Voices: Sam Jones

Power Rankings: Cucho sends Columbus Crew soaring after Weeks 20 & 21

What a week in MLS. Atlanta United provided a major headline, the New England Revolution dropped points from a winning position and Emanuel Reynoso scored a brace for Minnesota United FC. It was truly a week unlike any other.

As always, this is not my fault. The Power Rankings are voted on by a collection of MLSsoccer.com editors, writers and personalities. That group does include me, but I’m only like one-tenth of the problem here. And to be fair to all of us, there are like five really good teams and three really bad teams and then like 20 other teams that are marginally different from each other at best right now.

LAFC have won four of their last five, picked up all three points in Nashville on Sunday and subbed on [ahem] Eddie Segura for Giorgio Chiellini, Latif Blessing for Ilie Sanchez, Gareth Bale for Cristian Arango, Sebastien Ibeagha for Franco Escobar and Ismael Tajouri-Shradi for Kwadwo Opoku.

So. Yeah. We’re all doomed.

Previous: 2-1 win at NSH | Next: 7/23 at SKC

The Union have won three straight and four of their last six, including a win over NYCFC, a 7-0 destruction of D.C. United and 2-1 wins over Inter Miami and New England. On top of that, the Union finalized the permanent signing of Julian Carranza on the cheap. Like cheap. Or as Jim Curtin put it…

Ernst Tanner and the Union as a whole remain a couple of steps ahead of most of the league at nearly all times.

Previous: 2-1 win vs. NE | Next: 7/23 at ORL

Per American Soccer Analysis, NYCFC finished the weekend first in expected goal differential, first in expected points and first in goals added differential. That’s pretty much the ASA Triple Crown of underlying team metrics. In most cases, they would be the analytics favorite to win the East. However…

It’s finally happening, right? Unexpected destination aside, NYCFC now have to reveal what their contingency plan for this scenario is. If Taty 100% leaves, can they rely on Heber and their collection of young stars like Talles Magno to carry the load now? It certainly won’t be at the same level, but when you’ve been as good as NYCFC, a slight decrease still leaves you as one of the better teams in the league. It’s going to be a tough task for interim manager Nick Cushing to keep that decrease slight though. It’s hard to overstate how critical Castellanos was. I mean, just look at this finish against their biggest rival.

Previous: 1-0 win at RBNY | Next: 7/23 vs. MIA

After a 3-1 win over Houston and a 1-1 draw on the road against Dallas, Austin have taken 13 points out of their last 15 possible and are officially Copa Tejas winners. We’re running out of ways to describe how impressive year two has been in ATX. 

So instead, we’ll just highlight the fact Diego Fagundez is having one of the best seasons of his 12-year career (yes, 12). He has eight assists on the season, just two away from matching his career high, and has scored five times on the season. The fourth goal came against Houston midweek, while the fifth came as the equalizer against Dallas. He’s been critical to Austin’s remarkable season, and now and then he’ll throw off something like this…

Previous: 1-1 draw at DAL | Next: 7/24 vs. RBNY

Congrats to the New York Red Bulls on never having to see Taty Castellanos again … right?

Not congrats to the New York Red Bulls on whatever’s going on at striker.

They did not score against NYCFC.

Previous: 1-0 loss vs. NYC | Next: 7/24 at ATX


Djordje Mihailovic’s return instantly takes CFM from one of the better teams in the league to one of the best. He’s been that good when healthy. And it’s no surprise Montréal were able to take the lead against Toronto a few minutes after he came on. 

On a related note, NYCFC are the only team in the East with more wins than Wilfried Nancy’s side.

Previous: 1-0 win vs. TOR | Next: 7/23 at DC

They ran into an Atlanta team that legitimately out-xHuman Spirited them on Wednesday, but bounced back nicely by beating up on Sporting KC over the weekend. In addition to not playing a team in the middle of an extreme burst of motivation after public disappointment (EBOMAPD), it probably helped RSL had both of their starting center backs available against SKC.

Previous: 3-0 win vs. SKC | Next: 7/23 vs. DAL

If you’ve been wondering, like me, what’s behind Minnesota United’s stunning run of 13 points in their last 15 games and their rocket ride into a home Audi MLS Cup Playoffs spot after spending the majority of the season as one of the league’s most disappointing teams, you’ll be unsurprised to learn that the answer is Emanuel Reynoso. 

Reynoso bagged a brace this weekend for the third time in the last five games. He’s basically realized all that “passing” and “chance creation” stuff is for suckers and he’s plenty good enough to just do all the goal-scoring himself. I mean, he still grabbed two assists along the way because he’s legitimately Landon Donovan MLS MVP-caliber, but the important thing is the goalscoring. His mentality switch has likely saved Minnesota’s season.

Previous: 2-0 win vs. DC | Next: 7/23 at HOU

FC Dallas haven’t won at all over their last seven games and they’ve won just one time in their last 10 games. It’s not the only reason, but that record has a lot to do with the fact FC Dallas are tied for second-to-last in the league in points dropped from winning positions and, as Matt Doyle pointed out in his weekly column

As per TruMedia, they are the first team since Toronto FC, back in 2013, to draw four straight matches that they’ve led in the 75th minute or later. Ooof.

Previous: 1-1 draw vs. ATX | Next: 7/23 at RSL

Hello and welcome to our new recurring segment where we check in on just how many goals Cucho Hernandez is set to score if he starts every game from here on out.  At a current rate of 2.63 goals per 90 minutes and with 14 games left for the Crew, he’s on pace for somewhere around 40 goals. Will he get there? Who’s to say. I’m legally barred from doubting Cucho after suggesting he wouldn’t fix everything wrong with the Crew’s attack. Even if that means I can’t point out that his four goals in 137 minutes of play have come from one goal worth of xG and his current rate may not be sustainable.

Look, what’s important here is he’s revitalized the entire team, the Crew are already back above the East’s playoff line, and they’ll probably be there for a while now. Columbus have a genuine star on their hands. Even if the “Josef Martinez 2.0” comps seem a little hurried. 

Then again…

Previous: 2-0 win vs. CIN | Next: 7/23 vs. NE

The Coyotes couldn’t quite keep up with LAFC over the weekend, but did pick up a huge six-pointer win over Seattle midweek. Nashville made it through the toughest week on their schedule and ended up in fifth place in the crowded West by the end of it.

Oh, and they also (finally) added USMNT right back Shaq Moore. That’s a solid few days in Music City.

Previous: 2-1 loss vs. LAFC | Next: 7/23 at CIN

Seattle…will be…fine? I know they’re injured and cracks have shown without Obed Vargas and Joao Paulo but…they’ll…definitely make the playoffs? Because, c’mon…it’s Seattle? And even when they seem like they’re fading, they inevitably…put it all…together?

I know that’s three losses in a row and they’re suddenly ninth in the West and Nico Lodeiro said, “We’re not the same team. We’re definitely not the same team that played at the Concacaf tournament. And not only on these games but also all the other games. We feel tired, without inspiration.”

But Seattle are Seattle, and I’m confident that this is just a bump in the road???

Previous: 1-0 loss at CHI | Next: 7/23 vs. COL

Orlando City earned a draw and nearly won a road game in which the xG finished 2.2 to 0.2 in favor of the home team. If that doesn’t sum up their season so far, I don’t know what does.

Previous: 1-1 draw at ATL | Next: 7/23 vs. PHI

Well. At least they finally broke a string of four-straight draws? Losing to your biggest rival probably isn’t the ideal way to do that, but at least it’s not monotonous. And now things can get really, really interesting for the Knifey Lions. They’re just one point above eighth-place Charlotte and four points ahead of 12th-place Chicago.

Previous: 2-0 loss at CLB | Next: 7/23 vs. NSH

No one had an absolutely terrible, awful, very bad week like the Galaxy. Just miserable. They lost 3-2 at home in the Cali Clasico after giving up three first-half goals to the Quakes and followed that up with a 2-0 loss to a struggling Colorado team. That’s three-straight losses and it feels like we’re careening towards another dose of Decision Day heartbreak for this team. If they miss the playoffs, an increasingly legitimate possibility, it can only be classified as a total misfire. Again.

Previous: 2-0 loss at COL | Next: 7/24 vs. ATL

Nothing special to report from a 1-1 draw against Vancouver this weekend other than the Timbers aren’t quite the same team without Eryk Williamson. However, the draw did put them one point ahead of Seattle in the West standings. 

Previous: 1-1 draw vs. VAN | Next: 7/23 vs. SJ

The Revs may have dropped to 17th in the Power Rankings, but at least they stayed at 28th in the league in points lost from winning positions.

This is simply some universal scale balancing for last year’s record-setting points total that came via roughly 23296 one-goal wins. These are the trades the higher powers demand we make, Revs fans.

Previous: 2-1 loss at PHI | Next: 7/23 at CLB

Phil Neville has turned Inter Miami into a team whose most defining characteristic might be everyone on the team continuously giving 110% effort no matter what. It’s why they’ve been able to pull off some remarkable comebacks this year and why their best moment of the year came to fruition against Charlotte this weekend. The Herons went down 2-0 in the first half before roaring back to a shocking 3-2 win.

That roster got a lot better this week too. Alejandro Pozuelo made his debut.

Previous: 3-2 win vs. CLT | Next: 7/23 at NYC

A win over LA! A four-point week! That’s good enough to move them up to…[checking]...12th in the West! 

Ok, that’s maybe not the most encouraging statement about the current state of the Rapids. But if I reframe it to “That’s good enough to move them up to…[checking]...three points below the playoff line!” It seems like a much better week doesn’t it? The Rapids aren’t out of this yet. And if their underlying numbers are any indication, they could easily be above the line sooner rather than later.

Previous: 2-0 win vs. LA | Next: 7/23 at SEA

Yordy Reyna put on a show in the first half against Inter Miami and it all meant nothing. This weekend might have been the most disappointing moment in Charlotte’s inaugural season since they just missed out on scoring against the Galaxy in their first home game. Now they have to get back in time to prepare for Chelsea on Wednesday. Good luck, my Carolina friends.

Previous: 3-2 loss at MIA | Next: 7/23 at TOR

Seems like the Come to Jesus meeting following their loss to Austin last Saturday paid dividends. The Five Stripes came out with more energy than we’ve seen in a while in Wednesday’s win over RSL, and nearly turned that same energy into a win late against Orlando. 

That energy, plus a renewed commitment to a back three, have given Atlanta United at least some reason for optimism as another chaotic year for the club continues. Club president Darren Eales’ departure may end up signaling a major shift for the club as a whole, and may even send some ripple effects across the league if the Five Stripes can poach one of the league’s top executives.

Previous: 1-1 draw vs. ORL | Next: 7/24 at LA

Rumors of Chicago’s death were greatly exaggerated. The Fire earned a 2-0 win over Toronto midweek and then stunned Seattle on Saturday. “Stunned” is the word I’m using for those of you who didn’t read The Daily Kickoff, which you can sign up for at MLSsoccer.com/newsletters.

Anyway, the Fire are finally finding the luck their underlying numbers have suggested they should be finding and have won four of their last seven. 

Previous: 1-0 win vs. SEA | Next: 7/23 at VAN

Two draws this week for the Caps and they’re still within a point of the playoff line. Twenty-third feels extremely harsh, especially because they just added Julian Gressel. Gressel feels like a perfect fit for this group and the creative force out wide they’ve been missing. It’s an absolute steal for the Caps to bring him in for the amount of GAM they did and I know folks in Vancouver were ecstatic to pull it off. 

Previous: 1-1 draw at POR | Next: 7/23 vs. CHI

A loss and a win this week for the Dynamo and they’re still within two points of the West’s playoff line. Twenty-fourth feels harsh. 

That being said, the midfield is talented, but is understandably still trying to figure out exactly how to piece together Hector Herrera, Coco Carrasquilla and Matias Vera into a cohesive unit. I kind of wonder if it might be too late by the time they figure it out. If they can sort it all ahead of schedule and find a way to get Darwin Quintero hot though, there’s no reason they can’t push into a playoff spot.

Previous: 2-1 win at SJ | Next: 7/23 vs. MIN

They just can’t help themselves, huh?

After going up 3-0 on the Galaxy, they allowed two second-half goals and nearly dropped points. After going up 1-0 on Houston, they did this.

Bad mistakes lead to bad results and as soon as you think the Quakes have grown out of their Almeyda-ness it just comes right back. For fans, it must be frustrating to watch.

Previous: 2-1 loss vs. HOU | Next: 7/23 at POR

Trading away Gressel is certainly a move you can make. 

Obviously, Wayne Rooney has different ideas when it comes to D.C.’s tactical makeup and Gressel apparently won't fit them. Perhaps Miguel Berry and ex-Derby County midfielder Ravel Morrison will.

I’m not exactly sure what direction D.C. United are moving in, but they at least seem to be moving. That’s more than what you could say a few weeks ago.

Previous: 2-0 loss at MIN | Next: 7/23 vs. MTL

They did not lose to Minnesota United. They did lose to RSL.

Previous: 3-0 loss at RSL | Next: 7/23 vs. LAFC

Federico Bernardeschi is on the way. Mark-Anthony Kaye is here. Lorenzo Insigne will make his debut soon. And…it still may all be a little too late for Toronto to salvage this. With 13 games left, they need to jump six teams and recover eight points. It’s still totally doable. But the longer it takes Insigne to be ready to go and the longer it takes the rest of the new arrivals to get settled, the less likely it seems. Toronto have one (1) point in their last five games.

Previous: 1-0 loss at MTL | Next: 7/23 vs. CLT