MLS Power Rankings: Seattle, New England Remain on Top Entering the Break

Joe Tansey@JTansey90Featured ColumnistJune 1, 2021

MLS Power Rankings: Seattle, New England Remain on Top Entering the Break

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    Ted S. Warren/Associated Press

    As most Major League Soccer teams head into a three-week break, a defined gap has started to appear in each conference.

    The Seattle Sounders have proved to be the class of the Western Conference, and they enter the break with a one-point lead in the Supporters' Shield standings.

    Over in the Eastern Conference, there is a divide starting to open up between the New England Revolution, Philadelphia Union and New York City FC.

    Even though the teams listed from third through eighth in the East are separated by two points, some clear contenders for the top few playoff seeds have emerged thanks to good form and results over the past few weeks.

    The MLS Cup can't be won in May, but the chances of hoisting the trophy can certainly be lost, and that is what the teams at the bottom of the standings have to deal with.

    FC Cincinnati, the Chicago Fire and others have put themselves in a deep hole at the bottom of the standings, and unless significant changes are made when play restarts in mid-June, they could be in for miserable seasons.

    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 Languishing at the Bottom

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    Wilfredo Lee/Associated Press

    27. FC Cincinnati (Previous Ranking: 26)

    We are going to reiterate what we said a few weeks ago about FC Cincinnati: at least the club has a shiny new soccer-specific stadium to play in.

    That is the only true positive you can pull from the first six games.

    Jaap Stam's team lost its first two games inside TQL Stadium, and its only win was at a neutral site since CF Montreal is calling DRV PNK Stadium—Inter Miami's stadium—its temporary home.

            

    26. Chicago Fire (Previous Ranking: 25)

    Chicago is competing with Cincinnati for the league's worst record.

    The Fire have the same amount of points as FC Cincinnati, and that total came in one extra game.

    In May, Chicago was outscored 6-1 and was shut out on four occasions, including Saturday's home loss to Montreal.

              

    25. Vancouver Whitecaps (Previous Ranking: 24)

    Vancouver was off last weekend.

    By the time the Whitecaps next play on June 18, they will have had close to a month off from league play.

    Vancouver enters the break in 10th place in the West with seven points from seven games.

             

    24. Toronto FC (Previous Ranking: 23)

    Everything about Toronto FC seems like a mess right now.

    On the field, the Reds are one of three East teams with five points or fewer. They share that dubious honor with Chicago and Cincinnati.

    Off the field, Jozy Altidore is reportedly training on his own following a dispute with TFC manager Chris Armas, per ESPN's Jeff Carlisle.

    If there is any good news for TFC, it's that its schedule is easier than most out of the break with Orlando, Nashville, Cincinnati and D.C. up first.

             

    23. Inter Miami (Previous Ranking: 20)

    All the talk about Inter Miami this week stemmed from sanctions brought down on the club late Friday night.

    MLS ruled that the second-year side used five Designated Players instead of the allotted three. Blaise Matuidi and Andres Reyes were deemed as DPs after the investigation.

    Miami was issued a $2 million fine, managing owner Jorge Mas was handed a $250,000 fine, and former sporting director Paul McDonough was given a ban through 2022. McDonough was then let go by Atlanta United.

    A strong result at home may have helped cover up the negative energy from the ruling, but that did not happen. Instead, D.C. earned a 3-0 win over the Herons.

              

    22. FC Dallas (Previous Ranking: 19)

    FC Dallas can't score goals at a consistent rate right now.

    Luchi Gonzalez's men produced three goals in their past four matches, with two coming in last week's home draw with Real Salt Lake.

    The most concerning development for FC Dallas is that the players it hoped to be its top scorers are not producing well enough in the final third.

    Franco Jara, Jader Obrian and Freddy Vargas have combined for 47 shots on target and three goals.

             

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

    A victory over Inter Miami would not move any of the top teams six positions in the power rankings, but D.C. earned that boost because the bottom of the league is so wretched.

    D.C. labored through the first two months of the campaign because of an extensive list of injuries, along with its adaptation to the new system brought in by manager Hernan Losada.

    The Black-and-Red showed some promise in 1-0 home defeats to Orlando and Philadelphia and were more clinical on Saturday versus Miami.

    The three-goal performance against another struggling side could be the momentum boost the club needs for the summer months.

Nos. 20-16: New York Red Bulls, Austin FC on the Rise

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    Mark Humphrey/Associated Press

    20. San Jose Earthquakes (Previous Ranking: 15)

    The San Jose Earthquakes are the only team currently in a playoff position that is listed outside the top 16 in our power rankings.

    San Jose is in this spot because of a four-game losing skid that continued on Saturday in a 1-0 loss to the LA Galaxy.

    On Saturday, the Quakes were done in by a spectacular 13-save performance from the Galaxy's Jonathan Bond.

    Matias Almeyda's men could have a tough time ending their losing run out of the break since they visit Austin FC for the opening of the expansion side's new stadium on June 19.

                

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

    The New York Red Bulls may have turned a corner on Saturday with a home victory over Orlando City.

    The Red Bulls displayed signs of life in the past few weeks, but they were unable to put together a full 90-minute performance last week since they were dealt a first-half red card against the Revs.

    New York will get another run at the Revs on June 23—its second game out of the break. The Red Bulls return to the field against Nashville SC on June 18.

             

    18. Real Salt Lake (Previous Ranking: 18)

    Well, at least Real Salt Lake is consistent.

    The Claret and Cobalt have earned three straight draws and are settled into the No. 18 spot for the third straight week.

    RSL ended up in a 1-1 draw with Minnesota United on Saturday after conceding a late equalizer to Niko Hansen.

    One of the concerns moving forward for RSL is its penchant for giving up late goals. The last four goals allowed by RSL came in the 75th minute or later.

               

    17. Austin FC (Previous Ranking: 21)

    Austin FC's scoreless draw in Seattle felt like a victory.

    The 0-0 result was the penultimate game in an eight-game road swing for the expansion side before its June 19 home opener.

    Austin FC will play in the only MLS game between now and June 18 against Sporting KC on June 12.

    After that, Austin plays five of its next six contests on home soil.

               

    16. CF Montreal (Previous Ranking: 16)

    CF Montreal rebounded from its two-game losing streak with a 1-0 win over Chicago at Soldier Field.

    While that is not much of an accomplishment this season, it still put Montreal in good standing going into the three-week break.

    Montreal still has losses to Vancouver and Cincinnati on its resume, so it is far from a perfect potential playoff qualifier.

    Montreal is set up for a nice run to start the summer, as it has four home games in the next five. As of now, those games are still slated to be played in Florida because of the border restrictions between the United States and Canada.

Nos. 15-11: Columbus in Good Shape Entering the Break

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    Noah K. Murray/Associated Press

    15. Portland Timbers (Previous Ranking: 13)

    You can't fault the Portland Timbers too much for losing 3-0 to Philadelphia on Sunday.

    Portland is dealing with one of the lengthiest injury lists in the league, with Sebastian Blanco, Diego Chara, Andy Polo and Jeff Attinella among its banged-up starters.

    Despite the injuries and the early-season focus on the CONCACAF Champions League, the Timbers are in seventh place in the West with nine points.

    The Timbers are one of the candidates to go on a run in June and July since four of their next six games take place at Providence Park.

            

    14. Houston Dynamo FC (Previous Ranking: 11)

    Houston has not had trouble scoring goals in Tab Ramos' second season in charge.

    The Dynamo scored a goal in each of their eight games and found the back of the net on multiple occasions in their past two contests.

    Unfortunately for the Dynamo, their defense was not up to the task Saturday, as they conceded three times to Sporting KC.

    As promising as the attack has been, the defense is a bit concerning. Colorado and SKC put up three goals each on the Dynamo in two of the past three games.

              

    13. Minnesota United (Previous Ranking: 14)

    Minnesota United steadied the ship after a brutal start by earning seven points from their past three games.

    In those contests, the Loons have had a knack for scoring late goals. The earliest of those tallies came in the 72nd minute.

    Adrian Heath's side struck in the 78th minute on Saturday to steal a point from RSL at Rio Tinto Stadium. RSL was one of the four teams that beat Minnesota to begin the campaign.

             

    12. Columbus Crew (Previous Ranking: 17)

    At some point, the Columbus Crew should join the teams in the upper echelon of the East.

    The reigning MLS Cup champion won two games in a row against NYCFC and Toronto FC, and it looks much better than it did in its May defeats to New England and Toronto. The Crew failed to score in those losses and produced four tallies in their last two wins. 

    The Crew’s 2-1 win over Toronto on Saturday was their second-to-last game at old Crew Stadium. They will send off the first soccer-specific stadium in MLS on June 19 versus Chicago.

    Columbus opens its new stadium on July 3 against New England.

             

    11. Atlanta United (Previous Ranking: 7)

    Atlanta United’s last two results are the perfect example of how draws can alter the perception of a team.

    Last week, the Five Stripes went into Seattle and earned a point thanks to an 86th-minute penalty kick from Josef Martinez.

    Just as Atlanta appeared to take four points from two games into the break, Nashville SC struck for a pair of late second-half goals to force a 2-2 draw inside Mercedes-Benz Stadium.

    Atlanta has an opportunity to prove itself out of the break with Philadelphia and NYCFC on the docket.

    The June 20 clash with the Union could have a little extra emotion to it after Philly eliminated Atlanta from the CONCACAF Champions League.

Nos. 10-6: Colorado Continues Its Rise

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    Shaun Clark/Getty Images

    10. Los Angeles FC (Previous Ranking: 9)

    Los Angeles FC probably belongs in the same category as Atlanta right now as teams we think will figure things out to finish around the top four in their conference.

    LAFC and Atlanta have two of the most talented rosters in MLS and should use that quality to comfortably get over the red line.

    Right now, LAFC is far from the finished product, as it picked up three losses in its past four games.

    Two of those defeats came against Seattle and NYCFC, who are clearly in the top five of the league.

    LAFC has a chance to get healthier during the break, and two home games with Houston and FC Dallas could be the remedy it needs to bounce back into the West's top seven.

            

    9. Nashville SC (Previous Ranking: 12)

    After weeks of defensive-minded games, Nashville SC used its attack to earn a come-from-behind draw in Atlanta.

    Gary Smith's team conceded twice for the first time in five May games and matched its best goal total of the month through a pair of late strikes from Hany Mukhtar.

    Mukhtar's two goals came three minutes apart from each other, and they ended a monthlong personal scoring drought.

    Nashville enters the break seventh in the East, and it could make a push into the top four by the end of July.

    The second-year side gets to play five straight games at Nissan Stadium from June 23-July 17.

              

    8. LA Galaxy (Previous Ranking: 8)

    For the first time this season, we finished a Galaxy match by praising their defensive players.

    Bond turned in the best goalkeeping performance of the first two months by turning away 13 shots from the Quakes.

    In their past three home games, the Galaxy have outscored opponents 5-1. If that form extends into the summer, they should be in great shape to land a playoff position and potentially land a home postseason contest.

                

    7. Orlando City (Previous Ranking: 4)

    Orlando City has been great at home and average on the road.

    The Lions are 2-0-2 at Exploria Stadium and dropped to 1-1-1 on their travels with a Saturday loss to the Red Bulls.

    Orlando's defense has been its driving force to third in the East. It conceded two goals for the first time this season on Saturday and has allowed four tallies over seven games.

    If the Lions can be a bit more effective in front of the net, they could have one of the best goal differentials in MLS. They are currently tied with New England and Philadelphia for second in the East in that category.

               

    6. Colorado Rapids (Previous Ranking: 10)

    Colorado continues to be one of the most pleasant surprises in MLS.

    The Rapids sit fourth in the West with 13 points from seven games. They won their third straight home game on Saturday over FC Dallas.

    During that winning run, the Rapids scored three goals in each of their home victories. They have found the back of the net in six straight contests.

    The abundance of goals have come from eight different players. Diego Rubio, Cole Bassett and Michael Barrios are the only Rapids players with multiple tallies.

5. Philadelphia Union

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    Chris Szagola/Associated Press

    Previous Ranking: 6

    Philadelphia strung together a 4-0-1 run after advancing to the CCL semifinals.

    That was one of the most remarkable achievements of the early season given how much pressure there is on MLS teams to win on the continental level.

    Jim Curtin's side blew past a depleted Portland squad on Sunday with a 3-0 win that featured goals from both starting forwards, Kacper Przybylko and Sergio Santos.

    Philadelphia's defense was magnificent during that five-game run, as it held four clean sheets on its way to second place in the East.

4. New York City FC

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    Ashley Landis/Associated Press

    Previous Ranking: 5

    New York City FC received an edge over Philadelphia because of the circumstances surrounding its Saturday victory.

    Ronny Delia's side went into Banc of California Stadium to defeat LAFC. That was the club's first win in four games since it defeated the Union at Subaru Park.

    NYCFC is one of six MLS teams to have multiple road wins, and an argument can be made that its victories are the best because of the quality Philadelphia and LAFC possess.

    NYCFC has an opportunity to prove itself against two other top teams in June, when New England and Atlanta face the Pigeons at Red Bull Arena out of the break.

3. Sporting Kansas City

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    Charlie Riedel/Associated Press

    Previous Ranking: 

    Sporting KC has scored nine goals over its past three games to inch closer to Seattle at the top of the West.

    Gianluca Busio opened SKC's scoring account Saturday with a terrific free-kick goal that bounced in off the upper-left corner of the goal frame.

    Alan Pulido and Gadi Kinda followed up with goals to finish off a three-goal, 15-minute stretch that put SKC past Houston.

    Each of Saturday's three goal scorers have found the back of the net on multiple occasions this season. Pulido leads the club with five strikes.

2. New England Revolution

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    Emilee Chinn/Getty Images

    Previous Ranking: 2

    New England turned in a professional performance to knock off FC Cincinnati on the road on Saturday.

    Bruce Arena's Revs are on a three-game winning streak and are the only squad in the East with over two points per game through the first two months.

    New England will face challenges from Philadelphia, NYCFC and Orlando throughout the summer.

    The good news for the Revs is they already took a point off the Union at Subaru Park and get NYCFC on the road at Red Bull Arena—not at Yankee Stadium—on June 19.

1. Seattle Sounders

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    Steph Chambers/Getty Images

    Previous Ranking: 1

    Two home draws in a row did not force us to remove the Seattle Sounders from the No. 1 position.

    Atlanta United earned a point off Seattle through a late PK. Austin held the Sounders to two shots on goal in Sunday's scoreless affair.

    Even after dropping points two weeks in a row at home, the Sounders are still on top of MLS with 18 points.

    Seattle owns the best goal differential in the league (plus-11), conceded the fewest goals (three) and has the best points per game of any side at 2.25.

           

    Follow Joe on Twitter, @JTansey90.

    Statistics obtained from MLSSoccer.com.

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