Voices: Sam Jones

Power Rankings: Portland Timbers soar, NYCFC plummet after Week 30


What a week in MLS. Portland picked up a huge win that continued a late surge toward the Audi 2022 MLS Cup Playoffs, Philadelphia won in a rout, NYCFC lost and Houston moved on from their head coach. It was truly a week unlike any other.

As always, this is not my fault. The Power Rankings presented by Sorare 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. Besides, these don’t change the fact that in the end everyone just runs around for 90 minutes and then Philadelphia wins by five.

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I mean…

LAFC are technically still in control, but no one should be surprised when/if the Union lift the Supporters’ Shield.

Previous: 5-1 win vs. ORL | Next: 9/17 at ATL

Four losses in five games. Maybe they’re trying to lull everyone into a false sense of security before the playoffs? 

Previous: 2-1 loss at DAL | Next: 9/13 at MIN

Montréal earned a playoff spot in style.

It’s a well-deserved moment for a team having a fantastic season. Congrats to CFM and congrats to future/possible/likely Sigi Schmid Coach of the Year Award winner Wilfried Nancy.

Previous: 2-2 draw vs. CLB | Next: 9/13 vs. CHI

What a win for Dallas. And what a moment for Jesus Ferreira.

Dallas are just two points behind Austin for second place in the West and they’re starting to pile up a few signature wins here late in the season. They’ve taken down Philadelphia, Minnesota and LAFC just in the past month.

They can hang with anyone in the league and are a genuine threat to make a run in the playoffs. I still wouldn’t quite put them in the top tier of the league’s best, but they’ve cemented themselves firmly in the ring below. And anything can happen once a team that good gets to the postseason.

Previous: 2-1 win vs. LAFC | Next: 9/17 at SJ

For a while, it seemed like Austin would cruise to the second seed in the West. Especially after their 4-1 demolition of LAFC. Since then, they’ve lost three straight and taken back-to-back 3-0 losses.

FC Dallas are now just two points below them in the standings. It still seems like they’re probably going to hold onto that second spot considering they have a game in hand, but it might be a bit of a wake-up call for the Verde & Black to get pushed to the wire.

Previous: 3-0 loss at SEA | Next: 9/14 vs. RSL

A home win! Their second in their last three home games! And both came against teams chasing the playoffs. They’re all the way up to five home wins on the season and no longer tied with D.C. United for the fewest home wins (4) in the league. 

Unfortunately, this is another pretty big hit to my “lose just enough to play only road games in the playoffs” strategy I wanted them to try, but I guess I get why they ignored that one. Even still, it’s a good sign they’re actually figuring out whatever issues had plagued them at Red Bull Arena. 

It might help that they’ve made a few tweaks to their overall setup as of late. As Matt Doyle pointed out in his Sunday column: “The big change, as per TruMedia, is simply that they’re defending a little deeper over the past month. They’re still a high-pressing team – highest in the league – and are still super direct, but a higher percentage of their attacking sequences are starting in the middle third of the field, as opposed to the attacking third. As a result, they’re actually playing faster and are less susceptible to getting countered.”

Previous: 2-1 win vs. NE | Next: 9/17 at NYC

Nashville’s four-game win streak came to a close after Riqui Puig’s 99th-minute penalty. But the Coyotes are still in a home playoff spot with three games remaining. They should at least be a playoff team. Of course, they aren’t exactly looking at a gentle landing. Especially with Walker Zimmerman picking up a late red card. He’ll miss Nashville’s next game versus Austin, but be back for their final two games against Houston and LAFC.

Previous: 1-1 draw vs. LA | Next: 9/17 at ATX

The Timbers corner you at every party to tell the same exact story. Every. Time. 

It starts with them struggling for most of the season until a key player or two gets healthy and they figure out how to win and make it into the playoffs. They’ve got everyone cornered again. And they’ll probably do it next year too. And there’s nothing we can do about it.

Although, I guess they’re not entirely out of the woods yet, even after a huge win over Minnesota this weekend. They close the season with Columbus, LAFC and RSL. But let’s be real. We’ve heard this one before.

Previous: 1-0 win vs. MIN | Next: 9/18 at CLB


The Brenner-ssaince continued with a hat trick as Cincinnati pummeled San Jose over the weekend. That win, plus a midweek draw against NYCFC, put them sixth in the East with four games left to play. They just might do this, y’all. And if they can get points against RSL and Seattle over their next two games, they close the year with Chicago and D.C. United. A home playoff spot isn’t out of the question.

Previous: 6-0 win vs. SJ | Next: 9/17 at RSL

After losing Bakaye Dibassy (quadricep tendon) for the season and Emanuel Reynoso (ankle) for an indefinite amount of time, the Loons may genuinely be in trouble. They’re just four points ahead of the eighth-place Galaxy and the Galaxy have a game in hand. And they’ve lost three in a row. 

They need Reynoso back as soon as possible. Like, by Tuesday tonight. Minnesota hosts LAFC.

Previous: 1-0 loss at POR | Next: 9/13 vs. LAFC


They did also play an MLS game this weekend or whatever but let’s just focus on the shiny new trophy. 

Previous: 5-1 loss at PHI | Next: 9/14 vs. ATL

After blowing a lead to CF Montréal this weekend, the Crew are on the edge of the playoff line and have won just four times since July. They still have a game in hand on most of the folks they need to have a game in hand on. But they’re pushing this. They have a huge week against Inter Miami and Portland on the way.

Previous: 2-2 draw at MTL | Next: 9/13 at MIA

RSL, for all their heart and spirit and (at times) pretty solid soccer, are in trouble. They’re just three points ahead of the eighth-place Galaxy and LA have a game in hand. On top of that, RSL just drew against D.C. United in what was by far their easiest remaining game. Austin, Cincy, LA and Portland are waiting for them now. We’re nearing a point where their final two games might be win or go home.

Previous: 0-0 draw vs. DC | Next: 9/14 at ATX

LA picked up their third straight draw thanks to Riqui Puig’s 99th-minute penalty at Nashville. But this team must definitively figure out who should be taking penalties. My humble advice is that player is not Chicharito.

The Galaxy are three points behind seventh-place RSL with a game in hand. They’ve got to start piling up wins. The good news is they face Vancouver, Colorado, San Jose, Houston and…RSL to close their season. Everything is setting up perfectly for LA down the stretch … right?

Previous: 1-1 draw at NSH | Next: 9/14 at VAN

Ah man, here they come. This is Michael Myers rising from the dead in the background of the shot. They’re still alive and they’re dangerous.

After their 3-0 win over Austin this weekend, they’re just four points below the line with four games to play. Seattle close the year with Vancouver, Cincy, SKC and San Jose. Nine or 10 points is very, very plausible. Especially if they really have figured out what’s going on in midfield with their newfound double pivot of homegrowns Josh Atencio and Danny Leyva. And you have to think 48 points or more would get them over the line.

Previous: 3-0 win vs. ATX | Next: 9/17 at VAN

We’ve pretty much run out of ways to describe how much NYCFC have struggled over their last 10 games, so I’ll just point out midfielder Keaton Parks made a substitute appearance this weekend and his return should help steady things a bit for the 2021 MLS Cup champions. Maybe.

Previous: 1-0 loss at CLT | Next: 9/17 vs. RBNY

Every week we have to talk about it, because things would surely be different if the Revs were healthy. This weekend they were still missing Ismael Tajouri-Shradi and Dylan Borrero, Giacomo Vrioni made a substitute appearance (Bruce Arena admitted they probably should have waited a while longer before doing that), and Carles Gil was on paternity leave.

It’s hard to see this team getting back to full strength in time to make it above the line, but there’s a chance they can get by even without their full range of attackers. Houston, Montréal (already clinched a playoff spot edition), Atlanta and Chicago present a pretty gentle landing.

Previous: 2-1 loss at RBNY | Next: 9/13 at HOU

I don’t even really know where to begin with last week for Atlanta. I guess I’ll just say it’s perhaps less chaotic than it might seem from the outside. Eventually, once you throw another crazy moment on a pile of crazy moments, you can’t really tell where the individual moment ends and the pile begins. It’s just been that kind of season for Atlanta. It doesn’t take much to shrug things off at this point. Even if some weeks are wilder than most clubs’ entire seasons.

Meanwhile, they did play a soccer game. They won it too, 4-2 over Toronto.  

Juanjo Purata continues to be their best-attacking threat. Which is great for Juanjo Purata and perhaps not the best news for Atlanta United. He’s been a threat on set pieces that Atlanta haven’t had since Josef Martinez and he’s a leader in the locker room – the Five Stripes should absolutely extend his loan. It’s hard not to see the center back, who joined in July from Liga MX’s Tigres, outscoring two of your three hyper-expensive DP attackers and worry a bit about the overall state of the team though.

Previous: 4-2 win vs. TOR | Next: 9/14 at ORL

Amid a playoff race with everything on the line, Inter Miami have taken a breath, readied themselves, prepared for the trials to come…and lost three straight after last weekend's 3-1 thumping at the hands of a Chicago team playing for next to nothing. Oops. 

It just may not be in the cards for the Herons this year. To be honest, the fact they’ve stayed in it this long is an accomplishment considering where they were coming into the 2022 season.

Previous: 3-1 loss at CHI | Next: 9/13 vs. CLB

The Rapids got to play spoiler this weekend and effectively end Vancouver’s season. It's probably far too little too late from them, but at least they’re going out swinging.

Previous: 3-1 win vs. VAN | Next: 9/14 vs. SJ

Charlotte likely aren’t a playoff team, but they should be commended for being one of the best expansion teams in MLS history when they’re at home. There are two MLS teams in the entire league that have more home wins this season. It’s Philadelphia and LAFC. That’s great company in year one.

Previous: 1-0 win vs. NYC | Next: 9/17 at CHI

Chicago completely outplayed an Inter Miami team that needed a win this weekend. They still need a small miracle to make the playoffs, having qualified just once since 2013.

Previous: 3-1 win vs. MIA | Next: 9/13 at MTL

SKC had a chance to separate themselves from the bottom of the West and couldn’t score on 10-man Houston. They’re four points off the Wooden Spoon pace, despite a relative uptick in form the past five weeks or so.

Previous: 0-0 draw at HOU | Next: 9/13 vs. DC

And that’s all for 2022 Toronto FC. Felled by a hat trick from a center back. It’s almost poetic. And a stark reminder there’s a ton of work to do defensively and in midfield this offseason. The story of this group hasn’t changed for weeks now, despite their Italian resurgence. 

Previous: 4-2 loss at ATL | Next: 9/17 at ORL

The Whitecaps haven’t won since Aug. 17. On a related note, you can go ahead and call their 2022 season. Their 3-1 loss to Colorado this weekend essentially sealed the deal.

Previous: 3-1 loss at COL | Next: 9/14 vs. LA

It seemed like Paulo Nagamura may have a little more leeway coming into this season, but after a possible Wooden Spoon-winning campaign, Houston decided to move on from the young manager after less than a year in charge.

Houston have stalled out after some positive organization-wide momentum earlier in the season. It seemed like Hector Herrera might be able to keep that going, but the Dynamo have arguably been even worse since he arrived. There’s still a long way to go in Houston. Maybe the next hire can finally get them going in the right direction. 

It’s clear the Houston front office is willing to do a little more than past Houston leadership to get it done. They just have to find the right fit this time. I guess at least they aren’t being apathetic?

Previous: 0-0 draw vs. SKC | Next: 9/13 vs. NE

It will be the offseason soon, and that means Luchi Time is getting closer. 

Previous: 6-0 loss at CIN | Next: 9/14 at COL

A 15-year-old played for D.C. United. And it meant Matai Akinmboni joined some esteemed company.

Previous: 0-0 draw at RSL | Next: 9/13 at SKC