Power Rankings

Power Rankings: New York Red Bulls take over, Philadelphia Union remain undefeated

Power Rankings - Matchday 8 - 2024 season

What a week in MLS. Tani Oluwaseyi scored a late goal off the bench, the less-in-form side won El Tráfico, and the Philadelphia Union U-17s won a Generation adidas Cup title. It was truly a week unlike any other.

The Power Rankings are voted on by around 20 MLS writers, editors and personalities and are not solely the fault of the column’s author. However, we should note that half of the committee experienced temporary blindness after looking into the eclipse and may or may not have had a clear understanding of where they were ranking each team.

Well, look who’s top of the league.

The Red Bulls handed FC Cincinnati a rare home loss in style. They’re able to produce without relying solely on the full-throttle pressing we’ve become accustomed to. That’s a scary thing for the rest of the league. This isn’t your five-year-old nephew’s Red Bulls.

Previous: 2-1 win at CIN | Next: 4/13 vs. CHI

Cucho… you good, man?

After being held out against Tigres in Concacaf Champions Cup action – his second straight game spent suspended for “team policy” reasons – Cucho earned an early exit against D.C. United. It’s been an odd couple of weeks for the Crew.

They at least earned a Leg 1 draw against Tigres and another 1-1 draw against D.C. despite being down to 10 men. They’re facing a heckuva uphill battle at El Volcán tonight, though. Leaving Cucho out of Leg 1 was a startling choice.

Previous: 1-1 draw vs. DC | Next: 4/13 at RSL

Extremely Union Thing No. 1:

Extremely Union Thing No. 2:

It already feels like we’re a long way from Pachuca. The Union are the league’s last remaining undefeated team and seem set for yet another 50+ point season. The more things change, the more they stay the same.

Previous: 2-1 win at NSH | Next: 4/14 at ATL

Vancouver steamrolled Toronto on their way to a 4-0 win and the best points-per-game rate in MLS (2.17). Plain and simple: They’re good enough to finish near the top of the Western Conference. Maybe even at the top.

Previous: 4-0 win vs. TOR | Next: 4/13 vs. LA

Cincy got off to a quick start against New York thanks to striker (??) Yuya Kubo’s third-minute opener. But a quick start turned into an uncharacteristic home loss after the Red Bulls stormed back to take a 2-1 win.

Their stellar home record could be in slightly more danger than normal now that starting goalkeeper Roman Celentano is out for an unknown amount of time with an ankle injury.

Previous: 2-1 loss vs. RBNY | Next: 4/13 at MTL

Bad week. 

Getting this guy back is great and all…

And shout out to Leo Afonso for his first MLS goal. But the Herons blew a 2-1 lead to drop two points at home against Colorado. That’s somewhat excusable with a heavily-rotated lineup.

However, the not-so-rotated lineup held a 1-0 lead over CF Monterrey on Wednesday before succumbing to the darkness of Concacaf. David Ruiz’s ill-advised second yellow flipped the series on its head, as Rayados scored twice in the second half to take a 2-1 lead back to Mexico. Inter Miami’s Concacaf Champions Cup dream could end Wednesday evening. It will take something special from Messi to keep them alive.

Previous: 2-2 draw vs. COL | Next: 4/13 at SKC

The Galaxy were playing well and earning points heading into last weekend. That’s where they messed up, though. Terrible idea to try and be a team with positive momentum heading into El Tráfico. It rarely works out. Naturally, they lost 2-1.

They’ll be fine. It’s a good team. They’ll be even better if they figure out how to defend set pieces.

Previous: 2-1 loss at LAFC | Next: 4/13 at VAN

Atlanta still haven’t won on the road this year and won’t be a true contender for the Supporters’ Shield until they start doing so consistently. Still, a deserved road point (that could have easily been three) at New York City FC when missing Giorgos Giakoumakis, Xande Silva and Stian Gregersen is a good point in a vacuum.

That’s the decent news for Atlanta. The great news is Brad Guzan is having a renaissance. After finishing last among starting goalkeepers in post-shot xG minus goals allowed (the quants’ best estimation of shot-stopping ability) in 2023, Guzan is eighth this season and putting up above-average numbers. He’s even dishing out passes like this:

Previous: 1-1 draw at NYC | Next: 4/14 vs. PHI

LAFC got it together after last week’s loss to Colorado and earned a win against their crosstown rivals. Well, sort of crosstown. They might disagree.

Anyway, El Tráfico stayed very quiet this round all considered. LAFC simply got the job done at home against a good team.

Previous: 2-1 win vs. LA | Next: 4/13 at POR

Tani Oluwaseyi! Again!

Oluwaseyi came off the bench to score his second career MLS goal and his second late equalizer of the year. He’s one of the best stories of the early season.

Anywho, the Loons have one win in three home games so far this year. That wouldn’t be too concerning for most teams, but that makes it five wins in Minnesota’s last 20 home games (MLS only). You have to take advantage of being at home and the Loons haven’t done it for over a calendar year now. It’s super weird and will continue to be brought up until it changes.

Previous: 1-1 draw vs. RSL | Next: 4/13 vs. HOU

RSL could have had more in Minnesota, but they’ll take a point. Chicho Arango has six goals and four assists on the season now. He leads the league in goals and goal contributions.

Previous: 1-1 draw at MIN | Next: 4/13 vs. CLB

D.C. United are a good team. D.C. United are also a team learning how to win. They’ve held the lead in each of their last four games and only won one of them. Taken alone, those are solid results. Taken as a sequence, it’s a clear representation of an issue. They have a ways to go before they can be seen as a true contender for a home playoff spot in the Eastern Conference. However, it’s still worth mentioning their underlying numbers are among the best in the league so far.

Previous: 1-1 draw at CLB | Next: 4/13 vs. ORL

The Dynamo’s three-game winning streak ended in Chicago last weekend. That’s the bad news. The good news is every match that passes by is one match closer to Héctor Herrera’s return.

Previous: 2-1 loss at CHI | Next: 4/13 at MIN

This is one of those where you don’t have to say anything because you’re just gonna assume everyone involved knows they shouldn’t let that happen again. 

Previous: 3-3 draw vs. POR | Next: 4/13 vs. MIA

Two weeks without Lorenzo Insigne. Two big losses. Toronto are crashing back to Earth after a hot start.

Previous: 4-0 loss at VAN | Next: 4/13 at CLT

The Rapids earned an outstanding road point in Miami thanks to a late equalizer from Cole Bassett. The Rapids were a bit shellshocked when Lionel Messi subbed on for the Herons at halftime, but they recovered nicely. That’s nine points on the season now for an improved side. That’s all you could really ask for to start the year.

Previous: 2-2 draw at MIA | Next: 4/13 at SJ

“Back” feels like a strong word, but this is something close to it.

The Sounders rolled to a 5-0 win over Montréal as they finally released some pent-up frustration.

Albert Rusnák went 90 minutes in this one and João Paulo came off the bench. Pedro de la Vega should be back soon. They’re getting healthier and they finally had a breakthrough in attack. Did we mention they’re currently leading the league in American Soccer Analysis’ Goals Added metric? The time to buy stock was technically last week, but now works as well.

That said, a run of Vancouver, D.C., Philadelphia, LA and Portland over the next month doesn’t exactly scream “getting back to the top of the West.” We’ll find out quickly if this performance was a mirage.

Previous: 5-0 win vs. MTL | Next: 4/13 at DAL

The Timbers fell to Sporting KC after giving up three goals in the first ha… [waits for 45 more minutes of soccer]. The Timbers drew 3-3 at Sporting KC, even though they gave up three first-half goals. I have no idea how to explain what happened.

It’s not how anyone would typically want things to go, but that’s a stellar road point for a Timbers team that’s rarely boring nowadays. None of it makes much sense, but who cares when you’re finding the net this often? Portland are tied for second in MLS with 14 goals scored on the year. 

Previous: 3-3 draw at SKC | Next: 4/13 vs. LAFC

Six road games later, it’s time to go home. And that’s all there really is to say about Saturday night.

As for the road trip overall, Montréal didn’t quite stick the landing. They earned seven points from their first three games and seemed on track for 10 until the Fire’s miraculous comeback. Seven points from six matches is good, but it could have been something special for Laurent Courtois' team.

Previous: 5-0 loss at SEA | Next: 4/13 vs. CIN

New DP winger Liel Abada couldn’t get going in his first start and Charlotte failed to score in New England’s first win of the year. Even if Abada had been at his best, there are concerns about the quality of this team’s attack. They have six goals scored through seven games.

Previous: 1-0 loss at NE | Next: 4/13 vs. TOR

Chicago got a home win against a streaking Houston side. It’s a nice bounceback after a tough road loss last week. Hopefully Chicago’s vibes stay up even longer than this goal from Brian Gutiérrez did.

Gutiérrez has three goals and an assist in six starts this season. Three goals is a career-high for the 20-year-old homegrown.

Previous: 2-1 win vs. HOU | Next: 4/13 at RBNY

St. Louis have just eight points through seven games. Related: Here was head coach Bradley Carnell's take on Saturday's 0-0 stalemate with shorthanded FC Dallas, their league-leading fifth draw of the year:

"We are playing the game in the opponent's half," Carnell said postgame. "We are putting them under pressure. The opponent has to work really hard to keep it out of their net. So I thought it was like some games, you get the feeling where you play really well and the result doesn't go your way. I think this is one of those nights."

Previous: 0-0 draw vs. DAL | Next: 4/14 vs. ATX

No one has any idea what exactly happened in Austin’s win over San Jose, and they’re lying if they say they do. What we do know is Austin went down 2-0 and fought back until this happened.

Sebastián Driussi's 101st-minute finish gave Austin nine points on the season. The expected goals numbers suggest the total should be lower, but a low expected points total hasn’t stopped Austin from earning actual points before.

Previous: 4-3 win vs. SJ | Next: 4/14 at STL

It’s bad and it ain’t good.

Nashville held a 1-0 first-half lead on Philadelphia at home thanks to a goal from Sam Surridge, but the defense couldn’t hold up. A 90th-minute goal from Dániel Gazdag sealed a 2-1 loss. They have seven points from seven games and their underlying numbers are among the worst in the league. It’s tough to see how this gets turned around, even after Walker Zimmerman gets back in the lineup.

Previous: 2-1 loss vs. PHI | Next: Bye

Orlando took the week off to figure out what to do with Duncan McGuire and Luis Muriel.

Previous: Bye | Next: 4/13 at DC

New York City FC played a weird one at Citi Field against Atlanta. Both teams created plenty of chances, and neither team seemed all too interested in finding the net. But, even in a 1-1 home draw, creating chances feels like a step forward for this group. It’s a decent start to a potentially season-defining five-match homestand.

Previous: 1-1 draw vs. ATL | Next: 4/13 vs. NE

A 0-0 draw to St. Louis this week for FC Dallas. It’s a road point, but only barely. Dallas allowed 26 shots on the night. The 2024 season has been painful for Frisco's Walking Wounded.

Previous: 0-0 draw at STL | Next: 4/13 vs. SEA

A win! An actual MLS win!

Carles Gil’s first-half goal against Charlotte kept Caleb Porter from perpetual memehood and fulfilled his midweek promise of the team’s first three points of the year. Going forward, it should help that New England can officially turn their full focus toward MLS. Their 4-0 home loss to Club América in Leg 1 of their CCC series basically ended any hope of a Cinderella run.

Previous: 1-0 win vs. CLT | Next: 4/13 at NYC

San Jose lost at Austin in the 11th minute of second-half stoppage time after holding a 2-0 lead at one point. It’s going to be a long year.

Previous: 4-3 loss at ATX | Next: 4/13 vs. COL