As always, this is not my fault. The Power Rankings 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.
Gareth Bale is here, Giorgio Chiellini has already made an appearance on the bench and LAFC mostly cruised to a win in El Trafico to stay atop the Supporters’ Shield standings and stay on pace for about 70 points or so. At some point, their new DP No. 9 will arrive to theoretically improve on the No. 9 (Cristian Arango) they already have who has seven goals and two assists this season, and has 21 goals in 36 appearances in his MLS career.
Guess that about wraps it up.
Austin casually rested Sebastian Driussi and Maxi Urruti for a half, decided Felipe is in fact an attacking force to be reckoned with and smacked Atlanta so bad in their own building in front of 67,000 people that they sent the club into panic mode. I’m telling y’all, Austin are just the protagonist of the story this year. It’s part of why they have the best away record in the league. It also helps that they’re just really, really good.
It was my first time seeing Josh Wolff’s team in person and it’s instantly clear they are fantastically coached and well-suited to what Wolff asks them to do. That kind of tactical execution is a major part of why they’ve been able to be so excellent on the road and why they’re just two points behind the LAFC Death Star 2.0.
Hey, I don’t know if y’all noticed but there’s a new Golden Boot presented by Audi leader.
After back-to-back braces, Taty Castellanos has scored five times in the last three games and sits alone atop the Golden Boot race with 12 goals on the season in 15 starts. I genuinely can’t believe no one has come in with a $20 million offer for this guy. Because on top of being the best scorer in the league, he’s a top-tier defensive forward. There are worse fates for NYCFC than keeping him around a little while longer, but what is everyone else doing?
On a related note: NYCFC are back to being first in the East on points per game.
A typically clustery Red Bulls game against FC Cincinnati led to a 1-1 draw and the Red Bulls stayed in first place in the East and continue to be really good and really Red Bulls. There’s not a whole lot else to add here 20 games into the season. Although, I guess I can keep patting them on the back for adding Lewis Morgan. It was a penalty, but he did score his ninth goal of the season this weekend.
The Sounders’ leisurely trip back up to the top of the West we all assumed would happen has slowed a bit. Injuries seem to be catching up to Seattle and they’ve lost two of their last three, including this week’s objectively funny shellacking from Portland on “Show Off Our Big Shiny CCL Trophy In Portland’s Faces” Day.
Seattle are currently eighth in the West, but just four points and a game in hand out of third place. The West is a mess right now. However, they're 11 points and a game in hand out of second place. It’s not a big deal, but it kind of seems like the top-two finish most expected out of Seattle once CCL ended might not come. I guess they’ll just have to settle for probably getting healthy at exactly the right time to get a couple of home Audi MLS Cup Playoff games and making another run at MLS Cup. Painful.
They couldn’t hold onto a 2-0 lead against their biggest rival. That’s gotta sting. Real Salt Lake are still in third place (West) though and have a chance to get back on track against Atlanta and Sporting KC this week.
The Galaxy ended up on the wrong end of a pretty typical El Trafico this weekend, losing 3-2. They have a chance to recover with games against the 12th and 14th-place teams in the West this week though. Maybe we should normalize giving teams a bit of a break after having to deal with LAFC?
Yeah, some cracks are starting to show. Life without Djordje Mihailovic has unsurprisingly been difficult for Montréal, and the last two games have accentuated that. A week where you follow up a 4-0 beatdown in LA with a 2-1 home loss to one of the worst teams in the league is far from ideal. But CFM are still fourth in the East and Mihailovic should be back from injury soon.
This is still a playoff-caliber team, but I am getting worried about the Knifey Lions. After their draw with the Red Bulls this weekend (a good result!) they’re seventh in the East with two teams just a point behind them. They’re undefeated in their last five, but drew in four of those games. To be fair, their last five consisted of Philly, Orlando, NYCFC, New England and RBNY.
Cincy survived their toughest stretch of the season above the line. Now they just need to earn three points against the teams they’re clearly better than. And they’re clearly better than a lot of teams.
The Timbers staring down their biggest rival’s CCL Championship celebration and deciding to ruin the day with force is an all-time Cascadia moment. They just bulldozed Seattle. And, unsurprisingly, they look hell-bent on making a second-half run to relevance.
They’ll get to laugh about this one forever. And isn’t that what Heineken Rivalry Week is all about?
How is this happening? Who knows, who cares and why would you ask that kind of question when you could just sit back and enjoy the kind of team that scores three goals a game for fun now…apparently?
That’s three straight wins thanks to another three-goal performance from a suddenly wide-awake attack, and the Loons are even on points with the Galaxy and Nashville, plus a win away from being in third place in the West. I have no idea how sustainable this is, but who am I to doubt the Loons right now?
Should….should Nashville be panicking?
They’re still above the playoff line, but they’ve just played six straight games against teams below the playoff line (before they kicked off) and they only took six points. That six-game stretch concluded this week with a mollywhopping in the Carolinas, where they were totally overrun by Charlotte FC. Now, they have a three-game stretch against Seattle, LAFC and Cincinnati. Folks, I think we can start worrying about Nashville SC for the first time in the club’s history.
It would be typical for Nashville, of course, if they won all three of those games, but Nashville just haven’t looked like themselves as of late. Something is off right now. And I don’t know what they have to do to fix it, or if their lack of depth will even allow them to.
USE YOUR ENEMY’S WEIGHT AGAINST THEM.
After a lengthy lightning delay put kickoff off by about two-and-a-half hours, the Lions and Herons didn’t exactly put on a show. But a rivalry moment as good as that own goal had to be worth sticking around for as an OCSC fan. It’s the kind of argument-ending highlight you can stick into internet fights for years.
It was not the Revs’ weekend.
But they did bring in a new DP forward at least. Giacomo Vrioni has arrived from Juventus and the Revs should continue to improve as their impressive insta-rebuild continues. As long as they fix the apparently organizational problem of giving up three penalties in a game.
The Sir Minty Boys are absolutely not messing around at home. The week after picking up their first-ever road win, they returned to the comforts of the Carolinas and clobbered Nashville, 4-1, in front of 36k-plus. Andre Shinyashiki scored again, Karol Swiderski got back on the scoresheet for the first time in actual months, and Sergio Ruiz played the best match of his Charlotte career. Charlotte have seven wins in 10 games at home and they’re now above the East’s playoff line 20 games into the season.
The lesson, as always, is Sir Minty deserves your respect and admiration. But mostly, he deserves your fear.
- 62nd minute: Cucho Hernandez subbed in
- 63rd minute: The Crew score. It’s 2-1 Chicago
- 75th minute: The Crew score. It’s 2-2
- 83rd minute:
Vancouver ran into the newly-unveiled Minnesota United buzzsaw this weekend. It’s not the best follow-up to their 1-0 win over LAFC, but they apparently played the hottest team in the league. Sometimes it’s just not your day.
The latest open-play goal in MLS history.
Teenage Hadebe’s 101st-minute (!!!) equalizer earned Houston a point against FC Dallas, and Hector Herrera very much looked the part after coming on in the 55th minute. It’s a number of positive steps forward for a team that really needed a break.
I feel for any Inter Miami fan that drove up to Orlando this weekend, just to sit around in the rain and watch their team lose to an in-state rival on a stoppage-time own goal. That’s a level of sports and actual pain I wouldn’t wish on most anybody. At least Alejandro Pozuelo should be ready to go soon … right?
Not losing to your biggest rival is good. Even if it took an 89th-minute equalizer. But that point vs. RSL gave the Rapids just their fifth point from their last seven games and leaves them at 12th place in the West. Minnesota jumped above the line from a similar position with a sudden winning streak, and it kind of feels like the Rapids might be due?
Per American Soccer Analysis, Colorado are currently underperforming their “expected points” numbers by the largest margin in the league. Given the same sample of shots over 1,000 simulations, the numbers would put them closer to RSL and the Red Bulls on points than the Houston’s and Atlanta’s of the world.
So maybe they can turn it around. I’ve expressed my squabbles with their roster-building philosophy this season, but there’s still talent on this team. And it helps to have reliable and proven MLS players around. Players like Mark-Antho……ok, you know what, never mind.
I mean, I could get into it. But I think you can just sum it up with “Josef has a lot to say.”
To recap the opening of the summer window for TFC:
- The Reds added defender Domenico Criscito as he left Genoa.
- They traded for Mark-Anthony Kaye by sending a huge swath of GAM and Ralph Priso to the Colorado Rapids.
- They sent Alejandro Pozuelo to Inter Miami CF for $150k in GAM, all to reportedly open up a DP spot to make way for former Juventus attacker Federico Bernardeschi.
- They, of course, welcomed Lorenzo Insigne to the team.
- And now they’re reportedly ready to move on from Carlos Salcedo, their DP center back who has struggled from the jump, after just a few months.
To me, this is a sign that Toronto are primed for a playoff run, and a sign that too many teams with the resources to do so aren’t quick enough to admit mistakes and address needs. Toronto have reworked their team over the course of a week or so here and may have salvaged their season. There are very few reasons to ever punt on a year in MLS when you’re almost never truly out of the playoff race.
Jack Skahan found a late equalizer up in Toronto and Jeremy Ebobisse scored his 10th goal of the season. Not a bad trip across the continent, all things considered. It still feels like the Quakes have more in them though. Maybe whatever replacement they find for Francisco Calvo can help them get there.
SKC earned a 2-1 win against one of the East’s best teams thanks to that. It might not save their season, but it’s nice to see SKC finding joy.
All I can say about this weekend on the field is Julian Gressel is likely the only MLS player in history, and maybe eternity, that has both won and lost a game 7-0.
All I can say about this weekend off the field is HOLY SMOKES IT’S THAT GUY AGAIN.
He seems to have done a decent job under bad circumstances at Derby County, but I have no idea how this is going to go. Or how this roster, tailored in some respects to Hernan Losada’s philosophy, will adjust to whatever Rooney’s identity in MLS will be. Whatever happens though, it won’t be boring.
In my experience, the cycle of watching Chicago from afar each season and deciding whether or not they might actually be onto something playoff-worthy each year has gone like this:
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.
After this weekend’s collapse against Columbus, I think we’re at “OH NO. THEY GOT ME AGAIN.” Just 10 days before that, Chicago had beaten Philadelphia at home. Then they lost on the road to San Jose. But then they went 2-0 up on the Crew and maybe, just maybe, they were showing signs of prosperity. Dear reader, they were not. They were very much not.