MLS Power Rankings: Bruce Arena and New England are back with a bang
Bruce Arena played coy about his return to the sideline after taking over as New England Revolution sporting director and head coach on May 14. Despite being handed the responsibility of remaking the Revs and hauling an MLS 1.0 organization into the MLS 3.0 era, Arena chose not to immediately take the reins of the first.
Heading into Sunday's match in L.A., Arena said he "didn't know" if was going to coach the team from the field, suggesting that he wouldn't do so if was a distraction for his players.
Maybe that was true, but it seemed unimaginable that Arena could resist the temptation to prowl the sideline of his old hunting grounds. He indeed chose to coach New England for the first time against the Galaxy. And of course the Revs won 2-1.
Welcome back, Bruce. Let's rank 'em.
1. LAFC (11 wins, 4 draws, 1 loss)
Previous ranking: 1
Next MLS match: June 28 at Colorado, 10 p.m. ET, ESPN+
Bob Bradley and LAFC are just the worst houseguests. How rude of them to spoil the Timbers' big day at the grand reopening of Providence Park. The Timbers even gave the first-place team a gift early in the game, and LAFC repaid the gesture with one of their patented "Yep, they're really good" attacking performances.
2. Philadelphia Union (8-4-4)
Previous ranking: 5
Next MLS match: Saturday vs. New York Red Bulls, 7.30 p.m. ET, ESPN+
The spotlight slipped off the Union a bit during a three-game winless run, but making history as the first visiting team to win at Allianz Field not only snaps that poor streak but also serves as a reminder that Philly is a pretty good team. If any town can appreciate a collection of kids and talented, but lesser-known, stars, it's the City of Brotherly Love.
3. Houston Dynamo (7-3-3)
Previous ranking: 3
Next MLS match: June 22 at Portland, 11 p.m. ET, ESPN+
The Dynamo didn't play well enough to win at home against Sporting on Saturday. They didn't even really play well enough to draw. But they have Alberth Elis and even when the Honduras international hasn't been in good form, he's capable of popping up with a pretty goal to keep the club's home unbeaten record intact.
4. New York City FC (4-8-1)
Previous ranking: 7
Next MLS match: Thursday vs. FC Cincinnati, 7 p.m. ET, ESPN+
Valentin Castellanos is a great name. It's the kind of name that evokes images of well-heeled horsemen brandishing swords made of Toledo steel while holding flowers between their teeth, in addition to 30-yard blasts that draw the visiting team level in a back-and-forth affair in Columbus.
5. LA Galaxy (9-1-6)
Previous ranking: 4
Next MLS match: June 22 at FC Cincinnati, 7:30 p.m.
The Galaxy labored their way to a 2-1 defeat at home against New England on Sunday night. It's the kind of result that looks bad on paper and worse in reality. LA now hits a brief pause ahead of the Gold Cup, a well-timed chance to recharge the batteries and work out some of the defensive kinks in evidence against the Revs.
6. D.C. United (7-6-4)
Previous ranking: 6
Next MLS match: June 26 vs. Orlando, 8 p.m. ET, ESPN+
The weather is turning, and United is sinking slowly into the famous D.C. swamp. There isn't actually a swamp, and "sinking" is admittedly a little harsh. That said, Saturday's disappointing home draw against San Jose drops D.C. into second behind Philadelphia and extends their winless run to five games.
7. Atlanta United (8-2-5)
Previous ranking: 15
Next MLS match: June 26 at Toronto, 8 p.m. ET, ESPN+
You can't really have a "vintage" performance when you're only in your third season as a club, but we're going to say it anyway: The vintage version of Atlanta United showed up on Saturday against Chicago. The Five Stripes are now in third and charging up the table -- do we even need to say "watch out" to the rest of the East?
8. New York Red Bulls (7-3-5)
Previous ranking: 8
Next MLS match: Saturday at Philadelphia, 7:30 p.m. ET, ESPN+
The Red Bulls broke the RSL defense an hour into Saturday's match and finished with a 4-0 win that feels like a confidence builder. It was a big win for Chris Armas against a former New York Red Bulls head coach while the man he succeeded, Jesse Marsch, watched from the stands.
9. Seattle Sounders (7-5-3)
Previous ranking: 2
Next MLS match: Wednesday at Montreal, 7:30 p.m. ET, ESPN+
The Sounders couldn't get out of their own way against Dallas, which means that they couldn't get out of the way of the ball without putting it in their own net. The loss in Frisco puts Seattle on a losing streak for the first time in 2019; it's bad, yes, but they've still had an unusually good start to a season.
10. FC Dallas (6-3-6)
Previous ranking: 9
Next MLS match: Saturday at San Jose, 3:30 p.m. ET
FCD ended a poor spin of six straight games without a win thanks to Seattle's largesse, but the return of Carlos Gruezo and Bryan Acosta was significant as well. The problem for Luchi Gonzalez is that both will leave for international duty before Saturday's visit to San Jose.
11. Montreal Impact (7-3-7)
Previous ranking: 11
Next MLS match: Wednesday vs. Seattle, 7:30 p.m. ET, ESPN+
L'Impact have le visage rouge following a humiliating loss to Orlando at Stade Saputo. It's way, way too early for a result like this to feel important in the playoff race, but Montreal should be worried about some footsteps coming up behind them in the Eastern Conference standings. A little worried, anyway.
12. Minnesota United (6-3-6)
Previous ranking: 12
Next MLS match: Saturday at Colorado, 9 p.m. ET, ESPN+
The Loons' WD (Wonderwall Differential) now stands at +2 following the first-ever loss at Allianz Field on Sunday. Kevin Molino scored for the first time in a year and a half, which is good, but Darwin Quintero struggled and was subbed off (again), which is bad.
13. Orlando City (5-3-7)
Previous ranking: 21
Next MLS match: June 26 at DC United, 8 p.m. ET, ESPN+
Nani probably would have preferred to score his 100th career professional goal with a blast from 30 yards or a perfectly placed free-kick, but a hitting home a penalty to launch the Lions to a 3-0 win on the road in Montreal is probably just as good as something really memorable.
14. Toronto FC (5-3-6)
Previous ranking: 10
Next MLS match: Friday vs. Sporting, 7 p.m. ET, ESPN+
The boring Reds were boring in a boring draw with Vancouver on Friday night, needing a late goal from Nick DeLeon just to salvage a point. A team that was supposed to sparkle with Alejandro Pozuelo settled and Jozy Altidore healthy hasn't scored more than a goal in six games -- six games from which TFC earned two points.
15. Real Salt Lake (6-1-8)
Previous ranking: 13
Next MLS match: June 22 at Chicago, 8 p.m. ET, ESPN+
Mike Petke's return to Red Bull Arena was not a happy one, except for the parts before his team was embarrassed 4-0, when he saw old friends from his days in Jersey and things of that nature. RSL's Jekyll and Hyde ways continue -- the club has just one draw this season and is on a third losing streak this year.
16. Columbus Crew (5-2-9)
Previous ranking: 18
Next MLS match: June 23 vs. Sporting Kansas City, 5.30 p.m. ET, ESPN+
Did the Crew learn how to score goals again? Or is the recent "explosion" of scoring -- four in the past two games -- just an oasis in the desert? Zack Steffen is officially an ex-Crew player as he leaves for the Gold Cup ahead of his move abroad. It's going to be... interesting ... to see how Columbus handles his absence.
17. Portland Timbers (4-2-7)
Previous ranking: 14
Next MLS match: June 22 vs. Houston, 11 p.m. ET, ESPN+
So much of the season is already in the books that it's difficult to even contextual what the Timbers have dealt with so far. Saturday's home date against LAFC was their first home game of the year following a grueling 12-game road trip. Losing to LAFC is a thing a lot of teams of done, so the jury remains out on Portland.
18. New England Revolution (4-4-8)
Previous ranking: 22
Next MLS match: June 26 vs. Philadelphia, 7 p.m. ET, ESPN+
Bruce Arena made his return to the MLS sideline in the place where he made the Galaxy an MLS dynasty. Whether it was more Arena's big coach energy or a flat LA performance, New England used what was available and scored a big victory. The Revs are 2-2-0 (8 points) since making their coaching change.
19. Vancouver Whitecaps (4-6-6)
Previous ranking: 16
Next MLS match: June 22 vs. Colorado, 10 p.m. ET, ESPN+
Yordy Reyna is quite often the difference between Vancouver showing any teeth on the attacking end and lacking any menace at all. Friday's result was a perfect example, with the Peruvian changing the complexion of the game for the Whitecaps when he came as a substitute with about a half-hour to go.
20. San Jose Earthquakes (5-3-6)
Previous ranking: 17
Next MLS match: Saturday vs. FC Dallas, 3:30 p.m. ET, ESPN+
Chris Wondolowski scored again and the Quakes left DC with a point. Whatever fever it was that prevented Matias Almeyda from playing the Wondolowski to start the season has apparently passed. Now past 150 career goals (Saturday's tally was No.151), Wondo might push the record in the 160s before the year ends.
21. Sporting Kansas City (3-6-5)
Previous ranking: 19
Next MLS match: Friday at Toronto, 7 p.m. ET, ESPN+
You know things have been rough for Sporting when a point on the road in Houston is something to celebrate. Amidst the injury plague the team has been dealing with for a month, SKC played three games in seven days and came out with a four points. Bust out the confetti!
22. Chicago Fire (4-6-6)
Previous ranking: 20
Next MLS match: June 22 vs. Real Salt Lake, 10 p.m. ET, ESPN+
We'll leave this one to Dax McCarty. "It's not been good enough," he said after the 2-0 loss in Atlanta. "The entire season's not been good enough. So if guys can't figure what they want and if they don't want to be here then maybe we need to have honest conversations with ourselves because it's not good enough from the team."
23. Colorado Rapids (3-3-9)
Previous ranking: 24
Next MLS match: Saturday vs. Minnesota, 9 p.m. ET, ESPN+
The Rapids are hot, feeding off the energy reflected from Conor Casey's famous bald pate and now have a candidate for Rookie of the Year in Andre Shinyashiki. The Brazilian, by way of Denver University, scored his third goal of the season -- and grabbed an assist -- to start things off against FC Cincinnati.
24. FC Cincinnati (3-2-10)
Previous ranking: 24
Next MLS match: Thursday at NYCFC, 7 p.m. ET, ESPN+
FCC's midseason update is still in process and the results on the field reflect as much. While the progress indicator spins and spins and spins, the expansion team is taking its lumps, even against the only club with fewer points than Cincinnati coming into the week. It might get worse before it gets better.