Voices: Sam Jones

Power Rankings: LAFC reclaim top spot from Philadelphia Union after Week 33


What a week in MLS. D.C. United won the Wooden Spoon, LAFC won the Supporters’ Shield and Seattle were eliminated from Audi 2022 MLS Cup Playoffs conten….wait, really? Seattle got eliminated. Wow. We really did get a week unlike any other.

As always, this is not my fault. The Power Rankings presented by Sorare 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. Besides, we’re like 33 weeks into this. Like…look at the standings? Why are you here?

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If you’re (Denis Bouanga) going to take a little bit to get acclimated to your new team, you might as well make sure the first goal you score counts for as much as a regular-season goal can possibly count for.

Congrats to LAFC on the Shield. They’ve said themselves they’re worried about other trophies (MLS Cup) this year though.

Previous 2-1 win at POR | Next: 10/9 vs. NSH

Well. That’s not quite how anyone expected the Shield race to end. 

The Union got obliterated by Charlotte, 4-0, coming out of the international break. That performance is the follow-up to a 0-0 draw against Atlanta where they only put up about 0.2 xG. I’m not sure if we’re seeing actual warning signs or just one of the many random blips that come with an MLS season, but it’s not an encouraging end to the regular season either way. 

Is it maybe possible this team just can’t function at a high level without Alejandro Bedoya?

After two miserable performances without Bedoya, they might not even end up getting a Round One bye. A draw and a Montréal win on Sunday would put the Union in second place.

Previous: 4-0 loss at CLT | Next: 10/9 vs. TOR

Philadelphia opened a window this weekend and CF Montréal went ahead and put a hand inside. A Montréal win and a Philly draw on Decision Day would give Montréal first place in the East and a Round One bye. Montréal will be facing an Inter Miami team in need of a win, while Philly will have Toronto. But would you really be all that surprised at this point if they pulled it off?

Previous: 1-0 win vs. DC | Next: 10/9 at MIA

I think we can go ahead and say NYCFC have righted the ship. They’ve taken down the Red Bulls and Orlando City in back-to-back MLS games and that’s three straight wins if we’re counting their Campeones Cup title. Which we should be. 

This isn’t going to be the same team as they were at the beginning of the season. But a team at even 80% capacity as the early-season Pigeons has enough juice to make a run in the playoffs.

Previous: 2-1 win vs. ORL | Next: 10/9 at ATL

Austin lost. They’ve been glued to second place in the West for like three months now. There are far bigger games on the way.

Previous: 2-0 loss at VAN | Next: 10/9 vs. COL

The Galaxy locked up a playoff spot and can earn a home playoff game with a win against Houston on Sunday. Damir Kreilach can’t hurt them this time, like in 2021’s Decision Day. 

LA can still finish as low as seventh in the West. Either way though, it feels like this team at least has enough firepower to make some kind of run through the playoffs here. They just need the right people hot at the right time to make up for some of their weak points.

Previous: 1-1 draw vs. RSL | Next: 10/9 at HOU

The Red Bulls are stumbling down the home stretch. They’ve only picked up three points from their last four games and have lost two straight, in addition to just looking generally ineffective in attack. 

To be fair, two of those losses have come against Philly and Orlando. But it all feels a little too Red Bulls right now, doesn’t it?

Previous: 2-1 loss at CLB | Next: 10/9 vs. CLT

FC Dallas didn’t get the job done against Colorado and left the door wide open for Nashville to leapfrog them in the standings. Nashville subsequently blew it against Houston. So, for now, Dallas remain third in the West.

They’ll need a point on Decision Day to keep LA or Nashville – or both – from jumping them in the standings. It’s still possible for Dallas to begin their playoff run on the road.

Previous: 1-0 loss at COL | Next: 10/9 vs. SKC

One of the strangest subplots of the MLS season has been Nashville’s inability to win at their shiny new house.

It’s been a weird, weird year for Nashville. They’ll still be in the playoffs for the third straight season since joining as an expansion team though. And they can still earn a home playoff spot on Sunday. But nothing has been perfect this year. A playoff run could cure a lot of ills, but right now, 2022 feels like it should be more.

Previous: 2-1 loss vs. HOU | Next: 10/9 at LAFC

What a career it’s been.

Gonzalo Higuain, with 12g/2a in his last 15 games, is changing the narrative on his MLS tenure by the week. And just in time too.

Inter Miami are now seventh in the East and they have a massive, massive rivalry game against Orlando this Wednesday, where they can clinch a playoff spot. A win and they’ll enter Decision Day within two points of a home playoff spot.

Previous: 1-0 win at TOR | Next: 10/5 vs. ORL

Whoo boy, Cincy. Just about everything that could have happened to make Decision Day as anxiety-inducing for Cincy fans as possible happened this weekend. After their 3-2 loss to Chicago, the Knifey Lions head into a Decision Day trip to D.C. United essentially in must-win territory.

It’s too early to say “not like this, Cincy” … but keep that statement at the ready if they can’t take care of business at Audi Field. It has to end better than this, right?

Previous: 3-2 loss vs. CHI | Next: 10/9 at DC

Orlando couldn’t hold onto a 1-0 lead at NYCFC this weekend and now they’re really going to have to scramble this week. They could drop out of the playoff places after Wednesday night’s matchup with Inter Miami. Meaning a loss on Wednesday may leave them needing a break or two or three on Decision Day. 

Previous: 2-1 loss at NYC | Next: 10/5 at MIA


For once, the league’s most chokingest team put together a comeback of their own. Etienne’s 89th- and 93rd-minute goals gave the Crew a 2-1 win over RBNY and kept them in lockstep with Inter Miami and Orlando in the standings before a massive Wednesday night game at Charlotte.

Maybe Caleb Porter’s team has flipped the script at the perfect time.

Previous: 2-1 win vs. RBNY | Next: 10/5 at CLT

It’s going to come down to Decision Day for the Timbers. Because that’s just the way the universe intended it to be. Portland can finish as high as fourth or miss the playoffs entirely on Sunday. A loss at Real Salt Lake would put them below the line, while a draw keeps them above it. 

It all just feels like a precursor to an MLS Cup run, honestly. That’s just how this team seems to operate (he keeps telling himself while nodding).

Previous: 2-1 loss vs. LAFC | Next: 10/9 at RSL

Are…are they going to do this?

After their 2-0 win over Austin this weekend (their third straight win), the Whitecaps can win on Sunday against Minnesota and make the playoffs. If they pull this off, it’ll be as remarkable a miracle playoff push as I can remember. 

They’ve made their way through LA, Seattle and Austin over the last three games and had nearly everything go their way. Now, they may just make the playoffs with a double-digit negative goal differential. Never, ever count out Vanni Sartini.

Previous: 2-0 win vs. ATX | Next: 10/9 at MIN

The rest of the West’s results last weekend were enough to put RSL in a win-and-you’re-in scenario against Portland this Sunday. Both teams have seemed to feel a little blessed in these kinds of situations before, so who knows what will happen. But I do know a win would make up for last year’s Western Conference Final. At least a little bit.

Previous: 1-1 draw at LA | Next: 10/9 vs. POR

The Loons are in serious danger here. They’re seventh in the West and a loss to Vancouver on Sunday ends their season. A draw gets them in. But even if they do make it, confidence is in short supply around the Loons. They’ve lost five of their last six and haven’t won since Aug. 27. If Minnesota make it into the playoffs, it will only be because they hit their face on the ground so hard they bounced over the finish line.

Previous: 2-0 loss at SJ | Next: 10/9 vs. VAN


No. No, you don’t. But you do believe in Daniel Rios.

Rios’ four-goal outburst powered Charlotte past Philadelphia and, all of a sudden, Charlotte’s improbable path to the playoff doesn’t feel so improbable anymore. They have a massive match against Columbus on Wednesday night and, if they win that, they could enter Decision Day able to hop the line.

It’s all pretty remarkable for an expansion team that jettisoned their first-ever manager midway through the season. Christian Lattanzio is earning his way out of that interim tag and more now. And it sounds like Charlotte were already set to remove it even before his side thumped first-place Philly.

Previous: 4-0 win vs. PHI | Next: 10/5 vs. CLB

Yet another week of wondering just how many goals William Agada has in him next year (he’s got 8g/2a in 11 games). SKC will have some shockingly high expectations going into next season relative to their performance in the first three-fourths of 2022. But Agada, Erik Thommy and company have been good enough to merit it. Heck, SKC may end up just a couple of points below the line when all is said and done.

Previous: 1-0 win vs. SEA | Next: 10/9 at DAL

After scoring in a 1-0 win over FCD last weekend, Diego Rubio has 15 goals and seven assists on the season. He’s been by far the brightest spot for Colorado in a dim season, deserving more appreciation than he’s gotten.

Considering the biggest questions surrounding Colorado at the beginning of the year, it’s pretty wild to think they’ve gotten 24 goals from their strikers (Gyasi Zardes has nine) and are still going to miss the playoffs.

Previous: 1-0 win vs. DAL | Next: 10/9 at ATX

The Revs were officially eliminated from playoff contention last week, but at least they got to take some anger out on Atlanta in a real “misery loves company” kind of move. It basically caps a season where the Revs never met expectations, had brief flashes of hope, never found consistency and just generally fell back to Earth after 2021’s Supporters’ Shield. Onto 2023.

Previous: 2-1 win vs. ATL | Next: 10/9 at CHI

Lighters in the air.

This doesn’t take away Seattle’s CCL title, but it does remind us Joao Paulo is really, really, really good at soccer.

Previous: 1-0 loss at SKC | Next: 10/9 vs. SJ

Atlanta stayed around far longer than it seemed like they would a few weeks ago. But their best moments of the season came far too late and were never good enough to be great moments. In the end, their loss at New England – complete with pitch-perfect defensive errors that could be the entirety of the 2022 season recap for this team – felt more like a coup de grace.

Whoever the new club president is will immediately face an offseason that features the challenge of creating room for roster improvements and dealing with an increasingly complicated situation with Josef Martinez. And that last part only gets increasingly complicated every time he does something like this.

Previous: 2-1 loss at NE | Next: 10/9 vs. NYC

It’s always fun to play spoiler. And on top of doing their best to ruin Cincinnati’s season with a 3-2 win last weekend, Chicago fans are getting to enjoy Jhon Duran while they can.

Previous: 3-2 win at CIN | Next: 10/9 vs. NE

There’s been a lot of disappointment in Houston this year. But Sebastian Ferreira has at least put together the kind of season (12g/3a in 30 games) that inspires belief in a major leap forward in 2023. The DP striker will be an easy pick for a breakout year on preseason lists this upcoming offseason.

Previous: 2-1 win at NSH | Next: 10/9 vs. LA

Teams have been begging Toronto to play spoiler just once this month and it hasn’t happened. The Reds have lost four straight. 

Previous: 1-0 loss vs. MIA | Next: 10/9 at PHI

Congrats to Shea Salinas for going out in style.

Previous: 2-0 win vs. MIN | Next: 10/9 at SEA

The Wooden Spoon has a new home.

Previous: 1-0 loss at MTL | Next: 10/9 vs. CIN