MLS Power Rankings: LAFC, Atlanta remain top dogs after Rivalry Week
Rivalry Week has come and gone and here we are to pick up the pieces.
We don't know about you, but we're gassed. Spent. Wasted. Ready for a week of recuperation. It turns out mutual enmity makes for some pretty intense soccer matches.
From Friday night's Cascadia Cup madness through to a wild El Trafico, Rivalry Week delivered.
A backheel winner. A four-goal blowout. Rivalry trophies lifted Portland by the visitors and Utah by the home team. Zlatan ... Zlataning, then LAFC showing their quality in a comeback.
Time for a shower ...
Right after we rank. Like, right after.
Previous rankings: Week 24 | Week 23 | Week 22 | Week 21 | Week 20 | Week 19 | Week 18 | Week 17 | Week 16 | Week 15 | Week 14 | Week 13 | Week 12 | Week 11 | Week 10 | Week 9 | Week 8 | Week 7 | Week 6 | Week 5 | Week 4 | Week 3 | Week 2 | Week 1
1. LAFC (19 wins, 5 draws, 3 losses)
Previous ranking: 1
Next MLS match: Sunday vs. Minnesota United, 10 p.m. ET, stream live on ESPN+
Tip of the Power Rankings cap (it's a bowler, in case you're wondering) to Bob Bradley, who made the tough decision to pull Carlos Vela off in a tied El Trafico match. LAFC didn't win, but saving the captain and MVP leader for the future was the smart thing to do.
2. Atlanta United (15-3-9)
Previous ranking: 2
Next MLS match: Saturday at Philadelphia Union, 7:30 p.m. ET, stream live on ESPN+
The Five Stripes Express chugged into Orlando on Friday and departed with a boxcar full of points. The conductor, one Josef Martinez, scored in his 12th straight game. The last time Martinez didn't score for Atlanta United, trains were brand-new technology. It feels true, doesn't it?
3. Philadelphia Union (14-6-8)
Previous ranking: 3
Next MLS match: Aug. 31 vs. Atlanta United, 7:30 p.m. ET, stream live on ESPN+
Philly isn't going to give up first place without a fight. OK, so technically Atlanta holds a tiebreaker on the Union, but it still sets up for a gargantuan match next weekend at Talen Energy Stadium when the Five Stripes steam into town with a free-and-clear first place on the line.
4. New York City FC (13-8-5)
Previous ranking: 6
Next MLS match: Saturday at Vancouver Whitecaps, 10 p.m. ET, stream live on ESPN+
Red Bulls are red, New York is blue, Heber's goal belongs in the Lou...vre.
Eh, close enough.
5. Minnesota United (12-6-9)
Previous ranking: 4
Next MLS match: Sunday at LAFC, 10:30 p.m. ET, stream live on ESPN+
The margins are so small in the battle for playoff seeding in the Western Conference that the Loons' loss to Sporting Kansas City on Friday night via late, late goal dropped them from second to fourth. Adrian Heath nearly got away with leaving Darwin Quintero on the bench in KC.
6. San Jose Earthquakes (12-5-10)
Previous ranking: 5
Next MLS match: Saturday vs. Orlando City, 10:30 p.m. ET, stream live on ESPN+
The Quakes bombarded the Caps' net on Saturday, scoring three times and forcing 16 saves by Maxime Crepeau. To say they needed that would be an understatement, following a three-game losing streak and the emotional experience against LAFC in midweek.
7. New England Revolution (9-8-9)
Previous ranking: 7
Next MLS match: Saturday vs. Toronto FC, 7:30 p.m. ET, stream live on ESPN+
Gustavo Bou, the hero of the New England Revolution's revolution used the greatest weapon of the revolution -- his left foot -- to fire the Revolution to three more points in the quest to revolutionize the playoff hopes of the Bruce Arena-led revolutionary program for the Revolution.
8. Seattle Sounders (12-7-8)
Previous ranking: 9
Next MLS match: Sunday vs. LA Galaxy, 6:30 p.m. ET
When the emotional grind starts to affect form, it sometimes takes a big game to provide a lift and get things back on track. That might be what happens for the Sounders, the 2019 Cascadia Cup champions after Friday's Jordan Morris-led victory over the Timbers -- on Portland's pitch.
9. LA Galaxy (13-3-11)
Previous ranking: 11
Next MLS match: Sunday at Seattle Sounders, 6:30 p.m. ET
Zlatan Ibrahimovic showed up ... for the first half. Cristian Pavon scored his first MLS goal and showed why LA's acquisition of the Argentine was such a coup. The Galaxy have still never lost to LAFC, a fact they'll use to their psychological advantage if and when the two meet in the playoffs.
10. Real Salt Lake (13-4-10)
Previous ranking: 15
Next MLS match: Saturday at Portland Timbers, 10:30 p.m. ET, stream live on ESPN+
There's no truth to the rumor that Joao Plata was showing up on the side of milk cartons in Utah before Saturday's Rocky Mountain Cup win over Colorado, but you'd be forgiven for believing it. Albert Rusnak handed the ball to Plata for the penalty kick winner, a move that might be a spark for RSL's stretch run.
11. Portland Timbers (11-4-11)
Previous ranking: 8
Next MLS match: Saturday vs. Real Salt Lake, 10:30 p.m. ET, stream live on ESPN+
Our recent polling suggests that Timbers fans would rather swear off organically grown, locally sourced, fair-trade cold brew coffee and barrel-aged Imperial IPA with notes of cardamom and coriander than lose to the Seattle Sounders. It's that damn serious.
12. New York Red Bulls (11-5-10)
Previous ranking: 10
Next MLS match: Saturday vs. Colorado Rapids, 7:30 p.m. ET, stream live on ESPN+
Red Bulls are red, New York is blue, congrats to Josh Sims on his New York debut.
13. FC Dallas (11-7-10)
Previous ranking: 13
Next MLS match: Saturday vs. FC Cincinnati, 8:30 p.m. ET, stream live on ESPN+
It's been a long wait, but finally FC Dallas is getting lethal strikes from the man they call "The Cobra." We were beginning to think the nickname was completely unwarranted, like when people call really big guys "Tiny." FCD also got lethal strikes from lots of other players, too.
14. Orlando City (9-7-11)
Previous ranking: 12
Next MLS match: Saturday at San Jose Earthquakes, 10:30 p.m. ET, stream live on ESPN+
Eight games, no wins for the Lions against Atlanta. After losing in game in which they outshot United and created more chances, it's starting to feel like a curse. Worse, the loss means Orlando falls three points behind Toronto for the final playoff spot in the East.
15. Sporting Kansas City (8-7-11)
Previous ranking: 17
Next MLS match: Saturday vs. Houston Dynamo, 8:30 p.m. ET, stream live on ESPN+
If Sporting somehow manages to put together an incredible late-season run and claim a playoff spot, Erik Hurtado's ferocious winner against Minnesota might be the goal we'll point back to as the spark. Must-win games need match-winners.
16. Toronto FC (10-7-10)
Previous ranking: 20
Next MLS match: Saturday at New England Revolution, 7:30 p.m. ET, stream live on ESPN+
As far as massive wins go, TFC's victory over Montreal on Saturday was massively massive. The Reds are now in seventh place with a game-in-hand on Orlando and Montreal. A trip to New England looms, and it might end up being the defining game of the season.
17. Chicago Fire (8-9-11)
Previous ranking: 14
Next MLS match: Saturday at Columbus Crew, 7:30 p.m. ET, stream live on ESPN+
So that's the reason the Embers ... er, Fire ... have just six points on the road in 2019. The already slim chance that Chicago could sneak into the playoffs this season took a massive hit because of a bad turnover and a Gustavo Bou goal at Gillette Stadium on Saturday.
18. D.C. United (10-9-10)
Previous ranking: 16
Next MLS match: Saturday, Aug. 31 at Montreal Impact, 7:30 p.m. ET, stream live on ESPN+
Wayne Rooney-less United crashed and burned against the Union in Chester and are in real danger of slipping out of the playoff placed completely. Word on the street is that Rooney could get another game for last week's red card, only adding to the dread surrounding the club.
19. Columbus Crew (8-6-15)
Previous ranking: 19
Next MLS match: Saturday vs. Chicago Fire, 7:30 p.m. ET, stream live on ESPN+
Hell. Unleashed. Three goals in the first half, two of them by Gyasi Zardes, won the day for the Crew on the road in Cincinnati. Columbus planted a stake at Nippert Stadium in the first win for either side in the MLS history of "Hell Is Real."
20. Colorado Rapids (7-6-14)
Previous ranking: 18
Next MLS match: Saturday at New York Red Bulls, 7 p.m. ET, stream live on ESPN+
The Rocky Mountain Cup was just about all the Rapids had left to play for this season. Losing to RSL like they did has to hurt, but there's always tomorrow -- a tomorrow that brings a new head coach and, they hope, a new era for a club still thrashing in turbulent waters for a winning approach.
21. Montreal Impact (10-4-14)
Previous ranking: 21
Next MLS match: Wednesday vs. Vancouver Whitecaps, 8 p.m. ET, stream live on ESPN+
A debut goal for Bojan Krkic in Wilmer Cabrera's debut as coach wasn't enough for Montreal on the road in Toronto. If the Impact are counting on a new manager bump to push them across the playoff line, they'll have to get cracking against Vancouver on Wednesday night.
22. Vancouver Whitecaps (6-9-13)
Previous ranking: 22
Next MLS match: Wednesday at Montreal Impact, 8 p.m. ET, stream live on ESPN+
Vancouver Whitecaps FC is a Canadian professional soccer team based in Vancouver, British Columbia, that competes in the Western Conference of Major League Soccer (MLS).
23. Houston Dynamo (9-4-14)
Previous ranking: 23
Next MLS match: Saturday, Aug. 31 vs. Sporting Kansas City, 8:30 p.m. ET, stream live on ESPN+
The Dynamo not only didn't get up for a rivalry match in an otherwise lost season, they got stomped by FC Dallas. It sure looks like Davy Arnaud is going to struggle to keep his team interested in competing in the final month and a half of the campaign.
24. FC Cincinnati (5-3-19)
Previous ranking: 24
Next MLS match: Saturday at FC Dallas, 8 p.m. ET, stream live on ESPN+
Hell Is Real, take two, brought hell to Cincinnati in the form of a 3-1 Columbus win. FCC showed some fight (literally), planting the seeds for an intense round of games in 2020. The rebuild happening with both clubs means Hell Is Real success will be a major part of whatever comes next season.