What a week in MLS.
Disclaimer: The Power Rankings are voted on by the entirety of the MLSsoccer.com editorial staff. You should probably be lightly made fun of if you still think the actual rankings are made by just one person. The only thing I personally did was secretly alter the votes on purpose to make your team look worse so their confidence would be shaken and they’d lose every game. Because I’m determined to ruin the sanctity of the most sacred tradition in sports: The Power Rankings. Anyway, you should really recognize that the stakes have never been lower.
Seattle feel like a comedian who dropped two incredible jokes at the start of their set and is just cruising through a middle portion filled with light chuckles and astute but not necessarily original observations. It’s definitely not bad. People are enjoying themselves. It’s just that the bar got set so high at the beginning that the rest feels muted. They’ve won twice in their last six. They’ve taken 10 points from their last six. Those are things we’re praising teams like Cincinnati for. For Seattle, it’s underwhelming. Or maybe just whelming.
Either way, they should consider it a compliment. And this is still the best team in the league. However, the early gap they created in the Supporters’ Shield race has closed completely. Injuries are mounting. There’s a chance the Sounders are just the best team in the league by a small margin. Not by the considerable distance we thought they might be. There are worse fates.
Sporting have taken a different path than Seattle. They started off the year just fine but have recently taken off, earning 19 points from their last eight games. Because of that, they just feel like the more exciting team right now.
They’re also just the more exciting team right now. Because my goodness are they relentless. They put up shot after shot and create chance after chance and they do it at a considerably higher rate than any team in the league. They have players all over the field who can hurt you. Opposing teams have to be sharp at almost every moment or they may just be punished for it.
It’s no surprise then that they routinely score late in games and earn points from losing positions. They wear you down. Short term, we’ll see if they can keep that up as Alan Pulido and Gianluca Busio head to the Gold Cup. Long term, it’s hard to explain but I think this team feels like a contender in a way that last year’s team never did.
So that’s now four straight games allowing two goals. They’ve somehow taken seven points from those all the same. It may not be a big deal. Just a weird clustering of numbers. And look, sometimes this happens:
OWN GOAL: Andrew Farrell, Columbus Crew - 69th minute
Hahahahhahaa OK that never happens but I’m so glad it did. It is, all in all, just a bit of bad luck. So maybe we shouldn’t be too worried about New England’s defense. It’s something to keep an eye on for now, though. And it’s kept them from surpassing Seattle in the Supporters’ Shield standings. The good news at least is that their next three games are against Toronto, Atlanta and Miami. It kind of feels like you could give those teams two goals from the start and New England would still take points.
A very good team as long as they’re not playing the New York Red Bulls.
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A week after giving up three goals to Chicago, the Union got ambushed early by Nashville and couldn’t equalize the rest of the way. It’s a rough start to a three-game road stretch that ends with a trip to face the Red Bulls. The good news is that Jose Martinez is back from the Copa America and picked up a yellow card in his first 25 minutes back on the field. Things will be just fine in Philly.
They created plenty of chances against SKC but couldn’t find the net. Chicharito’s pre-match calf injury certainly didn’t help with that. And it wasn’t exactly surprising to see the defense cave a bit late. The underlying numbers there remain pretty rough. At this point, the Galaxy are pretty much exactly who we think they are.
“It’s called a reverse comeback. It’s where you score in the first few minutes instead of the other team. That way you don’t have to work so hard at the end!” — a coach in the Nashville locker room before the game as some players looked on in awe and the rest nodded in agreement (probably).
The Rapids earned a point off the league leaders thanks to Michael Barrios. I mentioned in previous rankings that Colorado’s strength of schedule didn’t cause too much reason for optimism, but a point against Seattle is a step in the right direction. In five games against teams currently in playoff spots, they’ve taken seven points. Not great. Not terrible either. But I’m still not ready to put them with the league’s top tier of teams. Not yet.
Lower.com Field is phenomenal and so are the Crew supporters. What isn’t phenomenal is the Crew’s attack. They got two goals and looked more energetic going forward this week. But this unfortunate series of events isn’t going to happen every game.
OWN GOAL: Andrew Farrell, Columbus Crew - 69th minute
Yes, I included it twice in one Power Rankings post. Because hahahaha ohmygosh have you seen this goal?
Anywho, the Crew will need to create more and create more consistently to push their way to the top of the East. We know they have the ability to do it. Maybe the Lower.com Field crowd will be enough to give them a jumpstart?
A really pretty good team, especially when they’re playing Orlando City. Cristian Casseres Jr. continues to improve and Fabio continues to look like one of the signings of the season. He’s second in the league in assists and scored the winner this weekend. If this team continues to get results even without Caden Clark, the ceiling will just get higher and higher in Gerhard Struber’s first season. It already seems a lot higher than anyone expected.
They’ve gone from fighting goalkeepers after games to getting engaged. Everything really is better when you’re getting results. The Loons haven’t lost since May 8 and are in a playoff spot.
They aren’t playing well, but Carlos Vela is still Carlos Vela. Which means he can still make game-defining passes like the backheeled hockey assist he picked up against Real Salt Lake. LAFC are fifth in the West and as long as Vela is healthy, they should stay hovering around a playoff spot.
D.C. had already beaten Toronto by the time the third goal went in around the 21st minute. They were just being mean by the time the fifth went in. I think they’d blacked out by the seventh.
We can talk about the role Toronto’s general apathy contributed to the 7-1 thrashing, but it wasn’t a fluke on D.C.’s end. They’ve been playing legitimately good soccer. Things are starting to take shape under Hernan Losada. They’re fourth in the league in expected goal differential. They’ve quietly moved into a playoff spot in the East. There’s reason for genuine optimism in D.C. for the first time in a while.
Since a big win against SKC, they’ve tied Houston, lost to Minnesota and gotten blasted by Austin. They have the third-worst goal differential in the conference. And from Matt Doyle’s Sunday column, there’s this:
Diego Chara’s effectiveness in defensive transition, as per Second Spectrum’s tracking data, has dropped. Significantly. And I think it was evident on the field in this one.
This might be a sample size thing (he’s played fewer than 600 minutes this year), or it might be a just-returned-from-injury thing. Or it might actually be a “yeah, he’s finally lost a half-step” thing. Everyone does, eventually.
It’s been a weird year for Portland. But nothing is more concerning than the idea that Chara may have finally hit a wall.
Since losing to Atlanta and Cincy back-to-back, Montréal have picked up five points in their last three games. They likely aren't a top team in the East, but they keep hanging around. It’s more than most expected this year and it’s surprisingly come thanks to the fourth-best defense in the league by goals allowed. They’re giving up less than a goal game. They gave up 1.87 goals per game last year, the worst mark in the conference.
Four straight draws. That’s certainly something. They also ... wear orange? Come on, Houston. Give me something more to work with here.
RSL have won just once in their last eight games. That win came against Vancouver. At least they get to play Vancouver again on Wednesday.
Finally, finally, finally, Austin delivered in front of that home crowd. More importantly, I called who would end the Q2 Stadium scoring drought. Like a genius.
Austin were underperforming their xG more than any other team in the league and the four-goal explosion against Portland felt well deserved.
Atlanta are spiraling. Chicago tore their depleted midfield apart over the weekend. They’re winless in the last six games. Miles Robinson, George Bello, Brad Guzan are about to leave for the Gold Cup. Ezequiel Barco is going to the Olympics, but that doesn’t feel like that big a hit despite the fact he’s on season four of a DP contract.
The roster needs improvement and the man-marking tactics probably need some adjusting as the team continues losing players to injuries. There’s a lot of work to do in Atlanta, especially as the Secondary Transfer transfer window opens on July 7.
Ricardo Pepi starts. Ricardo Pepi scores. This is how it goes now. FC Dallas are only four points off a playoff spot, but Pepi can only carry them so far. They needed a late own goal this weekend to get a point off Vancouver.
They’ve taken 10 points from their last six games, all while only allowing five goals. I see no reason to think that this team isn’t completely changed for the better. Zero chance they revert to consistently dropping points. This is just the reality we live in now. Congrats to FC Cincinnati, a surefire playoff team.
(Choose your own reality on this one, I just wanted to make Cincy fans happy. They deserve happiness.)
Man, I want to believe. I really do. It’s the same thing almost every year with San Jose where I want to believe they can pull through and make something special happen. This year, I think I’m ducking out early. They haven’t won since May 7. What used to be a slightly encouraging expected goal differential has turned into a pretty discouraging expected goal differential. And I just don’t know how any of that is going to change. As much as I want my belief to make a difference, this team isn’t Tinkerbell.
They’ve scored six goals in their last two games. They’re no Cincinnati, but things are improving in Chicago. Plus the underlying numbers point to a future that might actually be kind of bright the rest of the way. Don’t be stunned if Chicago can continue stringing together results a little more consistently.
A roster featuring a World Cup winner, a former Serie A Golden Boot winner, a current Mexico international and more just isn't getting the job done.