MLS Power Rankings: LAFC still rule roost; Union, Minnesota, Atlanta climb
It was a weekend of statements made across Major League Soccer, and the Power Rankings are taking note.
We see you, Alejandro Bedoya and the Philadelphia Union, stomping DC United and digging in at the top of the East. We see you, LAFC, reminding everyone that "hottest" doesn't mean "best" and that you can get it done without Carlos Vela. We see you, Minnesota United, winning ugly and claiming second place. We see you ... Colorado, maybe? Six goals is a lot.
What about RSL? That win means something, right? Sporting? OK, so maybe we need some of you to make another statement next week.
Let's go rank.
Previous rankings: Week 21 | 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 (16 wins, 4 draws, 3 losses)
Previous ranking: 1
Next MLS match: Aug. 11 vs. Red Bulls, 10 p.m. ET
Making the cross-country trip with five All-Stars in tow, the best team in the league took down the hottest team in the league on the turf at Gillette Stadium and maintained a record pace for points. The fact that Vela wasn't involved in either goal is actually a plus: It showed the Black & Gold can win without his direct influence.
2. San Jose Earthquakes (11-5-7)
Previous ranking: 2
Next MLS match: Aug.10 at Colorado, stream live on ESPN+ at 9 p.m. ET
Again the Quakes dominated a match, but this time, the goals didn't come. Probably best to just chalk this one up to bad luck and move on. No reason to doubt San Jose based on a single bad result, even if that result meant the club's stay in second place was short-lived.
3. Philadelphia Union (12-6-7)
Previous ranking: 5
Next MLS match: Aug. 11 vs. Houston, stream live on ESPN+ at 6 p.m. ET
If not for a missed penalty by Kacper Przybylko , the Union would have scored six goals and matched Colorado for the weekend's best output. Even with that miss, Philly still managed the biggest margin of victory in MLS this round and, more importantly, maintained a three-point lead over Atlanta. Mic dropped.
4. Minnesota United (11-5-7)
Previous ranking: 6
Next MLS match: Aug. 10 at FC Dallas, stream live on ESPN+ at 8 p.m. ET
The lucky Loons dodged a few good Timbers chances before getting a late penalty on Sunday. The win lifted Adrian Heath's team into second place in the Western Conference, ahead of the Quakes and Sounders on a tiebreaker. It also sets the stage for a massive Open Cup semifinal rematch against Portland on Wednesday.
5. Atlanta United (12-3-9)
Previous ranking: 8
Next MLS match: Aug. 11 vs. NYCFC, watch live on ESPN at 4 p.m. ET
We're a little murky on whether a pair of own goals and a penalty kick can add up to a "statement win," especially when the other team was missing its best player. Frank de Boer took some heat from his own players this week, so any comprehensive win is welcomed no matter how the goals went in.
6. New York City FC (9-8-4)
Previous ranking: 3
Next MLS match: Aug. 8 vs. Houston, stream live on ESPN+ at 7 p.m. ET
NYCFC was short-handed in Utah and Dome Torrent wasn't happy about it. "I don't understand why MLS decide to play with Maxi Moralez. Everybody knows he was injured. He played 70% walking all the time. I'm not sure if he's ready to play the next game. And look -- he played in All-Stars."
7. New England Revolution (9-6-9)
Previous ranking: 7
Next MLS match: Aug. 10 at Seattle, stream live on ESPN+ at 4 p.m. ET
There's no real shame in losing to the best team in the league to end an 11-game unbeaten run, but the Revs will need to avoid a letdown if they intend to make the playoffs. Next up is a trip to Seattle and if the Revs lose there, the chances of a spiral seem very real.
8. Seattle Sounders (11-5-7)
Previous ranking: 7
Next MLS match: Aug. 10 vs. New England, stream live on ESPN+ at 4 p.m. ET
Nicolas Lodeiro is 6% more aerodynamic with his new haircut and can play a hell of a pass, but those things couldn't save the Sounders on Sunday night. The defensive lapses will haunt Brian Schmetzer, as might the shocking baldpate of his star Uruguayan playmaker. Sorry, but that head is wild.
9. New York Red Bulls (11-4-9)
Previous ranking: 12
Next MLS match: Aug. 11 at LAFC, 10 p.m. ET
The Red Bulls welcomed TFC to town on Saturday and fell backward into a clean sheet and a 2-0 win. There's drama in Harrison, with Aaron Long caught up in an argument between the club (and MLS) and his agent over how much it should take for a big European club to buy the center back.
10. Portland Timbers (9-4-9)
Previous ranking: 9
Next MLS match: Aug. 10 vs. Vancouver, stream live on ESPN+ at 11 p.m. ET
One bad moment from Larrys Mabiala was enough to turn a gritty road point into a deflating road loss in Minnesota. Giovanni Savarese will aim for revenge in Wednesday's Open Cup semi, presumably with the same mostly full-strength lineup he used on Sunday.
11. LA Galaxy (12-1-10)
Previous ranking: 10
Next MLS match: Aug. 11 at DC United, 7:30 p.m. ET
We're here to report that there is no truth to the rumors that the Galaxy have petitioned Major League Soccer to throw out the result of any game that Zlatan Ibrahimovic doesn't play in. No truth to them at all, nope.
12. FC Dallas (9-6-9)
Previous ranking: 11
Next MLS match: Aug. 10 vs. Minnesota, stream live on ESPN+ at 8 p.m. ET
Lots of the ball, none of the goals for the Hoops in Orlando. It's now a running theme for FCD and a real worrying reality headed down the stretch of the season. Unless a true goal scorer arrives before the close of the transfer window in ... oh ... three days, the playoffs might slip away.
13. Real Salt Lake (10-4-9)
Previous ranking: 16
Next MLS match: Aug. 10 at Sporting, stream live on ESPN+ at 8:30 p.m. ET
Real Salt Lake's Dr. Jekyll side was out against NYCFC, with Mike Petke's absence looming over the club following his Mr. Hyde routine in the Leagues Cup. Whether the win on Saturday had anything to do with Petke is hard to say, but it does lift RSL back above the playoff line.
14. Orlando City (8-5-11)
Previous ranking: 19
Next MLS match: Aug. 10 at Toronto, stream live on ESPN+ at 7:30 p.m. ET
The Lions secured a very important home win over FC Dallas on Saturday, sparked by right-back Ruan's slashing run across the field and brilliant outside-of-the-foot through ball to Tesho Akindele. The run and pass were great, good enough that we're working really hard to get the pronunciation of "Ruan" down.
15. Sporting Kansas City (7-7-9)
Previous ranking: 21
Next MLS match: Aug. 10 vs. Real Salt Lake, stream live on ESPN+ at 8:30 p.m. ET
Sporting dug deep in Seattle, going up 2-0 on the Sounders before halftime and hanging on for a 3-2 lead. Peter Vermes needs a lot more of that to save the season, but he need only look at the recent history of the team he beat on Sunday to know a reclamation is possible.
16. D.C. United (9-9-7)
Previous ranking: 13
Next MLS match: Aug. 11 vs. LA Galaxy, 7:30 p.m. ET
The Black & Red are the Black & Blue these days, taking hits from all sides as they tumble down the table in the Eastern Conference. Russell Canouse was already out and now it looks like Chris Durkin will miss some time. It's enough to make you wonder if Ola Kamara can play midfield.
17. Columbus Crew (7-4-14)
Previous ranking: 18
Next MLS match: Aug. 10 vs. Cincinnati, stream live on ESPN+ at 7:30 p.m. ET
The Crew were out-everything'd against the Quakes and the two-game winning streak came to an end, but a point is a point is a point, especially on the road against one of the hottest teams in the league. Columbus goes for five unbeaten in the Hell Is Real Derby next week.
18. Toronto FC (9-5-10)
Previous ranking: 15
Next MLS match: Aug. 10 vs. Orlando, stream live on ESPN+ at 7:30 p.m. ET
The coin flip came up tails (or whatever they call it in Canada) for the Reds this week. Chance after chance went wanting at Red Bull Arena, leading to an ugly 2-0 defeat. The Reds have a host of games against teams below them in the table coming up and they might all be must-wins.
19. Colorado Rapids (6-5-12)
Previous ranking: 17
Next MLS match: Aug. 10 vs. San Jose, stream live on ESPN+ at 9 p.m. ET
Unfortunately for the Rapids, goals scored aren't redeemable for spots in the inimitable Power Rankings one-for-one. The current rate is more like .285 and even that is subject to the whims of the market. You know how markets are... they have a lot of whims.
20. Montreal Impact (10-3-12)
Previous ranking: 14
Next MLS match: Aug. 10 at Chicago, stream live on ESPN+ at 9 p.m. ET
Let's be honest: Winning on the road in Colorado was the secondary concern for the Impact on Saturday. The first was avoiding the plague. Prairie dogs in Commerce City have the plague, so Montreal can consider it a victory if none of their players have the plague. The plague, as in THE ACTUAL PLAGUE.
21. Chicago Fire (6-9-10)
Previous ranking: 22
Next MLS match: Aug. 10 vs. Montreal, stream live on ESPN+ at 9 p.m. ET
The Fire deserve more words this week because A) they scored a goal and B) they won a game.
21. Houston Dynamo (9-3-11)
Previous ranking: 20
Next MLS match: Aug. 8 at NYCFC, stream live on ESPN+ at 7 p.m. ET
We have to be honest: We're saddened by the collapse of the Dynamo. All the fun has been sucked out of a Houston team that, once upon a time, was among the deadliest counter-attacking sides in all of MLS. These days, the only energy the Dynamo produce is of the referee-hating variety.
23. Vancouver Whitecaps (5-9-11)
Previous ranking: 24
Next MLS match: Aug. 10 at Portland, stream live on ESPN+ at 4 p.m. ET
Update: Vancouver, not the worst (for now)
24. FC Cincinnati (5-2-17)
Previous ranking: 23
Next MLS match: Aug. 10 at Columbus, stream live on ESPN+ at 7:30 p.m. ET
FCC doesn't get to start over in the standings, but this week does represent a smashing of the reset button in Cincinnati. New head coach Ron Jans is officially on the job as of Tuesday, ushering a new era for the expansion team with eyes squarely on Hell Is Real.