Most MLS sides spent the weekend at home during the international break, but there were still six matches to be played in Week 4. Trends are beginning to appear after almost a month of league play as New York City FC and the Columbus Crew continue to look dominant while Sporting Kansas City and the Vancouver Whitecaps hold on to slender leads in what looks to be another wild year for the Western Conference.

What did we learn in Week 4 of MLS play? Whose stock rose from stellar performances and whose issues look like more than early season kinks? Find out in the Week 5 edition of our power rankings:

1. New York City FC (Last Week: 1)

New York’s blue team was once again without the services of superstar David Villa but the Pigeons pulled out a result. NYCFC dominated the ball, holding 70.7% of possession but could only fire off seven shots. Luckily newcomer Ismael Tajouri-Shradi struck twice to pull out a draw on the road, but it was a busy day for Sean Johnson as New York City’s back line let New England shoot at will.

2. Columbus Crew (Last Week: 2)

Federico Higuain had his way with the D.C. defense, setting up his teammates time and time again for clear chances on goal. With his assist on Ricardo Clark’s eventual game-winning goal, Pipa became just the 19th player in MLS history to record 50 goals and 50 assists in the MLS regular season. Even without Justin Meram and Ola Kamara, the Crew find themselves tied for the most points in the league after four weeks.

3. Toronto FC (Last Week: 3)

4. Houston Dynamo (Last Week: 5)

5. New York Red Bulls (Last Week: 7)

The Red Bulls bounced back from a frustrating loss in Salt Lake to dominate Minnesota United. Alex Muyl made good on his first appearance in 2018, scoring the game’s first goal and setting up Bradley Wright-Phillips for the third. It was nearly a hat trick for BWP, with only the post standing in his way of earning his fourth goal in three matches. He did have this clinical chip to put the game to bed, though:

6. Atlanta United (Last Week: 6)

7. Los Angeles FC (Last Week: 8)

8. LA Galaxy (Last Week: 10)

The Galaxy forwards made headlines last week as Ola Kamara bagged a hat trick for Norway and Los Angeles welcomed its newest star in Zlatan Ibrahimović. But neither were in Vancouver to take on the Whitecaps, and LA obviously lacked some punch up top. The Galaxy managed just one shot on target all night but luckily the defense held steady for a road result.

9. Sporting Kansas City (Last Week: 4)

A year removed from having the league’s best defense, SKC’s back line has struggled mightily in the first few matches of the year. The normally timid Rapids struck twice in the first half and brought Sporting’s total up to nine conceded through four matches. Kansas City put the pressure on and fired 20 shots at Tim Howard, forcing him to make seven saves. The breakthrough came thanks to some late heroics by Felipe Gutierrez and Diego Rubio, who secured a point to keep SKC at the top of the Western Conference.

10. FC Dallas (Last Week: 9)

Roland Lamah continued his scoring ways and Dallas were unlucky not to net a few more in an end-to-end match in Toyota Stadium. It was a long afternoon for Jimmy Maurer, who was forced into action repeatedly by threatening Timbers chances. While FC Dallas only managed two shots on target, some last-ditch efforts from Portland defenders meant Dallas had to settle for a draw.

11. Seattle Sounders (Last Week: 11)

12. Montreal Impact (Last Week: 12)

13. Vancouver Whitecaps (Last Week: 15)

Cristian Techera is back for the Caps and made his presence felt in BC Place, but the Vancouver forwards couldn’t quite finish from his sweet service. Kei Kamara had a chance to take all three points for the home side but couldn’t quite control the ball in the penalty area and the Whitecaps settled for a scoreless draw.

14. Chicago Fire (Last Week: 13)

15. San Jose Earthquakes (Last Week: 14)

16. Philadelphia Union (Last Week: 16)

17. Real Salt Lake (Last Week: 17)

18. New England Revolution (Last Week: 22)

Cristian Penilla has been a much-needed revelation for New England this early in the season as Brad Friedel continues to tinker with his lineups. The Revolution made the most of their limited time on the ball, managing 16 shots from just 29.3% possession. But giving the ball away cheaply meant two leads lost and a disappointing result in Gillette Stadium, where New England was dominant a year ago.

19. Orlando City (Last Week: 19)

20. Portland Timbers (Last Week: 21)

Sebastian Blanco’s fantastic curling effort was the only shot that beat Dallas keeper Jimmy Maurer, but it was all Portland needed to secure its first point of the year. An unfortunate hand ball by former Lion Lawrence Olum saw him sent off midway through the second half, forcing the Timbers to hold on for dear life at the end. It’s been a rocky start to the Savarese era, but perhaps Portland can build from the road result.

21. Minnesota United (Last Week: 18)

After two wins on the bounce, the Loons looked lost in a 3-0 trouncing at Red Bull Arena. Minnesota’s defense struggled again, allowing New York to take 21 shots at goal. A classic late push was denied by Luis Robles and the crossbar, but United were never the better team in this one.

22. D.C. United (Last Week: 20)

After a resurgent result last week that looked like maybe the Black and Red had found their stride, D.C. fell flat in Week 4. Defensive miscues were the story of the night and other than Yamil Asad’s composed finish from outside the area, United’s attack was toothless. If not for David Ousted’s point-blank saves, the rout would have been on.

23. Colorado Rapids (Last Week: 23)

After a sterling start to the match that saw Colorado up two goals in just eight minutes, the Rapids reverted back to their old ways and let the win slip away. Colorado failed to put another shot on target all night and finally succumbed to the SKC onslaught, dropping two points at the death.

Sezione: MLS / Data: Thu 29 March 2018 alle 14:00
Autore: Stefano Bentivogli / Twitter: @sbentivogli10
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