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MLS Power Rankings — Week 22: NYCFC continues push to top

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The Western Conference has dominated MLS Cup for the better part of a decade, but it’s the East that continues to shine bright as this MLS season hits the midway point.

Here are PST’s latest MLS Power Rankings as we head into another busy weekend:

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TEAM RANKING (Last Wk)

22 (21)

21 (22)

 

20 (20)

D.C. United: Five consecutive defeats for Ben Olson’s group has D.C. firmly at the bottom of the MLS table.

Minnesota United: Similar to D.C., the Loons have gone winless in five. The only saving grace? They host D.C. on Saturday.

Colorado Rapids: A solid effort against Toronto last week gives the Rapids a temporary distraction, but they’ll hit the road again this weekend… where they haven’t won all season.

19 (19) New England Revolution: The playoff gap is already widening for the Revs, and a loss against the Union could be potentially devastating for Jay Heaps and Co. The distance from sixth place is currently eight points for New England.
 

18 (9) Orlando City: The Lions got their man in Dom Dwyer, but now they have to take advantage of his presence while Cyle Larin is still with the team. Orlando has scored just 22 goals this season — third-fewest in MLS.
 

17 (13)  San Jose Earthquakes: The Quakes have conceded 12 goals in their last three matches. Somehow, they’re only point out of sixth in the West though.
 

16 (21) Real Salt Lake: The Claret and Cobalt are unbeaten in three straight and have the chance to extend that run when they welcome the Crew on Saturday.
 

15 (7) LA Galaxy: Sigi Schmid is in to stop the bleeding for the Galaxy, and his first challenge? A test against his former side, the Seattle Sounders.
14 (16) Montreal Impact: The Impact have been woeful on the road in 2017 (1-4-5), and a trip to Harrison to face the revamped Red Bulls probably isn’t what the doctor ordered.
13 (14) Vancouver Whitecaps: Carl Robinson’s side travels to Dallas this weekend as they look to rebound from last weekend’s defeat against Portland.
12 (18) Philadelphia Union: Another big Eastern Conference clash is on the docket this weekend for the Union, who have played better as of late.

 

11 (12) Columbus Crew: The Crew are still battling a suspect back line with more than half the season gone (35 goals allowed).

 

10 (10) Portland Timbers: We knew this would be one of the top attacks in MLS entering 2017, and the Timbers are backing it up. Diego Valeri and Fanendo Adi each have 10 goals on the year.
9 (15) Seattle Sounders: The way the Sounders have been playing lately it probably won’t be a warm welcome back to the Pacific Northwest for Sigi Schmid and the Galaxy.

 

8 (11) Atlanta United: The expansion side has won four in a row and lifted itself up to fourth place in the Eastern Conference.

 

7 (8) New York Red Bulls: Jesse Marsch has brought in some reinforcements both defensively and in the attack, and on top of that, the Red Bulls are starting to look like their old selves.

 

6 (5) Houston Dynamo: The Dynamo are just one of four sides in MLS with a perfect home record in 2017. They’ll put that record to the test against the Timbers on Saturday night.

 

 

5 (3) Sporting KC: Peter Vermes’ side hasn’t lost since the end of May. Unfortunately for the Western Conference side, they haven’t been winning a lot of their matches.
4 (2) Chicago Fire: The Fire finally lost against NYCFC… their first defeat since April 29. Don’t go writing off this team though. They’re the real deal.
3 (6)   FC Dallas: A stingy defense and dangerous attack are a deadly combination, and that’s exactly what Dallas possesses.
2 (4) New York City FC: It was a pretty successful week for Patrick Vieira’s group. A group against Toronto, followed by a win over Chicago.
1 (1) Toronto FC: This is a Toronto team that has lost just three matches all season. To put that into perspective, TFC had three defeats by May 1 a season ago.

MLS Snapshot: Chicago Fire 1-3 Toronto FC (video)

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The game in 100 words (or less): Greg Vanney and Toronto keep on doing their thing, and the Canadian side is yet another step closer to achieving MLS glory. TFC picked up its 50th point of the season on Saturday night after comfortably handling the Chicago Fire, who have cooled off significantly as of late in the Eastern Conference. The Fire are now nine points behind the East leaders and are losers of four of their last five matches.

Three moments that mattered

54′ — Accam, Fire level it up — Toronto really does manage to get contributions from everybody…

64′ — Hasler nets first MLS goal — Toronto really does manage to get contributions from all of their players…

90′ — Giovinco says goodnight to Chicago — That’s 12 goals on the season for Sebastian Giovinco and the TFC striker continues to help his side push towards the top seed in the East and MLS.

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Man of the match: Sebastian Giovinco

Goalscorers: Marco Delgado (14′), David Accam (54′), Nick Hasler (63′), Sebastian Giovinco (90′)

Video: Watts gifts D.C. United own goal for the ages

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Not many things have gone right for either side involved in 2017, but D.C. United was the recipient of a gift early on against the Colorado Rapids on Saturday night.

[ MORE: Piatti brace lifts Impact to fourth win in a row; Orlando, Crew draw ]

In the 27th minute, Rapids center back Jared Watts received the ball at the back, before making a routine back pass to USMNT goalkeeper Tim Howard

Or at least, it should have been a routine back pass.

Instead, Watts’ pass was well off target and too strong for Howard to reach and landed in the back of the Rapids goal. 1-0 in favor of D.C.

Reminder: Both these teams sit at the bottom of their respective conferences on points.

MLS Snapshot: Piatti brace lifts Impact | Crew, Orlando City draw

Paul Chiasson/The Canadian Press via AP
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The game in 100 words (or less): The Montreal Impact have proven to be a second-half of the season team the last several years, and that form appears to be holding true once more. Mauro Biello’s side won its fourth straight match on Saturday, while Ignacio Piatti continues to show he’s one of the most deadly scorers in the league. Meanwhile, RSL’s six-match unbeaten run is snapped north of the border, leaving the Western Conference side three points out of sixth place.

Three four moments that mattered

11′ — Piatti nets his first of the night — The Impact made this attack look so easy, and Ignacio Piatti simply won’t miss a chance like this one.

26′ — Evan Bush left motionless as RSL equalize — Luis Silva took matters into his own hands, and boy did he connect with this effort!

29′ — Impact punish poor RSL defense — Guess who? Piatti has his second of the evening.

47′ — Hosts begin to pile it on — Anthony Jackson-Hamel played provider in the first two goals, so it’s only fair he got one of his own.

[ FOLLOW: All of PST’s MLS coverageStandings | Stats | Schedule ]

Man of the match: Ignacio Piatti

Goalscorers: Ignacio Piatti (11′, 29′), Luis Silva (26′), Anthony Jackson-Hamel (47′)


The game in 100 words (or less): Orlando City and the Crew settled for a point apiece on Saturday night, but for the former the club is running out of opportunities to pick up points in the playoff race. Giles Barnes pulled a goal back for the hosts after Lalas Abubakar netted his first MLS goal for the Crew, but Orlando couldn’t find a second. The Lions played up a man for the final 13 minutes, following Harrison Afful’s dismissal.

Three moments that mattered

35′ — Abubakar knocks in first MLS goal — Orlando City’s defensive woes are certainly notable as well, but for Lalas Abubakar this is a quality way to open his scoring account in MLS.

67′ — Barnes knots it up at 1-1 — The veteran MLS forward picked up his second goal of the season.

77′ — VAR used for red card decision — The video monitor came into play briefly in the second half, and Harrison Afful was sent off the pitch early after the referee viewed the defender’s elbow to the head of Yoshi Yotun.

[ FOLLOW: All of PST’s MLS coverageStandings | Stats | Schedule ]

Man of the match: Zack Steffen

Goalscorers: Lalas Abubakar (35′), Giles Barnes (67′)

Atlanta United fans pack 20,000 into new stadium for training session

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Atlanta United is currently in the midst of a three-match road trip in MLS play, but that didn’t stop the club from unveiling its new home venue to a massive crowd of supporters on Saturday.

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Over 20,000 fans of the Eastern Conference expansion side filed into Mercedes-Benz Stadium to watch Gerardo Martino’s side train on Saturday as Atlanta prepares to finish out its road trip against D.C. United and the Philadelphia Union.

Atlanta will open up home play at their new stadium on September 10 when they host FC Dallas. The club will have the benefit of playing eight of its final 10 regular season matches in front of its Georgia fan base.

The first-year MLS side will share the stadium with the Atlanta Falcons of the NFL.

Here are some sights from the training session