The Original MLS Power Rankings – September 8, 2020

Well, let it never be said we don’t admit when we are wrong. Boy howdy were we wrong about the LA Galaxy! More below, but the short version is they have come out of the MLSisBack Tournament on a tear, ripping up some pretty good teams in the process.

We also made adjustments to Columbus and Houston, although there the changes are smaller.

But that definitely highlights that this is as much an art as it is a science. We balance what we see in games with who the teams are playing, and that sometimes changes week to week. Suffice to say, between injuries, changes, travel, various opponents, fixture congestion, etc., this has been one of the most chaotic times the league has ever seen.

And to be fair, the Galaxy’s performance up through the end of the tournament was less than stellar, so we hesitated to overreact to their first few post tournament results. But now? The pattern is clear.

And on the other hand, we were right about some other teams, including the New York Red Bulls. You win some, you lose some, but thanks for giving us a read, and we will keep working to be as accurate as possible.

We also feel good about putting the groups back as we now have three different data sets to look at – the first few games of the season, the tournament, and for most teams, another four games or so since then.

Top Shelf

1. Los Angeles Galaxy (Previously 11).

At the end of the MLSisBack tournament, we said, “[H]opefully for their fans, the Galaxy have been figuring out how to have better performances.” Well, since they came back they have won all their games, often in convincing fashion, often against good teams. Hands down, the best team in MLS right now.

2. Portland Timbers (4).

A tight loss to the Galaxy looks a lot better in hindsight, and then they went on the road and beat Seattle, so we feel good about the direction the Timbers are headed.

3. Toronto FC (1).

After beating both Montreal and Vancouver in the period before the last rankings, Toronto then went on to lose to Montreal at home and then Vancouver on the road. A crack in the armor?

4. Seattle Sounders (2).

Rough week for the Sounders as they got a road tie against RSL, which is not proving to be as solid as we thought, and then getting beat again at home by Portland. The quality is still there, but this is not a team on the rise.

Quality

5.  Los Angeles FC (3).

“Post-tournament hangover? Maybe.” No, definitely. Aside from a 5-1 spanking of San Jose, Bradley’s side has been beaten by at least 2 goals in the other three games since the tournament. The only thing that keeps us from moving them down farther is the opponents, but at some point, you have to look beyond that. Can LAFC right the ship, or will they continue to fall?

6. Columbus Crew (10).

A 1-0 win over Philadelphia is enough to get us to review their overall schedule, and what we see justifies moving them up some. With a lot of games against Cincinnati, we were a little doubtful, but the Union is not a bad team in any way.

7. Sporting Kansas City (5).

“But they will have to show more consistency before they move higher.” Or not. A home tie to a very depleted Dallas side before a road loss to Houston is not the kind of consistency Peter Vermes is looking for.

8. New York City FC (9).

This is another team we may need to move up soon as they have gotten some good results, but then they go and get tied by D.C. at home. Granted, the original United in MLS maybe be turning things around, but they still have been poor for much of the year.

9. Philadelphia Union (6).

Last time we said, “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.” Then they get beat by Columbus before beating the Red Bulls. Not the greatest resume.

Philadelphia Union vs RBNY – Philadelphia Union – Red Bulls Arena. (Philadelphia Union, Andrew Zwarych)

10. Minnesota United (7).

Their poor run continues with a loss at Houston before demolishing RSL, which adds to our doubts about the Utah team.

Solid

11. Orlando City (8).

“This is definitely a team on the rise.” And then they tie Nashville at home and at Atlanta… so maybe not. Pareja has clearly improved the team, but now they seem to have fallen back to earth a bit.

12. Montreal Impact (15).

It is tough to gauge a team when their only opponents are the two other Canadian teams, but a win at Toronto is a good result for the Impact.

13. FC Dallas (16).

“This is a very dynamic situation and one that could be a significant advantage for Dallas going forward.” Except that the fixture congestion is wearing on some teams, and Dallas is definitely on that list. By the end of the game against SKC, Dallas was missing typical starters Fafa Picault, Paxton Pomykal, Bryan Acosta, Jimmy Maurer, and Matt Hedges. The fact that they salvaged a tie on the road is a good thing. The fact that they have more games on the schedule than any other MLS side is not. Probably.

14. Houston Dynamo (21).

“[W]e will be watching the Dynamo closer.” And after two home wins against Minnesota and Kansas City, they move up significantly. They really have turned the corner. Now we have to see what their ceiling turns out to be.

15. Real Salt Lake (12).

They salvaged a home tie against Seattle but then were demolished at Minnesota. Other than a win over their rivals, the results for RSL after the tournament have not been ideal.

16. New England Revolution (14).

A home loss to NYCFC makes it clear Arena still has work to do. A win over Chicago on the roadshows that Il Bruce has made some progress already.

17. San Jose Earthquakes (13).

Real questions arise when you lose 5-1 to any team, especially the struggling LAFC. A home tie to Colorado is not much better.

18. Vancouver Whitecaps (20).

Especially considering the teams around them, a 3-2 home win over Toronto sticks out.

Struggling

19. Atlanta United (17).

“They still have things to fix in Georgia.” Yep. A home tie to Miami and a road tie to Orlando is not the kind of turnaround we have seen from teams like Houston.

20. Colorado Rapids (19).

A 1-1 tie at San Jose is not a bad result for the Rapids. Only better performances kept them from moving up.

21. FC Cincinnati (18).

A home tie to Chicago is not good, and a 3-0 loss at Columbus doesn’t help when other teams are getting ties.

22. D.C. United (26).

Quite the week for D.C. as they beat the Red Bulls on the road and then tied a very good NYCFC team, albeit at home.

23. Inter Miami (22).

A tie at Atlanta and a tie at home against Nashville is not going to move them up.

Blaise Matuidi of Inter Miami drives past Dom Badji of Nashville SC during the 0-0 tie between the two 2020 MLS expansion teams. (Courtesy Inter Miami & MLS)

24. Chicago Fire (23).

“One step forward, one step back.” This week it is a 0-0 tie at Cincinnati and a home loss to the Revolution.

25. Nashville SC (24).

For an expansion side, a home tie to Orlando and a road tie to Miami is probably par for the course, especially on that is still playing catchup in after not playing in the tournament.

26. New York Red Bulls (25).

“We may be being too harsh on the Red Bulls, but the results and the play seem problematic.” Nope. We were not being too harsh on the Red Bulls. Bye-bye, Chris. Better luck next time.

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