MLS Power Rankings: Seattle Stays on Top, LAFC Surges into Top 10

Joe Tansey@JTansey90Featured ColumnistMay 25, 2021

MLS Power Rankings: Seattle Stays on Top, LAFC Surges into Top 10

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    Shaun Clark/Getty Images

    The elite teams in Major League Soccer are starting to rise to the top of the standings.

    Since Week 1, the Seattle Sounders have been the class of the league, and they lead the Supporters' Shield standings with 17 points through six weeks.

    Seattle still holds a comfortable four-point lead over Sporting Kansas City in the Western Conference, but its top competition for the lead spot could be a team not currently in a playoff position.

    Los Angeles FC has eight points from six matches, but on Saturday, it showed off the attacking skills we expected to see from Week 1.

    The New England Revolution and Orlando City created some separation at the top of the Eastern Conference, but they are starting to receive tests from the Philadelphia Union, Nashville SC and others as those teams find some form.

    Our power rankings take into account the last four performances from clubs, with the most recent one and head-to-head results carrying more weight.

Nos. 27-21: FC Cincinnati, Chicago Get on Track with Wins

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    Wilfredo Lee/Associated Press

    27. D.C. United (Previous Ranking: 25)

    D.C. United suffered its second consecutive 1-0 loss at Audi Field on Sunday against Philadelphia.

    The Black and Red were not outplayed by the reigning Supporters' Shield champion, but they were not dangerous enough in the final third over 90 minutes to secure a result.

    D.C. forced Andre Blake into one significant save, and all of its other shots were either off-target or softly at the Union netminder.

    Scoring is starting to become an issue for Hernan Losada's men, as they have the second-lowest goal total in the Eastern Conference and a minus-6 goal differential.

          

    26. FC Cincinnati (Previous Ranking: 27)

    FC Cincinnati not only won, but they also came from behind to do so on Saturday.

    Jurgen Locadia and Gustavo Vallecilla scored 16 minutes apart to put a "1" in the team's win column.

    Jaap Stam's squad still needs to work on its defending, as it conceded for the 14th time this season in the 56th minute, but the victory is a step in the right direction for a team that entered on a three-game losing streak.

          

    25. Chicago Fire (Previous Ranking: 26)

    After being held scoreless for the last three games, the Chicago Fire reversed that fortune on Inter Miami.

    The Fire benefited from a Luka Stojanovic 69th-minute goal to down the second-year side for their first victory of the campaign.

    Just like Cincinnati, Chicago's final product is still not great, but the victory was exactly what the club needed to ease some concerns about early-season struggles.

               

    24. Vancouver Whitecaps (Previous Ranking: 21)

    The Vancouver Whitecaps are making a case to be the worst team in the Western Conference.

    They have lost four of their last five games and have been outscored 7-1 in those defeats. The club's only May victory came over CF Montreal.

    Vancouver has until June 18 to work on the defensive issues that plagued it throughout May. The Whitecaps have next weekend off due to the odd number of teams in the league.

          

    23. Toronto FC (Previous Ranking: 23)

    It's not time to panic about Toronto FC yet.

    The Reds suffered their third loss of the month on Saturday to Orlando City, who should be one of the contenders for a high playoff spot in the East.

    Chris Armas' team navigated through a difficult May schedule that featured the New York Red Bulls, Columbus Crew and New York City FC.

    Toronto gets to finish the month with a trip to Crew Stadium for its second meeting with Columbus.

    Even if Toronto loses that match, it will only be six points back of the final playoff position in the East. That gap can be made up once league play resumes in June.

           

    22. New York Red Bulls (Previous Ranking: 20)

    The New York Red Bulls own a win over Toronto, but they stumbled against two other likely playoff contenders in the East in the last two weeks.

    Gerhard Struber's club appeared to have a decent chance to steal a point off New England, but it was set back by a red card to Andres Reyes.

    Reyes put the Red Bulls in front with a seventh-minute goal, but 31 minutes later, he cost them a chance at earning a result.

           

    21. Austin FC (Previous Ranking: 19)

    Austin FC's losing streak extended to three games with a 1-0 defeat to Nashville SC to close out the weekend slate.

    The expansion side conceded in the 35th minute and only put one of its 12 shots on target at Nissan Stadium.

    Austin has not scored in the last two games, but it has not been blown out either, which is a positive sign for when the team puts everything together in the final third.

    For its trip to Seattle on Sunday, Austin needs to focus on limiting the Sounders' chances, which will help its goal differential in the long run.

Nos. 20-16: Columbus Ends Losing Skid

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    Noah K. Murray/Associated Press

    20. Inter Miami (Previous Ranking: 14)

    Inter Miami is struggling with consistency.

    Phil Neville's team is one of five clubs with multiple road victories, but it is also one of two squads that has played a home game to not have a win. Austin FC has not yet played at home, and FC Cincinnati lost to Miami in its lone home contest.

    Saturday's 1-0 loss to Chicago was concerning from an attacking perspective. Miami put one of its four shots on target.

    The good news for Miami is two matches with D.C., one on Saturday and another on June 19, are ahead to try to right the ship before tougher matchups come.

          

    19. FC Dallas (Previous Ranking: 22)

    FC Dallas looked like it was six minutes away from earning a valuable home win on Saturday, but it instead held the lead for two minutes in the second half.

    A late equalizer from Real Salt Lake's Damir Kreilach forced the teams to split points, but despite the draw, there were some positives to take away for Dallas.

    It produced 29 shots, 10 of which went on net. If Dallas can be active in the final third in the coming weeks, it  should score enough to pick up three points.

            

    18. Real Salt Lake (Previous Ranking: 18)

    RSL should look at the 2-2 draw with FC Dallas from a positive perspective.

    David Ochoa made eight saves, and they fought back from going down a goal late in the contest to earn a point.

    It was far from a perfect performance for the Claret and Cobalt, but all that matters is getting a result. RSL has four points from two away matches. They have a chance to improve their home form on Saturday versus a Minnesota United side they already beat on the road.

                

    17. Columbus Crew (Previous Ranking: 24)

    Change your name back to the Crew and earn three points.

    Columbus picked up a much-needed road win over NYCFC at Red Bull Arena thanks to the free-kick skills of Lucas Zelarayan.

    The win was just the second of the season for the reigning MLS Cup champion, but thanks to a few draws, it is one spot beneath the playoff cutoff in the East.

    The Crew should get over the red line in the coming weeks since they have back-to-back home games with Toronto and Chicago.

            

    16. CF Montreal (Previous Ranking: 10)

    A loss to FC Cincinnati was the last thing CF Montreal needed.

    Montreal now has three losses in its last four games and is starting to slide down the East table. It sits in seventh place after Week 6.

    Montreal has a chance to remain in the top seven since Chicago and D.C. are ahead on the schedule.

    Earning points now is crucial for Montreal ahead of a brutal six-game July stretch that will see them play NYCFC twice and New England.

Nos. 15-11: Nashville Remains Undefeated

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    Mark Humphrey/Associated Press

    15. San Jose Earthquakes (Previous Ranking: 11)

    On Saturday, you saw the negative side of Matias Almeyda's man-marking system.

    The San Jose Earthquakes were broken open by Sporting Kansas City and suffered their third consecutive defeat.

    San Jose is still in seventh place with nine points thanks to victories over FC Dallas, D.C. and RSL, but it needs to fix its defensive issues.

    Since Quakes games typically are free-flowing and feature a ton of goals, they have become one of two teams in MLS to have over 10 goals for and against. The Galaxy are the other side with those totals.

            

    14. Minnesota United (Previous Ranking: 17)

    Minnesota United benefited from not playing this weekend, as it moved up three spots thanks to the shortcomings of the teams ahead of them.

    The Loons go into Saturday's clash with RSL off two straight 1-0 wins over Vancouver and FC Dallas.

             

    13. Portland Timbers (Previous Ranking: 15)

    Portland used a second-half wave of goals, including two from Felipe Mora and another from Diego Valeri, to defeat the 10-man L.A. Galaxy.

    Two consecutive victories have put Giovanni Savarese's side on the right track after suffering elimination from the CONCACAF Champions League.

    Portland closes out May against the lone MLS team still in the CCL: the Philadelphia Union on Sunday at Subaru Park.

            

    12. Nashville SC (Previous Ranking: 13)

    Nashville SC quietly put itself into fourth place in the East.

    Gary Smith's side won the battle of newer franchises on Sunday by beating Austin FC 1-0 at home.

    The clean sheet was the fourth in a row for the second-year side, but it has only scored three goals during that span, two of which occurred against New England.

    Nashville's status among the East's elite teams will be tested on Saturday in a southeast derby with Atlanta United at Mercedes-Benz Stadium.

           

    11. Houston Dynamo (Previous Ranking: 12)

    The Houston Dynamo have taken advantage of their home field.

    Houston is 3-0-1 at BBVA Compass Stadium with wins over Vancouver, Sporting KC and San Jose. It also has a draw with Los Angeles FC, which is not a terrible result.

    Ten of Houston's 11 points have been earned on home field, so now it has to prove it can win on the road to keep pace with the top teams in the West.

    There is no better test for Houston than back-to-back trips to face Sporting KC and LAFC.

Nos. 10-6: LAFC, Atlanta on the Rise

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    Icon Sportswire/Getty Images

    10. Colorado Rapids (Previous Ranking: 5)

    Losing on the road to LAFC is a result no team should frown upon.

    The Colorado Rapids fell behind by two goals on Saturday night, but they bounced back to score once in the second half.

    The loss ended the Rapids' three-game winning streak, but they can start a new winning run on Saturday when FC Dallas comes to Dick's Sporting Goods Park.

    A win in that matchup and points on the road against FC Cincinnati on June 19 should keep Colorado near the top of the West toward the end of June.

              

    9. Los Angeles FC (Previous Ranking: 16)

    LAFC looked like the side we thought it would be on Saturday night.

    Diego Rossi bagged a pair of early goals and the Black and Gold held on to defeat Colorado, despite letting in a second-half tally.

    Bob Bradley's side is still beneath the playoff line in the West, but if it plays like it did on Saturday, it should have no trouble jumping into that spot in the coming weeks.

    LAFC has the benefit of playing its next three games at home, and if it gets nine points from those games, it should be in great shape.

                

    8. Los Angeles Galaxy (Previous Ranking: 3)

    The two Los Angeles-based teams could not have had more contrasting weekends.

    The L.A. Galaxy stumbled to a 3-0 defeat in Portland after Derrick Williams was sent off for a boneheaded sliding challenge in the 44th minute.

    Greg Vanney's side struggled to keep up with Portland in the second half and paid the price for being down a man in one of the league's toughest home venues.

    The positive spin on that game is road losses happen in MLS, and as long as you win your home games, you should be in a good spot to make the playoffs.

    The Galaxy have the perfect bounce-back spot on Saturday as the Quakes come to town. Javier "Chicharito" Hernandez could be on hat-trick watch if San Jose continues to let up wide-open chances.

                  

    7. New York City FC (Previous Ranking: 7)

    NYCFC was not able to benefit from its typical home-field advantage on Saturday.

    The Pigeons played across the Hudson River at Red Bull Arena (because of the New York Yankees playing at home) and suffered a defeat to the Columbus Crew.

    NYCFC usually has a bigger home-field advantage because it is used to playing on the shortened pitch inside Yankee Stadium.

    However, it will not have that luxury for its next three home games against New England, Atlanta and D.C., all of which will be played at Red Bull Arena.

    NYCFC still has the quality to beat all three sides. One way to ensure three points is to avoid the concession of set pieces, which killed the side on Saturday night.

                  

    6. Atlanta United (Previous Ranking: 9)

    Atlanta United may not be back to its old dominant winning ways yet, but it took another step forward on Sunday by drawing with the Sounders at Lumen Field.

    Gabriel Heinze's side is on a three-game unbeaten streak with a pair of road draws and a home win through a game-winning goal in stoppage time.

    The Five Stripes have not controlled those matches, but this is a results-based business and they have seven points to show from those games.

    Atlanta sits fifth in the East, and it could rise as high as the top two if it defeats Nashville and Philadelphia in the next two games.

5. Philadelphia Union

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    Chris Szagola/Associated Press

    Previous Ranking: 8

    Long gone is the CCL hangover Philadelphia suffered through during the start of league play.

    The Union are 3-0-1 in their last four games with two road victories over Chicago and D.C.

    Philadelphia did not turn in its best performance on Sunday in Washington, D.C., but it showed enough quality on Kacper Przybylko's goal before halftime to take three points.

    Sunday marked the official arrival of Daniel Gazdag in a Union shirt, but the club will have to wait a month or two to see his full impact on the club since he is off to Euro 2021 camp with Hungary.

4. Orlando City

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    Icon Sportswire/Getty Images

    Previous Ranking: 6

    Each of the top four teams in this week's power rankings could make an argument to be the strongest one in the league.

    Orlando City is one of three teams without a loss. Nashville SC and Seattle are the others.

    The Lions have three victories in their last four games and have conceded once during that span.

    The most impressive quality shown by the Lions so far is their defense, which has conceded twice over six matches. Only two other MLS clubs have let up under five goals: Seattle and Nashville.

3. Sporting Kansas City

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    Charlie Riedel/Associated Press

    Previous Ranking: 4

    Sporting KC tore through San Jose's man-marking system and scored three goals on Saturday night.

    Peter Vermes' side is one of two teams to have multiple home and away victories. Seattle is the only other team with those records, and it sits above Sporting KC in the West table.

    Sporting KC scored three times in each of its last two games, and it could look deadlier in the final third in the next few weeks.

    Alan Pulido kickstarted his league campaign with three goals in the last two. Daniel Salloi also scored once in each contest.

2. New England Revolution

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    Kathryn Riley/Associated Press

    Previous Ranking: 2

    New England put away the 10-man Red Bulls at home on Saturday to remain two points ahead of Orlando at the top of the East.

    With an assist on the third goal, Carles Gil jumped into a tie for the league lead in assists with four.

    On Monday, Gil was rewarded for his play in New England with a three-year contract extension. Since he arrived at the club, Gil has 11 goals and 20 assists in 47 matches.

    New England has benefited from the play of Gil and its home schedule to take the top spot in the East with one week left in May. The Revolution are the only MLS team with four home victories.

1. Seattle Sounders

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    Ted S. Warren/Associated Press

    Previous Ranking: 

    Even though the Sounders dropped points at home to Atlanta, they are still on top of the power rankings, still undefeated and have the league's best goal-scoring record and the top goal differential.

    Josef Martinez's 86th-minute penalty was the third goal Seattle allowed in seven matches. Two of the three goals have occurred in the final five minutes.

    It is also worth noting the Sounders allowed one goal each to Atlanta, LAFC and Portland, all of whom are viewed as some of the league's elite clubs.

    If the Sounders continue to shut down some of the mid-to-lower-tier teams in MLS, they could hold the best defensive record in the league throughout the season.

            

    Statistics obtained from MLSSoccer.com.

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