MLS Power Rankings: Philadelphia beats NYCFC to remind everyone of its contender status

While New York City FC fought off an MLS Cup hangover and set its sights on an ultimately futile CONCACAF Champions League run, the Philadelphia Union established themselves as the team to beat in the Eastern Conference and a Supporters' Shield rival to LAFC. In the past two months, though, everything had changed. NYCFC grabbed the aspirin and a cup of coffee to rocket up the standings, while Philly won just one in its past ten.

The Bronx Blues visited Philadelphia on Sunday for a meeting of two of the conference's best, and Jim Curtin's team leapt out to a sixth-minute lead that it would manage for the following 82 minutes. Then Valentin Castellanos equalized in the 89th, and the Union looked destined for a draw, only for Cory Burke to dig deep, score a 96th-minute winner and deliver the club just their second win since April 10.

For the first time all season, there's the hint of a bout at the top of one of the conferences.

With Week 16 in the books, Kyle Bonagura and Danny Guerra look at the results, break down where all 28 teams stand after a wild weekend of action and bring you the latest edition of the MLS Power Rankings.

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Previous ranking: 1

Next MLS match: June 29 vs. FC Dallas, 10:30 p.m. ET

The Black and Gold have been the best team to this point, so, of course, they went out and bolstered the squad with Gareth Bale and Giorgio Chiellini, both of whom could be eligible to play against the Galaxy on July 8 (10 p.m. ET, stream live on ESPN). It likely won't stop there, either, as GM John Thorrington indicated it's likely the club will fill its vacant designated player spot, too. -- Bonagura

2. Real Salt Lake

Previous ranking: 3

Next MLS match: July 3 at Minnesota United FC, 8 p.m. ET, ESPN+

RSL's goalless draw with Columbus wasn't an indicative result, but it's clear momentum is building in Salt Lake. The club has sold out eight straight matches at Rio Tinto Stadium and it has the league's best home record (6-0-2). With its next four matches against teams below the playoff line, RSL have a chance to make a push for the top spot in the Western Conference standings. -- Bonagura

3. New York City FC

Previous ranking: 2

Next MLS match: June 29 at FC Cincinnati, 7:30 p.m. ET, ESPN+

The emerging rivalry between NYCFC and Philadelphia ramped up in Sunday's 2-1 win for the Union. NYCFC were knocking at the door with 10 minutes left before scuffling between the players (and a Philly trainer) derailed the match. VAR then gaveth NYCFC a penalty to seemingly salvage a draw, only for it to taketh away when Philly were awarded an initially called-offside goal. -- Guerra

4. Austin FC

Previous ranking: 4

Next MLS match: June 30 at Charlotte FC, 7 p.m. ET, ESPN+

Goals from Sebastian Driussi and Danny Hoesen rescued a point for Austin, after it fell behind 2-0 at home against FC Dallas. Driussi's goal takes him level with Jesus Ferreira (Dallas) and Jeremy Ebobisse (San Jose) atop the league's Golden Boot race (9 goals). -- Bonagura

5. Philadelphia Union

Previous ranking: 7

Next MLS match: June 29 at Chicago Fire FC, 8 p.m. ET, ESPN+

The moment of the match from the Union's wild win over NYCFC? Not the final minutes that saw VAR decide a goal for each side, but the melee in the 79th minute that saw a Philly trainer get red-carded for shoving an NYCFC player while exchanging some lively words. Guess there is a first time for everything in MLS. -- Guerra

6. New York Red Bulls

Previous ranking: 5

Next MLS match: June 30 vs. Atlanta United FC, 8 p.m. ET, ESPN+

RBNY have been solid on the road all season and among the top teams in the East, but Sunday's trip to MLS-best LAFC didn't go as planned. Two starters -- Luquinhas and Aaron Long -- were ruled out due to health and safety protocol before kickoff. A draw seemed to be in play before LAFC made some key subs and got the win. -- Guerra

7. FC Dallas

Previous ranking: 9

Next MLS match: June 29 at LAFC, 10:30 p.m. ET

The 2-2 draw with Austin feels more like two points dropped after Dallas conceded twice after taking a 2-0 lead on second-half goals from Paul Arriola and Brandon Servania. After the splash LAFC made this week, Dallas could make a statement of its own with a win in Los Angeles on Wednesday. -- Bonagura

8. Nashville SC

Previous ranking: 8

Next MLS match: July 3 vs. Portland Timbers, 8:30 p.m. ET, ESPN+

Hany Mukhtar's goals come in bunches. His brace in Nashville 3-1 win against D.C. United was his third of the season and takes him to within a goal of the Golden Boot leaders at eight this season. -- Bonagura

9. LA Galaxy

Previous ranking: 6

Next MLS match: June 29 vs. Minnesota United FC, 10:30 p.m. ET, ESPN+

Using a designated player slot on Douglas Costa was looking like a whiff even before LAFC brought in Bale on a TAM deal. That splash signing adds a greater sense of urgency for the Galaxy to improve as they hover near the playoff line and their dominance in the L.A. market continues to erode. -- Bonagura

10. CF Montreal

Previous ranking: 10

Next MLS match: June 29 at Seattle Sounders FC, 10 p.m. ET, ESPN+

Still playing without Djordje Mihailovic, the Canadian club did enough against a depleted Charlotte side to keep pace for the top spot in the East. Without Mihailovic, Romell Quioto did his part by scoring an early goal and playing a part in the game-winner. -- Guerra

11. Seattle Sounders

Previous ranking: 12

Next MLS match: June 29 vs. CF Montreal, 10 p.m. ET, ESPN+

After smashing Sporting Kansas City, 3-0, the Sounders' upward trajectory continues. Since the start of May, only NYCFC have a better points per game average (2.1) in MLS than Seattle (2.0). -- Bonagura

12. Orlando City

Previous ranking: 11

Next MLS match: July 4 vs. D.C. United, 7 p.m. ET, ESPN+

The Lions' attack sputtered without playmaker Mauricio Pereyra in the lineup against Cincinnati. Still a formidable side, but Orlando would like to see someone off the bench such as Tesho Akindele or Alexandre Pato contribute a bit more. -- Guerra

13. FC Cincinnati

Previous ranking: 16

Next MLS match: June 29 vs. New York City FC, 7:30 p.m. ET, ESPN+

Cincy's first MLS season saw it win six games, followed by consecutive four-win campaigns. This term, FCC already have seven victories. Luciano Acosta continues to impress, nearly scoring a goal before hustling to provide the pass for Brenner's game winner. As for the latter, hopefully his first goal of the season spurs some confidence. -- Guerra

14. New England Revolution

Previous ranking: 14

Next MLS match: July 3 vs. FC Cincinnati, 7:30 p.m. ET, ESPN+

Revs keeper Djordje Petrovic won't make fans forget Arsenal-bound Matt Turner anytime soon, but a couple of clutch, diving saves in a scoreless draw with Vancouver showed what he can do. The Revs were unlucky to not score in this one, but Bruce Arena's side look to be okay if Petrovic can keep it up. -- Guerra

15. Houston Dynamo

Previous ranking: 17

Next MLS match: June 29 at Portland Timbers, 10:30 p.m. ET, ESPN+

The Dynamo have scored (20) and allowed (19) the same amount of goals this season as Real Salt Lake, yet that hasn't translated to results. A 2-0 win against Chicago with goals from Darwin Quintero and Sebastian Ferreira on Saturday gave Houston its first win at home since May 14. -- Bonagura

16. Inter Miami CF

Previous ranking: 19

Next MLS match: July 4 at FC Dallas, 9 p.m. ET, ESPN+

It was a solid win for Miami over visitors Minnesota, rallying from a goal down thanks to a late brace by Aston Villa loanee Indiana Vassilev. After the game, Miami coach Phil Neville praised first-year player Bryce Duke for his control in the midfield. The win also extended Miami's home unbeaten streak to six games. -- Guerra

17. Atlanta United FC

Previous ranking: 15

Next MLS match: June 30 at New York Red Bulls, 8 p.m. ET, ESPN+

Another week, another major injury for Atlanta. Starting right-back Brooks Lennon will now miss six to eight weeks after suffering a knee injury in warmups ahead of a 2-1 loss at Toronto. Luiz Araujo had a great goal but the makeshift midfield and depleted defense continues to provide headaches. -- Guerra

18. Colorado Rapids

Previous ranking: 13

Next MLS match: July 4 vs. Austin FC, 9 p.m. ET, ESPN+

Winless in three following a 3-0 loss to Portland, the Rapids' attack is in need of a complete overhaul. Since trading for striker Gyasi Zardes on April 22, Colorado is the only team in MLS to average fewer than one goal per game (0.9). -- Bonagura

19. Charlotte FC

Previous ranking: 20

Next MLS match: June 30 vs. Austin FC, 7 p.m. ET, ESPN+

Interim coach Christian Lattanzio lost his first game at the helm in the 2-1 defeat to Montreal, and Charlotte remains winless on the road this season. The Queen City side had 10 players unavailable due to injuries and protocol, and had a chance to earn a draw throughout the game, so it wasn't the most heartbreaking effort. -- Guerra

20. Columbus Crew

Previous ranking: 21

Next MLS match: June 29 at Toronto FC, 7:30 p.m. ET, ESPN+

The Crew are scraping by without a bevy of top scorers, such as Derrick Etienne Jr. and Lucas Zelarayan, and are awaiting the arrival of club-record signing Cucho Hernandez. Following a scoreless draw at RSL, the week gets tougher with visits to Toronto and Minnesota. -- Guerra

21. Portland Timbers

Previous ranking: 22

Next MLS match: June 29 vs. Houston Dynamo, 10:30 p.m. ET, ESPN+

Portland's 3-0 win against Colorado snapped a four-match winless streak, dating back to its 7-2 win against SKC on May 14, and makes it just two wins in 11 matches. A turning point? We'll see. -- Bonagura

22. Vancouver Whitecaps

Previous ranking: 23

Next MLS match: July 2 vs. LAFC, 10 p.m. ET, ESPN+

In their past four games, the Whitecaps have won against Dallas and RSL and a draw against New England -- this is a team that can compete with anyone in the league. They just can't find any consistency. The Caps are ranked second worst in the league in expected goals (xG) per game (1.1), which doesn't indicate a reversal of fortune is coming soon. -- Bonagura

23. Minnesota United

Previous ranking: 18

Next MLS match: June 29 at LA Galaxy, 10:30 p.m. ET, ESPN+

No team in MLS has fewer points than Minnesota since the beginning of May (4), a span of eight games in which it has scored just six goals. A 2-1 loss to Inter Miami on Saturday makes four straight losses, including the loss to third-division Union Omaha in the U.S. Open Cup. -- Bonagura

24. Toronto FC

Previous ranking: 25

Next MLS match: June 29 vs. Columbus Crew, 7:30 p.m. ET, ESPN+

There are at least two more games before the Lorenzo Insigne era officially begins in Toronto, but Bob Bradley's side seem to be correcting the ship after early-season struggles. Jonathan Osorio, who had been hobbled by injury but scored in his return to the lineup, should pair well with the former Napoli great. -- Guerra

25. Sporting Kansas City

Previous ranking: 24

Next MLS match: July 3 vs. New York Red Bulls, 8 p.m. ET, ESPN+

Dating back to the league's foundation in 1996, the club's worst single-season goal differential is minus-20. It happened twice: 1999 and 2001. At minus-16 through 18 matches, SKC -- who are averaging just 0.89 points per game -- are trending toward worst-season-of-all-time territory. -- Bonagura

26. San Jose Earthquakes

Previous ranking: 27

Next MLS match: July 3 vs. Chicago Fire, 9 p.m. ET, ESPN+

The Quakes didn't play last week after the California Clasico was postponed, meaning they finished the month of June without scoring a goal (albeit in only two games). Even so, Jeremy Ebobisse remains tied for the Golden Boot lead (nine goals). -- Bonagura

27. Chicago Fire

Previous ranking: 26

Next MLS match: June 29 vs. Philadelphia Union, 8 p.m. ET, ESPN+

Tied with D.C. for the least goals scored this season at 14, Chicago is back to its woeful ways following a 2-0 loss to Houston. After breaking a 10-game winless streak last week, Chicago didn't muster much in Texas. Xherdan Shaqiri and Jairo Torres both sat out with injuries for the second straight match. -- Guerra

28. D.C. United

Previous ranking: 28

Next MLS match: Jul4 at Orlando City, 7 p.m. ET, ESPN+

Winless in six matches, the sole bright spot in DCU's loss at Nashville was another goal for Taxiarchis Fountas. The Greek DP now has six since joining earlier this season, but D.C. is in dire need of more playmakers. They do have two DP spots available. -- Guerra