What a week in MLS.
Don't forget to check out Twitter Spaces at noon ET, where Andrew Wiebe and Matt Doyle will be scrutinizing this week's rankings along with a ton of guests from around the league.
Disclaimer: The Power Rankings are voted on by the entirety of the MLSsoccer.com editorial staff. You should probably be gently made fun of if you still think the actual rankings are made by just one person. Except for this week. I did it myself. Because I’m personally determined to uphold the sanctity of the most sacred tradition in sports: The MLS Power Rankings. Which, as you all know, determines who will be in the College Football Playoff. Seriously. It’s how they’ve been doing it for years. Look it up. This is very important. Anyway, you should really recognize that the stakes have never been higher.
The Revs stay on top even after a road loss to their biggest challenger in the East. And after surviving for a while without Carles Gil, it’s time to start worrying about whether or not the Revolution can keep their lead in the East. I mean, there’s only so long you can last without the best player in the league. It might even be time to worry about whether this is a playoff tea--
Well. Didn’t expect that.
A couple of weeks after beating Portland 6-2 at Providence Park, the Sounders fell 2-0 to the Timbers at Lumen Field.
Not a ton to worry about there. Sometimes you go out and hit the post 20 times or so. It happens. But Seattle will probably want to find a few more ways to create against teams comfortable setting up low and compact defensively. I guess every team would. But all we have left with this Seattle team is nitpicking.
Maybe we should have known this was coming though? Seattle haven’t beaten Portland at home since May 2017.
Previous: 2-0 loss vs. POR | Next: Bye
I, for one, would be happy to point to NYCFC’s 2-0 victory over New England as a clear indication this is actually the best team in MLS. The underlying numbers have said they are for a while. And we’ve been waiting for a while for this team to put together the consistently elite results they seem wholly capable of. It would be easy to point to this win and say “HEY. SEE. TOLD YOU.” But ... I just can’t do it.
It’s a great win. But it’s not the win. New England were missing Gil, Tajon Buchanan, Matt Polster, Gustavo Bou and Brandon Bye from their starting XI. That’s not to say they couldn’t knock off a full-strength version of New England. They totally could. But they didn’t. Not this time. So I still can’t personally bring myself to pull the trigger on NYCFC as the best team in the league (although one brave MLSsoccer.com Power Rankings Voter did just that). Missing your best players against a team that could theoretically take you out of first is a master class of a Power Rankings tactical move from Bruce here. My hands are tied.
Anyway, Taty Castellanos is absurdly good and has scored five times in the last four games and is still leading the league in expected goals plus assists. Very few teams can hang with NYCFC when he’s turning his expected goals into the actual product.
SKC out-created Colorado by 0.1 xG in a 1-1 draw, so they got put a spot higher than Colorado. I don’t know that for a fact, but it makes sense to me. Should we just sit back and watch the Johnny Russell goal and not worry about it too much? Let’s sit back and watch the Johnny Russell goal and not worry about it too much.
The Rapids have no wins, three draws and a loss against Seattle and SKC this year. They’ll get two more shots against Seattle and one against New England to prove they can be more than the best team outside of the league’s top tier. Seriously, just one win against one of those teams y’all. I’m willing and eager to declare you a genuine MLS Cup contender. Heck, I want to do it right now anyway. But until this extremely arbitrary condition that you were inches from completing this weekend is fulfilled, I can’t do it. These are the rules. How can I commit when the Rapids are out here getting out created by 0.1 xG against SKC?
Nashville tore Atlanta apart this weekend. They controlled the game from start to finish while looking well-drilled, tactically sound and brimming with talent. It’s just another win at Nissan Stadium for a team that’s undefeated at home on the yea ... wait ... hold on ... I’m being told this actually happened on the road? I’m also being told I was at the game and really need to “stop using feigned ignorance as a bit because it’s a tired analytical device that leaves me prone to people screenshotting the first part of the blurb out of context and hurting my credibility”?
Wow. That’s a lot to take in. It’s also tough to take in the fact Saturday marked the first road win of the season for Nashville. That’s an extremely impressive first win, though. And it comes at the perfect time. No one has more road games left. And, this weekend, the Boys in Highlighter Yellow earned a needed boost of confidence in their ability to handle that stretch.
They have a plus-14 goal differential at this point, the underlying numbers continue to love them, they have the fewest losses in the league and CJ Sapong and Hany Mukhtar (among others) are having phenomenal years. This team is a legitimate threat to do some damage in the playoffs and it’s past time to give a ton of love to the job Gary Smith has done in Nashville.
A 0-0 draw against Miami, one where they put just two shots on target, didn’t do anything to alleviate my concerns about this team’s ability to score. I definitely feel like I’m writing the same thing over and over for Orlando each week. But it’s not my fault they’ve scored more than one goal in a game exactly twice since the beginning of July. We’re heading to September now and they’re still doing just fine at second place in the East. But maybe we should point out that they’re just five points away from being seventh place in the East too. They’ll probably want to start scoring a little bit more to feel more comfortable about that.
It’s against Houston, sure, but a Minnesota win without Bebelo Reynoso is a really good Minnesota win. Especially considering they’ve been extremely unlucky this year. Only LAFC have underperformed their expected goal totals by more. And I mean a lot lot more. But that doesn’t take away from the fact that the Loons haven’t gotten many breaks this year.
By the way, just to keep track, that’s eight wins, seven draws and two losses in 17 games for Minnesota since their four losses to start the year. That’s 1.82 points per game and equal to the pace SKC have been on for the year.
Previous: 2-1 win at HOU | Next: Bye
Three goals allowed to LAFC kept them second in the West in goals allowed with 35. But two goals from new signing Dejan Joveljic helped keep them second in the West in goals scored with 35. We’ll call this week a wash with bonus points added on for making their biggest rival feel bad about themselves.
Previous: 3-3 draw at LAFC | Next: Bye
D.C. played well enough against the Union in their 3-1 win for D.C. manager Hernan Losada to say this: “I don’t think there’s any team in this league who play [at] the level we played in the first half, especially the first 20 minutes. We were a team from another league … It was beautiful.”
So. Yeah. Pretty good week for D.C. It seems even better when you consider...
Previous: 3-1 win vs. PHI | Next: Bye
D.C. played well enough against the Union in the Union’s 3-1 loss for Union manager Jim Curtin to say this: "We haven't gotten our asses kicked like that in about three years. We got what we deserved."
So. Yeah. Rough week for the Union. If it makes it seem any better, they don’t have to play D.C. again this year.
Good teams take care of business against bad teams. Montréal are a good team. Toronto are a bad team. Montréal outshot Toronto 19-3 in a 3-1 win.
Previous: 3-1 win vs. TOR | Next: Bye
There’s a pretty clear path to making a massive leap up the Power Rankings and it’s “beat the Sounders in Seattle.” Full credit to Portland, they buckled down and did just that this weekend. Unfortunately, that win was accompanied by an ACL injury to Eryk Williamson and another injury to Cristhian Paredes. That’s a huge blow on multiple levels.
At the very least, the Timbers got a desperately needed win. They were trending downward and quickly. It should be a major confidence boost. The question now is if it will be enough of a confidence boost for them to overcome injuries and some of the worst underlying numbers in the league.
Having Sebastian Blanco back does so much for this team, but it doesn’t fix the worst defense in the league by expected goals allowed and the third-worst by goals added. And it definitely doesn’t make the other team hit the post four times each game. If you haven’t figured it out, I didn’t vote quite the same as the rest of my colleagues on Portland this week.
And you can send me all the weird DMs you want Portland fans, but I’m not going to change my mind about that. Not yet. Keep sending them. I’m not scared. Or my name isn’t Tom Bogert (@TomBogert on Twitter).
The Quakes took the week off to make sure Cade Cowell had a chaperone at the MLS All-Star Game presented by Target and to make sure the MLSsoccer.com editorial staff on-site at the game were kept from asking too many questions about how they can get their hair to look like that.
Previous: Bye | Next: 9/4 v. COL
Things could be going a lot worse for a team that just parted ways with its manager. For about 20 minutes or so there on Sunday, the Whitecaps were above the playoff line before Portland’s win over Seattle sent them back down. They thumped RSL in a 4-1 romp at BC Place this week. And they’re out here scoring goals that look like this…
Even if Vancouver’s recent run of nine straight games unbeaten is due to a “fake impression,” as CEO Axel Schuster called it this week, they do still have a run of nine straight games unbeaten. We’re far from a disaster here in Vancouver. Especially considering new DP Ryan Gauld looks like the real deal. And, in more good news for the Whitecaps, I heard all of their domestic competitions were canceled this year. So they can just focus on MLS.
It would seem letting a solitary midfielder who came into the game with an injury play on a massive island in the center of the field for most of the game is a bad idea. Especially against a team as good as Nashville. Atlanta probably need an extra midfielder in their formation and definitely need a few more healthy bodies in midfield if they’re going to complete their turnaround and make the playoffs.
The good news is they still have the kindest schedule in the league the rest of the way and Luiz Araujo is already making it seem like Atlanta United have finally hit on a DP for the first time in a while.
Previous: 2-0 loss vs. NSH | Next: Bye
Ricardo Pepi. Ricardo Pepi Ricardo Pepi Ricardo Pepi. Ricardo Pepi? Ricardo Pepi.
They finally got Brian Rodriguez to score — twice! — and it didn’t even really matter.
In a very related note, your LAFC Catastrophic Moment of the Week is either the extremely goofy opening goal they allowed to Dejan Joveljic where they forgot how to kick a ball correctly or the heartbreaking equalizing goal they allowed to Kevin Cabral.
And in an even more related note, LAFC are now underperforming their expected goal differential by [ahem] 19.77 GOALS. Their xGD is 16.77. Their actual GD is -3.
And in an even more related note, LAFC are now 11th in the West.
Columbus did in fact technically win the soccer game they played this week and that has to count for something. A 3-2 win over Cincy thanks to two late goals isn’t spectacular, but maybe it’s just what Columbus needed to find some confidence?
“I’m very confident we’re going to be in a playoff position by the end of this,” head coach Caleb Porter said after the match. “But we’re not taking anything for granted at all. Nothing’s going to come easy, nothing’s going to be given to us. We’ve got to work for us.”
A 0-0 draw isn’t much to write home about, but it does mean Miami have only lost once in their last eight.
Losing your manager, reportedly to an assistant job in Seattle, then getting obliterated by Vancouver is ... man, I just kind of feel bad.
A 1-0 win over the Red Bulls means it was a Good Chicago week, which means we’re either going to get Great Chicago or Terrible Chicago next week against Sporting KC. There is no in-between. Don’t try and figure out which one it’s going to be, just let it wash over you.
Mostly though, congrats to Chicago on their first road win in — this is not a bit — 692 days.
Previous: 1-0 win at RBNY | Next: Bye
When you’ve spent half of your last four games losing to Chicago, things probably aren’t going well. The Red Bulls are now 12th in the East and they’ve won once in their last nine games.
Mostly though, when you’re the team that lets another team break a road winless streak that lasted 692 days, things really really aren’t going well.
Previous: 1-0 loss vs. CHI | Next: Bye
Did not lose in the preliminary round of the Canadian Championship.
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