MLS Power Rankings: Portland Timbers tumbling, Red Bulls rising before playoffs


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With just a couple of weeks to go until Decision Day, Major League Soccer‘s stars and top teams are battling for playoff positioning and, in the case of LAFC, simply hoping to sneak into the playoffs at all. While the New England Revolution have the Eastern Conference well and truly wrapped up — as well as the Supporters’ Shield given to the best team in the regular season — and the Seattle Sounders have the Western Conference in their sights, there’s still all to play for up and down the table.

Find out who else rose and fell in this week’s standings, and where your team sits in our Week 31 Power Rankings.

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Previous ranking: 1

Next MLS match: Oct. 20 at D.C. United, 7:30 p.m. ET, ESPN+

To the winners go the spoils. In New England‘s case, that means being able to rest players after claiming the Supporters Shield. It didn’t turn out too badly either as Adam Buksa‘s two goals helped the Revs rally for a 2-2 draw with Orlando. New England needs three points from their last two games to break LAFC‘s single season points record. — Carlisle

Previous ranking: 3

Next MLS match: Oct. 27 vs. LA Galaxy. 8:30 p.m. ET, FS1

With Sporting Kansas City and Seattle tied, 1-1, SKC goalkeeper Tim Melia’s “Rock Bottom” take-down of Cristian Roldan somehow only earned him a yellow card. With SKC still at full strength, Johnny Russell scored a 79th-minute winner and it now trails the first-place Sounders by just three points with a game in hand. — Bonagura

Previous ranking: 2

Next MLS match: Oct. 26 at LAFC, 10:30 p.m. ET, ESPN

Seattle missed an opportunity to create some separation atop the Western Conference in a 2-1 loss at home to second-place Sporting Kansas City, which is three points back with a game in hand. — Bonagura

Previous ranking: 4

Next MLS match: Oct. 30 at New York Red Bulls, 7:00 p.m. ET, ESPN+

The Union has been stalking Nashville over these past few weeks, and Philadelphia finally passed NSC with a 1-0 win that vaulted them into second place in the East. Philadelphia’s defense — tied for fourth-best in the league — and the goalscoring of Kacper Przybylko continue to carry this team. — Carlisle

Previous ranking: 8

Next MLS match: Oct. 27 at New England, 7 p.m. ET, ESPN+

Dominique Badji and Diego Rubio both scored as the Rapids clinched their playoff spot in a 2-0 win against Portland. This will mark the first time Colorado has qualified for the playoffs in back-to-back seasons since 2010-2011, and the Rapids are a real threat to win the whole thing. — Bonagura

Previous ranking: 9

Next MLS match: Oct. 23 at Columbus Crew, 6:00 p.m. ET; ESPN+

The Red Bulls are back in the playoff places thanks to its 2-1 road win against Columbus. Sean Nealis was the unlikely hero, netting the game-winner, but it’s just reward for a string of solid performances that have helped the Red Bulls overcome the loss of Aaron Long. — Carlisle

Previous ranking:7

Next MLS match: Oct. 27 vs. Inter Miami, 7:30 p.m. ET, ESPN+

Atlanta is likely still fuming over the midweek draw with NYCFC, given that it coughed up a late equalizer. The result did keep it in the hunt for the playoffs, though results over the weekend meant the Five Stripes fell to seventh in the East with a game in hand on most of its postseason rivals. — Carlisle

Previous ranking: 10

Next MLS match: Oct. 27 vs. Minnesota, 10 p.m. ET, ESPN+

A 1-1 draw with San Jose leaves the Whitecaps right on the playoff edge. They’re ahead of Real Salt Lake by two points in the final playoff spot, but RSL has a game in hand to help close the gap. After Wednesday game against Minnesota, Vancouver closes the season at LAFC and home against Seattle. — Bonagura

Previous ranking: 6

Next MLS match:Oct. 27 at FC Cincinnati, 7:30 p.m. ET, ESPN+

The 1-0 road defeat to the Union probably didn’t do much to change NSC’s playoff fate, but a winless streak that’s now reached six games could end up costing Nashville a home date to start the playoffs. One more win should settle things, and hopefully midfield linchpin Dax McCarty recovers from the injury that sidelined him on Saturday. — Carlisle

Previous ranking: 11

Next MLS match: Oct. 27 at Vancouver, 10 p.m. ET, ESPN+

Osvaldo Alonso’s equalizing goal in the 65th minute helped Minnesota pick up a point against LAFC, which kept the Loons a point ahead of Vancouver in sixth place. A win at Vancouver on Wednesday would be a massive result in Minnesota’s playoff push. — Bonagura

Previous ranking: 12

Next MLS match: Oct. 20 vs. CF Montreal, 7:30 p.m. ET, ESPN+

Oh, Orlando. The Lions looked set to benefit from New England resting some players — at the start, at least — only to squander a 2-0 lead and hang on for a 2-2 draw. The result probably won’t hurt Orlando too much, but it could have cemented the chances of a home playoff game. Now that is still in doubt. — Carlisle

Previous ranking: 5

Next MLS match:Oct. 27 vs. San Jose, 10 p.m. ET, ESPN+

A 2-0 loss to Colorado makes it three straight losses for the Timbers, which lead the pack of teams looking to lock up playoff spots. As things sit, Portland would host a first-round game, but it has just a two-point cushion over seventh-place Vancouver and still has work to do to ensure it will be in the postseason. — Bonagura

Previous ranking: 13

Next MLS match: Oct. 20 at Orlando City, 7:30 p.m. ET, ESPN+, TVA Sports

In terms of late goals conceded, Montreal suffered a gut-punch against Toronto, as Jozy Altidore scored on a 95th minute free-kick that should have been saved. Now Wilfried Nancy’s side is outside the playoff places, level on points with Atlanta and the Red Bulls, but having played one game more. — Carlisle

Previous ranking: 16

Next MLS match: Oct. 26 vs. Seattle, 10:30 p.m. ET, ESPN

LAFC conceded a crucial 65th minute goal against Minnesota United that leveled the score, 1-1, and cost the Black and Gold two points. With just three matches remaining, LAFC sits three points behind seventh-place Vancouver for the final playoff spot and a point behind Real Salt Lake, which has a game in hand. — Bonagura

Previous ranking: 18

Next MLS match: Oct. 27 at Sporting Kansas City, 8:30 p.m. ET, FS1

Second half goals from Javier “Chicharito” Hernandez and Sebastian Lletget pulled the Galaxy out of a 2-0 hole to pick up a key point at home. The draw leaves LA, uncomfortably, in fifth place with Sporting Kansas City, Seattle and Minnesota left on the regular season schedule. — Bonagura

Previous ranking: 19

Next MLS match: Oct. 23 vs. Chicago Fire, 7:30 pm ET; ESPN+

NYCFC snapped its six-game winless streak in emphatic style with a 6-0 blowout of D.C. United, proving once again it loves the home cooking of Yankee Stadium, where it is 5-1-1 this season. Following up a midweek draw with Atlanta, the Blues vaulted up to fifth in the East, and a favorable run-in should see NYCFC reach the postseason. — Carlisle

Previous ranking: 14

Next MLS match: Oct. 27 vs. New York Red Bulls, 7:30 p.m., ESPN+

The Black-and-Red deserved every bit of the 6-0 hammering it received at the hands of NYCFC. Nobody played well, with several basic errors leading to goals. Now, D.C. need a win against an in-form Red Bulls side in order to get back among the playoff places. — Carlisle

Previous ranking: 15

Next MLS match: Oct. 27 at FC Dallas, 8 p.m. ET, ESPN+

A 1-0 loss to hapless Chicago leaves RSL two points out of the final playoff spot, but it has a game in hand over the four teams ahead of it in the Western Conference standings. After travelling to Dallas on Wednesday, RSL has San Jose, Portland and SKC ahead to finish the regular season. — Bonagura

Previous ranking: 17

Next MLS match: Oct. 27 vs. Orlando City, 7:30 p.m. ET, ESPN+

With manager Caleb Porter sidelined due to COVID-19, Columbus thought it had done the hard part in midweek with a 1-1 road draw against Nashville, only to succumb at home to the Red Bulls thanks to some soft marking in the box. Now five points out of the playoff places with three games to play, the reigning MLS Cup champs need a miracle to make the postseason and defend their crown. — Carlisle

Previous ranking: 16

Next MLS match: Oct. 27 at Portland, 10:30 p.m. ET, ESPN+

The Quakes got a brilliant goal from Benji Kikanovic in a 1-1 draw with Vancouver, but they no longer have a realistic hope of qualifying for the playoffs. Another up-and-down season for San Jose will again end in disappointment. — Bonagura

Previous ranking: 23

Next MLS match: Oct. 27 at Atlanta United, 7:30 p.m. ET, ESPN+

Miami enjoyed a week where it beat up on the bottom of the Eastern Conference, defeating Toronto 3-0 and Cincinnati 5-1. Against FCC, the brothers Higuain (Gonzalo and Federico) both scored, keeping Miami’s faint playoff hopes alive. They’re five points out of seventh place with three games to play. — Carlisle

Previous ranking: 25

Next MLS match: Oct. 27 at New York City FC, 7:30 p.m. ET, ESPN+

In front of 31,308 fans, its biggest crowd of the year, the Fire delivered a second straight win, this time defeating RSL 1-0. Gaga Slolina continues to make the most of his opportunities in goal while Robert Beric scored his eighth of the regular season, making it three in his past two matches. — Carlisle

Previous ranking: 24

Next MLS match: October 27 at FC Dallas, 8 p.m. ET, ESPN+

While Austin’s debut season has mostly been an on-field disappointment, there would be some consolation in finishing ahead of both FC Dallas and the Houston Dynamo. A 2-1 win, including the winner from Sebastian Driussi, against Houston on Sunday keeps that possibility in play. Austin remains in the Western Conference basement, but is just a point behind Dallas and two behind Houston. — Bonagura

Previous ranking: 22

Next MLS match: Oct. 27 vs. Philadelphia Union 7:30 pm ET, TSN, ESPN+

After getting crushed 3-0 by Miami in midweek, Toronto played its role of spoiler to a tee, with Jozy Altidore equalizing deep into stoppage time against Montreal. That the result dealt a hammer blow to their rival’s playoff hopes made it all the sweeter. — Carlisle

Previous ranking: 21

Next MLS match: Oct. 31 vs. Colorado, 3 p.m. ET, ESPN+

An inconsequential late own goal was all the Dynamo could muster in a lackluster 2-1 loss at Austin as the race to avoid last place in the Western Conference intensified. — Bonagura

Previous ranking: 26

Next MLS match: Oct. 27 vs. Real Salt Lake, 8 p.m. ET, ESPN+

Jesus Ferreira and Franco Jara both scored as Dallas took a 2-0 lead into halftime against the Galaxy, but two second-half goals from the hosts allowed them escape with a draw. Dallas’ lead over last-place Austin has shrunken to a single point. — Bonagura

Previous ranking: 27

Next MLS match:Oct. 27 vs. Nashville SC, 7:30 p.m. ET, ESPN+

Allan Cruz‘s red card for taking a swipe at Miami attacker Julian Carranza pretty much summed up Cincinnati’s night in South Florida. FCC suffered a 5-1 defeat just days after conceding in stoppage time to lose to Chicago 4-3. New GM Chris Albright has a lot of roster holes to fill, and the defense in particular is screaming out for reinforcements. — Carlisle

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