Power Rankings - 2020 - ORL - Mueller

Power Rankings: Columbus Crew, Orlando City surge after booking playoff berths

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: SJ +2; COL, NYC -2

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PREVIOUS: 1

HIGH: 1 | LOW: 6

When you’re first in the league, you find all sorts of ways to get three points. Toronto FC's latest example was a glanced header from 5-foot-4 Pablo Piatti in the 89th minute to steal a 1-0 win against Atlanta United. We’ll wager that the Argentine DP hasn’t scored too many goals with a deft flick of his noggin.

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HIGH: 1 | LOW: 8

Even after Sunday’s 0-0 draw against San Jose, the Sounders still lead the Western Conference standings. Stop us if you’ve heard this one before, but the latest FiveThirtyEight ratings have Seattle and Toronto on a collision course for another MLS Cup meeting.

Previous: 0-0 draw at SJ | Next: vs. POR on 10/22  

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PREVIOUS: 4

HIGH: 1 | LOW: 9

The Crew’s four-game winless skid is over and they’re into the Audi MLS Cup Playoffs. We might sound like a broken record, but it’s exciting to think Columbus can reach another level when goalkeeper Eloy Room and midfielders Lucas Zelarayan and Darlington Nagbe are back healthy. They’re that important.

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HIGH: 2 | LOW: 11

Results aside, let’s take a moment to celebrate the transfer of Union Homegrown midfielder Brenden Aaronson to Austrian side Red Bull Salzburg for a reported $6 million that could blossom to $9 million. It’s a big moment for their academy, and there’s a feeling that more are on their way (re: Anthony Fontana, Mark McKenzie, etc.).

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HIGH: 4 | LOW: 23

For the first time in their six MLS seasons, Orlando are into the Audi MLS Cup Playoffs. We’ve written about it all season, but the club’s transformation under head coach Oscar Pareja deserves mentioning again. Their unbeaten streak is also now at 12 games (6W-0L-6D), and one has to wonder how far it’ll go.

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PREVIOUS: 5

HIGH: 2 | LOW: 14

After rattling off five straight wins, Portland find themselves coming off a down week with one loss and one tie apiece. They’re still level on Seattle for the Western Conference’s points lead (31), though are separated by tiebreakers. That sets up a scintillating matchup Thursday between the Cascadia rivals at CenturyLink Field.

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HIGH: 6 | LOW: 18

It was a frustrating week for Sporting, starting with Gadi Kinda being controversially called for a foul after being tackled by FC Dallas goalkeeper Jimmy Maurer. Then came Saturday’s last-second (literally) draw against Chicago, when they allowed a 95th-minute equalizer.

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PREVIOUS: 9

HIGH: 8 | LOW: 18

The Revs continue to struggle at home and against the Eastern Conference’s top tier, dropping a 2-1 decision against Philly on Monday night. One to watch: Gustavo Bou has been dealing with a nagging hamstring injury, so that’s two DPs absent when also factoring in Carles Gil’s long-term recovery. Bou’s missed three of New England’s last four games.

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PREVIOUS: 10

HIGH: 1 | LOW: 15

Take a bow, Christian Torres. For those who don’t know the LAFC forward, he signed a first-team deal in July and scored a 93rd-minute equalizer to earn a 1-1 draw against Portland on Sunday. He’s only 16, so it’s great to see the Black & Gold’s youth ranks producing amid several international absences.

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PREVIOUS: 8

HIGH: 3 | LOW: 13

The Cityzens are winless in three and haven’t posted a shutout in any of their last five matches. While getting playmaker Maxi Moralez back is big for NYCFC, it's that latter statistic that might be most important. They can score in bunches, but the ability to grind out results is needed as well.

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HIGH: 7 | LOW: 16

FC Dallas snapped their four-game winless stretch with a midweek victory and have nearly a week off before their next match. Given the fast and frenetic nature of the 2020 season, that rest period will come as a welcome reprieve as Luchi Gonzalez’s team embarks on a mad dash to Decision Day presented by AT&T. [Ed. Note: This was written prior to FCD's 3-0 loss at Nashville]

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HIGH: 12 | LOW: 21

Caden Clark hype aside, what’s most encouraging from a New York Red Bulls' perspective is their ability to fight back and earn draws against two of the East’s top teams. They did it Wednesday against Toronto, then followed it up with a stoppage-time equalizer from Brian White on Sunday against Orlando.

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PREVIOUS: 12

HIGH: 4 | LOW: 13

Unbeaten in four, we’re still waiting for Minnesota to shift into gear. They let a two-goal lead slip in Sunday’s 2-2 draw against Houston, the latest setback in a relatively-subpar run since returning from the MLS is Back Tournament. The good news is that three of their last five games are at home to strike the right tune.

Previous: 2-2 draw vs. HOU | Next: at CIN on 10/24

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PREVIOUS: 14

HIGH: 13 | LOW: 26

For the second time this season, Nashville produced an offensive outburst that few saw coming. The latest was a 3-1 win over Houston where Hany Mukhtar had two goals, marking the German DP’s best game since coming to MLS from Brondby. [Ed. Note: This was written prior to Nashville's 3-0 win vs. Dallas]

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PREVIOUS: 16

HIGH: 15 | LOW: 25

The biggest change around Chicago this year is expectations, at least external ones. Much of that is credited to DP forward Robert Beric’s form, as he has six goals since mid-September. When the Slovenian is on the mark, the Fire can seemingly go toe-to-toe with some of the league’s top teams

Previous: 2-2 draw vs. SKC | Next: vs. RBNY on 10/24  

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PREVIOUS: 17

HIGH: 11 | LOW: 18

RSL are hot-and-cold, though that hasn’t stopped Damir Kreilach from being one of the more productive midfielders/forwards in MLS. The Croatian’s now up to 26 goals and 14 assists in 82 games, reinforcing his importance and why he signed a long-term contract extension this past September. 

Previous: 2-1 win vs. POR | Next: vs. DAL on 10/24 

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PREVIOUS: 15

HIGH: 7 | LOW: 21

Health precautions around the COVID-19 pandemic still see Colorado sidelined, but Robin Fraser’s group is slated to return this weekend. In the meantime, keep an eye out for this week’s 22 Under 22 list where midfielder Cole Bassett figures to feature prominently. He had goals in three of four games before the Rapids saw postponements pile up.

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HIGH: 14 | LOW: 21

Those who have been around the game long enough will remember the excitement when Bojan Krkic was breaking through at FC Barcelona. That pathway never quite materialized, but he can still produce moments of magic. Look no further than Montreal's 2-1 win over Inter Miami last weekend, when the Spanish forward supplied a sumptuous goal and an assist.

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PREVIOUS: 18

HIGH: 8 | LOW: 25

With one win in 10 matches, you’d expect Houston’s playoff chances to be done and dusted. But they’re one point outside of the West’s eighth and final spot, so hope’s not lost by any means. Perhaps they’ll get a late-season push from Argentine winger Mateo Bajamich, who’s stateside at long last after being signed two weeks ago.

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PREVIOUS: 22

HIGH: 10 | LOW: 26

All things considered, the Earthquakes had a really strong week. They steamrolled LA 4-0 and then played Seattle to a 0-0 draw, helping them move into a playoff spot. There’s the reminder of their dismal summer stretch, but AlmedyaBall (perhaps not a real term) is a joy to watch when it’s firing on all cylinders.

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HIGH: 1 | LOW: 23

The Five Stripes are winless in four matches and dropped out of an Eastern Conference playoff spot. Making matters worse, the teams above them have games in hand. 2020 has been a major letdown by Atlanta’s sky-high standards, and only four matches remain to sneak into the playoffs.

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HIGH: 19 | LOW: 26

Every time Inter Miami take one step forward, they seem to take two steps back. Look no further than their three-game unbeaten streak ending Sunday with a 2-1 defeat against Montreal, complete with a goalkeeper howler and post-game red card to DP forward Gonzalo Higuain. Their year-end schedule won’t get any easier, either.

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HIGH: 19 | LOW: 26

As of writing, Vancouver hold onto the final Western Conference playoff spot. They have a recent two-game win streak to thank for that, which ended over the weekend against LA. Club-record signing Lucas Cavallini now has five goals on the year, and they’ll need more star showings from the Canadian striker to keep this stature.

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HIGH: 6 | LOW: 24

The Galaxy finally broke their losing streak, which ended at six after a 1-0 win Sunday against Vancouver. The hero wasn’t one of their DPs or stars, but rather unheralded midfielder Kai Koreniuk. He’s played all of four minutes in MLS across two different substitute appearances.

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HIGH: 14 | LOW: 26

In a battle of the league’s bottom two teams (at least from a points perspective), D.C. United earned a 2-1 win at FC Cincinnati on Sunday. That ended a nine-game winless stretch and served as the club’s first victory under interim head coach Chad Ashton. It might be too little too late in terms of postseason aspirations, though.

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HIGH: 18 | LOW: 26

Part of you has to feel for FC Cincinnati third-string goalkeeper Bobby Edwards, whose howler against D.C. United went viral for all the wrong reasons. It unraveled what would’ve been the second-year club’s best MLS week to date, after beating Columbus 2-1 midweek for their first Hell is Real rivalry win.

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