by Zack Lambert
Disclaimer: The recent form of many of these teams date back to before the stoppage so I’ll only be discussing the recent matches in the returning tournament and ranking based on that form.
26. Inter Miami CF (LLLLL) (-2)
It’s a bit surprising to say that Inter Miami’s five losses are the worst start to an MLS season ever, but that’s unfortunately the case. It must be frustrating for David Beckham’s passion project to take so long to get off the ground and be so disappointing once it gets airborne. Inter crashed out of the MLS tournament, were down to 10 men in their two most recent matches, and were flatly terrible against NYCFC.
25. Nashville SC (DLL) (Even)
Nashville decided to drop out of contention in the MLS tournament due to Covid precautions. It didn’t feel fair to move them in any direction, especially with how bad Miami is.
24. Atlanta FC (WLLLL) (-23)
Well a drop of this proportion may be a bit harsh for Atlanta but if you lost four matches in a row you deserve to drop hard. Josef Martínez’s absence is turning into a real issue as the team haven’s scored in their four losses and even resorted to sacking Frank de Boer. The defense and discipline could be better but Atlanta need to start scoring goals soon if they have any plans to pick up points.
23. Real Salt Lake (DWDLL) (-9)
Real had a very nice start to their return by beating Colorado and scrapping a draw with Minnesota but in their most recent matches they’ve fallen apart. A 2-0 loss to Sporting was followed by a 5-2 thrashing at the hands of San Jose. The right flank of the defense has been a liability and the substitutes played out terribly against the Earthquakes as Alvin Jones was flatly bad and Kyle Beckermann got himself sent off with a straight red.
22. Chicago Fire (LDWLL) (-3)
Chicago also started their restart well with a surprise win over Seattle, but were unable to follow it with anything of substance. The Fire lost 2-0 to both San Jose and Vancouver and missed out on advancing to the knockout stages. Chicago did rely on a mistake to beat Seattle but were unlucky against Vancouver as Álvaro Medràn and Przemysław Frankowski both fired shots off the post.
21. LA Galaxy (DLLLD) (-3)
The Galaxy flatly dragged in the restart as they lost to a 10 man Portland, were smashed 6-2 in a less gridlocked version of El Trafico, and managed a 1-1 draw with the Dynamo. The absence of Zlatan is very clearly an issue for the Galaxy as there doesn’t seem to be any leadership or heart. The skills are there and the offense is clearly functioning, but there’s just a disconnect somewhere between the locker room and the pitch.
20. New York Red Bulls (WDWLL) (-10)
The contribution that Red Bulls made to football in the return was that they contributed to knocking Atlanta out of the competition. That wasn’t a very impressive feat but it’s all they have considering they were knocked out of the tournament after the group stage concluded. The attack is a bit worrying due to a single goal in three matches but that shouldn’t take away from the rest of the glaring shortcomings the team possesses.
19. Montreal Impact (LLLWL) (-8)
Montreal were able to move on to the knockout stages of the tournament thanks to a -2 goal differential but were promptly shut out of the competition by a hot Orlando City team. Thierry Henry’s side are struggling to win matches but they have shown they possess the skills to play in any type of match. The loss to Orlando saw the attack stall but the three goals against Toronto should instill a bit of confidence in the players.
18. Colorado Rapids (WWLLD) (-13)
Colorado was another team that suffered a precipitous fall in the rankings as their two losses and a draw were not enough to get them to the knockout stages of the tournament. The Rapids aren’t having issues on offense as they netted four goals in those three matches, but the defense has let by seven goals in that same time. Kei Kamara can’t carry this team on his own.
17. Houston Dynamo (DLDLD) (+4)
Houston only gained two points from their three matches in the restart but the reason they’re ranked so high is due to their ability to compete and stay in games. The Los Angeles teams are tough and the draws game against them while the loss was a 2-1 struggle with Portland. Matías Vera and Darwin Quintero have been solid for the Dynamo in the attacking third.
16. FC Cincinnati (LLWWD) (+10)
Cincinnati have looked very good since the return to football began. Their loss to Columbus was a blowout but the wins over Atlanta and New York were convincing. Cincinnati faced Portland in the knockout stage and drew them in regulation but ended up falling during the penalty shootout. Yuya Kubo was the key player in the advancing win over Red Bulls.
15. FC Dallas (WD) (-7)
FC Dallas opted out of the tournament with Nashville due to concerns over positive Covid tests. The reason they fell in the rankings was mainly due to other teams performing well.
14. DC United (LWDDL) (-1)
DC United haven’t been as bad as their record indicates. In their draw with Toronto they allowed two goals in the last four minutes of the match and they hung right in the entire match with New England. The loss to Montreal was just a poor showing but DC still has a lot of talent and I don’t want to negate that because of a couple tough games after a layoff.
13. Seattle Sounders FC (DDLWL) (-8)
Seattle were another team that advanced with only three points and they can look at a 3-0 victory over Vancouver for thanks. That victory was monumental because the Sounders went on to be smashed by LAFC 4-1 and lost their opening match to the Fire. The attack led by Jordan Morris is in good hands but the central defenders need to do some work to get back to par.
12. New York City FC (LLLWW) (+11)
NYCFC weathered a pair of losses to Philadelphia and Orlando to move on with a 1-0 victory over Inter Miami. The defense seemed to be an issue in the early defeats as they allowed 4 goals in 2 matches but has since shored up, giving up only a single goal between Miami and the knockout match with Toronto. Castellanos, Medina, and Moralez featured in the victory over Toronto. NYCFC next play Portland on August 1st.
11. Orlando City (LWWDW) (+11)
While Orlando are currently in a lock with LAFC, they’ve been incredible since the restart as they have yet to lose a match and drew only to Philadelphia. While the wins are soothing, the defense is still problematic, scoring only a single shutout against Montreal. The attack has been doing just enough to get by and the midfield has shown good pacing. A win over LAFC sends them to the semifinals.
10. Vancouver Whitecaps (WLLWD) (+5)
The best adjective to slap on Vancouver in the MLS tournament is “volatile.” An opening 4-3 loss to San Jose was followed by a 3-0 loss to Seattle and a 2-0 win over the Fire. The Whitecaps were given a tough draw to face Sporting in the Round of 16 and drew in regulation to be beaten in penalties. The Whitecaps can’t be quite sure what they have but must be somewhat happy with the fight they’ve been providing.
9. New England Revolution (DWDDL) (+7)
New England shot up the rankings thanks to their scrappy demeanor and stout defense. DC and Philadelphia are the only teams to slip a goal by the Revolution, but the offense has killed the momentum for the back end of the roster. New England lost to Philadelphia and are out of the tournament but have shown off a strong aptitude for hanging in matches despite some shortcomings.
8. Philadelphia Union (DWWDW) (+9)
Philly have been one of the more impressive teams since the restart, registering four wins and a draw, besting Sporting Kansas City and NYCFC along the way. The only team that caused trouble was Orlando City’s stellar offensive but the Union did a great job to pick up points wherever possible. Sergio Santos was able to net a brace against Sporting while the defense has been a fortress in the 4-3-1-2 formation.
7. San Jose Earthquakes (LDWWW) (+13)
San Jose has been one of the more impressive teams since the restart thanks to their incredible attack. Their tournament started with a 0-0 draw with Seattle, but then they exploded for a combined 10 goals against Chicago, Vancouver, and Salt Lake. The attacking midfield trio of Qazaishvili, Eriksson, and Espinoza has been the driving force behind the Earthquake’s success.
6. Toronto FC (WDWDL) (+1)
Toronto did just drop their match against NYCFC and therefore are out of the tournament, but they showed very well. A draw to two very good teams in DC and New England separated by a tooth-and-nail win over Montreal gave them a chance to move on. The offense will need a bit more consistency and there ought to be a better balance between giving up goals in droves compared to shutouts, but I feel good about Toronto moving forward.
5. Portland Timbers (WWWDD) (+7)
Portland have been clinical since MLS’s restart, earning three wins out of four and a draw in the other game. LAFC were able to give Portland a good 2-2 match but neither Houston nor the Galaxy were able to put up much fight. Cincinnati did push them to penalties in the Round of 16 but ultimately were topped. Diego Valeri was pulling the strings in the midfield for Portland in their win over Cincy.
4. Columbus Crew (DWWWD) (+5)
Columbus Crew have burst back onto the scene with a very impressive showing of defense and midfield play. The attack hasn’t given much support, but thankfully they haven’t needed to since the defense has given up a single goal in four matches. Unfortunately that goal allowed Minnesota to get into a penalty shootout and knock Columbus out of the tournament after the Crew beat Cincinnati, Red Bulls, and Atlanta United.
3. Minnesota United (WWDDD) (-1)
As we just mentioned, Minnesota took the Round of 16 match from Columbus in penalties and have drawn their way to the quarterfinals. An initial win over Sporting Kansas City gabe Minnesota some slack to draw with Real and Colorado. Minnesota have easily played the toughest schedule to this point and look poised to make a strong case for the championship if they can move past San Jose on Saturday.
2. Los Angeles FC (DDWDW) (+2)
LAFC haven’t been perfect but have been dominant so far in this tournament. The Galaxy were crushed 6-2 and the Sounders dispatched with a 4-1 thrashing, but Houston, Portland, and Orlando all caused Los Angeles’ finest some trouble. Orlando managed to knock LAFC out on penalties just minutes ago, but I won’t fault them as penalties are nearly meaningless. Bob Bradley’s side saw fantastic performances from Diego Rossi.
1. Sporting Kansas City (WLWWD) (+2)
Sporting top this edition of the power rankings thanks to their stellar roster and very nice showing in the tournament. They faced a taxing schedule with Minnesota, Colorado, Real Salt Lake, and Philadelphia and fared extremely well for the most part. They are out of the tournament now but they’ve convinced me that they have the most talent in the league and one of the best implementations in the entire MLS.