MLS Power Rankings: New England stumbles at NYCFC, but remain on top with talisman Gil on the mend

The figurative halfway point of the season has come and gone, with the MLS All-Stars knocking off their counterparts from Liga MX on penalties on Wednesday, and the business end of the 2021 campaign is now upon us. In a surprise twist over the weekend, New England tasted defeat, but one little stumble is hardly enough to dethrone the best side in MLS throughout this season.

Find out where your team sits coming out of the All-Star break in our Week 17 Power Rankings.

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1. New England Revolution

Previous ranking: 1

Next MLS match: Sept. 3 at Philadelphia Union, 7:30 p.m. ET, ESPN+

The Revs were down five players from their usual starting XI -- including Gustavo Bou, Carles Gil and Tajon Buchanan -- so there's a danger in reading too much into their 2-0 defeat to NYCFC. At least Gil is now back in New England after rehabbing in Spain, hinting that he's getting closer to a return. -- Carlisle

2. Seattle Sounders

Previous ranking: 2

Next MLS match: Sept. 11 vs. Minnesota, 5 p.m. ET, ESPN+

After the NWSL's OL Reign beat the Portland Thorns in the first match of a doubleheader, the Sounders couldn't complete the sweep for Seattle. The Sounders had several chances to equalize against the Timbers, but they hit the post four times and gave up a stoppage-time goal to lose 2-0. -- Bonagura

3. Colorado Rapids

Previous ranking: 4

Next MLS match: Sept. 4 at San Jose, 10 p.m. ET

An early goal from Jonathan Lewis was enough for the Rapids to get a point at Sporting Kansas City in a match dictated by the hosts. Midfielder Kellyn Acosta will miss the team's trip to San Jose this week while on national team duty. -- Bonagura

4. New York City FC

Previous ranking: 5

Next MLS match: Sept. 3 at Nashville SC, 7:30 p.m. ET; ESPN+

Valentin Castellanos is still underperforming in terms of expected goals (16.59) vs. actual goals (10), but his two strikes against a shorthanded New England side gave NYCFC a big 2-0 victory and reduced its gap with the Eastern Conference front-runners to 15 points. Maxi Moralez's two assists now give him eight on the season. -- Carlisle

5. Sporting Kansas City

Previous ranking: 3

Next MLS match: Sept. 3 at LAFC. 10 p.m. ET

Sporting Kansas City probably felt like it deserved three points, but settled for a 1-1 draw with Colorado. Johnny Russell equalized in the 41st minute for SKC, who had a bulk of the chances throughout the game -- especially in the second half. -- Bonagura

6. Nashville SC

Previous ranking: 7

Next MLS match: Sept. 3 vs. New York City FC, 7:30 p.m. ET, ESPN+

As impressive as Nashville has been this season, there was one area where the team was lacking: performances away from home. Consider that box checked as NSC picked up a 2-0 win over Atlanta. Daniel Rios made the most of his first start of the season, tallying in first-half stoppage time. -- Carlisle

7. Orlando City

Previous ranking: 6

Next MLS match: Sept. 4 vs. Columbus, 7:30 p.m. ET

Orlando's attack has hit a bit of a dry spell, scoring just four goals in its past five matches. Not even the return of Daryl Dike for the first time since July 3 was enough to avoid a 0-0 draw with Miami. Fortunately for the Lions, their defense has kept pace, conceding just three over the same spell. -- Carlisle

8. Minnesota United

Previous ranking: 9

Next MLS match: Sept. 11 at Seattle, 5 p.m. ET, ESPN+

A brace from Adrien Hunou gave Minnesota a 2-1 win against Houston. It was an important win for the Loons after taking just two points from their previous three matches. -- Bonagura

9. Philadelphia Union

Previous ranking: 8

Next MLS match: Sept. 3 vs. New England Revolution, 7:30 p.m. ET, ESPN+

The Union just about got what they deserved in a 3-1 loss to D.C. United, even after going ahead. The second leg of the Concacaf Champions League semis against Club America still looms on the horizon, but up first is a tough one at home against New England. -- Carlisle

10. Atlanta United FC

Previous ranking:10

Next MLS match: Sept. 10 vs. Orlando City, 7:00 p.m. ET, ESPN and ESPN Deportes

Gonzalo Pineda's managerial debut was spoiled in a 2-0 defeat to Nashville, which limited the Five Stripes to two shots on goal. Josef Martinez going all Hulk Hogan on his game jersey was probably the highlight of the evening for Atlanta. While it's tempting to think this result was a step backward for Atlanta, Nashville's defense has done this to a lot of teams this season. -- Carlisle

11. San Jose Earthquakes

Previous ranking: 11

Next MLS match: Sept. 4 vs. Colorado, 10:30 p.m. ET, ESPN+

San Jose's 17-year-old attacker Cade Cowell featured prominently in the All-Star Game, but the rest of the Quakes were off this week and take their 10-match unbeaten streak into Saturday against Colorado. -- Bonagura

12. LA Galaxy

Previous ranking: 12

Next MLS match: Sept. 11 at Colorado, 3:30 p.m. ET

A brace from Dejan Joveljic and a late equalizer from Kevin Cabral saw the Galaxy take a point at LAFC in another thrilling El Trafico. The Galaxy have held up well during the extended absence of Javier "Chicharito" Hernandez, who said last week he was "very close" to returning from a calf injury. -- Bonagura

13. D.C. United

Previous ranking: 14

Next MLS match: Sept. 11 at New York Red Bulls, 7:00 p.m., ESPN+

Yordy Reyna's persistence led to two goals, winning a penalty in the first half and then crashing the net to slam home a rebound in a 3-1 win over Philadelphia. The victory snapped a three-game losing streak for the Black and Red, allowing them to maintain a tenuous hold on the seventh and final playoff spot in the East. -- Carlisle

14. Inter Miami CF

Previous ranking: 15

Next MLS match: Sept. 4 at Cincinnati, 8:00 p.m. ET, ESPN+

As mid-season signings go, goalkeeper Nick Marsman flew under the radar, but he came up big in a 0-0 road draw against Orlando City, saving Tesho Akindele's penalty as well as Antonio Carlos' header late. Once a postseason afterthought, Miami is showing signs that it's not out of the playoff race just yet. -- Carlisle

15. Vancouver Whitecaps

Previous ranking: 16

Next MLS match: Sept. 4 vs. Austin, 7 p.m. ET, ESPN+

After getting bounced from the Canadian Championship by Pacific FC of the Canadian Premier League, head coach Marc Dos Santos was let go. Without him, the Whitecaps extended their unbeaten streak in MLS to nine matches with a 4-1 win against Real Salt Lake. -- Bonagura

16. CF Montreal

Previous ranking: 17

Next MLS match: Sept. 11 vs. Nashville SC, 8:00 p.m. ET, ESPN+

Montreal was given a gift in the form of a fifth-minute red card to Toronto's Noble Okello, and duly took advantage with a 3-1 win. Now a season that was threatening to go off the rails is back on track thanks to a four-game unbeaten run. -- Carlisle

17. FC Dallas

Previous ranking: 18

Next MLS match: Sept. 4 at Real Salt Lake, 8 p.m. ET

What a week for Ricardo Pepi. The 18-year-old scored the winning penalty in the MLS All-Star Game, accepted a call-up to the United States national team for World Cup qualifying and scored a brace in Dallas' 5-3 win against Austin. Jesus Ferreira also bagged a brace for Dallas, who sits only a point behind San Jose for the final playoff spot out west. -- Bonagura

18. Portland Timbers

Previous ranking: 20

Next MLS match: Sept. 3 at Houston, 8 p.m. ET, ESPN+

Felipe Mora's goal and assist gave Portland an important 2-0 win against Seattle. The win extends Portland's unbeaten streak in Seattle to six matches and also featured a goal from Sebastian Blanco. -- Bonagura

19. Real Salt Lake

Previous ranking: 13

Next MLS match: Sept. 4 vs. FC Dallas, 8 p.m. ET

Head coach Freddy Juarez's unorthodox departure to become an assistant in Seattle last week might have preempted a dismissal at season's end, but it's still strange timing with Real Salt Lake firmly in the playoff picture. The team's response -- a 4-1 loss to Vancouver -- couldn't have been much worse. -- Bonagura

20. Chicago Fire

Previous ranking:22

Next MLS match: Sept. 11 at Kansas City, 8:30 p.m. ET, ESPN+

The Fire desperately needed a road win and finally got one with Robert Beric's goal giving them a 1-0 triumph over the Red Bulls. Chicago climbed over New York in the Eastern Conference standings, but the Fire are still seven points out of the final playoff spot. -- Carlisle

21. Columbus Crew

Previous ranking: 23

Next MLS match: Sept. 4 at Orlando City, 7:30 p.m. ET, ESPN+

That the Crew needed some shoddy goalkeeping from the opposition to beat Cincinnati 3-2 will matter not a bit to them after losing six in a row. Substitute Miguel Berry was in the right place at the right time to net two late goals, and oh by the way, Lucas Zelarayan remains a free-kick master. -- Carlisle

22. LAFC

Previous ranking: 21

Next MLS match: Sept. 3 vs. Kansas City, 10 p.m. ET

Uruguay international Brian Rodriguez turned in his best performance in LAFC uniform, but his two goals -- including one of the best in MLS this year -- went to waste in a 3-3 draw with the Galaxy. Late conceded goals continue to plague LAFC. -- Bonagura

23. New York Red Bulls

Previous ranking: 19

Next MLS match: Sept. 11 vs. D.C. United, 7 p.m. ET; ESPN+

A second loss to the Fire in three weeks saw the Red Bulls slip further down the Eastern Conference standings. That's now nine one-goal defeats on the season for New York, and only Toronto and Cincinnati sit lower in the Eastern Conference standings than the Red Bulls. --Carlisle

24. Austin FC

Previous ranking: 24

Next MLS match: Sept. 4 at Vancouver, 7 p.m. ET, ESPN+

How's this for an out-of-character performance? Prior to hosting FC Dallas on Sunday, Austin FC hadn't allowed more than two goals in a game all season. So the 5-3 loss -- which at one point was 5-1 -- was certainly surprising. Julio Cascante, Diego Fagundez and Alex Ring all scored for Austin, who is becoming more consistently threatening in front of goal. -- Bonagura

25. Houston Dynamo

Previous ranking: 25

Next MLS match: Sept. 4, 8 p.m. ET, ESPN+

Houston's team-record 15-match winless streak is the longest in MLS since a 16-match streak from Philadelphia spanned between the 2016 and 2017 seasons. The Dynamo have the worst record in the Western Conference and their fanbase appears to have mostly checked out on the season. -- Bonagura

26. FC Cincinnati

Previous ranking: 26

Next MLS match: Sept. 4 vs. Inter Miami, 8:00 p.m. ET, ESPN+

Manager Jaap Stam will be taking a hard look at the continued inclusion of goalkeeper Kenneth Vermeer, who coughed up a slew of rebounds, two of which Columbus converted into goals to condemn FCC to a 3-2 defeat in the Hell is Real Derby. Cincinnati's winless streak is now at 11 games. -- Carlisle

27. Toronto FC

Previous ranking: 27

Next MLS match: Sept. 11 vs. Cincinnati, 8:00 p.m. ET, ESPN+

Toronto's disastrous season continued. Noble Okello's red card after less than five minutes meant Toronto didn't have much of a chance against Montreal, and the Reds succumbed 3-1. Time to accelerate that managerial search. -- Carlisle