Only MLS league games will be reflected in the rankings. Rankings are voted on by MLSsoccer.com editorial staff; words by Jonathan Sigal.
BIGGEST MOVERS: ATL, SJ +4; LA -4
HIGH: 1 | LOW: 8
With Raul Ruidiaz set to join Peru for South American World Cup qualifying, the Sounders will need another option in the No. 9 role. Perhaps it’s Will Bruin’s time to shine, as he’s come off the bench since returning from an ACL tear this past summer. The Western Conference leaders have shown remarkable depth all year, and odds are they’ll handle this one in stride as well.
HIGH: 1 | LOW: 6
Three straight wins have Toronto even on 31 points with Columbus atop the Supporters’ Shield standings. Significant credit goes to Alejandro Pozuelo, who has goals in four straight games as he further boosts his Landon Donovan MLS MVP case. The down note is Jozy Altidore left last weekend’s 2-1 win over Philly with a hamstring injury, with fitness still proving to be an issue.
HIGH: 2 | LOW: 11
The Brenden Aaronson deal seems all but done, which will truly be a remarkable moment for the Union. They’ve gone all-in on their academy setup, and getting a marquee transfer to RB Salzburg would constitute proof of concept, both financially and idealistically. Now, it’s all about cherishing the 19-year-old midfielder’s possible final MLS stretch before he embarks on Europe.
HIGH: 1 | LOW: 9
There’s worrisome news from a Columbus perspective: Lucas Zelarayan is out for “a couple of weeks” with a hamstring injury, marking the former Tigres UANL midfielder’s third spell on the sidelines this year. The club-record signing has started just nine of their 15 games, and they’ve fared fine, but they’d also benefit massively from a healthy, sustained stretch of Zelarayan in the XI.
HIGH: 4 | LOW: 23
Make it a nine-game unbeaten streak for Orlando. Given their playoff-less struggles over the past five years, it’s still remarkable to type out that fact. Shoutout to Junior Urso, too, now that he has three goals in just over 1,000 MLS minutes. The former Corinthians midfielder is proving to be a shrewd signing.
HIGH: 2 | LOW: 14
When Portland return to action Wednesday at LA, they’ll have gone 10 days without competing. Given the hectic nature of the 2020 season, that extra time to rest and recover should leave Gio Savarese’s group ready to go. It also kicks off a stretch of four games in 12 days, so the Timbers’ depth will be seriously tested.
HIGH: 3 | LOW: 13
Alexandru Mitrita is heading out on international duty, Maxi Moralez is recovering from a knee injury and Heber is out for the year with a torn ACL. Add those three up and NYCFC find themselves in quite the final-third pickle, all as they return to Yankee Stadium for the first time under head coach Ronny Deila.
HIGH: 6 | LOW: 18
Perhaps all Sporting needed was Alan Pulido back in the starting lineup. The club-record signing returned to the XI last weekend and supplied two goals in a 2-1 win over Houston. It was the Mexican No. 9’s first brace in MLS. Unfortunately he won't get a chance to build on it in MLS as heads out on international duty with El Tri.
HIGH: 7 | LOW: 16
Two straight home draws will leave Dallas kicking themselves over taking two of six points. But they also came against Orlando and Columbus, two Eastern Conference leaders that are challenging for the Supporters’ Shield this year. Taking that outlook, they’re going punch-for-punch with MLS’s best.
HIGH: 4 | LOW: 11
For the first time in nearly a month, the Loons are back in the win column. That sound you hear is a collective sigh of relief around Allianz Field. Or maybe it’s “Wonderwall” by Oasis. Either way, Minnesota are back on track and will take some serious confidence from this.
HIGH: 10 | LOW: 18
New England are unbeaten in four, but they again couldn’t supply the finishing touch at home. It’s not for a lack of chances, with seven shots last weekend notably falling to Tajon Buchanan. The second-year forward is coming along nicely, but needs a bit more sharpness in front of goal.
HIGH: 1 | LOW: 15
Can LAFC get back-to-back wins for the first time in 2020? The reigning Supporters’ Shield winners are again in position to accomplish that, but remarkably haven’t gotten over the hump yet. Will the sixth time be the charm?
HIGH: 13 | LOW: 26
Everyone on Nashville SC owes Joe Willis a big thank you, as the goalkeeper turned in a Team of the Week performance (five saves) in last weekend’s 0-0 draw at New England. To give a sense of the expansion side’s approach – and their lengthy injury list – they started midfielder Derrick Jones at center forward.
HIGH: 12 | LOW: 21
How will the Red Bulls fare without midfielders Cristian Casseres Jr. (Venezuela) and Kaku (Paraguay) as both depart for October international duty? Coaching rumors aside, that’s perhaps the biggest question around RBNY as they look to keep pace in a tight Eastern Conference race.
HIGH: 7 | LOW: 21
The Rapids are back in training for the first time in a week-and-a-half after dealing with a COVID-19 outbreak. That resulted in Colorado’s Week 14 and Week 15 games being postponed, as health and safety remains atop the priority list. Here’s to hoping that Robin Fraser’s group can safely return to play soon.
HIGH: 11 | LOW: 18
LAFC came into the RioT last weekend and dropped three goals on RSL, pushing Freddy Juarez’s group to one win in five. They’re still in a playoff spot, but are in danger of falling behind out West. To compound matters, playmaker Albert Rusnak faces a long-term absence due to international duty.
HIGH: 17 | LOW: 25
He’s not quite scoring at Nemanja Nikolic 2017 levels, but Robert Beric is a man on fire right now (apologies for the bad pun). The Slovenian striker has scored in each of Chicago’s last five games, helping them go on a three-game unbeaten streak. It’s encouraging progress under head coach Raphael Wicky, so now it’s about sustaining it long-term.
HIGH: 8 | LOW: 25
The Dynamo are winless in six and it’s worth reinforcing that they only have three wins in 15 games under first-year head coach Tab Ramos. As promising as they’ve looked at times, ample work still lies ahead. Perhaps the signing of Argentine forward Mateo Bajamich from Instituto can give Houston a boost.
HIGH: 1 | LOW: 23
Let’s take Atlanta's 4-0 win at lowly D.C. United last weekend with a grain of salt, though it’s definitely a step in the right direction. It came as Jon Gallagher and Brooks Lennon enjoyed star roles, and it sounds like new DP midfielder Marcelino Moreno could make his debut as early as this weekend (if not shortly thereafter).
HIGH: 14 | LOW: 21
Montreal managed not to get a red card in last weekend’s 2-2 draw vs. Chicago, so that’s a start. But they’re also winless in five games and continue to allow goals at a worrisome rate. On the flipside, the Impact are hoping that recently-acquired striker Mason Toye can come good after being traded from Minnesota.
HIGH: 10 | LOW: 26
Good luck figuring out which version of San Jose you’re going to see each week. But they’re on a hot streak right now, with consecutive wins over the Galaxy and LAFC. Oh, and Chris Wondolowski almost got in a fight with Chicharito – a 37-year-old club legend against Mexico's all-time leading scorer. Only in MLS.
HIGH: 6 | LOW: 24
The Galaxy head into the midweek fixtures bottom of the Western Conference, courtesy of four straight losses. Their six-game unbeaten streak after the MLS is Back Tournament feels like a blast from the past, and Javier Hernandez now has one goal in eight games. Less than ideal, surely.
HIGH: 19 | LOW: 26
The brand, money and preseason hype created high expectations for Inter Miami. Diego Alonso’s group haven’t met them, though, so they’re tied with D.C. United on a league-low 11 points. We’re still holding out that star signings Blaise Matuidi and Gonzalo Higuain can help turn things around.
HIGH: 19 | LOW: 26
Three straight losses have Vancouver slipping in the Western Conference standings, just as Marc Dos Santos & Co. seemed to be surging in mid-September. The silver lining is the Whitecaps are only three points removed from an Audi MLS Cup Playoffs spot, so it’s not an insurmountable task.
HIGH: 18 | LOW: 26
Cincy have gone three straight games without a goal, a streak that’s now approaching 300 minutes. They went through a similar stretch after the MLS is Back Tournament, where the Designated Player outlay simply isn’t producing. There’s more to it, but they’ve scored a league-low eight goals for a reason.
HIGH: 14 | LOW: 26
D.C. United head coach Ben Olsen summed it up after their latest setback, a 4-0 home loss against Atlanta United: “We're fragile, we're a fragile group emotionally right now and we are, from a soccer standpoint, not very good either. So it's a bad combination.” Not great, folks. Not great.