MLS Power Rankings: NYCFC continue climb up the order as Dallas stumbles

It's steady as she goes at the top of this week's MLS Power Rankings, with LAFC still leading the chasing pack, and the Philadelphia Union and LA Galaxy contesting the other podium places. A bit further down the order, though, there's one team looking to reestablish its authority on this league.

Since being knocked out of the CONCACAF Champions League at the semifinal stage 2 1/2 weeks ago, New York City FC has gone on a tear, scoring 14 goals and conceding four in three games. Without a continental-cup run to contend with, the defending MLS Cup champion is reminding us all how impressive it was en route to last year's title.

With Week 9 in the books, Caitlin Murray and Austin Lindberg look at the results, break down where all 28 teams stand after a wild weekend of action and bring you the latest edition of Power Rankings.

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Previous ranking: 1

Next MLS match: May 7 vs. Philadelphia Union, 11 p.m. ET, ESPN+

If you're a glass-half-empty observer, you could lament the many chances LAFC got that they couldn't finish against Minnesota, waiting until the 82nd minute to finally score. But to take a more glass-half-full view, LAFC were in control throughout, goals or not. With a fair 2-0 win on the weekend, LAFC look like one of the best teams in MLS at the moment. -- Murray

2. Philadelphia Union

Previous ranking: 3

Next MLS match: May 7 at LAFC, 11 p.m. ET, ESPN+

As the first away team to play at the brand-new GEODIS Park against Nashville (the co-best defensive team in MLS last year), the Union have to be happy to leave with a point after a 1-1 draw on Sunday. But the Union certainly appeared to be in the driver's seat for much of the proceedings and perhaps deserved more out of the game, despite what may have been a second unrewarded penalty that should've gone against Philly. -- Murray

3. LA Galaxy

Previous ranking: 2

Next MLS match: May 8 at Austin FC, 7 p.m. ET

Would you believe that a team boasting attacking talents like Javier Hernandez, Douglas Costa and Efrain Alvarez would be averaging just 1.11 goals per game? Maybe even more amazingly, despite that surprisingly low output, the Galaxy are still third in the Western Conference, even after a 1-0 defeat to Real Salt Lake. -- Lindberg

4. New York Red Bulls

Previous ranking: 5

Next MLS match: May 7 vs. Portland Timbers, 7 p.m. ET, ESPN+

It was a bit of a weird match in Chicago -- lightning delays, a snappy three-minute halftime, slippery conditions and dubious calls -- but the Red Bulls finally reaped the rewards of the chances they had been creating and found a breakthrough in the 75th minute before a 91st-minute game winner. It wasn't exactly dominating, but the Red Bulls were the better side and deserved the win they got. -- Murray

5. New York City FC

Previous ranking: 8

Next MLS match: May 7 vs. Sporting Kansas City, 7 p.m. ET, ESPN+

On paper, a comfortable 3-0 win over a basement-dweller isn't much to get excited about it, but the San Jose Earthquakes have looked at least a little bit better since manager Matias Almeyda was sacked two weeks ago, and NYCFC continued the high level of performance we've seen against bona fide "good teams" as well. NYCFC now have 14 goals in just their past three games -- doubt them at your peril. -- Murray

6. Nashville SC

Previous ranking: 7

Next MLS match: May 8 vs. Real Salt Lake, 5 p.m. ET, ESPN+

Even on the weekend that the club opened its shiny new soccer-specific stadium a stone's throw from downtown, Nashville got another draw. It couldn't be more fitting for a team that has tied nearly half its matches in MLS history, although a handball from Philly's Jose Martinez was necessary to bring the draw to fruition. Nashville still hasn't shown it can consistently turn draws into wins, unfortunately. -- Murray

7. Austin FC

Previous ranking: 6

Next MLS match: May 8 vs. LA Galaxy, 7 p.m. ET

Going to Houston and getting a 2-1 win over the quietly impressive Dynamo is one of Austin's bigger achievements this season. The second-year club has played just two opponents occupying playoff positions all year -- the Dynamo and Minnesota United, both victories for the Verde -- which could help to explain its league-best attack and goal differential. The next time Austin plays a team outside of postseason places? At Charlotte on June 30. -- Lindberg

8. FC Dallas

Previous ranking: 4

Next MLS match: May 7 vs. Seattle Sounders, 8:30 p.m. ET, ESPN+

It was a slower start for FCD in Kansas City, but they were clearly the better team on the field. Without Brandon Servania earning a second yellow card for a sloppy tackle, Dallas was poised to get an all-important win on the road, even if it wasn't one of its better performances this season. A draw is still a fine result. -- Murray

9. Real Salt Lake

Previous ranking: 11

Next MLS match: May 8 at Nashville SC, 5 p.m. ET, ESPN+

RSL's scoreless streak came to an end after 366 minutes across all competitions, with Marcelo Silva heading in the winner in a 1-0 victory over the Galaxy. The xG from that event was just 0.11, illustrating just how close Salt Lake was to seeing that goalless period extend to 407. Yet Pablo Mastroeni's team can claim a place this high up the order because of its ability to deliver when needed, as demonstrated by the list of teams they've beaten in 2022: the Galaxy, Nashville, New England and Seattle. -- Lindberg

10. Orlando City

Previous ranking: 10

Next MLS match: May 7 at CF Montreal, 4 p.m. ET, ESPN+

After being thoroughly outplayed last weekend, the Lions found the bounce-back win that they needed, a 2-1 win over Charlotte, with Ruan playing perhaps his best-ever game in purple. The question is whether this will be a blip or signal a shift for the Brazilian, but it was undoubtedly a good performance from Orlando, a team that has shown resilience this season. -- Murray

11. Minnesota United

Previous ranking: 9

Next MLS match: May 7 vs. FC Cincinnati, 8 p.m. ET, ESPN+

You have to give the Loons some credit: They made LAFC work for the end result, a 2-0 win for LAFC on Sunday. But Minnesota looked like it was playing for a draw, only to late in the game fall flat and capitulate to the home side anyway. It was not a confidence-building performance. -- Murray

12. CF Montreal

Previous ranking: 15

Next MLS match: May 7 vs. Orlando City, 4 p.m. ET, ESPN+

Djordje Mihailovic has been the standout performer in practically every Montreal match this season, yet on a night when he was slightly below his best, the Quebecois still found a way to extender their points streak to six games by beating Atlanta United 2-1. Only defending champions NYCFC, Eastern Conference-leading Philadelphia and third-placed Orlando have gotten the better of Wilfried Nancy's team this season. -- Lindberg

13. Houston Dynamo

Previous ranking: 13

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

Is Houston a contender or a pretender? Back-to-back defeats to in-state rivals suggests the latter, but the Dynamo were the better team in Saturday's 2-1 loss to Austin, keeping alive the hope that this is a playoff-caliber team after all. -- Lindberg

14. Portland Timbers

Previous ranking: 12

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

The Timbers went to slumping Colorado (winless in five straight) and were bested in practically every metric en route to a 2-0 loss to a Rapids team that played the final half hour with 10 men. Portland hasn't scored a goal in 282 minutes. -- Lindberg

15. Chicago Fire

Previous ranking: 14

Next MLS match: May 7 at Atlanta United, 6 p.m. ET, ESPN+

An awfully harsh PK call gifted Chicago the early lead against the Red Bulls -- its first MLS goal since March 19 -- but as has mostly been the case since mid-March, the Fire simply didn't look up to the task. If not for some dubious calls from the referee, the Red Bulls would've been up by more, so at least the Fire's loss wasn't as bad as it could've been. -- Murray

16. Colorado Rapids

Previous ranking: 18

Next MLS match: May 7 at San Jose Earthquakes, 10 p.m. ET, ESPN+

It's fitting that goals from Diego Rubio and Mark-Anthony Kaye led the Rapids to their win over Portland -- their first victory since March 12 -- considering that the pair have scored five of Colorado's six goals in the six games since that win over Sporting Kansas City nearly two months ago. -- Lindberg

17. Columbus Crew

Previous ranking: 17

Next MLS match: May 7 at New England Revolution, 7:30 p.m. ET, ESPN+

Saturday's 3-0 win over D.C. United was a fortuitous end to the Crew's six-game winless skid. D.C. was more effective with the ball, and actually out-chanced its hosts, yet Columbus somehow came away with a lopsided result despite narrowly winning the xG contest 1.49-1.44. -- Lindberg

18. Toronto FC

Previous ranking: 16

Next MLS match: May 8 at Vancouver Whitecaps, 4 p.m. ET, ESPN+

Losing at home to Cincinnati is a fairly deflating result, but TFC will have their chance for revenge on Wednesday when they visit Ohio for a rematch. On the plus side, Jesus Jimenez leads the league in goals and has scored five times in his past five appearances. That's going to be an awfully dangerous-looking attack once Lorenzo Insigne joins in July. -- Lindberg

19. Atlanta United FC

Previous ranking: 19

Next MLS match: May 7 vs. Chicago Fire, 6 p.m. ET, ESPN+

Saturday's 2-1 loss in Montreal means that in the four league games that Atlanta has played without star forward Josef Martinez, it has lost three (the other defeats coming against Charlotte and Miami) and drawn one (vs. Cincinnati), scoring just two goals in that span. Five Stripes fans probably don't want to hear that the 28-year-old Venezuela international still faces up to another month on the sidelines as he recovers from knee surgery. -- Lindberg

20. New England Revolution

Previous ranking: 22

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

This was likely the Revs' most complete performance of the season -- Carles Gil and Sebastian Lletget threatened regularly, behind Adam Buksa and Damian Rivera -- and New England doubled up Miami in possession, pass attempts, chances, shots and shots on goal. Maybe all Bruce Arena's team needed was the comfort of knowing Matt Turner was back between the sticks for the first time this season. -- Lindberg

21. Charlotte FC

Previous ranking: 21

Next MLS match: May 7 vs. Inter Miami, 3:30 p.m. ET

In its 2-1 loss on Saturday, Charlotte's defense looked all too willing to let Orlando's counterattack blow past it on too many occasions, the midfield wasn't getting stuck in to win balls and the attack was mostly possession without purpose. It wasn't a convincing performance, but on the road in Orlando was never going to be. Charlotte ought to just move on and forget this. -- Murray

22. Inter Miami CF

Previous ranking: 20

Next MLS match: May 7 at Charlotte FC, 3:30 p.m. ET

Entering the weekend, Miami was riding a four-game winning streak: Victories against last year's Supporters' Shield winner New England, perennial contender Seattle, crosstown rival Miami FC in the U.S. Open Cup and regional rival Atlanta. In something akin to the circle of life, that run was ended by a 2-0 defeat to the Revolution in Foxborough. -- Lindberg

23. Seattle Sounders

Previous ranking: 23

Next MLS match: May 7 at Dallas, 8:30 p.m. ET, ESPN+

The Sounders got a rest ahead of their CONCACAF Champions League final second leg at home on Wednesday, having earned a 2-2 draw at Pumas last weekend. Seattle's continental exploits can explain much of its troubles in league play this season. They'll be hoping to get some silverware out of it. -- Lindberg

24. FC Cincinnati

Previous ranking: 25

Next MLS match: May 7 at Minnesota United, 8 p.m. ET, ESPN+

No one in MLS has more key passes than Luciano Acosta. Now he's finishing chances, too, scoring the eventual winner in the 2-1 victory in Toronto to give him three goals in his past four league appearances. -- Lindberg

25. D.C. United

Previous ranking: 24

Next MLS match: May 7 vs. Houston Dynamo, 7:30 p.m. ET, ESPN+

D.C. didn't deserve a defeat to Columbus, certainly not by a 3-0 margin. If not for a couple of big saves from Eloy Room on Julian Gressel, the nation's capital club would've made this more of a contest than the scoreline suggested. -- Lindberg

26. Sporting Kansas City

Previous ranking: 27

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

Even playing at home up by a man for the final half hour and after being gifted a very soft penalty early on, Sporting Kansas City still could only barely eke out a draw to FC Dallas. With the third-worst points-per-game average in MLS and an inability to step up in even favorable conditions, there is not a lot of reason to feel great about SKC these days. -- Murray

27. Vancouver Whitecaps

Previous ranking: 28

Next MLS match: May 8 vs. Toronto, 4 p.m. ET, ESPN+

Vancouver sat idle over the weekend and still managed to move up a position, thanks to the turbulence in San Jose. -- Lindberg

28. San Jose Earthquakes

Previous ranking: 26

Next MLS match: May 7 vs. Colorado Rapids, 10 p.m. ET, ESPN+

The Quakes are desperately trying to get back on track after the ouster of coach Matias Almeyda, but the operative word here may be "desperate." They just looked a bit lost this weekend. Sure, NYCFC are the reigning MLS Cup champions for a reason, so it was never going to be easy to go to the Bronx and face them, but it looks like the Quakes have a long way to go still. -- Murray