The Original MLS Power Rankings – September 1st, 2020

Can we please stop asking, “What else crazy can happen in 2020?” It seems like Edward Murphy, of Murphy’s Law fame, is having his way with this year, and it doesn’t seem like it is going to stop any time soon.

On the other hand, it is probably worth noting that August 26, 2020, was pretty historical as we saw teams from across the NBA, NHL, MLB, and Major League Soccer deal with player protests for social justice. As Parrish Glover noted that night, FC Dallas may have been the only team to send fans home that evening as most of the other games were set to be played without fans in attendance.

We still had a slew of games that included some big surprise results. We see signs of life from Houston Dynamo, Los Angeles Galaxy, and FC Dallas, while other teams settled into more familiar patterns.

The Original MLS Power Rankings – September 1, 2020

1. Toronto FC (Previous Week – 2)

While they were both tight results, Greg Vanney’s side got two 1-0 wins, first against Vancouver and then at Montreal. That win at Montreal is notable as the Impact are looking like a good side this season.

2. Seattle Sounders (5)

They did not have the best result in the elimination round of the MLSisBack Tournament, but they had an incredible two games since then, comfortably beating Portland on the road and then beating LAFC by two goals back home. Those are two quality results against top teams. An argument could be made they are better than Toronto, but let’s see a few more results before jumping them.

3. Los Angeles FC (1)

Post-tournament hangover? Maybe. For a team that played well in the tournament, losing to the Galaxy at home and then to Seattle on the road is tough. We thought about moving them lower, but none of the teams below them seemed to jump at the opportunity. Be advised, though, while Bradley’s team has lots of quality, the recent results have shaken our confidence a little.

4. Portland Timbers (4)

As the MLSisBack tournament champions, maybe like LAFC they had a post-tournament letdown, or they didn’t raise their game to adjust for a larger target on their back. Either way, a home loss to their long-time rivals, Seattle, is not how they wanted to start this part of the season, and then they were in a 4-4 slugfest with RSL, giving up two late goals.

5. Sporting Kansas City (8)

Last time we said, “Maybe this is too big of a drop for a team that has looked good in a lot of the games they played, but the teams above them had better performances.” Then they go out and beat the Loons on the road, lose 5-2 at home to Houston, and then tie Colorado on the road. They move ahead of Minnesota, who also lost to FC Dallas in the same period of time, but they will have to show more consistency before they move higher.

6. Philadelphia Union (7)

We hesitate to move the Union up this high after beating the Red Bulls and D.C. United – both at home – but two wins is better than what Minnesota did. Transitive properties can only go so far.

7. Minnesota United (3)

For a team that has played so well for much of last season and stretches of 2020, that was not a good run for the Loons as they lost at home to SKC and then at FC Dallas.

8. Orlando City (6)

A 3-2 loss at Inter Miami has to sting, but Pareja’s side bounced back with two 3-1 wins – a home win over Nashville and a road win at Atlanta. This is definitely a team on the rise.

9. New York City FC (10)

We definitely had to think about this one. NYC beat Columbus and Chicago, but both games were at home, so we held off putting NYCFC ahead of the Lions.

New York City FC’s Alexander Callens celebrates the Blues win over Chicago Fire FC at Red Bull Arena. (Katie Cahalin, NYCFC)

10. Columbus Crew (9)

A close road loss to NYC and a road tie to Cincinnati are not awful results. Not good either, though.

11. Los Angeles Galaxy (17)

“[H]opefully for their fans, the Galaxy have been figuring out how to have better performances.” Sure seems that way. A 2-0 road win against their crosstown rivals, followed up by a win over a good San Jose side is definitely better. What does it say that they did it without Chicharito?

12. Real Salt Lake (13)

A firm thrashing of their rival Rapids and then a gutsy comeback against a very good Portland side, both on the road, put them ahead of San Jose.

13. San Jose Earthquakes (11)

The Earthquakes only had one match since our last rankings, and it was a 3-2 road loss to the Galaxy.

14. New England Revolution (12)

A home tie against the Red Bulls after a road win at D.C. is mixed signals, especially considering how United have been playing.

15. Montreal Impact (14)

A home win over Vancouver, followed by a home loss to Toronto, is not indicative of the improvement we have seen from Henry’s team so far this season, but what our eyes tell us can’t override what happens on the field.

16. FC Dallas (20)

Last time, we said, “[I]t wasn’t just that they lost at home to Nashville and tied in Tennessee – it was the lack of energy and creativity that should worry FCD fans.” While the road tie against Houston seemed more of the same, the 3-1 win over a good Minnesota side shows that maybe the problem is being solved. In fact, this was a great example of the kind of formation flexibility that Luchi Gonzalez has wanted to see from his side in 2020. See Buzz Carrick’s full analysis in the Breakdown article. This is a very dynamic situation and one that could be a significant advantage for Dallas going forward.

Maurer FCD v Minnesota 8-29-20 330
Jimmy Maurer directs traffic against Minnesota United in the 3-1 FC Dallas win on August 29, 2020. (Matt Visinsky, 3rd Degree)

17. Atlanta United (15)

So they start off by beating an expansion side from Tennessee, at home, before losing to the revitalized Lions. The win is not great and the loss is also un-good. They still have things to fix in Georgia.

18. FC Cincinnati (16)

“Maybe they have turned things around after all.” Or not. Well, maybe that isn’t entirely fair. A home tie to D.C., a road loss at Chicago, and then a home tie to Columbus is certainly an improvement on last season.

19. Colorado Rapids (18)

We hesitated to move Colorado up, despite teams ahead of the Rapids struggling, but the subsequent results confirmed we did the right thing as they were demolished by RSL at home, although they did salvage a tie against Kansas City, also at home.

20. Vancouver Whitecaps (19)

Two road losses against two good teams make it hard to move them up or down much.

21. Houston Dynamo (26)

A home tie against FC Dallas and then a road win at Kansas City means we might have been a little rough on the South Texas side, but it is possible the KC win was what we sometimes call a dead cat bounce as even bad teams get wins when their opponents have a bad game or take the game for granted. Either way, we will be watching the Dynamo closer.    

22. Inter Miami (23)

They got a big win against their fellow Floridians but then lost to Nashville on the road.

23. Chicago Fire (24)

A 3-0 home win over Cincinnati is good, but then they lose 3-1 at NYC. One step forward, one step back.

24. Nashville SC (22)

Nashville played three games since our last set of rankings, losing two but beating Inter Miami. This does not feel like a Cincinnati level expansion team, but maybe not much better, and the short season doesn’t help.

25. New York Red Bulls (21)

We may be being too harsh on the Red Bulls, but the results and the play seem problematic.

26. D.C. United (25)

They tied at Cincinnati, lost at home to the Revolution, and then lost 4-1 at Philadelphia. What else can we do but put them last?

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