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MLS Power Rankings — Week 13: TFC continues to roll atop MLS

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As MLS heads into Week 13 there are many familiar suspects at the top of the league while some new teams continue their rise to the summit.

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

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TEAM RANKING (Last Wk)

22 (13)

21 (21)

 

20 (17)

D.C. United: Three consecutive defeats and no goals in that span has spelt some serious trouble for Ben Olson’s side, who sit at the bottom of the East.

Colorado Rapids: With just two wins over the first (almost) three months, the Rapids are scoring less than a goal per game (nine in 11 matches). This club needs to add to its attack over the summer.

Real Salt Lake: The Claret and Cobalt have scored just three goals in their last six matches. They’ve only won one of those matches. 

19 (19) Montreal Impact: A big win against Portland could kickstart a turnaround for the Impact.
18 (7) Minnesota United: It’s going to be a long season for the Loons if they cannot fix their backline. The good news is the club is scoring more goals to at least make things interesting.
17 (16) New England Revolution: The Eastern Conference side has improved over recent weeks with back-to-back wins.
16 (12) Seattle Sounders: The Sounders got off to a rough start last season, and they won MLS Cup. It may be more difficult to replicate that feat in 2017 given the quality of teams early in the year.
15 (9) Atlanta United: It’s been a series of ups and downs for Tata Martino’s men, but a thrilling effort against Houston last week showed how brilliant Atlanta can be.
14 (22) Philadelphia Union: After a rough start, the Union have picked up some serious steam as of late, going unbeaten in their last six.
13 (18) LA Galaxy: The Galaxy are looking like the Galaxy we’ve become accustomed to seeing. Let’s see if they can sustain it.
12 (7) New York Red Bulls: Jesse Marsch’s group will look to a familiar foe in the New England Revolution to try to get back to winning ways.
11 (15) Vancouver Whitecaps: The Western Conference side could keep up winning ways this weekend as they face D.C. United.
10 (5) Orlando City: Winless in five, the Lions will travel north to take on an improved Minnesota.
9 (4) Portland Timbers: The Timbers haven’t won in their last four, and their backline is beginning to show signs of weakness.
8 (11) Columbus Crew: One of the top games of the weekend will come on Friday night when Greg Berhalter’s men travel north to face Toronto.
7 (10) San Jose Earthquakes: A draw with Orlando and win over Dallas has the Quakes rising again in the West. 
6 (14) Houston Dynamo: With Erick Torres and co., the Dynamo could very well have one of the top attacks in MLS. 
5 (8) Chicago Fire: Veljko Paunovic’s side kicked off the week with a quality win over FC Dallas, and people should begin to see the Fire how good they truly are.
4 (2) FC Dallas: Back-to-back losses for the reigning Supporters’ Shield holders brings up some questions in Dallas, but ultimately you’d have to imagine this team is going to be alright.
3 (6) New York City FC: The biggest difference between 2017 and past years for this club is the team’s defensive prowess. When you couple that with David Villa and NYCFC’s potent scoring attack, this team is becoming a favorite in the East.
2 (1) Sporting KC: The West leaders continue to play well at home but this weekend could be one of the side’s easier road matchups as they travel to a struggling Colorado.
1 (3) Toronto FC: Seven straight without a loss and Toronto has shown no signs of ending that run in the near future.

MLS Snapshot: FCD lose 2nd in a row; Fire win 4th straight

AP Photo/Nam Y. Huh
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The game in 100 words (or less): After starting the 2017 season nine games without a loss, FC Dallas, the longest-lasting unbeaten team in MLS, has lost two straight. Saturday saw their unbeaten start come to an end, against the San Jose Earthquakes, just as Wednesday’s trip to Toyota Stadium saw Oscar Pareja’s side drop all three points to the Chicago Fire. All three of the game’s goals were scored during the opening nine minutes, as FCD fought back from 1-0, but couldn’t find a second equalizer on the night. Nemanja Nikolic bagged the opener, his 11th goal in 13 games to extend his lead in the Golden Boot race to two, in the 3rd minute. Roland Lamah brought FCD back to level terms three minutes later, but David Accam restored the home side’s advantage after three more minutes. Nikolic had every opportunity in the world to take his goals tally to a dozen during second-half stoppage time, but Chris Seitz denied the Hungarian international from the penalty spot. For the first time since Sept. 2012, Chicago have won four straight league games, and sit just two points back of Eastern Conference-leading Toronto FC (26 points).

[ WATCH: Chicharito-to-MLS in doubt due to $10M contract demands ]

Three moments that mattered

3′ — Nikolic redirects past Seitz for 1-0 — Nikolic ran 15 yards straight ahead without a single FCD player picking him up or impeding his path to the near post, and they paid for it.

6′ — Lamah taps it in to make it 1-1 right away — Lamah has been quite the disappointment since arriving in Dallas this winter, but he happened to eb in the right place at the right time in this one, as a failed clearance fell to the five-times-capped Belgian international for an easy tap-in, and his first MLS goal.

9′ — Accam cuts inside to make it 2-1 just as quickly — At some point, Accam will be properly rated by the wider MLS audience, as he’s been Chicago’s best player for two full seasons, and has only hit a new high with capable attackers all around him.

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

Man of the match: Dax McCarty

Goalscorers: Nikolic (3′), Lamah (6′), Accam (9′)

MLS Snapshots: Impact run rampant vs. Timbers, Fire top D.C. united (early afternoon)

Minas Panagiotakis/Getty Images
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The game in 100 words (or less): The Montreal Impact took care of business at home on Saturday afternoon, but the Canadian side had some help from their opponent early on in the first half. Already down a goal, the Portland Timbers suffered another major setback when Diego Chara was sent off inside the opening 20 minutes. Despite managing to pull a goal back before halftime, Caleb Porter’s group stood no chance against Ignacio Piatti (who had two goals on the day) and the rest of the Impact supporting cast. The victory is Montreal’s third of the season, and moves the Eastern Conference club off the bottom of the table, while the Timbers remain fourth out west.

[ MORE: Red Bulls, TFC play to draw on Friday night ]

Three  moments that mattered

13′ — Piatti converts from the spot — Was there ever any doubt Ignacio would finish this? 1-0 Impact.

18′ — Timbers must play with 10 rest of the way — Diego Chara’s track record of receiving red cards took another on Sunday after this

43′ — Fisher’s header doubles Impact lead — Things just went from bad to worse for Caleb Porter’s group.

45’+1′ — Visitors pull one back at halftime — Diego Valeri pulls off another magical moment for the Timbers, and the lead is cut in half at the break.

Man of the match: Ignacio Piatti

Goalscorers: Ignacio Piatti (13′ — PK, 50′),  Kyle Fisher (43′), Diego Valeri (45’+1′), Ambroise Oyongo (77′)


The game in 100 words (or less): Chances came far and few for the hosts at RFK Stadium while the new-look Chicago Fire continue to play quality soccer and get the necessary results to back it up in the Eastern Conference. David Accam’s sixth goal of the season was enough to push the Fire past D.C. United on Saturday for the club’s sixth victory of 2017. Meanwhile, D.C.’s attacking struggles continued on the afternoon as Ben Olsen’s group failed to register a shot on target during the 90 minutes. Thus far, D.C. has the second-fewest goals in MLS with nine in 11 matches.

[ MORE: BWP bicycle kick dazzles in Red Bulls draw ]

Three two moments that mattered

29′ — Korb block keeps Nikolic, Fire off the board — Talk about throwing everything into the tackle. Chris Korb did just that to save his D.C. side from conceding on half an hour.

52′ — Accam gets in behind, gives visitors lead — With his combination of pace and finishing, David Accam is someone you’ll want to avoid giving too much space. See below.

Man of the match: David Accam

Goalscorers: David Accam (52′)

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

MLS roundup: Home sides roll in four midweek tilts

AP Photo/Nam Y. Huh
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Home field advantage in Major League Soccer remains very real, and Houston Dynamo’s Jekyll and Hyde act home and away is just as authentic.

All that inside our wrap-up of a quartet of MLS matches played Wednesday, all but one inter-conference affairs.

Sporting KC 3-0 Seattle Sounders

Gerso Fernandes scored two goals in two minutes, his third and fourth of the season, right before the match turned an hour old. He added a third to complete his hat trick. Watch them all here.

Philadelphia Union 2-0 Houston Dynamo

Philly went eight matches without a win to start the season, but goals from Ilsinho and Fafa Picault have them unbeaten in five. The last three of those are wins, and Philly is rolling. Houston’s terrific home performances have been stung by their road work; The Dynamo are winless in six away from their Texas home.

Chicago Fire 3-0 Colorado Rapids

Nemanja Nikolic can ball, and the Fire’s big striker has 10 goals in 11 matches — including a brace on Wednesday — since arriving in MLS from UEFA Champions League side Legia Warsaw.

David Accam added a goal in the second half. Here’s Nikolic’s second.

Real Salt Lake 2-1 New York City FC

Sean Okoli struck in the fourth minute for his first MLS goal, but the visitors wouldn’t stay in front into halftime. Jefferson Savarino cued up Albert Rusnak for this well-hit equalizer in the 38th minute.

Rusnak later sent in a corner that Aaron Maund headed home to boost RSL to its first lead of the game.

MLS (late-night) roundup: Fire throttle Sounders; Orlando drop 1st points at home

Chris Sweda/Chicago Tribune via AP
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With 10 MLS Saturday afternoons/evenings officially in the books, only 24 more to go…

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Orlando City 2-2 Sporting Kansas City

Ladies and gentlemen, please allow me to introduce to you, Latif Blessing, who had himself an extremely eventful first MLS start Saturday night in Orlando. The 20-year-old Ghanaian scored two goals and probably should have been shown two yellow cards for diving inside the penalty area. Neither attempt to win Sporting KC a penalty was successful, and only one was admonished with a booking.

Perhaps the fastest player in MLS from the day he arrived this winter, Blessing was an active agitator all night long, and both goals came via opportunistic tap-ins presented to him courtesy of chaos created by Gerso Fernandes — the first one put Sporting 1-0 ahead in the 9th minute, while the second brought Peter Vermes’ side back to 2-2. Cyle Larin got himself on the scoresheet once again (his 7th of the season), as did Kaka with his third goal in four games since coming back from an injury suffered on the opening day of the season.

[ MORE: MLS (afternoon) roundup — Toronto FC make it 6 wins in a row ]


Chicago Fire 4-1 Seattle Sounders

If you, not unlike myself, were still somewhat skeptical about Chicago’s contender credentials as recently as the last week or two, perhaps you’re finally convinced now.

If you, not unlike myself, were more than a little skeptical about Bastian Schweinsteiger‘s arrival to Chicago and what he might still have to offer, perhaps you’re finally convinced now.

If you, not unlike myself, were skeptical about forward Nemanja Nikolic’s credentials as a Designated Player in MLS, because he’d scored well over 200 goals in his pro career but never moved outside of Eastern Europe, perhaps you’re finally convinced now.

If you, unlike myself, weren’t a little skeptical about Seattle’s defensive issues with regards to their quest to repeat as MLS Cup champions, perhaps you’re a little more convinced today than you were yesterday.

[ MORE: Saturday’s PL roundup | Sunday preview ]


New England Revolution 4-0 Real Salt Lake

A full summary of thoughts on New England’s destruction of RSL (highlights here):


D.C. United 0-4 Philadelphia Union

Already right at the top of MLS’s “most unwatchable teams” list, D.C. United are making their case, loud and clear, for the “worst team in MLS” title as well. That was the case prior to Saturday’s 4-0 abomination against Philadelphia, which only served to further the argument.

Elsewhere in MLSAFTERNOON ROUNDUP

Toronto FC 3-2 Minnesota United
Montreal Impact 2-3 Columbus Crew SC
Colorado Rapids 3-0 San Jose Earthquakes

Sunday’s MLS schedule

Portland Timbers vs. Atlanta United — 4 p.m. ET
New York Red Bulls vs. LA Galaxy — 6 p.m. ET
FC Dallas vs. New York City FC — 8 p.m. ET