What a week in MLS. Darlington Nagbe scored an amazing volley, Josef Martínez went airborne to score an incredible goal and the LA Galaxy beat LAFC in El Tráfico. It was truly a week unlike any other.
The Power Rankings are voted on by around 15 people and the author would really like you to know the order is not entirely his fault. And really, when you think about it, what defines "power"? I'll hang up and listen.
Cincy could have potentially all but decided the Supporters’ Shield race with a win over New England last weekend, but they’ll be fine with a draw in one of the most well-played games of the season. They’re still heavy, heavy favorites to get the job done and new DP striker Aaron Boupendza should be plugged into the starting lineup soon.
Nashville picked up a good win over D.C. United and jumped back into second place in the Eastern Conference. Now it’s time for them to finally pick up a DP striker. At least, it should be anyway. The rumor mill has been oddly quiet despite a clear need for Nashville.
The Revs went toe-to-toe with FC Cincinnati and became the first team all year to come out of TQL Stadium with a point of any kind. They’re second in the league on points per game and one of the few teams left who even has a shot at catching up to FC Cincinnati. The odds aren’t great, but with Djordje Petrovic and Carles Gil, pretty much anything is possible.
Columbus took down a Red Bulls side that’s better than people think over the weekend, then drew with Inter Miami on July 4th. They’ve jumped to fourth place in the East and have scored more goals than anybody in the league. And, in more great news, Darlington Nagbe went ahead and scored his annual volley from distance.
We’re 20 games into St. Louis’ existence and they’ve spent the large majority of their time in MLS leading the Western Conference. Including this week, I count 13 weeks tied or in sole possession of first place out of the 18 they’ve officially been a team. They’re in sole possession of the top spot in the West and lead the conference in goals by nine more than the next closest team. They’re the only Western Conference team with a positive double-digit goal differential. It’s been a decent start.
Still, it’s worth pointing out how the Union have been one of the best teams in the league since they dropped lost their Concacaf Champions League semifinal series vs. LAFC. In that 11-game span, only Cincinnati have been better on points per game. Don’t worry about the Union.
Every now and then these days, you look up at your TV and you see Orlando City putting together some genuinely pretty moments of interplay that result in a high-quality chance. It’s starting to feel like the Lions are finally clicking in attack and they’ve been one of the best teams in the league as of late because of it. They’ve come a long way from the start of the season. And they might officially be fun to watch again?
Anyway, on two very related notes, they beat up on Chicago in a 3-1 win last weekend then turned around and pummeled Toronto 4-0 on July 4th. Those two wins have them keeping pace near the top of a stacked Eastern Conference.
That’s three straight losses for LAFC, including yet another misstep in El Tráfico. Since losing the CCL Final, they’ve picked up just seven points in eight games.
Fortunately, their MLS season speed run will relax a bit once we get to Leagues Cup and they can get back on a somewhat normal schedule. They should be fine. Eventually. Probably. At the very least it seems like they have something big in the works this window after trading Kwadwo Opoku to CF Montréal.
But still, the underlying numbers remain great and the Sounders are, somehow, right near the top of the West. Don’t be surprised if they do something very Sounders and put together a nice run to close out the regular season.
I would keep telling everyone to buy RSL stock but it might be too late at this point. They’re one of four Western Conference teams with at least 30 points after picking up a stoppage-time winner from Anderson Julio on the road at Toronto. Now the Secondary Transfer Window is open and DP forward Chicho Arango and U22 midfielder Nelson Palacio are officially with the team. They just keep trending upward.
Atlanta picked up their best win of the season last weekend, taking down the Union 2-0 thanks in large part to a tactical shift to a 3-4-2-1 formation. They followed that up by having an absolutely wild open to the Secondary Transfer Window by trading starting left back Andrew Gutman to Colorado, soon losing starting No. 6 Franco Ibarra on loan thanks to having too many U22 Initiative signings on the books and signing French midfielder Tristan Muyumba to a long-term deal. And there’s still much more to come most likely. The Five Stripes could be a totally different team a month from now.
D.C. split two really difficult road games over the last week. They couldn’t quite keep up with Nashville, but pulled out an excellent win in the Texas heat against Dallas. They’re sitting eighth in the East and it feels like they’re the best of the bunch in the teams sitting 8-15 in the East. That may not sound all that great, but the East is stacked and it sure sounds a heckuva lot better than winning another Wooden Spoon. This is a good team.
Yeah they followed up their 3-2 road win over LAFC with a 3-0 loss to Sporting KC as they continued a trend of being one of the league’s most inconsistent and frustrating teams, but at least Vanni Sartini got to live his truth for the night. Shouldn’t we all get to have a night like that once in our life? Shouldn’t we all get the chance to be a big rockstar and live in hilltop houses driving 15 cars?
It’s understandably a bit rough right now without Jesús Ferreira and Paul Arriola. They could take a big leap forward if they find the right additions this window. They need some extra juice and have for a while. Hopefully they aren’t happy with just being a totally fine team.
The Quakes are winless in the four games since they beat Philadelphia. Like Vancouver, they feel inconsistent in a way they shouldn’t be. Like Dallas, hopefully they’re looking to be a little more than fine. A solid transfer window could go a long way toward solidifying the good things they’ve put in place this season.
Things move quickly in the West these days. After losing to Seattle last weekend, Houston are out of a home Audi MLS Cup Playoffs spot. It was fun while it lasted. Still, the Dynamo are above the line and things could be a lot worse. Plus, it feels like they may have a couple of moves to make this window as they continue to reshape the team.
Austin picked up a totally fine point against Miami and then picked up a new center back in a trade for Philadelphia’s Brandan Craig. Even more importantly, they officially announced Rodolfo Borrell as their new sporting director. Borrell spent the last few years as Pep Guardiola’s assistant coach at Manchester City. Slowly but surely, it feels like good things are starting to happen in Austin again.
CF Montréal dished out $1.75 million in General Allocation Money (GAM) this week in exchange for Mahala Opoku. I say this as someone who loves Opoku’s skillset: That’s a lot of GAM for him. In fact, it’s the second-most expensive trade in MLS history.
You can see how he fits into Hernan Losada’s game model though, and you can see CF Montréal actively working to improve their roster. It’s much better than just sitting around and doing nothing while you sit right on the edge of the East’s playoff line. Hopefully Opoku thrives. It wouldn’t be that surprising if he does. The 21-year-old Ghanaian forward has a ton of potential.
The standings still don’t reflect it, but I maintain my belief that Minnesota are about to come good in a big way. They rolled Portland in a 4-1 win last weekend thanks in part to an Emanuel Reynoso brace and a goal and an assist from one of the best wingers in the league (no, seriously Bongokuhle Hlongwane is awesome).
Anyway, the underlying numbers still have them as the unluckiest team in the league so far and they just made a huge move to bring in striker Teemu Pukki on a DP deal. They’re a good team that’s about to get better.
SKC rebounded from a 1-0 loss to Chicago by crushing Vancouver over the weekend. They still have a long way to go before they’re truly back in the playoff race, but at least they’re not fighting to stay above the Wooden Spoon line anymore.
The Red Bulls went up against a good, maybe great Crew side last weekend and came up short. It happens. But it does feel like we’re starting to run out of time for this team to come good. The remaining schedule is very, very difficult and it doesn’t seem like they can get their best XI on the field consistently. The underlying numbers still have them as a top-five caliber team in the league, but eventually you are who your record says you are.
He’s outstanding. So good, in fact, that it really makes you wonder how things have regressed so much in LA this year. If you watched them play for the first time this season in front of an MLS-record 82,110 fans at the Rose Bowl, you would have never considered them Wooden Spoon contenders.
At least no one can take away a remarkable night in MLS history. And no one can take away whatever is going on here.
Charlotte are still hovering around the playoff line after four straight draws. It’s been a while since they took all three points though. Six games in fact.
NYCFC finally won a game!!! Not only that, but they did it in Montréal. That’s way more impressive than it sounds, trust me. Montréal had lost just once at home prior to last weekend.
The win was NYCFC’s first since April 22. Now, the Secondary Transfer Window is open and they can finally bring in the striker this team has desperately needed. There may be some other moves in the works as well. There always seems to be with this team. Either way, it must be nice to finally have some optimism around this team.
After two decent wins over Portland and SKC, Chicago went out last weekend and got boat raced by Orlando.
Still, they’re technically only three points below the Eastern playoff line. The dream is alive (and will stay alive just long enough to hurt you).
Portland got blasted by Minnesota over the weekend. Then this happened…
Two draws! And Josef did this…
They’re up to 17 points with two games left before a whole bunch of notable reinforcements arrive. That’s still a long, long way from the 42 points or so they’ll likely need to make the playoffs, but at least it’s a little closer.
It…uh…might get worse before it gets better. And it’s far from good right now.
The Rapids made a solid move to grab chaotic neutral fullback Andrew Gutman from Atlanta, but they’ll need a lot more than that to salvage a season that’s on track for a Wooden Spoon right now.