MLS Power Rankings: LAFC top dogs at All-Star break, Arena's Revs keep rising
Welcome to the All-Star edition of ESPN's Major League Soccer Power Rankings.
This week, we all take a collective breath and pause for the midseason clasico pitting the best performers of the first half of the season against a barnstorming European powerhouse led by a man who is either color blind or REALLY committed to his style choices.
Does Diego Simeone know about summer in Central Florida?
Anyway, before we go, let's celebrate with a one good ranking. See you soon, Orlando!
Previous rankings: Week 20 | Week 19 | Week 18 | Week 17 | Week 16 | Week 15 | Week 14 | Week 13 | Week 12 | Week 11 | Week 10 | Week 9 | Week 8 | Week 7 | Week 6 | Week 5 | Week 4 | Week 3 | Week 2 | Week 1
1. LAFC (15 wins, 4 draws, 3 losses)
Previous ranking: 1
Next MLS match: Aug. 3 at New England (7:30 p.m. ET, stream live on ESPN+)
How's that for a "big game" performance? It would be nitpicking to point out that Atlanta's defense let them down a bit and allowing LAFC back in to win the game by the odd goal in seven, so we won't. Instead, let's focus on the fact that league leaders will clash with the hottest team in MLS next week when they visit Bruce Arena and the Revs.
2. San Jose Earthquakes (11-4-7)
Previous ranking: 2
Next MLS match: Aug. 3 vs. Columbus (10 p.m. ET, stream live on ESPN+)
And it continues. The Quakes may be more than the sum of their parts because of Matias Almeyda's playing system and man-management, but there are several entertaining individuals in the mix at Avaya. The Valeri Qazaishvili Show is must-watch TV at the moment, with everyone asking: "How many defenders will he embarrass this week?"
3. New York City FC (9-8-3)
Previous ranking: 4
Next MLS match: Aug. 3 at Real Salt Lake (10 p.m. ET, stream live on ESPN+)
He might not be David Villa, but Heber has proven to be a competent replacement for the club legend at the front of the NYCFC formation. The Brazilian striker's nine goals leads the team and is good enough to put him in a tie for sixth in the league despite playing just 13 games.
4. New England Revolution (9-6-8)
Previous ranking: 7
Next MLS match: Aug. 3 vs. LAFC (7:30 p.m. ET, stream live on ESPN+)
Sometimes it's difficult to move a hot team who started poorly up the rankings when the teams above them are also winning. This week, that can't be an excuse. With 11 games unbeaten, including three wins in a row over the past three matches, we can't justify leaving the Revs out of the top five even if they are in seventh place in the East. We see you, Bruce.
5. Philadelphia Union (11-6-7)
Previous ranking: 3
Next MLS match: Aug. 4 at DC United (7:30 p.m. ET)
That's now two 4-0 humblings on the road in three weeks for Philly, who sandwiched a home win over Chicago in between. Those losses in Utah and Quebec serve as a reminder of how important home field will be in the playoffs and how crucial it is that Jim Curtin's team not slip down the table.
6. Minnesota United (10-5-7)
Previous ranking: 5
Next MLS match: Aug. 4 vs. Portland (4 p.m., watch live on ESPN)
The positive way of looking at things is that the Loons are on a six-game unbeaten run. The negative view would focus on a pair of draws in their last two games, with the second being Saturday's 0-0 letdown at home against then-last place Vancouver. Minnesota needs to pick up as Portland comes to town next week.
7. Seattle Sounders (11-5-6)
Previous ranking: 9
Next MLS match: Aug. 4 vs. Sporting Kansas City (10 p.m. ET)
"Gritty" was the order of the day for the Sounders in Houston on Saturday. One goal, turned in mostly due to Jordan Morris' commitment, was enough to secure a road win that lifted Seattle into second place in the Western Conference. Catching LAFC will be tough, but at least the Sounders can dream about a top seed.
8. Atlanta United (11-3-9)
Previous ranking: 6
Next MLS match: Aug. 3 vs. LA Galaxy (5 p.m. ET)
Twelve very bad defensive minutes did in the champs in Los Angeles. After going 231 minutes without conceding, the league's top team ripped Atlanta apart with four goals. On the plus side, Atlanta showed some fight and made it interesting. If it's possible to take a positive out of a loss, it's that.
9. Portland Timbers (9-4-8)
Previous ranking: 12
Next MLS match: Aug. 4 at Minnesota (4 p.m., watch live on ESPN)
We can't help but wonder if Diego Valeri -- a fairly quiet personality despite his talent -- wasn't sending a message to a certain Swedish star about Ferraris and Fiats in Major League Soccer. Even if it wasn't meant for Zlatan Ibrahimovic, Valeri's braggadocio should be heard loud and clear across the league.
10. LA Galaxy (12-1-9)
Previous ranking: 8
Next MLS match: Aug. 3 at Atlanta (5 p.m. ET)
Two questions loomed for the Galaxy entering a match against the Timbers in Portland: Would Ibrahimovic play on Providence Park's artificial surface? And, would the Galaxy suffer a letdown after last week's El Trafico win? The answers, it turns out, were "yes" and "HELL YES."
11. FC Dallas (9-6-8)
Previous ranking: 10
Next MLS match: Aug. 3 at Orlando (7:30 p.m. ET, stream live on ESPN+)
Jesse Gonzalez saved FC Dallas' bacon on two different occasions to ensure a point at home against RSL on Saturday. Not the best of days for the FCD attack, which seems prone to getting stuck in neutral too often for the team to be a real contender. A summer signing might do wonders to make them more dangerous.
12. New York Red Bulls (10-4-9)
Previous ranking: 11
Next MLS match: Aug. 3 vs. Toronto FC (6 p.m. ET, stream live on ESPN+)
It's tough to have a truly terrible "bad look" game in a league with so much parity but the Red Bulls managed one, losing 3-2 to Columbus at home. Dare we wonder if Aaron Long's focus might be (understandably?) a little off with the swirling rumors of Premier League interest? Not be best day for Long or the Red Bulls' defense as a whole.
13. D.C. United (9-9-6)
Previous ranking: 13
Next MLS match: Aug. 4 vs. Philadelphia (7:30 p.m. ET)
When the ancient founders of the Power Rankings laid down the laws governing the One True Order of Clubs, they declared that no words need be spilled on teams that fail to score in a draw in the most recent round of matches. And so we won't.
14. Montreal Impact (10-3-11)
Previous ranking: 16
Next MLS match: Aug. 3 at Colorado (9 p.m. ET, stream live on ESPN+)
The Impact clung to a playoff spot in the East thanks to a 4-0 romp over Philadelphia on Friday. Ignacio Piatti was back on the field, but the star of the show was debutant Lassi Lappalainen. The Finnish winger scored two great goals and sparked a needed win for the East's most mercurial side.
15. Toronto FC (9-5-9)
Previous ranking: 19
Next MLS match: Aug. 3 at Red Bulls (6 p.m. ET, stream live on ESPN+)
Are the Reds good? Bad? Mediocre? Something in between mediocre and good where every week seems like a coin flip, equally likely to show the best of Toronto's trio of DPs as it is to have them all play flat and uninspired? It's probably that last one, but let's give TFC credit: Wins in three of their last four is their best run since the start of the season.
16. Real Salt Lake (9-4-9)
Previous ranking: 15
Next MLS match: Aug. 3 vs. NYCFC (10 p.m. ET, stream live on ESPN+)
RSL didn't win in Frisco even though RSL probably should have won in Frisco. Maybe the magic missing was Mike Petke, who was suspended for the game because he yelled at the referee after the League Cup loss on Wednesday night? Or because the referee thought Petke was yelling at him? It's very confusing.
17. Colorado Rapids (5-5-12)
Previous ranking: 14
Next MLS match: Aug. 3 vs. Montreal (9 p.m. ET, stream live on ESPN+)
As new manager bumps go, the Rapids maxed theirs out. But the end of that bump came hard and fast and the Rapids are now in the midst of a four-game winless run. Saturday's drubbing by San Jose wasn't exactly unexpected, but it does drive home that for all the good feelings last month, Colorado isn't close to the West's best teams.
18. Columbus Crew (7-3-14)
Previous ranking: 23
Next MLS match: Aug. 3 at San Jose (10 p.m. ET, stream live on ESPN+)
The Crew went and won two in a row while no one was looking, a mini-streak that ties the club's best run of the season. Looming next week is a trip to San Jose, however, so if Columbus really does intend to turn the corner and not just run smack into a wall, they'll need a strong performance against the red hot Quakes.
19. Orlando City (7-5-11)
Previous ranking: 17
Next MLS match: Aug. 3 vs. FC Dallas (7:30 p.m. ET, stream live on ESPN+)
Maybe the Lions got played off the field by the Revs in Foxborough because they were worried about getting back home and getting everything ready for the league to visit for All-Star Week. Yeah, that's probably it. Orlando was just a little preoccupied. It's always so hectic when company's coming.
20. Houston Dynamo (9-3-10)
Previous ranking: 18
Next MLS match: Aug. 3 vs. Chicago (9 p.m. ET, stream live on ESPN+)
The Dynamo's slip against Seattle dropped them all the way to ninth place in the Western Conference, though they are just one point behind seventh-placed Portland. Houston has a pair of good wins over the last five weeks, but the problem is that every other game they played was a loss.
21. Sporting Kansas City (6-7-9)
Previous ranking: 20
Next MLS match: Aug. 4 at Seattle (10 p.m. ET)
We don't think Sporting is very good right now, hence this ranking, but it's hard to hold them to task for the performance in New York on Friday night. We wouldn't wish playing on the Yankee Stadium... field... on our worst enemies, much less Sporting Kansas City, who we actually like.
22. Chicago Fire (5-9-10)
Previous ranking: 21
Next MLS match: Aug. 3 at Houston (9 p.m. ET, stream live on ESPN+)
Please see the entry for DC United.
23. FC Cincinnati (5-2-16)
Previous ranking: 23
Next MLS match: Aug. 3 vs. Vancouver (8 p.m. ET, stream live on ESPN+)
The good news is that FCC is still eight losses short of DC United's post-shootout era record of 24 losses in a season by an MLS team. The bad news is that there are 11 games left on the schedule. Cincinnati does reportedly have a new head coach lined up, something that can only help.
24. Vancouver Whitecaps (4-9-11)
Previous ranking: 24
Next MLS match: Aug. 3 at FC Cincinnati (8 p.m. ET, stream live on ESPN+)
A draw at Minnesota ended the Caps' five-game losing streak and ensured that next weekend's matchup against FC Cincinnati won't be a last place vs. last place affair. No other words need be spilled.