What a week in MLS.
LAFC dropped points late, NYCFC destroyed one of the top teams in the East, Austin didn’t score, Orlando beat Atlanta, New England beat the Red Bulls 3-2, Portland gave up four goals and Seattle lost. It was truly a week unlike any other.
As always, you can listen to Andrew Wiebe, MLSsoccer.com talent and a range of guests from around the league discuss every team on Twitter Spaces each Tuesday at 11 am ET. Listen to this week's discussion below.
Disclaimer: The Power Rankings are voted on by the entirety of the MLSsoccer.com editorial staff. You should probably be gently made fun of if you still think the actual rankings are made by just one person. Except for this time. I let Doyle blindly fill out the entire thing out himself while he’s on vacation and not paying attention to any of the games. Because I’m personally determined to ruin the sanctity of the most sacred tradition in sports: The Power Rankings. Because Tom Bogert wrote me a strongly-worded letter about how his Papa used to sit Tom on his knee and read him the Power Rankings each night before bed and he hates to see them be ruined like this. I thought that was pretty funny. And a strange glimpse into how Tom spent last season. Anyway, you should really recognize that the stakes have never been lower.
The Revs went down 1-0 then 2-1 and still found a way to get a 3-2 win with late goals from Brandon Bye and Adam Buksa. They’re simply better than everyone else right now. And they’re doing it in a relatively stacked conference with the top goalkeeper from the Gold Cup and top young player from the Gold Cup set to return.
The gap in the Supporters’ Shield race is up to four points and the Revs are averaging 2.12 points per game. That 2019 LAFC team that broke the MLS points record? 2.12 points per game.
NYCFC WANT TO, no, DEMAND THEY BREAK YOU IN HALF.
As soon as Taty Castellanos put them up 1-0 inside the first 15 minutes, you knew Columbus were about to be in a whole lot of pain. As soon as Thiago Andrade scored yet another gorgeous goal, you knew NYCFC were probably going to do this to pretty much everyone who dares to come to the Bronx from this point out.
We’ve been saying for a while that the underlying numbers and more have indicated NYCFC were far better than their record. Even if their record is actually already pretty good. Well, that’s all starting to catch up and it’s an absolute blast to watch. They’re a long way off right now, but if there’s anyone who can catch the Revs in the East, it’s this team.
NYCFC even got a vote or two for first place this week. And I get it. It feels like they could play anyone right now and run them out of the building.
Sporting KC, what are you doing?
You could have jumped to first in the West, but instead you lost to FC Dallas. You still have a game in hand on Seattle in a very early race to the top of the West, so I’m not mad, just ... mad.
Just think of the thematic shift we could have had here, Kansas City. Y’all would have been the favorites the rest of the way. And we, Big Soccer Blogger, could have begun our campaign to judge your entire season on whether or not you repeated as conference champions like we agreed upon at the weekly Narrative meeting.
Oh well, guess we’ll just wait till next week. Then we can talk about how your underlying numbers have been better than Seattle’s all season and how Seattle’s injuries mean that you really should be the clear favorite to win the conference even with Gianluca Busio maybe heading to Venezia. No pressure.
It’s not time to worry yet. Not at all. Even with a rough patch here, this team is still first in the West. But it might be time to wonder how long it’s going to take this team to get healthy and reset itself. Cristian Roldan will be back from the Gold Cup this week and Nico Lodeiro has started participating in team practices. He’ll be back eventually. Roldan alone should do wonders to settle a team that’s lost three of their last four.
But when guys like Lodeiro and Brad Smith and Nouhou do return, will they be able to stay around? I wouldn’t be surprised to see the Sounders do everything within their power to make sure everyone gets healthy at the right time. Which may mean that a regular-season campaign that initially looked like it had historic potential will take a bit of a back seat. There’s just no reason to rush anyone when the Sounders know they’ll be in the running for bigger prizes ahead.
The Lions' existence under Oscar Pareja has just been one cathartic moment after the other. I’m sure there have been better moments, but I’m guessing Saturday’s win over Atlanta has to be near the top of the list.
In years past, Orlando would have capitulated after Josef Martinez (of course) scored within the first minute of the game. Instead, they dominated the rest of the way and overcame a second Atlanta wondergoal to get a late winner against the team that tormented them for a few years there.
They’re eight points away from the top of the East, but they’re second in the conference and are tied for the second-most wins in the East. On top of that, their new owners already seem keen to back the money truck up and bring in even more attacking talent. On top of that, here comes Daryl Dike again.
Nashville played to an uneventful draw against Toronto this weekend while everyone was busy looking at the Gold Cup. So I’ll just say what I say every week and point out the underlying numbers still love them and they’re still in a home playoff spot. They’re still undefeated at home, which is pretty impressive considering they’ve played more home games than anyone else. But also maybe we should be worried because they’ve played more home games than anyone else?
This concludes your weekly Nashville blurb.
Teams with more wins than Colorado: Seattle, SKC, LA, New England. That’s it. That’s the whole list. The Rapids have played fewer games than all of those teams. In fact, two more wins and they’ll be even on games with Seattle and one point ahead. There’s not much else to say except “good team is good” and seems to be getting better.
Well then. After looking relatively lost the last three games, the Galaxy, sans Chicharito and their Gold Cup contingent absolutely thumped Portland. The same team that lost 4-0 to FC Dallas last week went out and put four of their own up on the Timbers. Rayan Raveloson found the net for the fourth time in six games and Samuel Grandsir even scored his first goal in over 1,000 minutes with the team.
They’ve survived the Gold Cup and will get a chunk of their core back. Now they just need to get Chicharito healthy and, ya know, fix a defense that allows more chances than all but six other teams in the league. Should be fine, right?
OK, one more time here. This may be like the fourth time in a row I’ve said this, however…
The Union aren’t a team I like to worry about. They usually prove me wrong. That being said again for the fourth time in a row though…
I’m worried about the Union. They’ve only won once in their last seven games. Which, I mean, that happens – teams go through rough spots. They weren’t able to score a winner against 10-man Chicago for almost 60 minutes Sunday night. Which, I mean, teams can be hard to break through when they’re forced to sit back a man down. The underlying numbers show them below the top tier of teams in the league. There are far worse places to be and numbers are full of lies and secrets.
But there’s also this. This has me worried:
Not quite how they planned it this week with a 2-2 draw against LAFC in a game they should have lost and a 2-2 draw against Vancouver in a game they should have won, but I guess that evens out. Either way, the Loons still just have one loss since May 8. Twleve games later and they’re still doing just fine.
After Hassani Dotson's stoppage-time equalizer on Wednesday, I think we’re at 14 points (at least) dropped from winning positions this year for LAFC. It could be higher. If you told me they’d dropped points from winning positions every game this season, I’d believe you. I just don’t understand why this team won’t practice some self-care and take care of business at the end of games. It doesn’t have to be like this LAFC. We just want you to love yourself like you deserve to be loved.
Tall trees fall pretty hard sometimes. Best to just forget this one and move on and really, really hope there aren’t too many road games left.
Montréal are still a pretty good to good team. But D.C. United are really about to start breathing heavy down their necks for that seventh spot in the East. I’d recommend not losing to Inter Miami as a good way to stay in that spot from here on out.
A Moses Nyeman red card killed things last weekend. The red card plus D.C. United’s Losada-ness meant this is probably the first time Cincinnati has ever had 70% of a game’s possession, but the Black-and-Red still hung on for a point.
It’s not a great lead-in to a tough six-game stretch where they have to play five playoff-level teams and run around for 90 minutes against Atlanta. Columbus, Montréal, Nashville, New England and Philly all await this month. The underlying numbers love D.C. right now. We’ll see how that changes over this run.
Not a great month for RBNY, who only took five points from five games. The good news is that August brings multiple games against Chicago and a midweek matchup with Cincinnati. Midway through the year and they’re still hovering around the playoff line.
I’ve spent all weekend trying to get over a relatively healthy Timbers team getting blasted by a Galaxy team missing multiple absolutely crucial pieces. The same Galaxy team that got mollywhopped 4-0 by FC Dallas the game before.
After this one, the only teams with a worse expected goal differential than Portland are Columbus, Austin, Houston, Atlanta, Cincy, San Jose and Toronto. This is not good company.
They only have one road win this season and the only team to lose more on the road is FC Dallas. The same team that, ya know, put four up on the Galaxy team that just put four up on Portland and who also put up four on Portland back in May. That’s a lot of fours going against Portland.
If you can’t tell, I’m starting to worry a bit. They need to course-correct at home against San Jose and RSL this week.
RSL definitely played a game of soccer against Houston last weekend. That’s all you really need to know about that one.
But at least they kept a clean sheet! RSL are quietly tied for the second-fewest goals allowed in the West with Colorado and ... uh ... Austin? It’s apparently Austin.
FC Dallas have turned into giant killers this season. Their four wins have come against New England, LA, Portland (odd-man-out but still) and SKC. If only they could pull this kind of thing off against Vancouver.
They face Seattle midweek and I wouldn’t be surprised if they pulled it off again. They’re already 2-for-2 in taking down the West’s top three teams. Does this mean the Luchi Gang is going to recover fully and make a run to the playoffs? I don’t know. There’s still that whole thing where they can’t beat anyone who isn’t spectacular. Besides Portland.
There are worse things than being the team the best teams hate to play against.
In the same way that RSL definitely played a game of soccer against Houston last weekend, Houston definitely played a game of soccer against RSL this week.
Even if a 0-0 outcome isn’t exciting on the surface, keep in mind Houston have now drawn in seven of their last eight games. This has to be nearing a record of some kind. They have nine (nine!) draws this season. I’m growing increasingly excited at the prospect that they might finish the season with the fewest losses in the league while still missing the playoffs.
They’re one-fourth of the way through a stretch where they face Nashville, Philly, NYCFC and New England. They have a point so far. That’s a start.
The Whitecaps have only lost once in their last seven. Maybe if they get back to BC Place sometime soon they can turn a few more of these draws into wins.
After some spectacular beatdowns the last few years, a win over Seattle in any way shape or form has to feel good. Enjoy it, y’all.
For now, anyway.
Oh, hey, while we’re talking about transfers, someone explain to me how Atlanta are reportedly about to sign like 10 different players with no DP slots open on their roster? I mean, it’s probably just actually the one player, but it feels like there are rumors of about 10. Going to be an interesting week in Atlanta as the transfer window closes.
Anyway, Atlanta now have the fewest wins in the league.
FC Cincinnati are doing a weird thing right now where they alternate games giving up multiple goals and then show up defensively the next game. They’ve gone from 5-4 to 1-1 to 3-0 to 0-0. That probably means nothing but it could mean they’re about to give up multiple goals to the Red Bulls.
I don’t know y’all, they played a 0-0 draw and they’re Cincinnati. What kind of insight are you looking for here?
Yeah, Austin still can’t score. I mean, they’ve given up the second-fewest goals of any team in the West this season, but that doesn’t particularly matter when you’ve scored seven goals less than the next team in the conference. They’ve been shut out in 10 of their 15 games so far.
The good news: Moussa Djitte and Sebastian Driussi are on the way. They gave themselves roster flexibility at the beginning of the year, and now they can cash in on an area of need. There are better things coming.
Seriously though, what was this wall? Shouldn’t walls theoretically stop the thing trying to go through it?
What I’m saying is, it shouldn’t be this easy to bypass a Fire wall.
Inter Miami are longer the team with the fewest wins in the league and have two games in hand on the two teams above them in the race for last place in the East. Progress is near?