It was truly a week unlike any other.
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 where I let Andrew Wiebe fill out the entire list in exchange for hiding in his luggage to Los Angeles. Because I’m personally determined to ruin the sanctity of the most sacred tradition in sports: The Power Rankings. And the Samsonite Freeform Large Spinner suitcase has a shocking amount of legroom. Anyway, you should really recognize that the stakes have never been lower.
I know, I know, I’m not sure Seattle are ever going to lose again. And in the end we may look back and see when all is said and done the Sounders had the higher top-end speed. But no one has been moving at a more consistently high rate than the Revs.
They’re on record pace of 2.23 points per game. 2019 LAFC, the team with the highest point total in MLS history (72), ended the year on 2.12 points per game. In fact, through 22 games, the Revs have tied the most points by any team in that span ever.
To match LAFC in the end, they need 23 points over their next 12 games. That’s 1.91 points per game. Basically slightly worse than Colorado have been on the season and slightly better than SKC. With eight of those final 12 coming against teams currently in playoff spots, it won’t be easy. But it is doable.
And, once again, I really feel like I have to mention they’ve been keeping this pace without Carles Gil playing a single minute in August. They’re so far ahead in the East at this point that he doesn’t really need to return until he’s 100 percent ready to go and then some. He can spend as much time in Spain as he wants really. And that’s an absurd luxury for New England to only passively worry about the league’s best player in 2021.
If he does come back soon, they might just cruise to the record. If he doesn’t, they might just get there anyway.
Nine points, three road games, seven days. That’s a heckuva week for Seattle. On top of that, they almost certainly completed someone’s Sounders Season Bingo Board by completing a last-minute comeback that completely breaks another team on national TV.
They’re healthy, they’re cohesive and Brian Schmetzer has created a culture where there is an unshakeable belief among everyone involved that they’re going to win each game. And now they’re three points on top of the West. Considering the start of this paragraph, I don’t think they’re going to give that spot up again.
Just a two-point week for SKC. It could have been worse, though. A 92nd-minute goal from Daniel Salloi gave them a point against Portland, while Tim Melia and a whole lot of luck gave them a point at Minnesota after going down to 10 men early.
Every team has rough spots here and there. If your rough spots look like two points against Portland and Minnesota, you’re doing pretty ok. However, they’re in danger of losing the second spot in the West now. A weekend matchup with Colorado is looming (kind of) large.
The Rapids are in full-on montage mode now. They followed up a massive midweek win against the Galaxy with their new signing scoring the game-winner against their biggest rival. They’re rolling. And it’s all coming quickly and cinematically and possibly backed by a song like “Ain’t No Mountain High Enough”.
The biggest knock on Colorado this year is that they hadn’t taken down one of the three teams above them for most of the year in the West. They finally got that big win against the Galaxy over the weekend. SKC are waiting for them on Saturday. If they take down Sporting, they’ll be second in the West and just two points behind Seattle with a game in hand. We know they can handle the lower half of the conference. If they start beating the top teams like they did this week, it will be time to start talking about the Rapids as serious MLS Cup contenders.
All of this is happening with a roster constructed of MLS castaways. It’s amazing all these MLS teams just kinda kept giving them great MLS players. Like maybe MLS teams simply shouldn’t have given them Kellyn Acosta, Mark-Anthony Kaye, Lalas Abubakar, Auston Trusty, Keegan Rosenberry, Diego Rubio, Jonathan Lewis and Michael Barrios. Either way, Robin Fraser deserves a ton of credit for taking one of the smallest payrolls in the league to this perch.
It’s another week waiting for NYCFC to truly turn the corner. According to American Soccer Analysis, they still lead the league in expected goal differential and expected points. According to the eye test, they still seem like a truly excellent team. But they didn’t have enough to get past Philadelphia midweek and they’re still in the middle third of the Eastern Conference. We’re running out of time for them to find the consistent and top-tier form we know they’re capable of.
The Lions picked up four points this week and, for now, they’re second in a compact top-half of the East (minus New England.) I’m starting to worry a bit about their attack, though. We’ve known for a while this group wasn’t quite the same going forward as last year’s group. They’ve been just a little more pragmatic due to injuries and absences. But since scoring three against Atlanta at the end of July, they spent August scoring one goal a game in every single game. That’s been enough to get them six points over four games, but I think they’ll want and expect a bit more as we head into the homestretch of this season.
That’s not a simple fix, though. The injuries seem to be piling up even further. Nani left 30 minutes into Saturday’s match and Daryl Dike hasn’t been available. Throw in the fact Chris Mueller hasn’t looked remotely like himself this season and there’s cause for concern. Not major concern, of course. Orlando are a surefire playoff team. But they’ll need some rest and a couple of changes to end up peaking at the right time.
A calm week for the Golden Boys. Just a 1-1 draw against Orlando City to their name and they’re still in a home playoff spot. Sunday and Wednesday marked the last time they’ll play back-to-back home games all season. With 14 games to go in the season, there are only four more home games in Music City this year.
Not an ideal week. Colorado and San Jose both got the better of them by 2-1 scorelines. They’re now one of 10 teams in MLS to have surrendered 30 goals and their goal differential is zero. LA look like an outlier near the top of the table, to be honest. But they’ve largely stayed well above water with Chicharito absent. Maybe El Trafico this weekend will help get them back on track?
They picked up perhaps their best win of the season against NYCFC on Wednesday and then y’all won’t believe this: A young Union midfielder did a thing. Quinn Sullivan scored the lone Philly goal on the lone Philly shot on target against Montréal. It’s enough for a four-point week made even better by the return of Jamiro Monteiro. It’s the kind of week that feels like it can swing momentum the right way for a team. And at a much-needed time. The remaining Union schedule feels kind of brutal. I count eight teams currently in playoff spots and two more that are within a game or two of a playoff spot.
Minnesota played a total of 138 minutes up a man this week and only got two points. They’ll feel unlucky to not get a goal against SKC after putting up 3.2 expected goals worth of chances, but overall they’ll just feel disappointed.
Six points on the week. Four straight wins. The debut of their new attacking DP. Things are looking very, very up in Atlanta. Who knows how permanent it truly is, but for now it’s simply worth enjoying. And a couple of people, in particular, deserve some love for that, although the list is much longer than just two.
To steal from me and the daily newsletter I do for this very website:
Marcelino Moreno picked up a goal and an assist in Atlanta United's 2-1 win over D.C. United. Marcie started the year slowly under Gabriel Heinze, existing almost solely on the wing in a lackluster system that clearly didn't benefit anyone involved. Under Atlanta's interim manager for life Rob Valentino, he solidified a more central spot in the formation and even dropped a little deeper in the midfield last night to make up for some absent teammates. It clearly benefited him.
It's all benefited him. And even with a slow start by his and the team's standards, he's the team leader in goals with seven and has three assists to his name as well. Even more impressively, American Soccer Analysis' goals added metric has him as the most productive attacking player in the league. That's just one metric. But it's a pretty all-encompassing one. And to be at the top despite playing on a team that seemed scared to try and score for much of 2021 is extremely impressive. It's past time to show some love to Moreno.
And it's the exact right time to show some love to Valentino. The guy came in and outright saved Atlanta United's season. There's no overstating that. By treating people well and allowing his players the freedom and trust to succeed, he's led Atlanta to four straight wins and has them tied for seventh in the East on points while looking like a legitimate playoff team.
Now he gets to ride off into the sunset and let Gonzalo Pineda take the Five Stripes the rest of the way. It's the soccer version of telling your two best jokes and leaving the room. While he'll continue as an assistant to Pineda, he'll get his chance leading a team of his own sooner rather than later. And he'll always be respected in Atlanta.
A two-point week for CF Montréal and another game where they gave up a late goal to drop points. It’s wildly unlucky that Philly’s one shot on target went in. But it’s a theme with Montréal at this point. They’re a few late goals allowed away from being in the top half of the Eastern Conference playoff race instead of in sixth. Then again, they are still in sixth.
New England got the better of them midweek, then Atlanta found a late winner against them over the weekend. The injury list is still long and that’s three straight losses for them now. It might be time to worry about their playoff hopes. That’s not necessarily their fault considering injuries are the main culprit here, but it is probably time to worry.
Honestly though, in the long run, I think D.C. fans are probably just happy to have an opening season of a new era as successful as this one. Injury issues and all. At the very least, they play more teams out of a playoff spot than in one over the rest of their schedule. It’s definitely not time to stick a fork in them or anything.
Just to update the counter from last week, we’re now at 10 games without a loss for the Quakes. In that time, they’ve beaten Seattle, LAFC and LA while also taking a point from Minnesota (x2), Colorado and SKC. And now that they’ve gotten Jeremy Ebobisse on the board, the probability of this run turning into a playoff run is getting increasingly higher.
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I’d imagine RSL would have rather flipped their 2-1 results this week and exchange a win over Houston for a win over Colorado. However, they stayed in a playoff spot and are outperforming their expected goal totals more than any other team in the league and have a negative expected goal differential overall. They don’t really have the grace to choose when and how that works.
Well, ok then. Two wins in a week against Chicago and Toronto aren’t necessarily that impressive, but when you consider they’ve taken 14 points out of their last seven games it starts to look pretty good. Inter Miami are playing well and, most importantly, they haven’t completely bailed on this season. Even with everything happening at Inter Miami, Phil Neville still seems to have the team behind him.
Five points out of seventh and with two games in hand, they might, might, just have a chance at making a late push toward the playoffs. It starts to seem even more plausible when you see 11 of their final 15 games come against teams that aren’t currently above the playoff line. I double-checked that and that’s real. It might be time to jump on the Miami bandwagon before everyone else does?
Here come the Caps?
Seems like signing a DP playmaker who can make stellar plays is a good thing. Ryan Gauld scored the winner Saturday and suddenly the Whitecaps are even on points with LAFC and just three points below the playoff line. Vancouver are unbeaten in eight and it's probably time to start paying a little more attention. A few more home games that are, ya know, actually at home should help as well.
A win against their biggest rivals could theoretically turn things all the way around morale-wise for Gerhard Struber and company, but they’ll take a win over Columbus anyway. It’s the Red Bulls' second win since the end of June and it was incredibly needed. Most importantly though, this guy scored.
ARE YOU HAPPY NOW INTERNET?!??
If I have to see one more “LAFC lost again guess they’ll be first in the Power Rankings” joke on Reddit I’m gonna scream...because I already made all those jokes on Twitter and don’t want anyone to steal my clout.
Look, they’re 19th now. There are only 27 teams in the league. I guess this is officially the end of LAFC dominating the championship determining Power Rankings. They're winless in seven and have lost four straight.
Carlos Vela exited their game with Vancouver early and then Ryan Gauld ended their game with Vancouver late. This team is struggling and, along with Montréal, drops points more than anyone else in the league.
Gauld’s game-winner just sunk them.
I’m not gonna do the research, but I’m guessing the Crew are probably the first defending champion to lose six games in a row. When the fall comes it always comes pretty hard, but, man, this is worrisome.
I don’t even feel like posting the Caleb Porter quote again. I mean, I totally feel like posting the Caleb Porter quote again, but I’m already over my word count.
Chicago did that thing where they make a terrible defensive error and drop points. It resulted in two losses on the week for Chicago. This is just how it goes. Until they win two random games that make you think they might snap out of it. Then they’ll do it all again. Full credit to them for playing the hits, though. Chicago are like the band Chicago playing “25 or 6 to 4” and “Saturday in the Park” every night except one in every three performances ends with their trumpet player going off the rails.
Have they tried making the whole plane out of playing Portland?
Fourteen straight games without a win. Just a brutally tough run for Houston at the moment.
After giving up just one goal in four games, they let New England score four goals in one game. Not ideal.
“Were enough guys honestly ready to go” Omar Gonzalez said after Toronto played their sixth straight game without a win. “I don’t think so, otherwise we would have had a different first 15 minutes of the game. It’s hard to swallow. The guys who are in it are hurting. We’re trying to get ourselves out of this situation, we’re trying to dig ourselves out and somehow we keep digging ourselves even deeper by making these mistakes. So, it’s a tough one tonight.”