MLS Power Rankings: LA Galaxy hit rock bottom, LAFC stay ahead
Rivalry Week! Long-standing MLS tradition focused on the California Clásico, but the Seattle Sounders and Portland Timbers got the headliners. The Hudson River Derby has also spent a lot of time highlighting the biennial event, while El Trafico has been the star in recent years, but none of those featured this time around.
New rivalries took center stage, with FC Cincinnati/Columbus Crew and St. Louis City/Sporting Kansas City in the spotlight. The Ohio clash already features arguably the league’s best rivalry moniker, Hell Is Real, but the battle for Missouri (with a Kansas twist) is still unnamed. It’s a whole lot better than the days gone by in MLS where the league would have given him a sanitized nickname, but it’s time for St. Louis and SKC fans to crack. We need a big rivalry name here.
In the meantime, let’s rank the teams!
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Previous ranking: 1
The wear and tear of the Champions League, Open Cup and Supporter Shield race has started to show itself lately. They are still good, but injuries and fatigue appear, like in a draw with SKC. It also forces them into more rotations than they probably would prefer, like sitting Carlos Vela against San Jose. But the thing is, they could always get Vela off the bench to play against tired legs, which is really cheat code and, unsurprisingly, earned them a win over the Quakes.
Previous ranking: 3
Hell feels heavenly after the Garys jumped in early and finished strong to beat Columbus. Add in a midweek win over Montreal and there’s no doubt who owns Ohio right now.
Previous ranking: 5
Hany Mukhtar is that guy, and it gives the NSC cover even when their normally excellent defense isn’t quite at its best, like against Miami and Charlotte this week. Mukhtar made sure they came away with six points anyway.
Previous ranking: 4
Giacomo Vrioni is back! But Carles Gil is injured now and Gustavo Bou has still not returned from injury. The Revs just can’t keep their guys in shape, so it’s no wonder they have a game where they get knocked out of the building like they did by Philly.
Previous ranking: 2
If you’re desperate for a win, call the Sounders. Kansas City snapped its winless streak against Seattle, and this week Austin and Vancouver both held their own against that team.
Previous ranking: 6
It’s hard to get a bigger swing than going from playing the Galaxy on Wednesday to playing Cincy on Saturday. The Crew is certainly much better than LA, but they’re still not on par with their Hell Is Real rivals.
Previous ranking: 7
Sporting may have the history and the trophies, but City have the only win in this budding rivalry, and it wasn’t a regular win either. They hammered SKC and, for an added touch, Nico Gioacchini (born in Kansas City, Missouri) got on the scoresheet. The day could not have gone better for Saint-Louis.
Previous ranking: 8
Philly had a chance to draw DC on Wednesday, but they didn’t need such luck in New England. They singled out the Revs with a truly impressive second half to extend their unbeaten streak to six. Union is back, y’all.
Previous ranking: ten
Wednesday’s victory over Colorado was an absolute clinic. Atlanta was the better team, knew it, played like that and came away a 4-0 winner. They could have done the same thing in Chicago, especially after riding a man, but instead they looked like an amateur team. They conceded an own goal, couldn’t find the ball in their own box and even gave up their power play with a red card in a disappointing 3-3 draw. We know how good the Five Stripes can be, but so often they just aren’t.
Previous ranking: 9
How much can you believe in a team that remains winless in seven matches on the road? That is the question in San Jose after his fall at LAFC.
Previous ranking: 11
Jesús Ferreira is still cooking after a brace to beat Vancouver in midweek, but he and Dallas couldn’t find a way to turn their 1-0 lead and total control into a second against Houston. Dynamo then made them pay with a late equaliser. Not being able to bury teams is an issue that dates back to last season for FCD and they don’t seem particularly close to solving it.
Previous ranking: 12
There’s no better way to end a losing streak than to beat your rival and the Caps have completely strangled the Sounders. It was an impressive performance for the whole team and another particularly good performance for Ali Ahmed, who continues to make an impact on both sides of the pitch.
Previous ranking: 13
A pair of 1-0 wins over Houston and Portland made for a good week for Minnesota, but they were still a bit devoid of options. If only there was a spectacularly creative player capable of breaking through the defenses waiting in the wings. Someone like, I don’t know, Emanuel Reynoso?
Previous ranking: 14
Steal a point from a rival with guts and a goal from a late corner? The Ben Olsens are strong on this team, but some extra quality in the summer is needed, as their inability to create in a midweek loss to Minnesota showed.
Previous ranking: 17
DCU has taken 14 points from its last seven games after drawing Philadelphia and passing the Galaxy. They’re a legitimate playoff team, and who would have guessed they could get there so quickly midway through last season. Wayne Rooney does magic.
Previous ranking: 18
The Lions are far from the lofty heights some of us expected of them before the season, but things are looking up. They drew with NYCFC and then won Florida with a win over Miami, thanks in large part to Ercan Kara’s increasingly excellent play.
Previous ranking: 19
180 minutes and no goals for the Timbers. They just need to make the most of their time on the ball. Some of that adds a bit more quality in the summer transfer window, but the system isn’t doing them any favors either. They were lucky to take a point from RSL, but they weren’t so lucky against Minnesota.
Previous ranking: 15
The Rapids scored points this season mostly by not shooting themselves in the foot, and then they spent all week giving the ball and chances to Atlanta and Salt Lake.
Previous ranking: 20
Troy Lesesne has only been in charge of RBNY for three games, but he’s already taken nearly half of the club’s points this season. A draw in Toronto and a win against Montreal gives him seven points since taking over and it’s not just new energy at Red Bull Arena either. They are keeping the ball better and showing a wider range in their game since he took over.
Previous ranking: 21
The Pigeons were in the Eastern Heights a month ago despite lacking an away win. Then they embarked on four straight matches, which ended in a draw in Orlando on Wednesday. They are still winless on the road and are now below the playoff line. Some home games will surely put them back among playoff teams, but they have to figure out how to play away from New York.
Previous ranking: 23
There were a lot of raised eyebrows when Austin picked up Gyasi Zardes in the offseason. He’s proven himself to be a good striker in MLS, but he seemed uncomfortable in Austin and the start of the season confirmed that. They may have figured things out, though, with Zardes scoring the winners against Seattle and Toronto this week.
Previous ranking: 16
Draw at home to RBNY, lose to Austin, bottom East and Federico Bernardeschi is fed up. He challenged everyone, from the top of the club to the bottom. They still play pretty good football, but they can’t turn it into points, so who cares?
Previous ranking: 24
Charlotte followed up her midweek win over Chicago with a late loss to Nashville, courtesy of Hany Mukhtar. They’re not the first team to be beaten by the reigning MVP, but considering how little Charlotte has come out of their Nominated Players, it’s hard not to walk away from this game wondering how badly they can be good if they hit someone like Mukhtar.
Previous ranking: 22
It won’t be a memorable season in Chicago, but Saturday’s tie with Atlanta might be. They played a man for much of the game, fell behind twice and still came away with a point after Georgios Koutsias equalized in the 89th minute. It’s a good way to calm the midweek loss in Charlotte.
Previous ranking: 25
Lose six in a row, win three in a row and now lose two in a row. The whiplash in Miami hit even harder with the week’s second loss to Orlando. Inter were completely out of ideas on the ball, which is all the more problematic as the defense was never reliable, even when winning a few.
Previous ranking: 26
Montreal’s four-game winning streak is over after losses to Cincy and RBNY this week. That defense that had done so well to replenish clean sheets in its four wins has completely disappeared in those losses, giving up five goals.
Previous ranking: 28
RSL had to settle for a draw against Portland because they still can’t create much, but the Rapids were kind enough to offer them chances so they could walk away from their clash of the Rocky Mountain Cup with three points.
Previous ranking: 29
SKC chained an impressive two-game winning streak with perhaps their best performance of the season in a draw at LAFC. Things were looking up, and then they went to St. Louis and completely smoked out.
Previous ranking: 27
The Galaxy have been played off the field by Columbus and DC. You might call it bottom line, but don’t underestimate this club. They continue to prove that there are always lowers to be made.