What a week in MLS. A team that made the Concacaf Champions League Final struggled in the aftermath, teams that traveled across the country struggled, and Lucas Zelarayán chipped an unsuspecting goalkeeper from distance. It was truly a week unlike any other.
In case you forgot, the Power Rankings are voted on by something close to 15 different people each week. It is not just one person making the call here. Although I would like to formally propose Lionel Messi gets to be the sole arbitrator. Look, if you didn’t want Inter Miami always first in the Power Rankings, we can still sort out those details.
The Coyotes got some help from Sean Johnson on their way to a 1-1 draw in Toronto. A road point is a good point though. And it kept them eight points behind Cincy in the Supporters’ Shield race. Yeah, that’s still a big gap, but what’s important here is we’re halfway through the season and Nashville have been the second-best team in the league.
A good San Jose team got the better of them on a long road trip. It happens. They’re still one of four teams in MLS with at least 30 points on the season.
Dread it. Run from it. The CCL hangover arrives all the same, I guess. They won’t have time to recover either. After getting thumped by Houston on Saturday, they have to turn around and get ready for Wednesday’s game against…Houston. Then they have Sporting KC on Saturday. Then another Wednesday game against Seattle. And then pretty much a whole handful of double-game weeks until Leagues Cup. Even with a team as talented and deep as LAFC, post-CCL life doesn’t hit gently. It’s fair to wonder how steep the drop-off might be.
Not an ideal week all things considered. First, they lost their sprint race matchup against FC Dallas in a midweek game that only last 40 minutes. Then they dropped two points against the Galaxy thanks to the kind of mistake in buildup play they’re accustomed to forcing other teams to make. Even with a one-point week, they’re still on top of the West nearly halfway through their season. I don’t think anyone is too concerned about dropping a few points.
No one in MLS does heat checks quite like Lucas Zelarayán.
When he’s on, he’s pretty much the best player on the planet. Right now, he’s pretty much the best player on the planet. That’s four goals and five assists over the last seven games, and the fourth goal is as good as you will ever see considering the circumstances.
If he can keep it going, he’ll be a legitimate piece of the Landon Donovan MLS MVP conversation. The problem is, he tends to cool off quickly. If anyone can keep him rolling though, it feels like Wilfried Nancy can. He previously set up Djordje Mihailovic to thrive, and he can certainly do the same with Zelarayán. You should expect Zelarayán to keep the magic act going and the Crew to keep piling up points because of it.
The Revs got back on track after a rough stretch with a business-like win over Miami. They haven’t been perfect lately, but they’re still one of four MLS teams with at least 30 points.
I can’t decide if it's good or bad Seattle pulled out a draw against Charlotte thanks to/despite a brace from Raul Ruidiaz and a goal from Cristian Roldan. It’s great they have their best pieces back and functioning. It’s not so great all they could do with that is a draw against Charlotte. Given that it’s Seattle though, I’ll lean towards thinking this is a sign all of the excellent underlying numbers are about to turn into real numbers a little more often.
Atlanta shifted Derrick Etienne Jr. out to the right, got Caleb Wiley back in the lineup, took Matheus Rossetto out and, suddenly, it seemed like nearly all of their problems were solved. With a few slight tweaks, they found a way to create more opportunities in behind their opponents, found a Luiz Araujo replacement, and found a stop-gap until a new DP No. 8 potentially arrives this summer. Once that No. 8 arrives, they’ll have enough firepower to challenge for trophies…as long as their best XI is available. There are still depth concerns with this roster.
Miguel Trauco hit the absolute got dang hell out of the ball and the Earthquakes picked up a huge win over Philadelphia. They’ve now taken down LAFC, Philadelphia and Seattle this season. There should be no worries about whether they can go head-to-head against the best teams in the league even if there are still some worries about consistency.
Congrats to the Lions on getting the job done against Colorado. Now they have to get ready for a three-game run of New England, Philadelphia and Seattle. Seems like we’re about to learn a lot about Orlando.
Dallas are grinding away right now. Nothing is coming easy. They took down St. Louis in a 40-minute game midweek, but came up short in Portland on Saturday. They’ve won just once since mid-May. Dallas might need a season-changing Secondary Transfer Window to get this thing out of second gear and I’m not sure it’s going to happen.
Vancouver went toe-to-toe against Cincy and came away with a point. They’re sixth in the West, Canadian Championship winners, and generally pretty good. It still feels like they have room to grow though. It’s fair to wonder how long we’re going to be waiting for them to do it.
D.C. United didn’t have the juice to keep up with Atlanta on the road. But after seeing them in person this weekend, I can confirm they have indeed come a long, long way from last year. There’s a level of cohesion and talent to everything they just didn’t have before. They won’t be among the league’s best this year, but they should be a playoff-level team.
What a week for Houston. First, they advanced to the US Open Cup semifinals with a 4-1 win over Chicago, and then they turned around and beat the brakes off of LAFC with a 4-0 win. It’s probably not a turning point for their season, but it does feel like another indication of things heading in the right direction. It continues to seem like they’re making positive steps forward on an organizational level and it won’t be surprising to see continuous progress over the next couple of years.
They aren’t slowing down, huh? SKC are arguably the league’s best team since May and Alan Pulido is starting to look a lot like Alan Pulido again. He scored twice in Sporting’s big 4-1 win over Austin. After one of the worst starts in league history, SKC are above the playoff line. All apologies in the world to Peter Vermes for showing any doubt.
The Timbers put in a shift against Dallas and limited them to just 0.3 xG in a 1-0 win. Like always, Portland keep hanging around the playoff line.
Montréal are going full MLS right now. For better and worse.
They’re tied for the second-most home wins in MLS (six) after thumping Minnesota on Saturday. They also lead the league in road losses (eight). We could be on the verge of something truly special if they keep this up. Like, the most MLS-y team of all time could be in the discussion.
Anyway, somehow all of this results in them being in ninth place in the East.
A wild 3-3 draw against Seattle is one way to get back on track after back-to-back losses, I guess. It’s not enough to put them above the playoff line right now, but it’s not nothing either.
It’s still not entirely clear what exactly this Charlotte team is, but at least they’re almost through a brutal stretch of games. If they can get through this run and take some time to figure out…pretty much anything defensively, they might just be ok.
A 0-0 draw against NYCFC this week. If you’re thinking “hmm, sounds like they could have used a match-winning striker in that one,” I have fantastic news.
That’s a heckuva move, the kind of signing that can save a team’s season. With a signing like that, RSL just became one of the league’s most interesting teams heading into the second half of 2023. If Chicho can get comfortable quickly, it’s not hard to envision them building on an already solid foundation and racking up points.
New York took the week off and won’t be back until June 21. Maybe somewhere in that time they’ll figure out why the underlying numbers don’t match up with the actual numbers.
Which, hey, look who else is right there with them on that chart…
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The Loons lost 4-0 at CF Montréal and it’s best they just move on as quickly as they can from this one. It should at least make them feel a little better that they still haven’t seen what this team looks like with Emanuel Reynoso back in the starting lineup.
Lorenzo Insigne scored a stunner against Nashville and the Reds were totally in control until Sean Johnson made a mistake. They'll take the point, but surely would like to start adding some wins with consistency.
Three wins in four has turned into two straight losses. They’ve got just 19 points (1.12 ppg) at the season’s halfway point.
After a 0-0 draw against RSL, NYCFC have earned three points out of the last 24 available (0W-5L-3D record). In that span, they’ve scored five times in eight games. Get this team a striker, ASAP.
If the days after giving up a game-losing goal from midfield in the dying seconds of a game isn’t a good time to check the patented Fire Season Timeline Flow Chart, then I don’t when is.
I can see it → Oh, no → Oh, yikes, no → Well, maybe → Nope → But let’s just… → Oh, ok immediate no on that → But what if they tweak this → This looks better! → OH NO. THEY GOT ME AGAIN → No. → I’m not falling for that → No, forever. → Offseason → I can see it.
You are at “Oh, ok immediate no on that.” Can’t wait for them to grab a few results soon just to keep on riding this rollercoaster.
A road point at St. Louis is fine, but nothing could have made folks in LA feel all better about this week. Chicharito tore his ACL against RSL on Wednesday in the US Open Cup. Have we seen the 35-year-old’s last game with the Galaxy? In a low, low year, this feels like the lowest possible point.
It's all about staying above water until Lionel Messi (and friends?) would arrive this summer. Right now, the Herons are trying to end their second six-game losing streak of the year.
It is not going well.