Timing is everything, or so they say.
Get your timing right and you can accomplish just about anything. In MLS, that mostly means "winning a championship" since that's the whole point. History is replete with clubs who got their timing right and rode a wave of good form all the way to the confetti party at the end of the season.
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Unless your timing is bad. And then it can ruin a season with massive potential. Our advice to MLS teams currently in or around the playoff places: Avoid having bad timing. It's wisdom like that that makes the Power Rankings a paragon of excellence.
Viva las ranks!
Previous rankings: Week 28 | Week 27 | Week 26 | Week 25 | Week 24 | Week 23 | Week 22 | Week 21 | Week 20 | Week 19 | Week 18 | Week 17 | Week 16 | Week 15 | Week 14 | Week 13 | Week 12 | Week 11 | Week 10 | Week 9 | Week 8 | Week 7 | Week 6 | Week 5 | Week 4 | Week 3 | Week 2 | Week 1
1. New York City FC (16 wins, 10 draws, 5 losses)
Previous ranking: 2
Next MLS match: Sept. 25 vs. Atlanta (7 p.m. ET, stream live on ESPN+)
We have a new No. 1! Dome Torrent's club hit the road to Frisco, Texas, and picked up a point toward finishing in first place in the Eastern Conference, extending its unbeaten run to nine games. Sure, they dropped two points from a winning position with the late FC Dallas goal, but NYCFC is still the hottest team in MLS.
2. LAFC (19-8-4)
Previous ranking: 1
Next MLS match: Sept. 25 vs. Houston (10:30 p.m. ET, stream live on ESPN+)
Here's the thing: LAFC is going to win the Supporters Shield and LAFC is going to enter the playoffs as the favorite to win the MLS Cup. But right now, LAFC has slowed down and that means LAFC can't be the top team in the Power Rankings. There are rules.
3. Philadelphia Union (15-7-9)
Previous ranking: 3
Next MLS match: Sept. 25 at San Jose (11 p.m. ET, stream live on ESPN+)
Philly's run against playoff-caliber teams ended in Harrison with a defeat to the Red Bulls, prompting a very fair question about whether the Union have the fortitude to get it done on the road in the postseason. A hectic week ahead looms, with trips to San Jose on Wednesday and Columbus on Sunday.
4. Atlanta United (17-3-11)
Previous ranking: 7
Next MLS match: Sept. 25 at NYCFC (7 p.m. ET, stream live on ESPN+)
Josef Martinez is hurt and the prognosis looks bleak. There hasn't been this much panic in Atlanta since the walkers showed up and forced Rick Grimes and his friends to fight for survival. At least it's not as bad as that, Five Stripes faithful.
5. Toronto FC (12-10-10)
Previous ranking: 6
Next MLS match: Sept. 29 at Chicago (5 p.m. ET, stream live on ESPN+)
A potentially momentous win on the road in L.A. was undone by a VAR-aided penalty call, but the Reds have a lot to be happy about after the draw against the league's top team. No one will want to face a red-hot Toronto FC when the playoffs start.
6. D.C. United (13-9-10)
Previous ranking: 9
Next MLS match: Sept. 29 at New York Red Bulls (5 p.m. ET, stream live on ESPN+)
Back into the top four for the Black & Red, who took advantage of the less-than-full-strength Seattle Sounders in a Sunday night win at Audi Field. The vibe at Audi Field would be a significant help to keeping Wayne Rooney around for a while before he bounces back across the Atlantic.
7. LA Galaxy (15-3-13)
Previous ranking: 8
Next MLS match: Sept. 25 at Real Salt Lake (9:30 p.m. ET, stream live on ESPN+)
Zlatan Ibrahimovic has scored a lot of jaw-dropping goals in his career, maybe more than any man alive. His tally on Saturday to help the Galaxy to a 2-1 win over Montreal was not one of those. Sometimes it just pays to be standing in the right spot.
8. Minnesota United (14-7-10)
Previous ranking: 4
Next MLS match: Sept. 25 vs. Sporting Kansas City (8 p.m. ET, stream live on ESPN+)
The Loons are migrating toward the playoffs after a good away point in Portland. The draw sets up some simple math: Win on Wednesday at home to a Sporting KC side with nothing to play for, or clinch on Sunday at home to LAFC (a bit of a tougher ask) and they're in.
9. Seattle Sounders (14-8-9)
Previous ranking: 5
Next MLS match: Sept. 29 at San Jose (7:30 p.m. ET, stream live on ESPN+)
The Sounders' hold on second place in the West is tenuous after a loss in D.C. but Brian Schmetzer's team still holds its destiny in its hands with three games to go. The problem is that Seattle could be as low as fourth when the dust settles following Wednesday's matches.
10. New York Red Bulls (13-5-13)
Previous ranking: 20
Next MLS match: Sept. 29 vs. DC United (5 p.m. ET, stream live on ESPN+)
The red alert in Harrison has been downgraded following a bicoastal two-game week that saw Chris Armas' club grab six important points. The winds of fortune have changed direction, which is good because of that whole landfill smell problem in New Jersey.
11. New England Revolution (10-11-10)
Previous ranking: 12
Next MLS match: Sept. 25 at Portland (10:30 p.m. ET, stream live on ESPN+)
New England's trying to land the playoff plane but the Revs are stuck in a holding pattern. A disappointing home result against a rotated Real Salt Lake team makes it four games without a win, three of them draws. With a cross-country jaunt to Portland in midweek, nothing gets easier.
12. Real Salt Lake (14-5-12)
Previous ranking: 13
Next MLS match: Sept. 25 vs. LA Galaxy (9:30 p.m. ET, stream live on ESPN+)
Freddy Juarez and his crew might have been happy to get away from Utah for a bit (ahem) and try their luck in New England. Holding on for a point in Foxborough is good enough with a massive Western Conference showdown with the Galaxy coming on Wednesday.
13. Portland Timbers (13-5-13)
Previous ranking: 10
Next MLS match: Sept. 25 vs. New England (10:30 p.m. ET, stream live on ESPN+)
One point from two home games for the Timbers this week. At least there was a point against Minnesota, but the problem of goals -- meaning there aren't any -- is bordering on disastrous. Getting to the playoffs hardly matters if you can't put the ball in the net when you get there.
14. FC Dallas (12-9-11)
Previous ranking: 15
Next MLS match: Sept. 29 at Colorado (7:30 p.m. ET, stream live on ESPN+)
The week saw Luchi Gonzalez's young bucks claim two points from two difficult matches, just good enough to keep FC Dallas in a playoff spot in the extremely competitive West. There's no telling if they'll make the postseason in the end, but Gonzalez's team hasn't rolled over.
15. Colorado Rapids (11-6-15)
Previous ranking: 18
Next MLS match: Sept. 29 vs. FC Dallas (7:30 p.m. ET, stream live on ESPN+)
Stop what you're doing and go watch Kei Kamara's goal in Colorado's win over Sporting. .
16. San Jose Earthquakes (13-5-13)
Previous ranking: 11
Next MLS match: Sept. 25 vs. Philadelphia (11 p.m. ET, stream live on ESPN+)
There's a fine line between fiery passion that brings a team together and makes it more than the sum of its parts and being a loudmouth jerk that undermines a club's efforts. Right now, Matias Almeyda is squarely on the wrong side of that line.
17. Chicago Fire (9-11-12)
Previous ranking: 16
Next MLS match: Sept. 29 vs. Toronto FC (5 p.m. ET, stream live on ESPN+)
Missing the spark in front of goal against FCC won't help the Fire in the playoff chase. Maybe Joe Mansueto will take the result to heart and contemplate spending some money on scoring help for 2020 as he takes over as the club's new owner.
18. Columbus Crew (9-8-15)
Previous ranking: 17
Next MLS match: Sept. 29 vs. Philadelphia (5 p.m. ET, stream live on ESPN+)
"If we could see out a game this year we'd be in the playoffs," Caleb Porter said after his team conceded with seconds to go in Vancouver. And if dogs had wings they'd be... more awesome? Someone make that happen.
19. Vancouver Whitecaps (7-10-15)
Previous ranking: 21
Next MLS match: Sept. 29 at LA Galaxy (7:30 p.m. ET, stream live on ESPN+)
Those feisty 'Caps fought to the death and earned a draw against Columbus on Saturday. It wasn't a win, but it was better than a loss and that makes it a somewhat nice thing in an otherwise not nice season for Vancouver.
20. Houston Dynamo (11-4-16)
Previous ranking: 23
Next MLS match: Sept. 25 at LAFC (10:30 p.m. ET, stream live on ESPN+)
ZOMBIE HOUSTON IS BACK. The Dynamo found their way back with two goals in the final 21 minutes to beat Orlando City on Saturday. Can Zombie Houston eat the brains of LAFC on Wednesday night? You know what, this has gone too far.
21. Orlando City (9-9-14)
Previous ranking: 14
Next MLS match: Sept. 29 at FC Cincinnati (5 p.m. ET, stream live on ESPN+)
The Lions had a chance to resuscitate their playoff chances up a goal with 20 minutes to go in Houston. Cut to: Flatline.
22. Sporting Kansas City (10-7-14)
Previous ranking: 19
Next MLS match: Sept. 25 at Minnesota (8 p.m. ET, stream live on ESPN+)
Anything we could say would just be pouring salt in a wound -- oh hey, that wasn't even supposed to be a joke about their health issues this year, but look how it worked out.
23. FC Cincinnati (6-4-22)
Previous ranking: 22
Next MLS match: Sept. 29 vs. Orlando City (5 p.m. ET, stream live on ESPN+)
FC Cincinnati played a game of soccer on Saturday and did not lose, something that has happened only 10 times in the year 2019 in MLS play.
24. Montreal Impact (11-4-17)
Previous ranking: 24
Next MLS match: Sept. 29 vs. Atlanta (5 p.m. ET, stream live on ESPN+)
The Impact's season is not yet actually over and the club set a record for the fewest fouls committed (1) in an MLS game. Huzzah!