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MLS Power Rankings, Week 26: New York Red Bulls on top, for now

A little late this week, but the Power Rankings power on.

Anne-Marie Sorvin-USA TODAY Sports

Week 26 was a short week for MLS, with only 12 of the 20 teams in the league called into action. And that means some clubs on this list are punished for nothing more than simply not having played in this round.

1. New York Red Bulls (up one place)

  • 43 points, 2nd in Eastern Conference
  • 3rd in Supporters' Shield race
  • Last result: Vancouver 0-1 RBNY

RBNY summits the Power Rankings in Week 26 because it finally did the one thing it hadn't been able to do for a while: win on the road. And the Red Bulls have the longest active unbeaten streak in the league (10 games; the second-longest is three). And back-to-back wins and back-to-back clean sheets.

Granted, those last two wins were over New England and Vancouver - two of the most reliably bad teams in MLS in recent weeks - but RBNY gets at least a week to enjoy the view from the top.

2. FC Dallas (up three places)

  • 51 points, 1st in Western Conference
  • 1st in Shield race
  • Last result: FCD 3-1 Portland

The reason RBNY's stay at the top might be short-lived is because FCD seems to have woken up again. The Shield-leading Texas club has now posted consecutive 3-1 wins, and it next brings that form to bear against a (former?) rival for the Western Conference crown, Colorado Rapids.

Indeed, FCD's next four games are against alleged rivals for the Shield. It will be a compelling display of power if it can keep winning against Colorado, NCFC, RSL, and LA.

3. New York City Football Club (up four places)

  • 44 points, 1st in East
  • 2nd in Shield race
  • Last result: NYCFC 3-2 DCU

Credit where it's due: we keep trying to count NYCFC out and the Baby Blue tenants of Yankee Stadium keep refusing to go away. A 3-2 comeback win over D.C. United reasserted NYCFC's place in the race for the Eastern Conference title, and put it very close to clinching the first playoff berth in its (short) history.

4. Real Salt Lake (down three places)

  • 43 points, 2nd in West
  • 5th in Shield race
  • Last result (August 26): RSL 2-1 Colorado

The first casualty of not playing in Week 26. Last week's top team drops a few places because there is no power in sitting idle.

5. Toronto FC (down two places)

  • 43 points, 3rd in East
  • 4th in Shield race
  • Last result (August 27): TFC 0-1 IMFC
Again: don't play, don't have much of a case for even staying put in the Power Rankings.

6. LA Galaxy (up four places)

  • 43 points, 4th in West
  • 7th in Shield race
  • Last result: LA 2-1 Columbus

A tight match for LA this week that could easily have gone the other way - but it didn't, and the Galaxy has snapped out of its six-game winless funk.

7. Philadelphia Union (down three places)

  • 40 points, 4th in East
  • 8th in Shield race
  • Last result: Chicago 3-0 Philadelphia
There's a feeling around the league that the Fire has figured itself out and is better than its lamentable league position suggests. That feeling, and the fact the Union at least played when other teams did not, keeps Philadelphia from bombing out of the top 10 with this week's result.

8. D.C. United (down two places)

  • 32 points, 6th in East
  • 12th in Shield race
  • Last result: NYCFC 3-2 DCU

If there were more candidates to rise up the table, DC wouldn't be this high. But DCU did give NYCFC a scare, and it will bounce up this list fast if it gets a result out of its next game: RBNY in Harrison.

9. Montreal Impact (down one place)

  • 37 points, 5th in East
  • 10th in Shield race
  • Last result (August 27): TFC 0-1 IMFC
Still getting credit for that win over TFC, but not enough to prevent a little step down the list for not having played this week.

10. Chicago Fire (up seven places)

  • 26 points, 9th in East
  • 18th in Shield race
  • Last result: Fire 3-0 Union

What? It's a Power Ranking. And the Fire hammered one of the better-looking teams in MLS this week. Philly had won three out of its last four, and two of those three on the road - and Chicago, the longest of long shots for the playoffs, held nerve and held serve.  The Fire has now lost only once in its last five, which is impressive for a team that had lost 11 of 21 games played in the league before this run.

TFC is up next. So we'll soon see if Chicago's revival is significant.

11. Colorado Rapids (down two places)

  • 43 points, 3rd in West
  • 6th in Shield race
  • Last result: New England 2-0 Rapids

The slide down this list continues as the Rapids take their second consecutive loss and extend their winless streak to four games.

12. New England Revolution (up seven places)

  • 30 points, 8th in East
  • 17th in Shield race
  • Last result: New England 2-0 Rapids
They played, which a lot of teams did not this week. And they beat a Shield contender, which most teams don't in most weeks. The Revs have another of the league's top teams - NYCFC - up next, and will need another win to try to compensate for taking one point from the six games they played prior to running over the Rapids.

13. Orlando City (down two places)

  • 31 points, 7th in East
  • 16th in Shield race
  • Last result (August 28): OCSC 2-1 NYCFC
Another team that sat idle in Week 26 slides a little and waits for Week 27.

14. Sporting Kansas City (down one place)

  • 38 points, 5th in West
  • 9th in Shield race
  • Last result (August 27): Union 2-0 KC
Bumped down a spot for the same reason OCSC dropped two: didn't play.

15. Portland Timbers (down three places)

  • 35 points, 6th in West
  • 11th in Shield race
  • Last result: FCD 3-1 Timbers
Portland did play, and it did not go well in Dallas. Not for the first time, the stop-start MLS Cup champs look fragile: three losses in their last four games for the Timbers.

16. Seattle Sounders (down two places)

  • 31 points, 8th in West
  • 14th in Shield race
  • Last result (August 28): Timbers 4-2 Seattle
Didn't play, but Portland's loss gives Seattle back a two-game cushion to try to catch the Timbers, who currently occupy the last playoff spot in the West.

17. Columbus Crew (down two places)

  • 26 points, 10th in East
  • 19th in Shield race
  • Last result: LA 2-1 Crew

Losing to LA in LA isn't the worst result, and Columbus showed well against the Galaxy. But the loss - and Chicago's win - dropped the Crew to bottom of the East.

18. Houston Dynamo (down two places)

  • 25 points, 10th in West
  • 20th in Shield race
  • Last result (August 27): Dynamo 1-3 FCD

Bottom of the West and the league and didn't even have to play to make that so. Houston has work to do when it's back in action in Week 27.

T19: Vancouver Whitecaps (down one place) and San Jose Earthquakes (up one place)

  • VWFC: 31 points, 9th in West. SJ: 32 points, 7th in West.
  • VWFC: 15th in Shield race. SJ: 13th in Shield race.
  • Last results: VWFC 0-1 RBNY; (August 27) Columbus 2-0 SJ

The rules are that a team that doesn't play surely cannot rise up the Rankings, so San Jose was bottom last week and must still be bottom this week, since the Quakes provided no evidence to support an improved standing on the list.

But...Vancouver is terribleEight games without a win. One goal scored in the last seven. Five losses in the last six. And a home loss to RBNY - a team that has made a fetish of its flimsy road form this season. So the 'Caps must be the worst team in these rankings.

And so must San Jose.