MLS Power Rankings: Seattle Cruising at Top, Red Bulls Surge into Top 10

Joe Tansey@JTansey90Featured ColumnistJune 22, 2021

MLS Power Rankings: Seattle Cruising at Top, Red Bulls Surge into Top 10

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    A three-week break did not affect anything at the top of the Major League Soccer standings.

    The Seattle Sounders and New England Revolution returned to the pitch with victories over the L.A. Galaxy and New York City FC, respectively.

    New England won the race to 20 points by a few hours, as its Saturday match kicked off prior to Seattle's road contest in California.

    The list of contenders in each conference is beginning to grow. The New York Red Bulls headline the newcomers to that collection of teams.

    The Red Bulls boosted themselves up to fifth place in the Eastern Conference with a 2-0 win over Nashville SC, and they have cracked the top 10 in our MLS Power Rankings for the first time this season.

    Our rankings take into account the last four results from each team, with the most recent one carrying more weight.

Nos. 27-21: FC Cincy, Chicago, Vancouver Still Struggling

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    27. FC Cincinnati (Previous Ranking: 27)

    FC Cincinnati has not graced its new stadium with a win in three tries.

    The latest defeat came at the hands of the Colorado Rapids on Saturday.

    FC Cincy somehow lost 2-0 despite having 22 shots at goal. FC Cincinnati's expected goals total was 2.1, while the Rapids' expected goals total of 0.4.

    Wednesday's match against the Chicago Fire could be the worst of the season, or an entertaining affair since neither team plays defense particularly well.


    26. Chicago Fire (Previous Ranking: 26)

    Chicago has Cincinnati to thank for not owning the title of worst team in the league.

    The Fire have the same number of points as FC Cincy in one more game played, but they do have a home win and a two-goal edge in goal differential. 

    Chicago ran into a buzz saw on Saturday against the Columbus Crew, who were closing out Crew Stadium.

    Chicago has a chance to climb the table in the next four weeks with four straight games at home, starting with Wednesday's meeting against Cincinnati.


    25. Vancouver Whitecaps (Previous Ranking: 25)

    The Vancouver Whitecaps defense has been leaking goals lately.

    Vancouver has conceded eight times in the last three games, including a triple against Real Salt Lake on Friday.

    The Whitecaps are in one of the toughest situations in the league since they are waiting for the United States-Canada border restrictions to be loosened so they can play home games at BC Place.

    Vancouver is listed as the home team in four of the next six games, but all of them are scheduled for Rio Tinto Stadium in Utah.


    24. Inter Miami (Previous Ranking: 24)

    The quality of players on Inter Miami's roster suggests it should be in contention for the top seven in the East.

    The Herons feel nowhere close to that position after nine games. They are mired in 11th place and were just shut out in back-to-back contests by D.C. United.

    Phil Neville's side has failed to score in each of its last four losses, and if that trend continues, it could be closer to FC Cincinnati than the playoff cutoff line in the standings.


    23. FC Dallas (Previous Ranking: 22)

    FC Dallas has become a perplexing club.

    The Western Conference side has an academy that is a talent factory and has sent many players off to Europe, but the club has not been able to achieve results in recent times.

    FC Dallas has not gotten past the quarterfinal round of the postseason in the last five years, and it does not appear to be headed to the playoffs at its current pace in 2021.

    Luchi Gonzalez's side earned 1-1 draw versus Minnesota United at home on Saturday, but that result is not good enough given the opposition.

    FC Dallas could remain stuck at the bottom of the West entering July since its next two games come against Los Angeles FC and New England.


    22. Toronto FC (Previous Ranking: 24)

    Toronto FC is deserving of a slight boost above FC Dallas because it showed more signs of life in the final third this weekend.

    The Reds went toe-to-toe with Orlando City in a thrilling 3-2 loss at their temporary home, which happens to be the Lions' own stadium.

    On paper, the loss counts as a home loss, but it definitely did not feel like a match the side hosted.

    Toronto has a favorable three-game stretch ahead against Nashville SC, Cincinnati and D.C. in which it could pull itself into playoff contention.


    21. San Jose Earthquakes (Previous Ranking: 20)

    The San Jose Earthquakes have scored one goal in their last five games.

    That has to be concerning for manager Matias Almeyda since his team plays an open man-marking system. San Jose has only played in four scoreless draws since the start of 2020. 

    In Saturday's 0-0 draw with Austin FC, the Quakes recorded more shots on target, but they lost the expected goals battle by 1.1.

    San Jose needs to be more effective with its chances to bring an end to its disastrous run of form in the final third sooner rather than later.

Nos. 20-16: Austin FC Opens Stadium with Scoreless Draw

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

    D.C. United have Inter Miami to thank for being sixth in the Eastern Conference.

    The Black-and-Red do not have the look of a playoff team yet since half of their points came against one of the weakest sides in the league.

    Hernan Losada's squad still deserves some credit because it beat the team in front of it and did so without committing many mistakes.

    The real test of D.C.'s playoff quality comes on Saturday when it visits NYCFC.


    19. Real Salt Lake (Previous Ranking: 18)

    Real Salt Lake gives off the same vibes as the sixth-place team in the other conference.

    RSL boosted into that spot through a win over one of the league's weakest teams and has not been entirely impressive in the last four.

    The Claret and Cobalt entered the break off three straight draws, and their record is being held up by victories in Weeks 1 and 2 and one over Vancouver.


    18. CF Montreal (Previous Ranking: 16)

    CF Montreal ends nearly a month-long absence from the field on Wednesday when it faces D.C. United.

    Montreal returns to the pitch tied with New York City FC on points for the final playoff spot in the East. NYCFC has the tiebreaker advantage on goal differential.


    17. Austin FC (Previous Ranking: 17)

    The highlight of Austin FC's home opener was Matthew McConaughey showing up in a green suit and playing a bongo in front of the supporters' section.

    The expansion side failed to score in its Q2 Stadium debut, but it will not have to wait long to score the first tally inside its new digs.

    After Wednesday's trip to Minnesota, Austin has four straight home games, including a Saturday clash with the Columbus Crew, who were previously owned by Austin owner Anthony Precourt. Precourt tried to relocate the Crew to Austin before gaining an expansion franchise.


    16. Houston Dynamo (Previous Ranking: 14)

    Houston used a 58th-minute equalizer from Maxi Urruti to leave Banc of California Stadium with a point.

    The draw against LAFC marked the second time in five tries the Dynamo earned a point on the road.

    Although they have an 0-3-2 mark away from home, the Dynamo have found the back of the net in each one of those matches. If that record keeps up, it should come up with more results.

Nos. 15-11: LAFC, Atlanta Drop Points at Home

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    15. Minnesota United (Previous Ranking: 13)

    Minnesota United extended their unbeaten streak to four games with their second straight 1-1 draw.

    The Loons picked up a point each on their travels against Real Salt Lake and FC Dallas to continue their climb up the West table.

    Adrian Heath's side started with four straight losses and has since leapfrogged FC Dallas and Vancouver in the West.

    With Austin and San Jose up in the next two home games, Minnesota should vault itself close to the playoff positions in the coming weeks.


    14. Atlanta United (Previous Ranking: 11)

    Atlanta United went from the ecstasy of a potential 2-0 win to the disappointment of a 2-2 draw in less than 10 minutes on Sunday.

    The Five Stripes failed to close out against the Philadelphia Union to drop points at home for the second straight game.

    The inability to close also hurt Atlanta in its final game before the break against Nashville SC.

    Atlanta is now on a three-game winless run, and that could continue with NYCFC up next on Wednesday.


    13. Los Angeles FC (Previous Ranking: 10)

    LAFC squandered a three-game home stand by taking four out of a possible nine points.

    Saturday's home draw with the Dynamo was probably the most frustrating result of them all since the Black and Gold gave up a one-goal lead in eight minutes.

    LAFC is 2-1-2 at Banc of California Stadium. Only FC Dallas and Austin, who have played one home game, have fewer victories on home soil in the West.

    Both Dallas and Austin are on LAFC's schedule in the next four games, and that stretch could be the perfect remedy to its two-game losing streak.


    12. Portland Timbers (Previous Ranking: 15)

    The Portland Timbers outscored opponents 7-2 in their three home victories.

    Portland kept up that form with a 2-1 victory against Sporting Kansas City on Saturday.

    That result was a welcome sight for the Timbers after they went into the break off a 3-0 defeat to Philadelphia.

    Portland has the potential to get on a roll and move closer to Cascadia rival Seattle at the top of the West in the next month. The Timbers have FC Dallas, Austin, Minnesota and Houston ahead in the next four.


    11. Nashville SC (Previous Ranking: 11)

    Nashville SC dropped from the unbeaten ranks on Friday night.

    The second-year side fell on the road to the New York Red Bulls. Nashville is now 2-0-3 at home and 0-1-2 on the road.

    The frontloaded home schedule helped Nashville get off to a fast start, and it will be back at Nissan Stadium on Wednesday to face Toronto FC.

    In fact, Nashville has its next five games on its home turf, so do not be surprised if it surges up the standings in the next few weeks.

Nos. 10-6: Columbus Bids Farewell to Stadium with Victory

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    10. LA Galaxy (Previous Ranking: 8)

    The L.A. Galaxy probably do not want to see the Seattle Sounders for a long time.

    Two of the team's three defeats came against the top team in the West, including the 2-1 loss on Saturday night.

    The loss was the Galaxy's first at Dignity Health Sports Park. They are now 4-0-1 on their home turf.

    By the time the Galaxy return home on July 4, they could have six more points in the bag since Vancouver and San Jose are up next on the road.


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

    It is time to start talking more about the Red Bulls, who reeled off their third win in five games in the first contest of the weekend.

    The results in between the May 8 victory over Toronto and the current two-game winning streak were a 1-0 road loss to Philadelphia and a 3-1 defeat to New England, in which the Red Bulls played down a man.

    The most exciting aspect of the Red Bulls' current run is the form of young players Caden Clark and Kyle Duncan, who have the potential to be the next players in the Red Bull pipeline to move to Europe.


    8. Columbus Crew (Previous Ranking: 12)

    Columbus said goodbye to Crew Stadium in the most appropriate way possible.

    The Crew knocked off the Chicago Fire by the 2-0 score line that the United States men's national team made famous inside the stadium.

    Gyasi Zardes, a USMNT forward, scored in the 17th and 34th minutes to secure the "Dos a Cero" final score that the Americans beat Mexico with on four occasions.


    7. Sporting Kansas City (Previous Ranking: 3)

    Sporting Kansas City slipped up on the road in Portland.

    That result is nothing to be concerned about since the Timbers are solid at home and should be in the mix alongside Sporting KC for a top-five spot in the West.

    Sporting KC is 2-3-0 on the road, and it is one of two West teams that has three home victories and two on the road. Seattle joined Peter Vermes' side in that category by beating the Galaxy.

    Sporting KC and Seattle will meet on July 25. Prior to that, Sporting KC plays three of four at home, so it could set up a first-versus-second clash.


    6. New York City FC (Previous Ranking: 4)

    NYCFC should have come away from its match with New England with three points.

    Ronny Deila's side put nine of its 18 shots on target and had an expected goals rating of 3.1.

    Revolution goalkeeper Matt Turner made seven saves, and NYCFC fell victim to an 88th-minute game-winning goal from Tommy McNamara.

    NYCFC does not have to move away from the New York City area this week, but it does face tough tests with Atlanta and D.C. coming into Red Bull Arena, where the club is playing some of its home games.

5. Philadelphia Union

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    Previous Ranking: 5

    All we will remember from Philadelphia's 2-2 draw with Atlanta is the thunderous golazo delivered by center back Jakob Glesnes.

    The Norwegian also produced a wonder strike in March 2019 in a 3-3 draw with LAFC.

    We are going to watch both goals on repeat for the next few days while we wait for more MLS games.

    Glesnes' equalizer rescued a point for the Union, who rallied from two goals down in the final 10 minutes.

    Philadelphia faces a tough home test on Wednesday when the Crew come into Subaru Park for a clash of two of the East's best teams. 

4. Colorado Rapids

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    Previous Ranking: 4

    We did not learn anything new about the Colorado Rapids on Saturday.

    Almost every team in MLS is expected to beat FC Cincinnati at this point of the campaign.

    Goals from Diego Rubio and Jonathan Lewis earned the Rapids' fourth win in a row with multiple tallies.

    Colorado is third in the West table and third in goals scored behind Sporting KC and Seattle.

3. Orlando City

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    Previous Ranking: 7

    Orlando City inched ahead of the Union for second place in the East through its win over Toronto.

    The five-goal affair got off to a frantic start after Tesho Akindele opened the scoring in the first minute and Nani followed with an eighth-minute tally.

    The Lions had to wait until late in the second half to get their game-winner. Junior Urso scored in the 84th minute after Toronto pulled back a pair of scores in the first half.

    Oscar Pareja's team should be able to hold serve in second place for a few weeks with San Jose, Miami and Chicago mixed into the next four games along with the Red Bulls.

2. New England Revolution

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    Previous Ranking: 2

    It was hard to beat New England in April and May with Carles Gil carving up opposing defenses.

    It might get even harder to take points off the Revs if Matt Turner rounds into form after his seven-save, Player of the Week performance against NYCFC.

    Turner was stunning between the sticks for the Revs, and he allowed them to pounce for a late game-winner through MLS veteran Tommy McNamara.

    Turner is expected to play for the USMNT in the 2021 CONCACAF Gold Cup, but the Revs will not be at a significant disadvantage in net compared to the other East contenders.

    Philadelphia's Andre Blake (Jamaica), NYCFC's Sean Johnson (USMNT) and Columbus' Eloy Room (Curacao) are all expected to play in the Gold Cup, and Orlando's Pedro Gallese is missing time at the Copa America with Peru right now.

1. Seattle Sounders

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    Previous Ranking: 

    Seattle had the second-best point total in MLS for only a few hours.

    The Sounders snatched the Supporters' Shield lead back from the Revs with their second win over the Galaxy in 2021.

    With Nashville's loss to the Red Bulls, the Sounders are now the lone unbeaten side in MLS at 6-0-3.

    Brian Schmetzer's side should finish June without a loss since it hosts RSL and Vancouver on Wednesday and Saturday.


    Follow Joe on Twitter, @JTansey90.

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