Voices: Sam Jones

Power Rankings: LA Galaxy, New York Red Bulls soar after Week 14

What a week in MLS. Jeremy Ebobisse scored a brace, FC Cincinnati and CF Montréal played a wild 4-3 game, and Austin FC lost to the LA Galaxy on national TV. 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. That being said, that’s one-tenth of the single biggest problem in your life. I don’t mean for the Power Rankings to so routinely change the world for the worse, but that’s just the kind of weight these things carry. It’s my burden to bear so that you don’t have to. And it’s far, far too late to stop the Power Rankings from dooming us all at this point. The Power Rankings are the single most consequential piece of the human puzzle and when it fails, so do we. It seems to fail a lot.

Anyway, on to the totally correct and completely inarguable rankings Tom Bogert hand-picked.

I’m having trouble remembering what NYCFC did this weekend but I assume they won.

Hold on…

Ok, yep, they won. Are we expecting anything else at this point? Like I’ve said before, I’m running out of ways to point at the giant, planet-destroying weapon and say “WOW LOOKIT THE BIG WEAPON IT’S SO BIG.” I’ll update y’all if NYCFC ever lose again. 

If you’re watching NYCFC not lose though, maybe pay some attention to Alexander Callens? He scored again this weekend and has been consistently excellent this season and for most of his time in MLS. He’ll be in the conversation for Defender of the Year.

Previous: 1-0 win at MIN | Next: 6/19 vs. COL

LAFC didn’t exactly go all-out against the Galaxy in a midweek US Open Cup loss, but they bounced back over the weekend with an expectedly-hectic win over San Jose. They got that 3-2 win without Carlos Vela, too. He’ll get the international break to rest up after a quad injury and start for the team atop the Supporters’ Shield standings.

Previous: 3-2 win vs. SJ | Next: 6/18 at SEA

The Union got a bit lucky this weekend against New England. They won’t mind too much. Especially since Mikael Uhre came off the bench and immediately scored. We’ll throw it in the ever growing pile of “Union Moments That Make Everyone Optimistic About Their Striker Situation For A Couple of Weeks” and see what happens next. 

Anyway, I feel like it’s important to point out what might happen next is a record-breaking performance. Last year, Nashville set a record for draws with 18 in a 34-game season. That’s 1.88 games per draw. The Union have seven draws in 14 games for a pace of two games per draw. If the Union put their minds to it, they might be able to make a run at the record here.

Previous: 1-1 draw at NE | Next: 6/18 vs. CIN

Have you taken time to respect Paul Arriola yet today? Should probably do that. Ignore anyone on Twitter saying you shouldn’t. Remember, Jesús was persecuted as well and now he’s leading the Golden Boot presented by Audi race. 

Anyway, Arriola bagged a second-half brace in Dallas’ 3-1 win over Orlando City and now has seven goals and two assists on the season while sitting ninth in the league in non-penalty xG+xA. He’s scored in each of his last five games and he’s been a perfect fit for an FC Dallas team that sits second in the West and likely isn’t going to stray too far from that spot this year. It’s hard to remember too many trades being as good as the one that brought Arriola to Texas.

New York finally got their first home win and I guess I could write at length about how they’re leading the league in expected goal differential and how this is a point in their development that indicates they might be fully prepared to make a run at the Shield or how Lewis Morgan continues to be an excellent signing, or Luquinhas is legit, etc, etc.

The Red Bull.

RBNY power rankings May 31 2022

Previous: 4-1 win vs. DC | Next: 6/11 at CLT

Thank goodness they won on Sunday night so we didn’t have to pretend to do a whole “Does anyone else think maybe Seattle won’t ever recover from CCL this season??!!???” deal. We can move on with our lives with the comfort of knowing any team with Jordan Morris and Raul Ruidiaz is going to snatch up points even when they’re not playing at their sharpest. Because Raul Ruidiaz can do this.

Previous: 2-1 win vs. CLT | Next: 6/14 vs. VAN

Djordje Mihailovic came off after 17 minutes with an ankle injury that sadly ruled him out of the USMNT’s June camp, but Montréal still rolled to a 4-3 win over FC Cincinnati. They even spent some time on a makeover this week as well.

All considered, not a bad week for CFM. You can’t help but worry about Djorde though. Hopefully, he’ll be back soon. Few players have been as crucial to their team’s success and it’s hard to watch him miss out on a huge chance to strengthen his push for a Qatar 2022 roster spot.

Previous: 4-3 win vs. CIN | Next: 6/18 vs. ATX

They’ve won four of their last five with wins over the Galaxy, Austin, Montréal and Houston. Per Second Spectrum, they’ve also created just 1.99 (!) xG from open play since they started that stretch, the lowest total in the league. Does it matter?

No. Shut up nerd. Numbers don’t win championships. Or give you six-straight sellouts at Rio Tinto Stadium. Stop trying to ruin everyone’s good time.

RSL are tied for third in the Supporters’ Shield standings and welcomed back Jefferson Savarino this weekend as they beat the ever-living heck out of Houston. Savarino’s return is a good reminder they should get healthier and more talented over the next few weeks. We’re far from seeing the final form of a team that’s third in the Shield race.

Previous: 3-0 win vs. HOU | Next: 6/4 at VAN

An extremely good way to make sure the mile-high air doesn’t wear you down on your road trip to Colorado is to score three times before you’ve really even broken a sweat.

The Coyotes’ 3-1 win gave them five wins and two draws over eight matches in the last 28 days. As expected, they got to go home for a little bit and it paid dividends. Especially for Hany Mukhtar. He’s woken all the way up after a quiet start to the year.

Mukhtar has scored six times in his last six games while delivering two assists as well. He’s finally starting to reach his underlying numbers. They’d been telling folks to not worry about Hany turning in another MVP-caliber season. He’s second in the league in non-penalty xG+xA and has a great partnership going with CJ Sapong.

All they needed to do to get back on track (again) was play Austin (again). That, plus getting Dejan Joveljic in the game to do damage in the second half.

Joveljic was only in for 33 minutes. Somehow, this is a person who has started just one game for a Galaxy team that’s struggled to score this year. I understand there are legitimate tactical reasons for that and Greg Vanney wants to stick to his 4-2-3-1. Those seem kind of pointless when Joveljic can contribute to four goals in a little over half an hour and Douglas Costa, Kevin Cabral and Samuel Grandsir combined have contributed to just five league goals all season. He’s got to be on the field more. His 33 minutes are the best of LA’s season so far.

Did I mention he also scored in the Galaxy’s US Open Cup win over LAFC last week? That’s an impressive week for Joveljic and a much-needed week for the Galaxy.

Previous: 4-1 win vs. ATX | Next: 6/18 vs. POR

Two good things to think about. First, Diego Fagundez has three goals and seven assists on the season and has been dramatically under-discussed and underappreciated. Second, they don’t have to play the Galaxy again the rest of the season. So if they want to waste a game with their worst performance of the year again, they’ll have to do it against another team. 

Now some bad things. 

Austin’s early schedule came to an end with a 3-0 win over Vancouver on April 23. From there, the schedule ratcheted up in difficulty, with Austin facing teams who will either be in the playoffs or on the line come October. In the six games since, they’re 2W-3L-1D with a goal differential of negative-3. That’s not terrible. It’s not good either. And it’s made much worse by the fact that, in that span, they’ve been the fifth-worst team in the league on expected goal differential per ASA. They aren’t crashing down to Earth, but they’re gliding down with increasing speed. 

Fortunately, for all of us, we’ll reach a point where Austin’s schedule just is what it is and we don’t have to keep separating it into parts. If we had just taken all of the same results and scrambled them all up we wouldn’t have had to steer into the narrative in both directions as much and we could have all just collectively looked at Austin in fourth place 14 games in and said, “Hey! That’s great for a second-year expansion team! Good work Austin!” 

I mean, we still can. But the way their schedule was set up made it difficult to do it.  We’ll get there with ease sometime soon though. I think.

Previous: 4-1 loss at LA | Next: 6/18 at MTL

Cincinnati have not been good defensively this season. They’ve especially not been good defensively against CF Montréal. That’s eight goals allowed in two games against CFM and this weekend, they really earned it. The Knifey Lions allowed their highest single-game xG of the season and did whatever this is.

It’s probably safe to mostly chalk this performance up to whichever chaos-driven higher power has decided to interfere in Montréal-Cincy games this year. But that doesn’t change the fact Cincy are currently fourth-worst in the league in expected goals allowed and third-worst in xG allowed on set pieces. 

I think most folks outside of Columbus just want what's best for Cincy this year. They’re clearly doing enough in attack, but allowing this many chances per game isn’t going to get the job done. On behalf of nearly everyone, get it together Cincinnati. 

Previous: 4-3 loss at MTL | Next: 6/18 at PHI

Alright, Orlando lost 3-1 this weekend to Dallas and are all the way back at 23rd in expected goal differential with a negative-3 actual goal differential. Can I officially say I don’t think they’re all that good yet? What’s that? They still have 21 points and are fifth in the East? Well, fine, I guess we’ll keep holding off on that then. They’ll probably win like 4-0 against New England their next time out anyway. Just to make things even more confusing.

Previous: 3-1 loss vs. DAL | Next: 6/15 at NE

The Revs are starting to look a whole lot like last year’s Revs at the worst possible time. They couldn’t quite pull out a one-goal win against Philadelphia like last year’s group would have. But they still put up three xG worth of chances to Philly’s 0.8. They’ve taken massive steps forward over the past month. 

Now they’ve hit an international break. The other side of that break will bring us to the last game of the Matt Turner era and, apparently, the last few games of the Adam Buksa era as well.

Just as they start to sort themselves out, they’re losing the first or second-best goalkeeper in the league (depending on who you ask) and a top-five forward in the league. I honestly don’t know how you recover from that to make a serious push for trophies. Whatever the Revs have planned for the upcoming transfer window will be fascinating. But Turners and Buksas aren’t just readily available for them to go out and grab.

Previous: 1-1 draw vs. PHI | Next: 6/12 at SKC

Twenty-three regular-season games unbeaten at home is a heckuva run. It had to end sometime. I just don’t think anyone expected it to end with the Rapids allowing three goals in the first 17 minutes. This team continues to be baffling in when and how they decide whether or not they’ll actually show up in any given game. They’ve traded wins and losses over the last six games now and it kind of feels like they might just keep that up into infinity.

Look, sometimes progression isn’t linear and uh…soccer is…hard?

I don’t know, probably shouldn’t sugarcoat this one. They got smacked by RSL this weekend. It was not their finest moment of the year. Let’s just move on. Quickly.

Previous: 3-0 loss at RSL | Next: 6/18 at ORL

Phil Neville, appropriately, felt pretty good about Inter Miami’s win over Portland this weekend.

“I see them as a playoff team,” Neville said. “Tonight was that step to the playoffs I felt. It was a pivotal moment.”

That’s a strong reaction to a home win over a struggling team. But the case for Inter Miami ending the season in a playoff spot is an easy one to make right now. First and foremost, they’re already in one. That’s despite a miserable start that had them looking like a surefire Wooden Spoon contender. In large part, that’s thanks to Leo Campana. Since becoming The Guy at striker for The Herons, he has seven goals and two assists. He’s been the catalyst for a shockingly solid first half of the season for a team that seemed doomed to go through what was effectively a second inaugural season. Campana isn’t going anywhere and Inter Miami have already proven they can get results at a playoff-caliber level.

I’m not saying any of that’s going away. Personally, I think any semblance of success relative to the rest of the East is a quality 2022 for Inter Miami. But if I had to bet on playoff-caliber results continuing, I’m less optimistic than Neville. ASA has Inter Miami third-worst in the league on expected goal differential this season, just ahead of Toronto and SKC. If we look at those numbers from the time Campana took over for Gonzalo Higuain, things don’t improve all that much. They’re seventh-worst in expected goal differential over that time and the second-luckiest team relative to their expected goal differential.

Essentially, as of now, the underlying numbers suggest they’ve been a team that projects well below the playoff line even with Campana. But teams do change. And teams do improve. It’s just going to take a lot more to have people like me (jerks) convinced that Miami are going to be in this race until the end.

Right off the top: I’m not here to make fun of Minnesota United for losing in the US Open Cup to USL League One’s Union Omaha despite starting two DP forwards, a U22 Initiative winger, several internationals and a collection of other players who also all cost more than the entirety of Union Omaha. And that’s because I already did it in the daily newsletter I write for this very site, The Daily Kickoff. It would feel redundant to keep pointing out that Bongokuhle Hlongwane’s transfer fee is more than the transfer fees of the entire Union Omaha team because I don't even think they do transfer fees for a team that size. And anyway, I couldn’t find them for a USL League One team that didn’t exist four years ago.

Anyway, be careful SKC. The Owls are coming for you next.

I should also mention Minnesota lost to NYCFC 1-0 this weekend and are now 22nd in the league in expected goal differential. It was not the best week for the Loons.

When you’ve only won four away games since the end of 2019, it’s probably a good idea to go ahead and score as early as possible on the road. The Crew scored in the first minute against Atlanta, got a finish out of Erik Hurtado and picked up their fifth road win in a very long time frame. All without Lucas Zelarayan, too. 

It certainly couldn’t be called pretty. But it didn’t have to be. The Crew got a confidence boost heading into the break and can regroup before we enter the last few weeks (presumably) of the Crew not having a DP striker.

Previous: 2-1 win at ATL | Next: 6/18 vs. CLT

Atlanta immediately let the Crew end a long scoreless streak and then let them score another with some more unimpressive defense and lost, at home, to a team that’s been doing a lot of losing on the road. To put it grimly: Atlanta United are just three points better than where they were at this exact point last season. Ya know, the point where Gabriel Heinze got fired. 

This is kind of just who they are at this point. There are simply too many injuries to expect much consistency at all defensively. And I don’t know when and how it will get better. If teams are just going to sit deep and wait to snipe goals off the Five Stripes when they make defensive errors that will inevitably come, it’s going to be a long back half of the season. A very interesting Secondary Transfer Window is coming over the horizon for Atlanta.

Charlotte continue to remind me a lot of Austin last year, where the bones of their scheme are good, but they just can’t execute it consistently. They just need a little more time under Miguel Ang……………………………………….WAIT. WHAT? 

Welp. Miguel Angel Ramirez is out as Charlotte FC’s first manager as of this morning. He got 14 games. Fourteen games and 16 points for an expansion team is solid. Per Opta, it’s the sixth-best start (in a field of 13) by an expansion team since 2010. That’s excellent considering MAR’s famous comment about the team being “screwed” due to the roster constru—, oh wait I think I see what happened here.

Even with his public frustrations with the front office, this all comes as a shock. Being somewhere around the Austin timeline is seemingly a great place to be as an expansion side. That success largely came down to how well the team seemed prepared to execute tactically. I genuinely don’t know where Charlotte goes from here. We’re in uncharted territory. In a league where \a lot\ of weird things have been charted, at first pass, this decision’s up there.


After blasting SKC 7-2, Portland have dropped their last three games. The SKC win is their only win in their last eight games. They’re averaging a point per game and have a negative-4 goal differential. They’re 20th in the league in expected goal differential, per ASA. It is simply going very, very badly for last year’s Western Conference champions. 

Previous: 2-1 loss at MIA | Next: 6/18 at LA

They put a scare into LAFC this weekend after not remotely frightening Sacramento Republic in USOC action on Wednesday, so at least they bounced back nicely. They’re still playing solid soccer and if they can just get anything sorted out defensively, they could easily make a playoff push. If the Quakes can just keep teams to a goal or two a game, Jeremy Ebobisse will at least get them a win or a draw. 

Ebobisse has nine goals in his last 10 starts, including four braces. He’s turning into a star and a serious contender for the Golden Boot race right before our eyes. Now the rest of the Quakes just need to give him a little more help. 

The Quakes were worst in the league in xGD under Matias Almeyda at -.78 per game and xG allowed per game at 2.01. Under interim manager Alex Covelo, they have an xGD of 0.01 per game (12th in the league) but their xGA has only improved marginally. They’ve been 22nd in the league in xGA per game over that time at 1.64. The number is going to have to shrink even more to get the Quakes into the playoffs.

Previous: 3-2 loss at LAFC | Next: 6/11 at NSH

The Caps are all the way out of the basement now and are only four points off the playoff line. The ship is far from sunk at this point. They’ve won three of their last five, including a win against FC Dallas, and they seem to be getting (somewhat) healthier. Just keep staying afloat, Caps, you never know what could happen. It’s certainly still a long shot, but get Ryan Gauld and all of the other injured starters back into this team and let’s talk.

Previous: 1-0 win at SKC | Next: 6/4 vs. RSL

D.C. got beat up by the Dad-strength version of themselves. What’s really important though is they won the pass completion battle, completing 64.4% of their passes to RBNY’s 64.3%. It went down to the wire, but they pulled it out. It took the whole team staying focused on the objective against one of the toughest possible opponents, but my god they did it.  

Previous: 4-1 loss at RBNY | Next: 6/18 at CHI

Objectively speaking, Toronto aren’t good right now. But Alejandro Pozuelo still has a lot to say.

Anyway, one week closer to Lorenzo Insigne.

Previous: 3-2 win vs. CHI | Next: 6/18 at RBNY

Time to check in on the Chicago Fi--ohhhhhh no.

CHI power rankings May 31 2022

Something tells me the Fire’s SBNation site did not enjoy the Fire’s 3-2 loss to Toronto FC. Seems understandable after Chicago created 2.5 xG to Toronto’s 1, but still blew two leads and then the game thanks almost entirely to Alejandro Pozuelo still being good at soccer.

But, once again, there are encouraging signs for Chicago. The attack continues to look better than it did a month ago. Chris Mueller is a legitimate upgrade and the Fire have started to look like they have a sense of urgency with him in the lineup. Jairo Torres has begun the process of finding his way in MLS. The 2.5 xG they created against Toronto is the most they’ve created all season. And it’s the fifth time in six games with more than a goal worth of xG created after a stretch of four straight games below that threshold. 

Don’t get it twisted, they’re 10 games without a win. But they are improving. Maybe at some point that will lead to them getting things sorted out with…uh…a higher power. 

At the very least, they’re willing to promise that better things are on the way soon.

Previous: 3-2 loss at TOR | Next: 6/18 vs. DC

Officially last in the West on points and goal differential, but not last in the league on total points. Tough sledding right now, folks.

Previous: 1-0 loss vs. VAN | Next: 6/12 vs. NE