What a week in MLS.
As always, you can listen to Matt Doyle, Andrew Wiebe and a range of guests from around the league discuss every team on Twitter Spaces each Tuesday at 11 am ET. Listen to this week's discussion below.
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 when I rolled a 27-sided die to decide where we put your favorite team, didn’t like where it landed and actively chose to place them somewhere more upsetting instead. Because I’m personally determined to ruin the sanctity of the most sacred tradition in sports: The MLS Power Rankings. Anyway, you should really recognize that the stakes have never been lower.
Anyway, they need eight points from their next five games to go ahead and take sole ownership of the regular season points record. They already clinched the Eastern Conference and the Supporters’ Shield is incoming soon. They have eight more wins than the next closest team in the East and four more wins than Chicago have losses. They have as many wins as Cincinnati have points.
Good soccer team is good.
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Which one of Seattle’s big wins last week should we talk about first? Maybe first we should shout out San Jose for actually scoring a goal, something Colorado failed to do. Good job San Jose. But as far as the rest of the game goes, it was kind of your standard Seattle beatdown. The Colorado game though…
The third best team in their conference and a team that had been challenging for the top spot in the conference for the majority of the last few months came to Seattle and found out real quick they didn’t have the range. Not that they’re bad. It’s just that Seattle can do things at a level above and beyond just about every team in the league when they’re at their best.
New England have been the more consistently great team this season. That’s undeniable. But I think if we put each team in a single-elimination tournament where each team played their personal A-grade game, Seattle come out on top.
Exhibit A is this. This is special.
Sporting KC, a very good soccer team, took home two wins this week against two of the West’s worst teams. Naturally, Daniel Salloi did what he’s been doing all season and played a big part in that. He added three more goals to his tally to extend his league-wide lead in non-penalty goals to three. That technically doesn’t get you the Golden Boot presented by Audi, though.
The good news for Salloi is he’s just one goal behind Golden Boot leader and penalty-take extraordinaire Ola Kamara. Salloi now has as many total goals as Raul Ruidiaz on the year and six assists to go along with that. He’s your current leader In total goal contributions this season with 23. Salloi is having an incredible year and deserves to be in the MVP conversation ... which is why he has been for nearly the entirety of the season.
I don’t know if y’all have been keeping up, but we’ve been doing a monthly MVP Power Rankings too. Salloi has been talked about at length in each of these since June and has been in the top five in all but the most recent one since then. He came in sixth in the voting. The majority of the fifth-place section was then spent talking about how it probably should have been Salloi. Not to mention all the stumping for Andreu Fontas that’s gone on in those rankings. Remember, y’all. He’s still first in the league in ASA’s goals added metric and he has been for months. But Salloi, of course, is the star.
It’s hard not to talk about a player who’s the catalyst for a team that’s consistently been talked about as one of the best in the league. Sporting KC haven’t left the top five of the Power Rankings since Week 8. They were seventh that week. They’ve spent 10 of the 14 Power Rankings columns since then in the top three.
I say all of this to let y’all know why I straight up started hyperventilating when this happened.
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That’s three straight draws for Nashville, who might be coasting just a little too much in the second spot in the East it felt like they had locked up. And they still probably do. But now they’re only five points up with a game out of hand on the next closest team. It could get more interesting than anyone would have expected down the stretch.
Now, I can’t imagine Hany Mukhtar and company are going to allow that to happen. However, just consider that Nashville’s remaining schedule involves traveling to both teams within five points of them for six-pointers on the road. They’ll face Philadelphia on Oct. 23 and Orlando on Halloween. It could get uncomfortable for the Boys in Gold if they’re not careful.
Previous: 0-0 draw at NYC | Next: Bye
Another week. Another six points for the Timbers. Another Power Rankings where I admit I’m wrong and wallow, dejected, through the muck and filth of my own wrongness.
Since Portland’s 3-1 loss to Austin where, dear reader, I began to ask if they were going to miss the playoffs, they’ve won seven of their last eight. And it’s becoming increasingly clear there’s an obvious line of demarcation in Portland’s season. For the 2021 Timbers, there’s before and after Sebastian Blanco.
Portland have won six of his eight starts since his return from injury. Of the 20 games without him, they’ve won eight. In games with Blanco starting, they’ve averaged 2.4 goals for and 1.4 goals against. In the games without him, they average 1.3 goals for and 1.7 goals against. Blanco is essentially worth 1.4 goals worth of difference each game for Portland. I mean, if we’re talking about players that are the “Most Valuable” to their team…
Except what’s breaking my brain a bit here is that in Blanco’s games, Portland’s shots per game are down and their shots conceded are up and their passing in the final third is down in both quantity and percentage and oh god I promised I would stop doing this, but I’m questioning Portland again. I’m so sorry, but “24th in expected goal differential” is like a reflex at this point. It’s going to take a while to break me of this.
For now, Portland and their fans should just enjoy making me look stupid each week.
Previous: 1-0 vs. MIA | Next: Bye
A while back, we talked about how it was never a good idea to worry about the Union. Then we started worrying about the Union.
Well. Now we’re here and the Union have taken 10 points from their last four games, moved to third in the Eastern Conference and are a legitimate threat to catch Nashville for second place in the conference.
They’re back to bullying teams around again in midfield and even found a way to get people not named Kacper Przybylko to score a goal or two this week. They look dangerous. And their style feels very conducive to ruining a few teams’ seasons and maybe making their own pretty special once they get into a single-elimination tournament. And they seem like a lock to make it to the playoffs at this point.
They face Cincinnati twice, Toronto once and get a shot at Nashville at home. Second place isn’t that far away for a team that didn’t look like itself for a while there.
Every week I feel like I get to Colorado, shrug my shoulders and say, “Welp, that’s Colorado for ya.”
And this week ... Welp, that’s Colorado for ya. They beat up on Austin midweek before getting whomped by Seattle. Nothing really new to see here for the league’s best team that aren't quite great.
Orlando may have saved their season this week. A stoppage-time equalizer to complete a two-goal, second-half comeback against Nashville and a stoppage-time winner against D.C. turned a one-point week into a four-point week and have the Lions fourth in the East with three points of separation between them and eighth place.
Now, with the slightest of cushions in the standings, their schedule doesn’t get much easier, but it does get easier. They survived their toughest six-game stretch of the year, facing six straight teams that are now eighth in the East or higher. It wasn’t pretty. They lost four of those games. But it could have been six! Now, in their final six games, they only have to face four teams above the playoff line. See. A little easier.
Plus, now they have a bit of positive morale. I know two stoppage-time rescue operations aren’t exactly encouraging. But for a team that began spiraling without a truly identifiable cause, they probably needed a couple of moments exactly like that to get their heads right and to give them a boost.
They aren’t out of the woods yet. And I’m not sure optimistic is the right word to use with two games against Montréal, and matchups with New England and Nashville on the way. But they do finally have some momentum. Maybe most importantly, Daryl Dike has some momentum. That’s three straight games with a goal for Dike. If he keeps rolling, it wouldn’t be the first time this year we’ve seen him drag a team to the playoffs.
Previous: 2-1 win vs. DC | Next: Bye
A mixed bag of a week could have been a phenomenal week if it weren’t for Daryl Dike. D.C. handled Minnesota midweek and should have come away with a point against Orlando. They’re still fifth in the East for now though, still among the top-five teams in the league in expected goal differential and still have Julian Gressel.
It’s hard to overstate just how good Gressel has been, and just how important he is to D.C. I mean…
Dude should be a lock for this year’s Best XI.
Previous: 2-1 loss at ORL | Next: Bye
This could be going better.
NYCFC have one win since August ended. It’s against Cincinnati.
They lost to Chicago and apparently didn’t lose bad enough for Chicago to not part ways with their manager. And now Anton Tinnerholm appears to be out for an extended period of time.
Yeah, this could be going better.
Previous: 0-0 draw vs. NSH | Next: Bye
Welcome back to another segment of “Praising Wilfried Nancy.” We’ll start the way we normally do. By reminding everyone that Wilfried Nancy is really dang good at his job.
Obviously, their midweek game with New England went how most games go against New England these days. But Montréal haven’t let anything knock them off course this season. They regrouped and came out and took down Atlanta United in a massive and much-needed six-point win that put them in seventh and sent Atlanta down to eighth.
Speaking of, I guess we should also take a break from Praising Wilfried Nancy to remind y’all that Romell Quioto is a stud and can kick a soccer ball harder than most.
Previous: 2-1 win vs. ATL | Next: Bye
Every time it seems like Minnesota are going to settle in and claim their spot in the playoffs, they don’t seem to do themselves any favors. They got smacked by D.C. midweek and then drew with not-good Dallas while Bebelo Reynoso picked up an 89th-minute red card for good measure. Let’s just check and see which game he’ll be missing for annnnnndddddd it’s against Colorado.
The Loons are stuck in seventh place right now with Vancouver hot on their tail. The last few weeks of the season could be a little more panicky than expected a few games ago. Hey, speaking of Vancouver...
The Whitecaps are pretty fun! And probably regretting not taking all three points from Houston midweek in a win that would have sent them above the playoff line, but still! Pretty fun! And nearly a playoff team.
Folks, I regret to inform you that Vancouver’s next three games are at Seattle, home against SKC and at Portland. It’s almost funny. In the way, like, someone probably thought Squid Game was funny?
It’s definitely not a kind lead-in to the end of the season. But if they can make it through and keep Minnesota at arm’s length, they’ll get a shot at them in the penultimate game of the season.
Or maybe the Galaxy will just be kind enough to come down the standings and meet them.
Atlanta got the job done against Inter Miami, but couldn’t do the same against Montréal. A horrific six-minute stretch where they immediately surrendered a goal after going up 1-0 and then allowed Montréal to get in behind and win a penalty moments later doomed any chance of a six-point week. Instead, they could be wondering a few weeks from now if this stretch kept them out of the playoffs.
For now, though, they’re in eighth place but just three points away from third. And it really needs to be mentioned again just how favorable their schedule is the rest of the way. To recap: They get Toronto, engine light on NYCFC, Miami, Toronto again, Red Bulls and Cincinnati. That should be more than enough points to make the playoffs. It could be 18 points, honestly.
The biggest worry right now is just making sure Josef Martinez is healthy for those six games. Knee troubles plus a low-grade hamstring issue against Montréal aren’t encouraging signs. Fortunately, a two-week break is. He should be rested and ready to go for the next game. And even if he’s not, this team should be good enough to handle the rest of this schedule.
Previous: 2-1 loss at MTL | Next: Bye
Fifty-two days and counting without a win.
They’re still two points above the playoff line, but Minnesota and Vancouver below them have a game in hand. We’re on the verge of seeing one of the more spectacular collapses in recent memory.
Previous: 1-1 draw vs. LAFC | Next: Bye
RSL beat the Galaxy midweek and are technically above them on the table. They’re one spot below them in the Power Rankings this week. Sure RSL lost to Austin on Saturday, but that’s nothing the Galaxy haven’t done lately.
Previous: 2-1 loss at ATX | Next: Bye
They aren’t teeeecchhnicaly out of it?
The Red Bulls are six points below the playoff line with a game in hand. Crazier things have happened, right? And they’ve taken 11 points from their last five games.
Their remaining schedule – four current playoff teams plus Atlanta – is probably just a little too difficult for them to pull off the miraculous, but games against all four teams in front of them by six points or less also give them a chance.
Previous: 1-0 win at CIN | Next: Bye
Dear reader, your LAFC Catastrophic Moment of the Week had multiple candidates this week. However, the honor goes to this moment from Jesus David Murillo. When the broadcast’s initial reaction to anything you do on a soccer field is “Uh-oh.”, you’ve probably made a choice that you should not have made.
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The only team in MLS to win two trophies in the last year. And that’s all that should matter.
Previous: 3-0 loss at PHI | Next: Bye
The Quakes are leaking goals again. And this week’s batch of six goals allowed almost certainly killed off any chance of the playoffs.
Previous: 3-0 loss at VAN | Next: Bye
One week you look up and you’re suddenly in the playoff race. And then a few weeks later you realize you’re, well, out of it and the worst team in the league by expected goal differential.
Previous: 1-0 loss at POR | Next: Bye
Launching a new crest after parting ways with your manager is like getting your hair cut and new clothes after a breakup. You definitely look better. But we’ll see if it really changes you on a deeper level. For now, you’re still the same person who beats NYCFC one day and then loses to Toronto the next.
Previous: 3-1 loss at TOR | Next: Bye
Over the course of the season Austin FC score 0.9 goals per 90, while they concede 1.4. That’s over a span of 2250 minutes and yeah ... pretty bad.
When Sebastian Driussi is on the field, they score 1.5 goals per 90 and concede 2.0. That’s over 866 minutes. Better — or more exciting, anyway — but not great.
When Driussi and U22 Initiative center forward Moussa Djitte are on the field, they score 2.1 goals per 90 and concede 0.7. Holy crap!!!
Yeah. That’s really good. Year two should be far better in Austin.
Previous: 2-1 win vs. RSL | Next: Bye
They won a six-pointer (in the Wooden Spoon race) against Cincinnati and then took down Chicago. They may just end the season as a team that’s kind of sort of OK instead of just bad.
Anyway, we should probably point out Yeferson Soteldo has been playing really well and has 3g/10a now on the season.
Previous: 3-1 win vs. CHI | Next: Bye
Three games ago they had a three-game unbeaten streak. Don’t forget that.
Previous: 4-2 loss at SKC | Next: Bye
One Wooden Spoon, two Wooden Spoons ... three Wooden Spoons? It's trending in that direction.
The good news Cincy fans? Chris Albright is your new general manager and he was pretty, pretty good in Philly's front office.