, 2nd in West
- 2nd in Shield race
- Last result: Rapids 2-0 Vancouver
Bounced back from seeing their unbeaten streak snapped in Week 21 with a home win that keeps the Rapids in the hunt for Western Conference and Supporters' Shield titles.
7. New York City FC (down five places)
- 37 points, 1st in East
- 4th in Shield race
- Last result: San Jose 0-0 NYCFC
Nothing wrong with taking a point back from a trip to the West Coast, and NYCFC is still top of the East. But a 0-0 draw is rarely a sign of compelling power.
This was NYCFC's first draw in MLS since May. The team has hurtled up the standings thanks to a string of wins, and is likely to get back to that sort of form soon - it's next match is against struggling Columbus.
8. Real Salt Lake (down two places)
- 37 points, 3rd in West
- 3rd in Shield race
- Last results: TFC 1-0 RSL; RSL 3-1 Chicago
Week 22 seemed to sum up RSL this season: up against a good team in good form, it was second best; hosting one of the worst team's in the league, it was a winner.
RSL hasn't looked convincingly good against all challengers since April. But it is still the third-placed team in the Shield race, which is worth some respect.
9. Portland Timbers (up two places)
- 32 points, 6th in West
- 10th in Shield race
- Last result: Timbers 3-0 KC
Bounced down the rankings last week by a loss to Sporting KC, Portland bounced back into the top 10 thanks to a win over Sporting KC.
10. Sporting Kansas City (down five places)
- 34 points, 5th in West
- 7th in Shield race
- Last result: Timbers 3-0 KC
This slide down the rankings is in part predictive: KC has been in a pattern of winning at home and losing away since the beginning of July. And its next game is away. Against FC Dallas.
11. Seattle Sounders (up three places)
- 24 points, 9th in West
- 16th in Shield race
- Last result: Orlando 1-3 Sounders
A long way to go before the dig out of the deep hole dug for themselves in MLS this season, but a comfortable away win over an Eastern Conference playoff contender that was kidding itself it was in good form: maybe it's the start of Seattle's long-awaited return to form.
Upcoming home games against Western Conference rivals will tell us more about the Sounders' alleged recovery, but mark Week 22 as the start of Seattle's surge, if that surge is indeed happening.
12. San Jose Earthquakes (up four places)
- 28 points, 8th in West
- 13th in Shield race
- Last result: SJ 0-0 NYCFC
Four games unbeaten, within striking distance of a playoff place: San Jose might be quietly positioning itself for a post-season run. Alternatively, third consecutive draw and one win in its last 11: the Quakes are going nowhere, slowly.
This ranking takes the more optimistic view, for now.
13. Philadelphia Union (down four places)
- 31 points, 5th in East
- 11th in Shield race
- Last result: DC 2-2 Union
For a good team, Philly is not playing well. The Union is now four games into a winless streak. And its last four wins were against Columbus, Chicago and DC (twice) - all at home. The Union needs a boost. Maybe Alejandro Bedoya can provide it.
14. Orlando City (down six places)
- 26 points, 7th in East
- 15th in Shield race
- Last result: OCSC 1-3 Seattle
It's not just that Orlando lost at home in Week 22. Nor that it has only one win in its last seven games. But it lost to Seattle: one of the most out-of-sorts teams in the league.
15. Vancouver Whitecaps (no movement)
- 30 points, 7th in West
- 12th in Shield race
- Last result: Colorado 2-0 Vancouver
Cut Vancouver some slack: it has lost back-to-back games but they were against Dallas and Colorado. On the road. Next up is San Jose at home. Lose that one, Vancouver - and the slack will have run out.
16. New England Revolution (down three places)
- 26 points, 6th in East
- 14th in Shield race
- Last result: Toronto 4-1 Revs
Perhaps the Revs were unlucky to run into red-hot TFC this week. Or perhaps not. Last week, the Revs became the first team to lose to Orlando in MLS since the end of June. And the only teams New England has beaten recently are Columbus and Chicago - the two worst teams in the league.
The Revs are not good. Maybe the back-to-back home games they'll play over the next couple of weeks will turn things around.
17. D.C. United (up one place)
- 24 points, 8th in East
- 17th in Shield race
- Last result: DC 2-2 Union
DC is only two points outside the Eastern Conference playoff places. This is surprising because DC is now six games without a league win, and has only won one of its last nine in MLS. It hasn't sunk so low that its situation is irretrievable, but it is sinking. Still, a point and a couple of goals against a Philly team that recently looked very good is encouraging.
18. Chicago Fire (down one place)
- 18 points, 10th in East
- 20th in Shield race
- Last result: RSL 3-1 Chicago
Lost on the road, again. Rooted to the bottom of the East, still. It's hard to explain why Chicago isn't bottom of this list. Yet.
19. Houston Dynamo (no movement)
- 20 points, 10th in West
- 18th in Shield race
- Last result: Montreal 1-0 Houston
20. Columbus Crew (no movement)
- 19 points, 9th in East
- 19th in Shield race
- Last result: TFC 3-0 Crew (July 31)
Columbus didn't play this week. A team can't increase its power by not playing. So Columbus is still bottom of this pile.