MLS Power Rankings: Where Every Team Stands After the Month of August
The sky is blue. The grass is green. The sun rises in the East, and Toronto FC and the Seattle Sounders look like the two best teams in Major League Soccer.
The two franchises that have met in three of the last four MLS Cups have five combined victories since the league resumed play after the MLS is Back tournament.
Toronto has taken care of two weaker Canadian opponents in its three matches, while Seattle impressed with triumphs over Portland Timbers and Los Angeles FC.
The surges in form have put the Reds in first in the Eastern Conference and the Sounders two points back of Sporting Kansas City in the Western Conference.
Other clubs, such as Philadelphia and Orlando, have been in good form as well in the last few weeks, but they have not yet reached the level of TFC and Seattle.
No. 26- No. 21: FC Dallas Solves Scoring Woes
26. D.C. United (Previous Ranking: 22)
Nothing is going right for D.C. United.
The Black-and-Red stood no chance of leaving Subaru Park with a result Saturday after letting three first-half goals to Philadelphia.
Ben Olsen's side conceded six goals to the Union and New England Revolution in the last week, and they are dealing with some injury issues.
On Saturday, D.C. dressed 17 players and did not have Bill Hamid, Steve Birnbaum, Frederic Brillant or Edison Flores available.
The lone bright spot from the walloping at the hands of the Union was Julian Gressel getting on the scoresheet for the first time in a D.C. shirt.
25. Colorado Rapids (Previous Ranking: 25)
Colorado has wasted two opportunities to generate momentum at Dick's Sporting Goods Park.
After letting in a wave of second-half goals against Real Salt Lake to lose 4-1, the Rapids conceded an equalizer 10 minutes after taking the lead Saturday against Sporting KC.
Cole Bassett was the Colorado scorer in the 1-1 draw, but the team's overall offensive production could have been better.
The Rapids only put four of their 10 shots on target and did not pose a consistent threat to Tim Melia.
24. Vancouver Whitecaps (Previous Ranking: 21)
After playing three times on the eastern side of Canada, the Vancouver Whitecaps finally get a stretch of contests at home in the coming weeks.
Marc Dos Santos' side plays Toronto FC once and Montreal twice at BC Place in an 11-day span, which could help spark its season. In 2019, the Whitecaps picked up 20 of their 34 points and five of their eight victories on home soil.
In two losses to TFC and a defeat at the hands of the Impact, the Whitecaps were outscored 6-0.
23. Inter Miami (Previous Ranking: 18)
Inter Miami CF missed the chance to earn points in back-to-back games for the first time in franchise history.
Diego Alonso's squad was wasteful with its chances in the 1-0 loss to Nashville. Just five of its 19 shots were on target, while Nashville only had five shots in total.
The loss came after the first win in the club's existence on August 22 over Orlando.
With two of the next three games coming against Atlanta, it could be hard for Miami to pull itself out of the Eastern Conference basement.
22. Nashville SC (Previous Ranking: 26)
Nashville SC picked up its first victory over fellow expansion side Inter Miami CF through a rocket of a goal from Anibal Godoy.
Outside of the midfielder's stunning strike, the first-year club did not produce much in the final third.
In five games since the restart, Nashville has been outscored 5-3 by FC Dallas, Orlando City and Atlanta.
Gary Smith still needs to get more out of his attack, but the defensive output is promising, and it could help it be competitive in a few more games.
21. FC Dallas (Previous Ranking: 24)
A loud sigh of relief had to have come from the FC Dallas sideline when Fafa Picault scored in the 11th minute of Saturday's 3-1 win over Minnesota United.
In the three games prior to Saturday, Luchi Gonzalez's squad went scoreless in two draws and a defeat.
One minute after Picault struck the back of the net, Jesus Ferreira followed. Reto Ziegler added a late penalty kick to pad the margin of victory.
While we have been focused on FC Dallas' offensive struggles, and rightfully so, it has produced four decent defensive outings.
The Texas side has allowed just two goals in its last 360 minutes of action.
No. 20-No.16: Houston Vaults 6 Positions
20. FC Cincinnati (Previous Ranking: 19)
FC Cincinnati still does not have any MLS regular-season wins over Columbus in the Hell is Real Derby, but it has to be pleased with another clean sheet.
Jaap Stam's side silenced the Gyasi Zardes-led attack over 90 minutes at Nippert Stadium to post its second shutout in three games.
The frustrating aspect of those two performances is the inability to find the back of the net.
In fact, FC Cincinnati has not scored since it returned from MLS is Back.
19. Chicago Fire (Previous Ranking: 20)
Chicago welcomed Soldier Field back to MLS with a three-goal performance that proved to be a brief interruption in FC Cincinnati's defensive form.
Much like the other struggling sides in MLS, the Fire failed to string back-to-back results together, falling 3-1 on the road to New York City FC Saturday.
Chicago has shown more life than D.C. and Miami, who are the only two sides beneath it in the standings, but those two teams are about the only ones playing less consistent soccer at the moment.
18. Atlanta United (Previous Ranking: 17)
Atlanta United is no longer undefeated against Orlando City.
The Five Stripes were outplayed by the visiting Lions at Mercedes-Benz Stadium, and the performance from the victorious side proved Atlanta still has some issues to work out.
Gonzalo "Pity" Martinez did not follow up his two-goal performance against Nashville and had just a single shot on goal.
Atlanta's only source of goal production came from Brooks Lennon, who finished Jurgen Damm's first assist for the team.
The Five Stripes will get another shot at Orlando September 5, but before then, it has to beat its second expansion side since the restart in Inter Miami.
17. Houston Dynamo (Previous Ranking: 23)
Houston unleashed the most dominant attacking performance of the last week in an unlikely spot on the road at Sporting Kansas City.
The forward triumvirate of Alberth Elis, Christian Ramirez and Darwin Quintero combined for four of the team's five goals. The other came from Niko Hansen, who replaced Elis at halftime.
Houston will not be required to score five goals to win every game moving forward, but if its forwards convert their chances at a high rate, Tab Ramos may make the playoffs in his first season as head coach.
16. Montreal Impact (Previous Ranking: 15)
Montreal did exactly what everyone expected it to do in the last seven days.
The Impact dispatched the Whitecaps through goals from Romell Quioto and Lassi Lappalainen but then lost to Toronto FC Friday.
Montreal will likely finish the season as the second-best of the three Canadian sides, and the last week's results backed that up.
Two more games against Toronto could be tough for the Impact to handle, especially given how well the Reds are playing.
No. 15-No. 11: LAFC in Disarray
15. New York Red Bulls (Previous Ranking: 13)
The ceiling for the New York Red Bulls is likely where they reside right now in the East.
Chris Armas' side sits in fifth place after going 1-1-1 in its return. The latest result was a 1-1 road draw in New England.
The Red Bulls have not been awful over the last 270 minutes, but they also have not shown they have the talent to compete with the elite teams in the East.
They have a chance to prove that statement incorrect in the September 6 home clash with Philadelphia.
The task at hand Wednesday will be winning the first of two September meetings with longtime rival D.C.
14. San Jose Earthquakes (Previous Ranking: 12)
San Jose looked decent in its return to the field Saturday.
The Quakes led the LA Galaxy on two occasions, with the second goal coming from 16-year-old Cade Cowell in his first regular-season start.
While a win would have been nice over its top rival, San Jose can take some positives away from the loss since it created a good amount of scoring opportunities.
If the Quakes continue that cohesion in the final third, they could break through the struggling LAFC defense Wednesday.
13. Los Angeles FC (Previous Ranking: 10)
Los Angeles FC needs upgrades at center back.
That became even more apparent Sunday, when the Black-and-Gold were torched by Raul Ruidiaz and the Seattle attack.
The defensive lapses can be traced back to the departure of Walker Zimmerman in the offseason to Nashville.
Zimmerman was playing at a best XI level at LAFC, and Bob Bradley's side has not found a capable replacement yet.
In seven regular-season games, LAFC allowed 15 goals, which is one fewer than the West's worst record that belongs to Vancouver.
12. New England Revolution (Previous Ranking: 14)
New England fits into the same tier as its opponent Saturday, the Red Bulls.
The Revolution have a few things they do well, and Gustavo Bou and Matt Turner are likely going to be the team's two best players on most nights.
However, they will have difficulties launching into the top four if they can't string home results together.
Bruce Arena's side has not lost a regular-season game since February 29, but it dropped four points in its first two games back at Gillette Stadium.
11. Minnesota United (Previous Ranking: 9)
The Minnesota United we saw in Orlando still has not joined us in the restart.
The Loons lost to Sporting KC and FC Dallas by a combined 5-2 score in their last two games.
The good news for Adrian Heath's side is it still sits in third place in the West thanks to the group-stage results it wracked up at MLS is Back.
Minnesota has one of the trickiest schedules in the next two weeks. They visit Houston and Sporting KC and host FC Dallas and Real Salt Lake.
No. 10-No. 6: LA Galaxy Continue Restart Revival
10. LA Galaxy (Previous Ranking: 16)
No team has gone through a bigger turnaround since MLS is Back than the LA Galaxy.
The Galaxy put up back-to-back victories over their California rivals to re-energize a season that seemed lost after a group-stage exit in Orlando.
Sebastian Lletget has chipped in two goals and an assist in the two-game winning streak, while Cristian Pavon has been immense in the final third.
Pavon was the most active attacker against San Jose, and if he is able to combine his form with Javier Hernandez at any point this season, the Galaxy could be a dangerous team.
9. New York City FC (Previous Ranking: 11)
Order has been restored inside the NYCFC locker room.
Ronny Deila's team picked up six points from its last three games, including a 3-1 win over Chicago Saturday.
Anton Tinnerholm and Alexander Ring have played vital roles in improving the team's form, and if they continue at the same level, they could earn best XI consideration at their respective positions when the season concludes.
8. Sporting Kansas City (Previous Ranking: 1)
Sporting KC does not usually lose, let alone concede five goals, at Children's Mercy Park.
Losing 5-2 to the Dynamo Tuesday was going to take Sporting KC out of the top spot regardless of what happened in Colorado over the weekend.
Peter Vermes' side rescued a point in the second half through a brilliant strike from Gianluca Busio, who is one of the young American players in terrific form.
7. Real Salt Lake (Previous Ranking: 7)
Real Salt Lake has developed a knack for scoring late in the second half.
The Claret-and-Cobalt used goals from Giuseppe Rossi and Sam Johnson in stoppage time to level with Portland 4-4.
In the last two games, five of RSL's eight goals have occurred after the 75th minute.
Rossi's strike may be the most important of them. The former Serie A star has dealt with injuries over the last few years but flashed his talent on the ball and scored from close range.
If the Italian-American forward benefits from that goal, he could turn into one of the most underrated signings of the year.
6. Portland Timbers (Previous Ranking: 4)
If you take away the pair of late goals from RSL, Portland would have walked away from Providence Park with a hard-fought victory.
Instead, the Timbers need to answer some questions about their defensive play.
Since coming back from Orlando, Portland has allowed four goals to RSL and three to Seattle.
Portland is not a team to worry about yet because it is less than a month removed from a tournament championship.
With Seattle and LAFC coming up in the next week-and-a-half, Portland needs a point or three against the Galaxy to feel comfortable after dropping points at home.
5. Columbus Crew
Previous Ranking: 2
Columbus is in the middle of a rare two-game scoreless run.
The Crew attack was thwarted by NYCFC first, and then FC Cincinnati's disciplined approach kept them at bay Saturday.
Zardes and Co. put up identical attacking numbers in those contests, with three of their seven attempts on target.
The perfect time to turn around that form would be Wednesday at home against Philadelphia, but the Union have been hard to break down.
No. 4. Orlando City
Previous Ranking: 8
Orlando City finally put a crooked number in the win column in its rivalry with Atlanta United.
The victory could feel even sweeter since it occurred on the road at a place where the Five Stripers have made a fortress.
Junior Urso turned in one of his best games for Orlando, with a goal and an assist.
The most important development from the last few games is the progress made by forward Daryl Dike, who assisted on the second goal of the 3-1 win.
If Dike continues to play well in the No. 9 role, Orlando will have more support for Chris Mueller and Nani in the final third.
No. 3. Philadelphia Union
Previous Ranking: 6
Philadelphia had its victory over D.C. sealed by halftime.
Kacper Przybylko and Sergio Santos scored in the same game for the third time in their club careers in a 4-1 thumping.
The Union were not challenged much by D.C., which played into their game plan with Mark McKenzie and Ray Gaddis rested.
We will know more about Philadelphia's status throughout the league after its midweek trip to Mapfre Stadium to face the Crew.
No. 2. Seattle Sounders
Previous Ranking: 3
Seattle has won three consecutive games that count toward the regular-season standings.
Sunday's deconstruction of the LAFC defense was a prototypical Sounders performance under Brian Schmetzer.
Ruidiaz opened the scoring, and Jordan Morris followed up with a pair of tallies to reassert the Sounders near the top of MLS Cup contenders.
Seattle was not perfect since it let LAFC back into the game a bit through a Diego Rossi goal, but it was a solid enough showing to impress.
1. Toronto FC
Previous Ranking: 5
Toronto FC has not struggled with its Canadian rivals.
The Reds picked up their third win in a row north of the border by beating Montreal 1-0 Friday.
The clash at Stade Saputo was much tamer than the seven-goal shootout that occurred between the rivals at MLS is Back.
Toronto has produced three clean sheets in a row, and there is a chance it runs that streak to six if it controls the next three meetings with the Impact and Whitecaps.
Follow Joe on Twitter, @JTansey90.
Statistics obtained from MLSSoccer.com.