Power Rankings

Power Rankings: Toronto FC keep rising, Nashville SC rebound

Matchday 12 - Power Rankings - 2024 season

What a week in MLS. Lionel Messi broke several records, Chicho Arango scored and Minnesota won on the road. It was truly a week unlike any other.

The Power Rankings are voted on by something like 20 MLS writers, editors and personalities and are not solely the fault of the column’s author. For the second straight week, I still think Columbus should be first. Yes, I saw what Messi did. But one team beat Monterrey and the other didn’t. Just saying.

Do we want to go ahead and call the Supporters’ Shield race?

The potential for a deep Concacaf Champions Cup run derailing this team is gone and all that’s left is a healthy and rested Lionel Messi doing this every week.

Can we at least call the MVP race? The Herons still have injuries and flaws, but nothing else matters as long as Messi is available. That might change once Copa América comes around, but Miami should have enough to stay at the top until he’s back. At that point, who’s going to catch them?

Previous: 6-2 win vs. RBNY | Next: 5/11 at MTL

The Crew locked up their place in the Concacaf Champions Cup final after going down to Monterrey and playing like this…

You can’t heap enough praise on club president/general manager Tim Bezbatchenko and head coach Wilfried Nancy for what they’ve built in Columbus. The Crew are arguably the best-run organization in MLS and they’re being rewarded for it on the pitch with historic win after historic win.

Now, we have to wait and see if they can pull off one more against Pachuca. Are you going to doubt them at this point?

Previous: Bye | Next: 5/11 vs. CIN

Chicho. Count it.

That’s nine goals and seven assists in 11 starts. He’s the no-questions-asked front-runner for MVP (non-Messi division) and RSL are flying because of it. They’re sitting on top of the Western Conference after 11 games.

Previous: 1-0 win vs. SKC | Next: 5/11 at LA

Other than Lucho Acosta scoring 17 seconds into the match and new striker Kevin Kelsy making his debut, there’s not much to say about Cincy’s 1-0 win at Orlando. They’re just out here getting the job done. Same as it ever was.

Previous: 1-0 win at ORL | Next: 5/11 at CLB

Oh, I see you’re here for your weekly Tani Time.

Oluwaseyi has scored in each of his first three MLS starts and is up to five goals and two assists in just 348 minutes. Per FBref, he’s only second to Messi and Luis Suárez in goal contributions per 90 and is just behind Messi and tied with Suárez in non-penalty xG+xA per 90.

It’s not just Oluwaseyi who’s thriving, though. Robin Lod has returned from last year’s season-ending injury by playing the best ball of his career. He’s fourth in MLS in goal contributions per 90 and leading the league in expected assists per game. He’s more than made up for Emanuel Reynoso’s absence and is the key reason why the Loons are tied for a league-best 2.00 points per game.

Anyway, I got an in-person look at the Loons last weekend in Atlanta. They’re well-drilled and work as a collective. They executed a winning road game plan about as well as you could. And their underlying numbers are fantastic. They’ll hang out around the top the West for a while.

Previous: 2-1 win at ATL | Next: Bye

The ‘Caps couldn’t quite break through against Austin in Saturday's 0-0 draw. They’re a good team. But everyone is rightfully pointing out they’ll have a much better chance of reaching their ceiling if they fill their open DP spot.

Previous: 0-0 draw vs. ATX | Next: 5/11 at LAFC

The Galaxy earned a road point in Seattle despite missing Riqui Puig, Mark Delgado and Dejan Joveljic. It’s odd to see them go scoreless in two straight games, but even without key pieces they still created chances. They’re going to be just fine.

Previous: 0-0 draw at SEA | Next: 5/11 vs. RSL

I mean, do any of y’all want to go out there and try and stop Messi?

Previous: 6-2 loss at MIA | Next: 5/11 vs. NE

A lot of big-name teams are struggling while Toronto keep getting the job done. They earned a 3-1 home win over Dallas, and even Federico Bernardeschi got in on the act.

Bernardeschi scored his first and second goals of the season and Matty Longstaff scored his first in MLS. That’s a great sign for the Reds.

There’s more good news, though. Even if you, like me, are skeptical of Toronto’s ability to keep earning results, some of their underlying numbers suggest their early-season success isn’t a fluke. Per American Soccer Analysis, Toronto are seventh in MLS in expected points. They’re creating better chances than their opponents more often than not.

Previous: 3-1 win vs. DAL | Next: 5/11 vs. NYC

The Rapids were missing Djordje Mihailovic and still found a way to earn a 2-0 win at Citi Field on Sunday. Rafael Navarro scored a curler for his fifth goal of the season and Cole Bassett added his fourth goal of the year.

In the last six games, Colorado have beaten LAFC, San Jose, Dallas and NYCFC, while mixing in a draw with Inter Miami for good measure. That’s four wins in six games for a team that won five games last season. To say things have improved is a massive understatement.

Previous: 2-0 win at NYC | Next: 5/11 vs. SJ

The narrative on LAFC isn’t going to change anytime soon. They can’t defend set pieces, they can’t get anyone besides Denis Bouanga contributing consistently in attack and they’re stuck playing against the ball a little too much. All that was on display in a miserable 3-1 loss to the last-place Quakes at Levi's Stadium.

LAFC have now allowed 19 goals this season. That’s the third-worst mark in the West.

Previous: 3-1 loss at SJ | Next: 5/11 vs. VAN

Jack McGlynn has five diss tracks worth of hate for this particular soccer ball.

It’s a helluva goal. But still, the Union needed it to overcome an early 2-0 deficit against D.C. United. They aren’t in control of matches like we’re used to seeing and haven’t been for the last four games. Related: They’re winless since April 6.

Previous: 2-2 draw at DC | Next: 5/11 vs. ORL

Atlanta fans may have slammed the panic button after losing at home to Minnesota. It’s tough to say if those fans are right. The Five Stripes' underlying numbers continue to be fantastic (like best in the league good), they’ve been dealing with injuries and they were virtually two atrocious passes away from earning back-to-back wins against FC Cincinnati and Philadelphia.

And yet, it feels like something is off. The club will be more patient than the fans – Garth Lagerwey is still in charge and is well aware of the underlying numbers – but calls for change are growing louder. Great underlying numbers and bad results don’t pair well with the lofty expectations folks in Atlanta (rightfully) have.

Previous: 2-1 loss vs. MIN | Next: 5/11 vs. DC

Austin went to Vancouver and earned a road point and a third straight clean sheet. You couldn’t ask for anything more. So far, this year has gone as well as anyone could have expected.

Previous: 0-0 draw at VAN | Next: 5/11 at DAL

New York City’s near-perfect homestand ended with a thud thanks to Sunday's 2-0 loss to Colorado. Still, they pulled 10 points from five games. They really needed those 10 points or the rest of the year could have been teetering towards… [gulps]. Now they can go back on the road with a little more confidence and a lot more security.

That being said, it’s unclear how confident they should be. The chance-creation numbers improved significantly at home, but there are still issues in attack. In particular, Mounsef Bakrar is goal-less after 10 starts this season. I typically don’t worry much about "finishing," but Bakrar may legitimately be a Kévin Cabral-ian outlier here. Per FBref, Bakrar is underperforming his xG by 3.9 goals. That’s the highest mark in the league.

Previous: 2-0 loss vs. COL | Next: 5/11 at TOR

We want to talk about all the good things D.C. United do – we really do. But we can’t talk about anything until they sort out their issues closing out games. They took a 2-0 lead on Philadelphia and it evaporated before the final whistle. They’ve held a lead in seven of their last eight games. They have one win in that span.

Previous: 2-2 draw vs. PHI | Next: 5/11 at ATL

Héctor Herrera made his first start of the season, but it didn’t fix things in attack. Houston drew 0-0 with St. Louis to bring their scoreless streak to three straight games.

Previous: 0-0 draw vs. STL | Next: 5/11 at SKC

Charlotte didn’t seem to miss wingers Liel Abada and Kerwin Vargas too much in their 2-0 win over Portland. It’s a nice return to home form for the Crown after their loss to Minnesota a few weeks ago.

Previous: 2-0 win vs. POR | Next: 5/11 vs. NSH

After setting the league on fire last year, St. Louis have been remarkably muted in 2024. They just earned a 0-0 draw against Houston, amounting to their seventh draw of the season. Is their much-needed attacking spark on the roster? Or will we have to wait until the summer transfer window?

Previous: 0-0 draw at HOU | Next: 5/11 vs. CHI

Injuries are just killing this team right now. Missing Mahala Opoku, Matías Cóccaro and Josef Martínez is just brutal. That’s not the only reason they lost 4-1 to Nashville, but it didn’t help. They’ll stay near the bottom of the Eastern Conference until those guys get back. At that point… what if it’s too late to climb into a playoff spot?

Previous: 4-1 loss at NSH | Next: 5/11 vs. MIA

For a week anyway, all is right in Nashville. Walker Zimmerman returned to the starting lineup, Sam Surridge scored a hat trick and Nashville cruised to a 4-1 win over Montréal. It’s Nashville’s first win since March 16.

Previous: 4-1 win vs. MTL | Next: 5/11 at CLT

With this weekend’s 1-0 loss at RSL, SKC still haven’t won a game since March. They have 11 points through 11 games and it’s starting to feel like we saw a mirage when this team went on their second-half-of-the-season run last year. There’s not much reason to expect this to course-correct right now. In addition to failing the eye test, SKC’s underlying numbers are among the worst in the league.

Previous: 1-0 loss at RSL | Next: 5/11 vs. HOU

There’s next to nothing to add after Seattle's 0-0 home draw against the Galaxy. There will be a ton of weight on Pedro de la Vega’s shoulders to sort all this out once he returns from injury.

Previous: 0-0 draw vs. LA | Next: 5/12 at POR

They’ve allowed 18 goals over the last seven games, including two more this weekend in a loss to Charlotte. Do we even need to say anything else?

Previous: 2-0 loss at CLT | Next: 5/12 vs. SEA

Lucho Acosta scored 17 seconds into the match, Rodrigo Schlegel picked up a red card about 20 minutes later and that was that in a 1-0 home loss for the Lions.

Ten games and nine points later, it’s about time to start pointing out Orlando didn’t do enough this offseason. They failed to bring in an elite No. 10 and DP forward Luis Muriel has no goals and no assists. To take a real jump forward, they needed to improve on a team that had incredible luck compared to their underlying numbers last season. It doesn’t seem to have happened. Now every game feels like they’re struggling to push a boulder up a hill and they can’t unlock the best version of themselves.

It’s still too early to panic outright, but the trends are worrying.

Previous: 1-0 loss vs. CIN | Next: 5/11 at PHI

Well, that went as well as it possibly could have.

The Quakes bulldozed LAFC in front of 43,774 fans at Levi's Stadium as they rolled to a 3-1 win. It’s worth repeating: None of the major concerns with San Jose are about their attack.

That’s absurd from Cristian Espinoza. He’s, yet again, been quietly excellent this year. Espinoza has seven assists in 11 starts and may have finally gotten some bonafide help on the chance-creation front. The Quakes’ new DP No. 10, Hernán López, debuted off the bench. He should provide a boost.

Previous: 3-1 win vs. LAFC | Next: 5/11 at COL

They’re on a crash course for seven straight seasons without a playoff berth. Seven. Straight. Seasons.

Previous: 1-0 loss vs. NE | Next: 5/11 at STL

A win is a win. Unfortunately, the Revs are still stuck at the bottom of the East.

Previous: 1-0 win at CHI | Next: 5/11 at RBNY

One step forward, two steps back.

Previous: 3-1 loss at TOR | Next: 5/11 vs. ATX