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MLS Power Rankings, Week 24: Seattle Sounders surge to second

The Sounders keep winning, and keep rising up these rankings.

Jennifer Buchanan-USA TODAY Sports

No change at the top or the bottom this week, but a lot of movement in between.

1. Toronto FC (no movement)

  • 40 points, 2nd in Eastern Conference
  • 4th in Supporters' Shield race
  • Last result: Union 1-3 TFC

There was a time this season when Philadelphia Union looked a solid bet to win the Eastern Conference. Seems a long time ago now. Toronto swept into Chester, PA in imperious form, and swept out with three points. Only a blown offside call in Yankee Stadium prevented TFC from claiming what increasingly looks its rightful place at the top of the East.

2. Seattle Sounders (up four places)

  • 30 points, 8th in Western Conference
  • 13th in Shield race
  • Last result: Seattle 3-1 Portland

How is the 8th-placed team in the West at second in our Power Rankings? Well, the Sounders have the longest active winning streak in MLS - three games, after this week's win over Portland. We had them at 5th on this list last week. Of the four teams above Seattle in our Week 23 Power Rankings, only TFC managed to win. So only TFC is above the Sounders this week.

3. New York City FC (up five places)

  • 41 points, 1st in East
  • 3rd in Shield race
  • Last result: NYCFC 1-0 LA Galaxy

They won't go away. Once A Metro is not thrilled to see NYCFC bobbing back up in the Power Rankings, but there's no arguing with top of the East thanks to beating what had been the hardest team to beat in MLS. There was something off(side) about David Villa's match-winner, but that just means the refs are on NYCFC's side too - and that is surely an indicator of some power.

4. New York Red Bulls (down two places)

  • 37 points, 3rd in East
  • 8th in Shield race
  • Last result: DC 2-2 RBNY

LA's loss means RBNY now has the longest active unbeaten streak in MLS. But it also has a less impressive streak of blowing leads and dropping points on the road. This week's 2-2 draw in DC was more of what RBNY fans have got used to this season: a team that reliably struggles to win away from home.

5. Real Salt Lake (up seven places)

  • 40 points, 3rd in West
  • 5th in Shield race
  • Last result: RSL 1-0 FCD

The NYCFC of the West as far as these Power Rankings are concerned: RSL keeps bobbing back up the list every time we think they might be sinking for good this time. This week, a 1-0 win over the Western Conference and Supporters' Shield leader is good for a big bump up the rankings. And there's a chance RSL will stick around the top five this time, because its next two games are also at home (where Salt Lake is unbeaten in the league this season) and against good teams (Colorado and LA).

6. Sporting Kansas City (up one place)

  • 38 points, 4th in West
  • 6th in Shield race
  • Last result: KC 2-0 Vancouver
A solid home win over slumping Vancouver isn't that impressive, but a lot of the top teams in the league slipped up in Week 23 and KC did not.

7. Colorado Rapids (down three places)

  • 43 points, 2nd in West
  • 2nd in Shield race
  • Last result: Rapids 0-0 Orlando
The Rapids aren't trying to impress any Power Rankings. A scoreless tie with Orlando is a bland result, not worth any great excitement, but it keeps Colorado where it wants to be: within striking distance of FC Dallas. The Rapids play four of their next five matches on the road, which should reveal whether they have the requisite power to close out the season with a Supporters' Shield.

8. LA Galaxy (down five places)

  • 38 points, 5th in West
  • 7th in Shield race
  • Last result: NYCFC 1-0 LA
LA only fell this far because other teams had better results this week. Week 23 saw the team lose in MLS for the first time since June: it is not in any great trouble. While it should be noted that LA is winless in its last four league games, it is also just six point shy of getting itself into the Shield conversation - and it has two games in hand on FCD.

9. FC Dallas (down three places)

  • 45 points, 1st in West
  • 1st in Shield race
  • Last result: RSL 1-0 FCD

Another team tumbling down the rankings largely because it had an off week. There is no reason to believe FCD can't shrug off a disappointing result against RSL and return to its table-topping form for its next match: away to Houston.

10. D.C. United (up three places)

  • 28 points, 6th in East
  • 15th in Shield race
  • Last result: DC 2-2 RBNY
Fought back from two goals down to extend RBNY's frustrating road record, and to keep itself clinging to the last playoff spot in the East.

11. Houston Dynamo (up five places)

  • 24 points, 10th in West
  • 18th in Shield race
  • Last result: San Jose 1-2 Houston
Who saw that coming? The Dynamo's first away win of the season comes against a surging San Jose that was supposed to use a home win over the worst team in the West to jump above the red line and into the playoff conversation. Didn't happen. It feels too late in the year for Houston to really make a run for the post-season, but it can spoil things for others if it has finally figured out how to win.

12. Orlando City (up three places)

  • 28 points, 7th in East
  • 16th in Shield race
  • Last result: Colorado 0-0 OCSC
Orlando is going to have to figure out how to win games if it is going to make the playoffs. It now has tied 13 of the 24 league matches it has played this season. Still, not losing in Colorado is a decent result, and worth a step forward for OCSC in these rankings.

13. Chicago Fire (up five places)

  • 22 points, 10th in East
  • 20th in Shield race
  • Last result: Montreal 0-3 Fire

More surprising than Houston's win over San Jose: Chicago's first road win since 2014. And it was a road win against a legit Eastern Conference playoff contender. At least, we thought Montreal was a legit playoff contender until it got embarrassed on its home field by the Fire.

14. San Jose Earthquakes (down five places)

  • 31 points, 7th in West
  • 12th in Shield race
  • Last result: SJ 1-2 Houston

Everyone makes mistakes, so we ought not to judge San Jose too harshly for slipping up this week. The team will hope to get back on track when New England comes to visit in the midweek round of Week 24 games.

15. Columbus Crew (up two places)

  • 23 points, 9th in East
  • 19th in Shield race
  • Last result: Revs 0-2 Crew

It isn't clear if this week's result shows Columbus is finally pulling itself together (this was its first MLS win since May), or is simply more evidence that things have gone profoundly awry in New England.

16. Philadelphia Union (down six places)

  • 34 points, 4th in East
  • 9th in Shield race
  • Last result: Union 1-3 TFC

Fell a long way for doing nothing worse than losing to the hottest team in MLS, but Philly is supposed to an Eastern Conference contender. Getting blown out at home to one of the true contenders in the East doesn't help to reverse the perception that the Union - with just one win in its last six games - has hit the ceiling on its 2016 potential.

17. Portland Timbers (down three places)

  • 32 points, 6th in West
  • 11th in Shield race
  • Last result: Seattle 3-1 Timbers

Fourth loss in five league games for Portland is a problem. Also a problem:handing three points to Seattle to officially add the Sounders to the list of teams challenging the Timbers' hold on 6th place in the West.

18. Montreal Impact (down seven places)

  • 33 points, 5th in East
  • 10th in Shield race
  • Last result: Montreal 0-3 Chicago

Losing to RBNY in Red Bull Arena is one thing. Losing to Chicago is another. Losing to Chicago on your own home field, quite another thing entirely. Back-to-back losses is going to send any team down these rankings. And when one of those losses is at home to the league's worst road team: you end up falling just short of the bottom of the pile.

T19: New England Revolution & Vancouver Whitecaps

  • Revs: 26 points, 8th in East. 'Caps: 30 points, 9th in West.
  • Revs: 17th in Shield race. 'Caps: 14th.
  • Last results: Revs 0-2 Columbus; KC 2-0 Vancouver

It feels like splitting hairs to suggest one of these two is manifestly worse than the other at the moment. Both have lost four in a row; neither is out of the race for post-season play in their respective conferences, but neither looks capable of staying in that race for much longer.

Yes, the Revs' home loss to generally-abject Columbus was more embarrassing than the 'Caps road loss to generally-competent KC - but that's too small a distinction to count for much.

Both the Revs and 'Caps are bad right now. How bad? Worse than any other in the league.