What a week in MLS. Atlanta struggled in attack but still found a late goal, the Galaxy lost 3-0 to a Cascadia team and Nashville kept a clean sheet. It was truly a week unlike any other.
Disclaimer: THE POWER RANKINGS ARE VOTED ON BY THE ENTIRETY OF THE MLS EDITORIAL STAFF. THE LIST IS NOT CREATED BY ME. I DID NOT PERSONALLY RANK YOUR TEAM IN ANY SPOT AND MAY IN FACT DISAGREE WITH THEIR RANKING ENTIRELY.
So, none of this is my fault. Kind of. I technically did have a vote. Either way, you should really recognize that the stakes have never been lower.
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To the rankings.
They’re still the best team in the league. A point is a point. But they’ll feel unhappy about gifting Atlanta a late penalty in a game where they scored early and then couldn’t add another.
It’s not a bad bet to assume that Atlanta’s attack would struggle to break down Seattle’s excellent defense. However, it’s one thing to sit back and throw punches when you can. It’s a much more dangerous thing to sit back and...well, just kind of sit back. That opens the door for MLS-y things to take over.
Seattle struggled to create in transition and maybe lacked the intensity they’ve shown in other games to help them do it. Which is how you end up with a 1-1 home draw against an Atlanta team that simply can’t create high-quality chances on their own right now.
All told, I doubt anyone in Seattle lost too much sleep or confidence over this one.
Getting three points from the Revs is hard. It’s even harder when you go down to 10 men (we’ll get there later). They can beat you in so many different ways with so many different pieces. It’s outright unfair when the three most crucial of those pieces are all firing at the same time. I mean, just look at this…
The Red Bulls had some hope for a moment. Twenty-three shots and 2.9 expected goals later and the Revs had completely snuffed it out.
To some extent, it feels like this week’s goalscorer, Kacper Przybylko, still hasn’t quite hit his normal stride. In 500 minutes, his g+/96 is down compared to his first two seasons, as his xG+xA/96. To simplify things, so are his shots per game. The Union have been just fine without him putting up the same production. They’ll be excited to see him take another step toward that level, though.
Orlando have gone from a team that routinely and spectacularly figured out ways to fall apart at the end of games; to an explosive team that could at times blow up in their own face; to a team that knows how to grind out wins even when they're not at their sharpest or healthiest. This has all happened in less than a year.
The Lions have endured injuries here and there, and played last weekend and will play the next without Nani after a two-game suspension. This weekend they just kind of shrugged and gave Silvester van der Water his first start in Nani's place. The Dutch winger began by torching Toronto on the wing and eventually finding Tesho Akindele for an assist on the game’s only goal. They didn't run Toronto off the field the rest of the way, but they did feel in control.
The Lions are undefeated and it still feels like they have plenty of room to grow.
Speaking of explosive teams that, at times, blow up in their own face…
Each week, I feel like SKC are either going to win by three or inexplicably drop points to a team at the bottom of the table. When they’re on, there aren’t many teams scarier going forward – and they’ve been on more often than not this year. However, it will be interesting to see how they handle a rematch against Houston after losing 1-0 at BBVA Stadium just a few weeks ago.
The Timbers were, for the most part, handling the Galaxy attack pretty well through the first half. But LA had threatening moments and it would’ve been interesting to see how things ended up if both sides kept 11 players on the field.
The Galaxy didn’t and Portland just destroyed them for it. Gio Savarese said before halftime that he worried the Galaxy might be one of those teams that played better down a man. They weren’t and Portland did what every team should do when up a man. They took control.
We were so close to this being a section about how NYCFC are a legitimate contender in the East. They still probably are. I think Ronny Deila may have been slightly off base when he said his team didn’t have the players to make an impact this year, but it looks like that may have gotten him a few extra signings. Last week, NYCFC completed the biggest MLS transfer coup since...well, Yeferson Soteldo a few weeks ago. Brazilian forward Talles Magno, who’s only 18, seems to be electric and it’s going to be a blast to watch him play.
Because this team is pretty good! They carved a solid Columbus defense up for 90% of the game last weekend, especially in the first half. They deserved at least a point from this one. It’s just unfortunate for NYCFC that the first lesson Magno may have learned from his teammates in MLS is “don’t foul Lucas Zelarayan within 40 yards of the goal.”
I’m so upset that LAFC placed here. Not because I necessarily disagree, but because I know that nobody will read the disclaimer about the voting and I’m just gonna get flamed again on Twitter for a list I didn’t make. It’s a tough life out here for me, Tom Bogert.
Anyway, Carlos Vela reentered the starting lineup this week, Diego Rossi grabbed a brace and LAFC picked up a solid win against a good Colorado team. Seems like a pretty good sign that more consistently positive results are coming. I’m honestly done trying to guess on this team, though. 2020 LAFC scarred me and I can’t get hurt like that again.
Well, the first 44 minutes were decent. Portland had begun to pull away in xG by that point, but LA had consistent and increasingly threatening possession for the first third of the game.
Then a Derrick Williams red card killed any chance of the Galaxy making this interesting and maybe even grabbing another statement win. For now, that’s enough to put them below LAFC in the Power Rankings and probably lead to a lot of uninsightful but also probably correct statements on social media about how LA should be ranked higher because they beat LAFC. Hey, no one ever said this was a meritocracy.
Seattle, Orlando, Nashville. Those are the three undefeated teams left.
In the last two weeks, they’ve taken out the Revs and Austin FC.
Nashville are, once again, very good. I don’t know what more to say.
Sometimes Diego Rossi happens. It’s just one of those things.
I, for one, am ecstatic to watch Atlanta fall rear-first into the Supporters’ Shield.
You may think that grabbing points in the final moments of games without creating nearly anything prior is unsustainable for most teams. However, most teams don’t have as good a defensive spine as Santiago Sosa, Miles Robinson and Anton Walkes. Seattle didn’t execute like normal against Atlanta and that trio is part of the reason why.
Remember that scene in "The Mighty Ducks" where they're practicing how to get the ref to call fouls? This should be Columbus’ training sessions until Lucas Zelarayan misses a free kick again.
Whooo boy RSL could have dropped way lower if the xG had held true against Dallas. A healthy dose of variance kept them in a game they probably shouldn’t have been in and they came away with a point. In MLS, you take these things where you can get it.
With Columbus winning, Toronto are one of four teams remaining with just one win this season. Their next three games are against Lucas Zelarayan’s Free Kick Emporium, Orlando and Nashville. The way things are going right now, they may be one of those teams for a while.
Things are starting to be a little too familiar for San Jose. A solid run of form has been met quickly by a string of losses to the West’s elite teams. The Quakes can’t seem to crack that next tier and I’m not sure they will this year.
Finally, my “Hey, Houston are actually kind of OK” narrative push is beginning to wear the Big J Journos at MLSsoccer dot com down. The Dynamo are in their highest position of the year after a win over Vancouver. They also just so happen to be in fourth place in the West ahead of Colorado, Portland, LAFC and a host of other teams ahead of them in these Power Rankings. Maybe I need to shift to “Houston are actually kind of good”?
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Expansion life is hard. Expansion life with Austin’s schedule is even harder. They’re probably going to keep taking their lumps for a couple of months here. It will get easier and the points will come, people of Austin. I promise.
They put up 2.7 xG to RSL’s 0.6. In a fair and just world, this would have been an easy win that sent the fans watching through a downpour home happy. For now, Dallas have just one win in six games and is at the bottom of the West. Hey, no one ever said soccer was a meritocracy……...although maybe someone should, seems like a good idea.
"Apart from them three, I don’t think any of us can look in the mirror and say we did our job right, myself included, my staff, the players,” said Neville.
Congrats to Andres Reyes on becoming my favorite player in MLS with his 38-minute special this weekend. No one has provided the kind of brilliance mixed with sheer reckless disregard for helping his team in any way and condensed it all into such a compact package like this in years. In his first MLS start, Reyes scored, picked up a yellow card after literally checking a player into the boards like a hockey player, and then picked up a second yellow, all in just 38 minutes.
Who cares what the score is when you can become a legend.
Another week, another decent performance with no payoff for Hernan Losada’s CrossFit Box/Triathlon Training Center/Sport Science Institute. They’ve lost three straight, 1-0. Just keep running boys.
Never stop believing in yourself. Chicago moved up one spot.