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MLS Power Rankings Week 35: Sporting KC, NYCFC climb

The regular season is over and it’s now time for Major League Soccer’s second season to begin with 12 teams chasing the MLS Cup.

How did Decision Day’s drama affect the Pro Soccer USA Power Rankings? While the New York Red Bulls remain No. 1 after capturing their third Supporters’ Shield title in six years, Sporting Kansas City moved up to No. 2 after finishing atop the Western Conference. New York City FC also jumped six spots to No 7 following an impressive 3-1 win over the Philadelphia Union.

The Major League Soccer Power Rankings are created by averaging the rankings submitted by a committee of Pro Soccer USA’s editor and writers.

  1. (1) New York Red Bulls (22-7-5, 71 points): Thanks to a goal from Derrick Etienne, and a little help from Toronto FC, the Red Bulls clinched a third Supporters’ Shield in six years following a 1-0 win over Orlando City SC at Red Bull Arena.
  2. (4) Sporting Kansas City (18-8-8, 62 points): Roger Espinoza and Daniel Salloi scored for Sporting in a 2-1 win over LAFC that clinched the top seed in the Western Conference and made Peter Vermes’ side a favorite to reach the MLS Cup.
  3. (2) Atlanta United (21-8-5, 69 points): The Supporters’ Shield slipped out of their grasp after a stunning 4-1 defeat to Toronto FC at BMO Field. Was that a precursor of things to come or can the Five Stripes put that behind them and make a deep MLS Cup playoff run?
  4. (5) Seattle Sounders FC (18-11-5, 59 points): The Sounders secured the No. 2 seed in the West, and earned a Knockout Round bye, with a 2-1 win over the San Jose Earthquakes. Raul Ruidiaz scored both goals for the Sounders, who won 14 of their final 16 regular season games.
  5. (3) D.C. United (14-11-9, 51 points): Their winning streak might have ended at five, but D.C. United will take a 10-match unbeaten streak into the postseason and, courtesy of a 0-0 draw at Chicago, will host the Columbus Crew in the Knockout Round.
  6. (6) Los Angeles Football Club (16-9-9, 57 points): A chance to finish atop the West and earn a Knockout Round bye was squandered by LAFC, which lost 2-1 at Sporting on Sunday. The good news is they still host a Knockout Round game and head into the matchup against Real Salt Lake having lost just once at Banc of California Stadium.
  7. (13) New York City FC (16-10-8, 56 points): Maxime Chanot and David Villa scored as NYCFC defeated the Union, 3-1, to secure the No. 3 seed in the East and a Knockout Round game against the same Union.
  8. (8) FC Dallas (16-9-9, 57 points): FC Dallas went from a team competing for the top spot in the West to one that will host the Timbers in the Knockout Round following a 2-1 loss to the Rapids, their third consecutive defeat.
  9. (7) Portland Timbers (15-10-9, 54 points): Giovanni Savarese opted for a rotated roster in a 2-1 loss to the Whitecaps in a game the Timbers needed to win to host a Knockout Round game. But there will be fresh legs for the midweek clash with FCD. Will the gamble pay off?
  10. (9) Philadelphia Union (15-14-5, 50 points): The Union had the most unfortunate trifecta as an own goal, a missed PK and conceding inside the opening 10 minutes resulted in a 3-1 loss to NYCFC. Instead of hosting a Knockout Round game, the Union head back to Yankee Stadium Wednesday night.
  11. (14) Columbus Crew SC (14-11-9, 51 points): The Crew needed a win on Decision Day and Gyasi Zardes made sure of it. His hat trick lifted Columbus to a 3-2 win over Minnesota United and into the MLS Cup playoffs.
  12. (12) Real Salt Lake (14-13-7, 49 points): The Houston Dynamo made sure the Mike Petke BBQ was a celebratory one as their win over the LA Galaxy clinched RSL’s playoff berth.
  13. (10) LA Galaxy (13-12-9, 48 points): A win against the Dynamo at home and the Galaxy would be in the MLS Cup playoffs. Ola Kamara did his part, scoring a first-half brace, but the Galaxy collapsed defensively and fell 3-2.
  14. (11) Montreal Impact (14-16-4, 46 points): The Impact fell just short of making the playoffs, suffering a 1-0 loss to the New England Revolution at Gillette Stadium. Even a win on the day wouldn’t have helped them once the Crew beat the Loons.
  15. (15) Vancouver Whitecaps FC (13-13-8, 47 points): What a sendoff at BC Place as Alphonso Davies, in his final game before leaving for Bayern Munich, scored a brace to lift the Caps to a 2-1 win over the Timbers.
  16. (18) Houston Dynamo (10-16-8, 38 points): We wonder if Mike Petke is going to send any of that BBQ Wilmer Cabrera’s way after the Dynamo ended a disappointing season by rallying from a two-goal deficit to beat the Galaxy and secure RSL’s playoff spot.
  17. (16) Toronto FC (10-18-6, 36 points): Similarly is a case of Red Bull landing in Greg Vanney’s office? TFC’s comprehensive 4-1 win over Atlanta United helped pave the way for the Red Bulls to win the Shield.
  18. (17) Minnesota United (11-20-3, 36 points): Francisco Calvo struck for a brace, but the Loons fell to the Crew, 3-2, ending the season with four consecutive defeats.
  19. (19) New England Revolution (10-13-11, 41 points): Diego Fagundez reached the 50-goal mark, making him the youngest player to reach that milestone in MLS history, in a season-ending 1-0 win over Montreal.
  20. (20) Chicago Fire (8-18-8, 32 points): The Fire ended a brutal 2018 season with a drab 0-0 draw against D.C. United. There’s more questions than answers heading into 2019 with the return of Bastian Schweinsteiger perhaps being the biggest.
  21. (22) Colorado Rapids (8-19-7, 31 points): Cole Bassett and Tommy Smith scored in a 2-1 win over FC Dallas as the Rapids closed out the 2018 season going 2-0-1 down the stretch.
  22. (21) Orlando City SC (8-22-4, 28 points): The 2018 season mercifully came to an end for the Lions following a 1-0 loss to the New York Red Bulls. Perhaps no team more underachieved than Orlando, which won just two of its final 25 games.
  23. (23) San Jose Earthquakes (4-21-9, 21 points): A 2-1 loss to the Sounders ended a dreadful season, which saw the Quakes go winless in their final eight. The Matias Almeyda-era is finally upon us and it couldn’t have come quicker for the San Jose faithful.

Pro Soccer USA’s writers Dylan Butler, Julian Cardillo and Emily Olsen contributed to this report.

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