Only MLS league games will be reflected in the rankings. Rankings are voted on by MLSsoccer.com editorial staff; words by Jonathan Sigal.
BIGGEST MOVERS: VAN +4; ATL, DAL, HOU -3
HIGH: 1 | LOW: 11
The Union are three games away from their first major trophy since entering MLS in 2010. Losers of three U.S. Open Cup finals, it’d be huge if they can clinch the Supporters’ Shield during this challenge-filled season. Their Nov. 1 meeting with Columbus should prove particularly challenging, though.
HIGH: 1 | LOW: 6
Toronto’s nine-game winning streak ended in last weekend’s lopsided defeat at Philly, and they’ve lost their grip on the Supporters’ Shield. They were missing a few key starters, so the 5-0 scoreline isn’t indicative of Greg Vanney’s team on its best day. They’re still among MLS’s elite.
HIGH: 1 | LOW: 8
The Sounders could soon lay claim to the No. 1 seed in the Western Conference, and the defending MLS Cup champions always heat up this time of year. That’s boosted if star forward Raul Ruidiaz returns, as he’s been the missing link during this three-game winless run.
HIGH: 1 | LOW: 9
Injury returns were a theme in Week 20, and it applied to Columbus when they got goalkeeper Eloy Room and midfielders Darlington Nagbe and Lucas Zelarayan back on the pitch together. With four games left, they have the chance to discover their early-season, Supporters’ Shield-leading form.
HIGH: 5 | LOW: 18
After missing four games while on international duty with Mexico, and then quarantining upon his return, Alan Pulido is back for Sporting Kansas City. Coincidence that it coincided with a 4-0 win over Colorado? We think not, especially with Pulido scoring his sixth goal of the year.
HIGH: 2 | LOW: 14
Portland’s one point behind SKC for the Western Conference lead, but they haven’t won in three games after allowing late goals in back-to-back draws. Those heartbreaking moments cloud otherwise strong performances, so it’s not like the Timbers need a reboot or sharp turn.
HIGH: 4 | LOW: 23
The Lions’ 12-game unbeaten streak is over and they haven’t won in four games. Those are two facts that reinforce how Orlando need to find another gear during their last four games. Based on their run to the MLS is Back Tournament this past summer, they’ve shown plenty capable.
HIGH: 1 | LOW: 15
You’ll read plenty about Carlos Vela being back for LAFC, or even about the out-of-bounds controversy with Danny Musovski’s opener in their 2-0 El Trafico win last weekend. But the emergence of Jesus David Murillo at center back could prove massive, remedying an issue that’s plagued them all season.
HIGH: 8 | LOW: 18
Results aside, the biggest Revolution news from last week is that Carles Gil returned from Achilles surgery ahead of schedule. With the 2019 MLS Newcomer of the Year back, their postseason prospects could shift greatly. They’ll just need forward Gustavo Bou (hamstring) to get back to 100%, as well.
HIGH: 3 | LOW: 13
New York City FC's three-game winless streak is over after a shorthanded side beat Montreal 3-1 this past weekend. One of the biggest takeaways from that match is star midfielder Maxi Moralez went the full 90 minutes for the first time since early-September. They’ll need the Argentine at full strength.
HIGH: 11 | LOW: 21
The Red Bulls have tied three straight games, with Brian White nabbing a stoppage-time equalizer in the last two. That sort of fight is great to see, but they’ll need to put teams away earlier to make some noise when the Eastern Conference playoffs come around (presuming they qualify).
HIGH: 4 | LOW: 13
With some key players back in the mix, the Loons have another level or two to reach. An offense that includes Kevin Molino and Emanuel Reynoso pulling the strings? It should make 90 minutes a wretched experience for opposing defenders
HIGH: 13 | LOW: 26
These next four games should be fascinating for Nashville SC, as they could realistically reach sixth place in the Eastern Conference standings. Projections back in preseason largely had the expansion side missing the playoffs altogether, so full credit goes to Gary Smith’s team for defying expectations.
HIGH: 7 | LOW: 16
Certain teams leave you wanting more, and FC Dallas fall into that bucket. They’ve won just once in their last seven matches, and it’s hard not to feel like the abundant talent should be producing more. Look no further than how Luchi Gonzalez’s team has been blanked five times during this stretch.
HIGH: 15 | LOW: 25
Chicago are unbeaten in three (1W-0L-2D), but need to make up ground to reclaim an Eastern Conference playoff spot. The good news is the Fire have a game in hand, Robert Beric has scored in seven of their last nine games and midfielder Gaston Gimenez should soon return.
HIGH: 11 | LOW: 18
With a game in hand, Real Salt Lake very well could vault into the No. 7 spot after midweek action. Perhaps they’ll get something special from the trio of Albert Rusnak, Corey Baird and Damir Kreilach – the team’s three likeliest sources of offense during an otherwise low-scoring season.
HIGH: 7 | LOW: 21
The Rapids, due to a COVID-19 outbreak, hadn’t played in over a month – and it showed during their 4-0 setback last weekend at Sporting Kansas City. They’ll need to return to form quickly, though, since opportunities to make up lost ground are fading as the matchnights tick away.
HIGH: 14 | LOW: 21
The Impact need to tighten up defensively, since they haven’t posted a shutout since a 1-0 victory over Toronto FC back on Sept. 1. Attempt No. 13 at repeating that feat arrives Tuesday evening against expansion side Nashville SC, and some backline solidity would go a long way.
HIGH: 19 | LOW: 26
The Whitecaps are tied for the most losses in the entire league (12), yet hold the No. 7 seed out West after winning three of their past four games. In a wild season where Vancouver’s played most of their home matches at Providence Park due to COVID-19 travel restrictions, it’d truly be remarkable if Marc Dos Santos’ team heads to the postseason.
HIGH: 10 | LOW: 26
Looking at San Jose’s schedule to end the year, their midweek match against Real Salt Lake is a must-win. They end the year against LAFC and Seattle, so anything less than three points will make a playoff push from Matias Almeyda’s group even more challenging.
HIGH: 19 | LOW: 26
Inter Miami’s seesaw-like expansion season continues, and now they’re holding onto the East’s 10th and final playoff spot after snapping Florida rival Orlando’s 12-game unbeaten streak last weekend. They’ll soon get Gonzalo Higuain back from red-card suspension, too.
HIGH: 8 | LOW: 25
When it comes to Houston’s 2020 season, it’s hard not to look at the bigger picture. They have just one win in their last 11 games and are outside the West’s playoff picture looking in. Perhaps first-year head coach Tab Ramos has a trick or two up his sleeve, because it's crunch time.
HIGH: 14 | LOW: 26
Unbeaten in three (2W-0L-1D), D.C. United aren’t exactly playing anyone off the pitch right now. But they’ve found ways to get results, and that marks significant progress after a summertime swoon that prompted the departure of head coach Ben Olsen. Perhaps they’ll play the role of spoilers late on or produce a few more surprises.
HIGH: 1 | LOW: 24
The Five Stripes are two points outside of an Eastern Conference playoff spot, but only three games remain to make up ground and the teams they’re jockeying for position with also have a sense of desperation. You’d think DPs midfielders Marcelino Moreno and Ezequiel Barco could salvage Atlanta’s season, but it’s actually been those like Jon Gallagher and Brooks Lennon who are most consistently making game-changing plays.
HIGH: 6 | LOW: 25
The Galaxy have regressed in 2019, and they’re on the verge of missing the playoffs for the third time in the last four years. The exact reasons why extend far beyond this story, but the simple version is you expect far more from the five-time MLS Cup champions. Something has to change, right?
HIGH: 18 | LOW: 26
Barring anything drastic changing, FC Cincinnati will miss the playoffs for the second straight year upon entering MLS. They’ve lost six of their past seven games, even if some stoppage-time decisions (see: Toronto PK call, Minnesota corner kick) went against them.