Ezequiel Barco - Atlanta United - MLS is Back Tournament power rankings

Power Rankings: Atlanta United plummets, LAFC seizes top spot after MLS is Back Tournament group stage

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: ORL, SJ +13; ATL -16

1

 
 

PREVIOUS: 3

HIGH: 1 | LOW: 3

Even without Carlos Vela, Bob Bradley's group is still scary good. The defending Supporters’ Shield champions scored a league-high 11 goals in the group stage (props to Diego Rossi and Bradley-Wright Phillips). Now, if only LAFC's defense can patch things up.

Previous: 2-2 draw vs. POR | Next: vs. SEA on 7/27

2

 
 

PREVIOUS: 8

HIGH: 2 | LOW: 9

Maybe all that preseason hype was real after all. Lucas Zelarayan, Darlington Nagbe and Gyasi Zardes are firing on all cylinders, and Porterball is looking pretty sweet with zero goals allowed in Orlando. The Crew were simply dominant in Group E and were the only nine-point team at the MLS is Back Tournament.

Previous: 1-0 win vs. ATL | Next: vs. MIN on 7/28

3

 
 

PREVIOUS: 5

HIGH: 3 | LOW: 6

All aboard the Ayo Akinola hype train! The 20-year-old Homegrown forward is tied atop the race for the Golden Boot presented by Audi with five goals, and people are abuzz about which national team he’ll choose.

Previous: 0-0 draw vs. NE | Next: vs. NYC on 7/26

4

 
 

PREVIOUS: 13

HIGH: 4 | LOW: 14

Jeremy Ebobisse has goals in three straight games, Eryk Williamson is emerging as a legitimate starting center mid and the old guys (apologies Sebastian Blanco, Diega Chara and Diego Valeri) aren’t slowing down anytime soon. Some real positive vibes from the Rose City bunch right now.

Previous: 2-2 draw vs. LAFC | Next: vs. CIN on 7/28

5

 
 

PREVIOUS: 2

HIGH: 1 | LOW: 5

The Sounders were a tad slow out of the gates, we’ll admit it. But they’re still the defending MLS Cup champions and revved to life behind Jordan Morris. Oh, and they’ve been playing without Joao Paulo — the club’s marquee offseason signings.

Previous: 3-0 win vs. VAN | Next: vs. LAFC on 7/27

6

 
 

PREVIOUS: 10

HIGH: 6 | LOW: 11

The Fighting Jim Curtins are only trending up, as youngsters like Brenden Aaronson boost their stock and veterans like Ilsinho continue to defy Father Time. Are they one of the East’s elite teams? They’re certainly in the conversation.

Previous: 1-1 draw vs. ORL | Next: vs. NE on 7/25

7

 
 

PREVIOUS: 6

HIGH: 6 | LOW: 18

That Alan Pulido guy is pretty good, huh? It turns out that when Sporting opens the checkbook for a star No. 9, their system reaches another level. The supporting cast has all the usual suspects, too, and we all know their quality.

Previous: 2-0 win vs. RSL | Next: vs. VAN on 7/26

8

 
 

PREVIOUS: 4

HIGH: 4 | LOW: 8

Even without Ike Opara, the Loons are into the Knockout Round. Chalk it up to a deep, quality roster that still poses a major threat even if they've dropped down a few rungs on the rankings ladder.

Previous: 2-2 draw vs. COL | Next: vs. CLB on 7/28

9

 
 

PREVIOUS: 22

HIGH: 9 | LOW: 23

Who saw this one coming? We certainly didn’t. Orlando were one of the group stage’s top teams, riding the Chris Mueller/Nani show and some solid performances from new goalkeeper Pedro Gallese. The Oscar Pareja version of Orlando is pretty fun right now.

Previous: 1-1 draw vs. PHI | Next: vs. MTL on 7/25

10

 
 

PREVIOUS: 23

HIGH: 10 | LOW: 23

The Earthquakes topped Group B, most notably posting two shutouts after bleeding goals in the early part of 2020. It also turns out that Chris Wondolowski still knows how to put the ball into the back of the net. Who would have thunk it?!.

Previous: 2-0 win vs. CHI | Next: vs. RSL on 7/27

11

 
 

PREVIOUS: 18

HIGH: 11 | LOW: 18

Another foot injury to Carles Gil looms large, there’s no denying it. Now focus turns to Gustavo Bou and Adam Buksa stepping up big-time if the Spaniard can’t go in the Round of 16. Expect goalkeeper Matt Turner to make a few game-preserving stops, too.

Previous: 0-0 draw vs. TOR | Next: vs. PHI on 7/25

12

 
 

PREVIOUS: 9

HIGH: 7 | LOW: 12

FCD looked the part of a playoff squad before the four-month stoppage, and it’s a shame that we never got to see how Franco Jara looked in Homegrown FC. Perhaps that will happen in due time.

Previous: Withdrawn from tournament | Next: TBD

13

 
 

PREVIOUS: 11

HIGH: 3 | LOW: 13

It’s not quite an identity crisis, but most certainly didn’t see NYCFC standing at 1-4 through five matches. Last year’s Eastern Conference table-toppers have loads of attacking talent, so now it’s up to head coach Ronny Deila to pull the right strings.

Previous: 1-0 win vs. MIA | Next: vs. TOR on 7/26

14

 
 

PREVIOUS: 16

HIGH: 13 | LOW: 16

It’s tough to get a true read on RSL. They’ll nearly play their opponent off the pitch for stretches, and then defensive lapses will prove fatal. Drift towards the former and they could easily climb the rankings.

 

Previous: 2-0 loss vs. SKC | Next: vs. SJ on 7/27

15

 
 

PREVIOUS: 14

HIGH: 14 | LOW: 21

Montreal squeaked into the Round of 16. It’s safe to call them a work in progress under head coach Thierry Henry, with the Frenchman always safe for a tactical wrinkle or two. As expected, Victor Wanyama also looks like a quality addition.

Previous: 1-0 win vs. DC | Next: vs. ORL on 7/25

16

 
 

PREVIOUS: 7

HIGH: 7 | LOW: 16

What’s it gonna take for Jonathan Lewis to get a start? The winger scored in back-to-back games off the bench, providing a bright mark as the Rapids finished bottom of Group D. They were dealt a tough hand in Orlando, though expectations are higher in Colorado.

Previous: 2-2 draw vs. MIN | Next: TBD

17

 
 

PREVIOUS: 1

HIGH: 1 | LOW: 17

Brad Guzan is pissed off, and that’s saying something since the goalkeeper usually plays it pretty straight in the media. Atlanta crashed out of the MLS is Back Tournament with three losses and zero goals scored, so something’s clearly not right in paradise. They were without Josef Martinez (ACL tear) and new signing Jurgen Damm, sure, but you’d expect much more from the Five Stripes.

 

Previous: 1-0 loss vs. CLB | Next: TBD

18

 
 

PREVIOUS: 26

HIGH: 18 | LOW: 26

Nobody’s going to mistake FC Cincy for playing joga bonito right now, but they’ve got two straight wins for the first time since July 2019 and are into the Round of 16. The Jaap Stam era has started swimmingly – thanks, bunker ball – and we await the Dutch connection as Jurgen Locadia recovers from a quad injury. 

 

Previous: 2-0 win vs. RBNY | Next: vs. POR on 7/28

19

 
 

PREVIOUS: 12

HIGH: 12 | LOW: 19

Everything was on the line in Group E’s final game against FC Cincinnati, and the Red Bulls couldn’t pass the test. They even attempted a whopping 51 crosses, all when starting without a true No. 9 and facing a five-man backline!

Previous: 2-0 loss vs. CIN | Next: TBD

20

 
 

PREVIOUS: 20

HIGH: 20 | LOW: 23

Nobody expected Chicago to become an overnight sensation under head coach Raphael Wicky. At the same time, they were primed to advance out of Group B as a third-place team and couldn’t follow through vs. Vancouver after a weather delay.

Previous: 2-0 loss vs. VAN | Next: TBD

21

 
 

PREVIOUS: 17

HIGH: 6 | LOW: 21

So this wasn't exactly how the Galaxy drew it up. They knew Jonathan dos Santos (hernia surgery) would be out, but then Javier “Chicharito” Hernandez departed early with a calf injury. Three games, no wins and back to LA.

Previous: 1-1 draw vs. HOU | Next: TBD

22

 
 

PREVIOUS: 19

HIGH: 19 | LOW: 25

Vancouver entered the MLS is Back Tournament shorthanded, most notably without Lucas Cavallini. Yet they’ve advanced by the skin of their teeth, a wild goalkeeper situation and porous defense aside. 

Previous: 2-0 win vs. CHI | Next: vs. SKC on 7/26

23

 
 

PREVIOUS: 15

HIGH: 14 | LOW: 23

The Federico Higuain super-sub juice only carried D.C. so far, and now some tough questions emerge in the capital city. Will Edison Flores and Julian Gressel live up their price tags, and can this group be dangerous without Paul Arriola (ACL surgery) in the lineup? Answers need to arrive quickly. 

Previous: 1-0 loss vs. MTL | Next: TBD

24

 
 

PREVIOUS: 24

HIGH: 20 | LOW: 24

The Dynamo were minutes away from making the Round of 16, only for a Cristian Pavon penalty kick to send them packing. It’s absolutely gut-wrenching for Tab Ramos’ squad, and they’re left still searching for that first win of 2020. 

Previous: 1-1 draw vs. LA | Next: TBD

25

 
 

PREVIOUS: 21

HIGH: 19 | LOW: 25

The first win remains elusive for Inter Miami, even if they’ve served up bright moments. The expansion doldrums are definitely here, so the South Florida fanbase waits to celebrate.

Previous: 1-0 loss vs. NYC | Next: TBD

26

 
 

PREVIOUS: 25

HIGH: 24 | LOW: 26

Nashville were always planning to address roster shortcomings during the summer after evaluating the squad. The transfer window opens Aug. 12 and there’s definite room for improvement. 

Previous: Withdrawn from tournament | Next: TBD

Series: 

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