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MLS Power Rankings: Sporting KC Rise to the Top Spot

By Taylor Smith in Sports
| April 18, 2017 12:00 am PDT
MLS Power Rankings Sporting KC Image

The first six games of the 2017 MLS campaign have come and gone, and we’ve already seen plenty of shuffling at the top and bottom of the standings. Real Salt Lake are suddenly making a push up from the bottom after back-to-back wins, while New York Red Bulls also got a promising result over the weekend.

LA Galaxy’s rough start to the season continued, though, and Philadelphia is now the only team in the league still in search of their first win. We had a clash between a pair of titans in Portland over the weekend that actually led to a change at the top of our rankings.

How do all 22 MLS clubs stack up so far?

1. Sporting Kansas City (3-0-3)

Sporting KC look like the real deal, especially in defense. They went up to Providence Park, one of the most hostile grounds in Major League Soccer, and earned a hard-fought 1-0 victory over the Timbers on Saturday. Dom Dwyer scored for the second time in two weeks as KC became the first team to beat Portland at home this season. Sporting have now allowed just two goals through the first six games of the season, which is the top mark in the league.

2. Columbus Crew (4-2-1)

The Crew’s impressive form to start 2017 continued on Saturday when they became the first team this season to beat Toronto FC. Ola Kamara evened things up after TFC opened the scoring in the 37th minute before Justin Meram’s strike just a few minutes later proved to be the decider. This was the fifth straight game in which Columbus has not conceded a goal in the second half.

3. Portland Timbers (4-2-1)

Portland knew they’d be facing a stiff test in the stingy SKC defense on Saturday night, but few could have predicted they’d be shut-out altogether. KC did an excellent job in blanketing both Fanendo Adi and Diego Valeri, while Darlington Nagbe had a potential late equalizer parried away by KC keeper Tim Melia. They’ll host Vancouver in a Cascadia Cup match coming up on Saturday afternoon.

4. Orlando City (4-1-0)

Orlando made it a perfect four wins in four home matches at the sparkling new Orlando City Stadium on Saturday afternoon by beating LA Galaxy 2-1. Will Johnson opened the scoring with a great strike from just inside the box in the ninth minute before Cyle Larin tapped in the winner for the Lions in the 91st minute. Now, they’ll have to see if they can do it on the road. Three of Orlando’s next four matches come away from home.

5. FC Dallas (3-0-2)

FCD remains unbeaten on the year, but they lost out on an additional two points by conceding a goal to San Jose’s Jahmir Hyka late in stoppage time on Friday night at Avaya Stadium. Kellyn Acosta’s incredible start to the season continued, though, as the young American netted his fourth goal through five MLS games thus far in 2017. The defending Supporters’ Shield holders look primed to make a run at a repeat.

6. Chicago Fire (3-1-2)

Some were concerned that Bastian Schweinsteiger would be too old and slow to keep up with MLS, but the German international has wasted no time in getting acclimated. He scored for the second time in three games, while Nemanja Nikolic added two more as the Fire picked up a decisive 3-0 victory over the undermanned New England Revolution. This is one of the most improved sides in the league thus far.

7. Houston Dynamo (3-2-1)

Houston got a boost with influential winger Romell Quioto returning from his shoulder injury on Saturday night, but the Dynamo were ultimately held to a 2-2 draw by a feisty Minnesota United side. Things were going well for Houston as they took a 2-0 advantage into the half, only to concede a pair of second half goals despite clearly being the more dominant side throughout. It was the first time in four home matches this season that Houston didn’t take all three points.

8. New York City FC (3-2-1)

NYCFC did what they had to do on Friday night in beating an underwhelming Philadelphia Union side. The visitors didn’t look particularly convincing, but it was enough to snatch all three points. The clear highlight of the game was this insane strike from David Villa from near midfield that put the Blues up 2-0 with just minutes left to play. He’s good, you guys.

9. Atlanta United (2-2-2)

Atlanta were the victims of some pretty awful luck against Montreal, as Leandro Gonzalez Pirez was sent off for what looked like a dive against the Impact during extra time of the first half. United still held its own for the rest of the match despite being undermanned, but ultimately conceded late. That’s now the third red card an Atlanta player has received through the first six games.

10. San Jose Earthquakes (2-2-2)

For the second straight week, the Quakes rescued a point at the death of the game. Just a week after Chris Wondolowski tapped one in in the 90th minute to steal a point from Seattle, Jahmir Hyka did the same for SJ against FC Dallas. FCD appeared to have the game won after Kellyn Acosta scored the first goal of the game with over 10 minutes left, but San Jose was able to get a result for the second straight week in similar fashion.

11. New York Red Bulls (3-3-1)

RBNY got a much-needed win at home over the weekend against DC United, 2-0. It was the club’s third straight clean sheet at Red Bull Arena, though it was their first win in any game since way back on March 11. It was nice to see Bradley Wright-Phillips get on the score sheet for the first time in several weeks, and this was the first time we’ve seen the 2017 Red Bulls look like the 2016 iteration in quite some time.

12. Real Salt Lake (2-3-2)

Following a tumultuous few weeks, we’re starting to see Real Salt Lake string together some results. They’ve picked up back-to-back wins over Vancouver and Colorado to inch their way back into the playoff picture. Sure, the Whitecaps and Rapids aren’t exactly the class of MLS, but those are the games you need to be winning if you’re a club like RSL that had been scuffling. They’ll be in for a true test this week with Atlanta United coming to Rio Tinto Stadium.

13. New England Revolution (2-3-1)

The Revolution have struggled away from home for quite some time now, and those struggles continued in a big way in Chicago over the weekend. The Revs were drummed 3-0 by the Fire, and things really tilted against New England after Je-Vaughn Watson saw red in the 27th minute after picking up a quick pair of yellow cards. This was the first loss in four matches for New England, who fell to seventh in the East.

14. Seattle Sounders (1-2-3)

The defending MLS Cup champs’ uneven start to the season continued on Saturday night, as the Sounders dropped their first Cascadia Cup match of the season in Vancouver, 2-1. Old friend Fredy Montero, who played for Seattle from 2009 through 2012, recorded both goals for the ‘Caps. It wasn’t a dismal effort from the Sounders, though, as they controlled more than 61 percent of possession and outshot Vancouver 15-11. They just need to start finding some creativity in front of goal.

15. Toronto FC (1-1-4)

Toronto FC lost for the first time this season as they fell 2-1 at the hands of Columbus on Saturday evening. Jozy Altidore looked excellent up front, though, as he commanded the Crew’s back line and wound up converting a header for TFC’s lone tally of the night. TFC have taken just seven points from the season’s first six games, though, and they’ll need to start trading draws for wins in the near future if they want to get back to the top of the Eastern Conference.

16. DC United (2-3-1)

United were riding high after back-to-back wins on their home ground, but they were humbled 2-0 at Red Bull Arena on Saturday. It was a costly defeat for DC, as they lost captain Steve Birnbaum and emergency left winger Nick DeLeon to injuries. The loss dropped United to 0-6-2 at New York over their last eight visits, so it’s back to the drawing board for Ben Olsen and his staff.

17. Vancouver Whitecaps (2-3-1)

Following a few lean weeks, the Whitecaps finally woke up and impressively beat the Seattle Sounders 2-1 in the first running of the ‘17 Cascadia Cup. Fredy Montero bagged himself a pair of goals, and the team is hopeful that he can step up and be the talismanic goal scorer this team has lacked over the last few years. He’s now up to three goals and an assist on the season, and he played easily his best game of the young season against his old club.

18. LA Galaxy (2-4-0)

The Galaxy have been very all-or-nothing this season, as evidenced by their 2-4-0 record. Curt Onalfo will be left looking for answers yet again as his men fell short in Orlando on Saturday afternoon. Romain Alessandrini continued to look excellent in his first season with LA, and the the Frenchman scored in the second half to bring his side level. It was his fourth goal in the last three games, and he’s really starting to assert his will upon the rest of MLS. Unfortunately, the Galaxy conceded a goal to Cyle Larin in stoppage time to lose out on what would’ve been a much-needed point.

19. Montreal Impact (1-2-3)

At long last, the Impact got into the win column in 2017. Ignacio Piatti returned to the pitch after missing a couple of games due to injury, and played a hand in Montreal’s impressive 2-1 victory over Atlanta United on Saturday. He scored from the spot to equalize just before halftime, and Anthony Jackson-Hamel knocked in the rebound for the game-winner in the 93rd minute to send 10-man ATL to a disheartening defeat.

20. Minnesota United (1-4-2)

Perhaps no team got a more surprising result than the Loons did over the weekend. They marched into BBVA Compass Stadium and grabbed a point from the mighty Houston Dynamo. Minnesota fell behind 2-0 after the first 45 minutes, but goals from Christian Ramirez and Johan Vanegas early in the second half stunned the hosts. MNUFC was outshot 19-8, and their only two shots on target went for goals. That’s efficiency.

21. Colorado Rapids (1-3-1)

The Rapids were without starting goalkeeper Tim Howard last week after the American international was suspended for verbally abusing a Sporting KC fan. They grabbed defeat from the claws of victory in this one, as they clung to a 1-0 lead for most of the night after Kevin Doyle netted the opener in the 29th minute. They wound up conceding a pair of goals to Real Salt Lake in the final moments, though, ending their long unbeaten run at Dick’s Sporting Goods Park. Howard will miss each of the next two matches, as well.

22. Philadelphia Union (0-4-2)

The Union are just a mess right now. They had their chances last Friday night against NYCFC, but ultimately came up short 2-0 despite playing at home. They’re now the league’s lone team without a win thus far on the season, and new addition Jay Simpson has to be one of the most disappointing players in all of MLS thus far. The 28-year-old has been relegated to substitute duty, and he’s scored just once through his first five games since coming to America.

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