Friday , September 30 2022

LAFC back on top as Philadelphia’s reign is short-lived

The Philadelphia Union‘s reign atop our MLS Power Rankings was short-lived. Less than seven days after being anointed No. 1, Philly traveled to Toronto and lost for the first time this season.

So it’s a new leader this week, a fresh face to liven up the order, right? Nope, LAFC couldn’t help but reclaim their status as top dogs, coming back from a goal down to ruthlessly hand Sporting Kansas City their sixth defeat of 2022.

With Week 7 in the books, Jeff Carlisle and Dan Hajducky look at the results, break down where all 28 teams stand after a wild weekend of action and bring you the latest edition of Power Rankings.


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Previous ranking: 2

Next MLS match: April 24 at FC Cincinnati, 5 p.m. ET

Ismael Tajouri-Shradi wins the Worldie of the Week with his sumptuous strike breaking a 1-1 deadlock on the way to a 3-1 win over Sporting Kansas City. The fact that fellow sub Jose Cifuentes scored as well speaks to the team’s depth. LAFC top the Supporters’ Shield standings on goal differential after seven games. — Carlisle

Previous ranking: 1

Next MLS match: April 23 vs. CF Montreal, 3 p.m. ET, ESPN+

Even after losing 2-1 at the hands of an in-form Toronto — Philadelphia’s first loss of the season, and the end of a five-game winning streak — the Union are still the team to beat in the East. They (and Andre Blake) had a 457-minute scoreless streak snapped, but are still two points up on second-place Orlando with a game in hand. They’ll be just fine. — Hajducky

Previous ranking: 4

Next MLS match: April 23 vs. Nashville SC, 10:30 p.m. ET, ESPN+

On a night when neither team recorded a shot on goal, LA had to be content with a 0-0 draw in Chicago. That said, seven points from four road games so far is a decent return, and the Galaxy look a far stingier outfit than a year ago, conceding just six goals in seven games. — Carlisle

Previous ranking: 5

Next MLS match: April 23 vs. Houston Dynamo, 3:00 p.m. ET

On a night when its vaunted attack showed only flashes, goalkeeper Maarten Paes came to Dallas’ rescue more than once and helped FCD walk away from their trip to the Red Bulls with a 1-1 draw. Paes is only on loan until this summer. Is a longer stay now in store? — Carlisle

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New York Red Bulls and FC Dallas can’t find the net as the match ends in a 0-0 draw.

Previous ranking: 3

Next MLS match: April 23 at LA Galaxy, 10:30 p.m. ET, ESPN+

Just one more road game to go until Nashville can enjoy the creature comforts of GEODIS Park for the first time. Following NSC’s 2-2 draw against San Jose, Nashville has gone a respectable 3-2-2. Hany Mukhtar has been sensational, but defending set pieces has been an odd weakness for a team that is normally stout in the back. — Carlisle

Previous ranking: 10

Next MLS match: April 23 vs. Vancouver Whitecaps, 8:30 p.m. ET

Austin enjoyed the most euphoric comeback in its brief history, scoring three goals in the final 11 minutes to turn a two-goal deficit into a 3-2 win at 10-man D.C. United. The oft-injured Danny Hoesen was among the goal scorers. Could he be the missing piece up top for this team? — Carlisle

Previous ranking: 9

Next MLS match: April 24 at Orlando City SC, 3:30 p.m. ET, ESPN

After exploding for four goals in the second game of the season, New York hasn’t managed more than one goal in a game since. And yet it still sits at third in the conference due to both the season’s infancy and that notoriously stingy defensive front. Starting keeper Carlos Coronel is second in MLS in goals prevented in the past month; if Lewis Morgan and Patryk Klimala can get back on track, Coronel’s — and the rest of NYRB’s gritty back line, who are tied for the fourth-fewest goals allowed across the league — gutty play will yield more points. Even so, New York is still tied for third in a crowded, contentious East. — Hajducky

Previous ranking: 17

Next MLS match: April 24 vs. New York Red Bulls, 3:30 p.m. ET, ESPN

Orlando boasts seven different goal scorers, but more impressively have five different players with at least two assists. There’s no MLS team with more this season. With the exception of a 4-2 loss to fearsome LAFC on April 2, Orlando has been one of the league’s best over the past month. It upended the Galaxy, tied Portland, edged Chicago and finished off Columbus — three of those four results away from Exploria Stadium. Any fears of a post-Nani drought have been assuaged. — Hajducky

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Orlando City’s Rodrigo Schlegel finds himself in a great position and taps home the goal vs. Columbus Crew.

Previous ranking: 20

Next MLS match: April 24 vs. Toronto FC, 5 p.m. ET, ESPN+

The reigning MLS Cup champs haven’t had an easy 2022 thus far, but they’ve also only played six league games. After a heartbreaking CONCACAF Champions League defeat to Seattle, NYCFC rang up six on 2021 Western Conference finalist Real Salt Lake. Against Montreal and RSL, they scored 10 combined goals. In the other four? One. But the defense has been stoic (tied for fourth league wide in shots on goal allowed) and they’re New York-bound, interchanging between Citi Field and Yankee Stadium, for the next month. That should keep them closer to the top of this list than before. — Hajducky

Previous ranking: 14

Next MLS match: April 23 vs. Chicago Fire, 5 p.m. ET, ESPN

The Loons will be breathing easier after a 3-1 win over Colorado that saw Emanuel Reynoso get closer to top form with two assists, but on a weekend full of stellar goalkeeping, Dayne St. Clair was among the standouts, as his saves with the score 1-1 kept Minnesota in the match. — Carlisle

Previous ranking: 11

Next MLS match: April 23 vs. Real Salt Lake, 10 p.m. ET, ESPN+

Portland had goalkeeper Aljaz Ivacic to thank for getting out of Houston with a 0-0 draw, as the Slovenian delivered a trio of stellar saves. Playing a man up for 15-plus minutes wasn’t enough for the Timbers to find a breakthrough. — Carlisle

Previous ranking: 8

Next MLS match: April 23 at Portland Timbers, 10 p.m. ET, ESPN+

RSL has largely defied the odds early in the season, getting results despite the fact that there were more subtractions than additions to the roster in the offseason. But Sunday’s 6-0 walloping at the hands of NYCFC is closer to what was expected. The upcoming weeks will reveal if this was a one-off or if Pablo Mastroeni’s motivational magic has begun to wane.

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Valentín Castellanos sets the record for most goals scored in a game for the New York City Football Club.

Previous ranking: 13

Next MLS match: April 23 at Minnesota United FC, 5 p.m. ET, ESPN

Well, it’s not a fluke; Chicago has still only lost once — a scrappy 1-0 defeat to Orlando, down a man for more than a half — and we’re more than a fifth through the 2022 season. The Fire allowed 54 league goals in 2021; they lead MLS with only two allowed so far. They still struggle mightily to put balls in the back of the net, last in the league in that category. “Lake Michigan Messi,” Xherdan Shaqiri, hasn’t been stellar so far, but there’s still time left to find form … especially vital with a World Cup imminent. — Hajducky

Previous ranking: 16

Next MLS match: April 23 at FC Dallas, 3 p.m. ET

Houston felt it should have done better than a 0-0 draw against Portland, but ran into some stellar goalkeeping from Aljaz Ivacic. Former Timber Steve Clark had some bright moments as well against his former team, but a shake of the head at the final whistle from manager Paulo Nagamura said it all. — Carlisle

Previous ranking: 7

Next MLS match: April 23 at Sporting Kansas City, 8:30 p.m. ET, ESPN+

It’s been an arduous stretch for the Crew, who haven’t scored this month. In fact, their last league goal was Darlington Nagbe’s 95th minute stunner on March 20 against the Red Bulls. What’s extraordinarily puzzling is that, since April 1, no MLS team has more touches and only two have created more chances. The Crew have dominated ball control, with 65% of possession, over their past three MLS matches and nothing to show for it. Nagbe leads MLS in pass percentage (95%), Lucas Zelarayan leads in chances created (29) and stonewall Eloy Room — even with the howler against the Union — prevents the third most goals (1.29); it’s likely that morphs into success in the near future. — Hajducky

Previous ranking: 20

Next MLS match: April 24 at New York City FC, 5 p.m. ET, ESPN+

After a rocky start to the Bob Bradley era up north, Toronto looks … pretty good! It’s unbeaten in its past four and just dealt Philly its first loss of the 2022 campaign. While the offensive volume is great (11 goals scored, tied for second in the East), it’s the efficiency that’s eye-opening: Since March 13, Toronto leads MLS in shot conversion percentage, turning more than 25% of its shots on target into goals. (For what it’s worth, it leads the league when expanded over the whole season, too.) With only MLS matches to focus on, Toronto gets plenty of rest. It plays reigning MLS Cup champs NYCFC (who it beat 2-1 to kick off April), Cincinnati twice and Vancouver over their next four games. — Hajducky

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A late equalizer from Jayden Nelson helps Toronto earn a point on the road against Real Salt Lake.

Previous ranking: 6

Next MLS match: April 23 vs. Charlotte FC, 9 p.m. ET

The Rapids can argue that they simply ran into a hot goalkeeper in their 3-1 loss to Minnesota (and Dayne St. Clair), but they haven’t been defensively sound of late either, conceding six in their past two games. — Carlisle

Previous ranking: 15

Next MLS match: April 24 at Inter Miami CF, 1 p.m. ET, ESPN

Really tough blow for Atlanta this week, losing Brad Guzan to a ruptured Achilles. Tying the wildly inconsistent (and 10-manned) FC Cincinnati is almost an afterthought. It’s been a bit of a mixed bag for the Five Stripes; they’re fourth in MLS in chances created, but tied for 15th in goals scored and 20th in shot conversion percentage. After scoring eight goals in their first four games, they’ve squeezed out only one since. With three games in 10 days, that might be a difficult solve right now. — Hajducky

Previous ranking: 18

Next MLS match: April 23 at Philadelphia Union, 3 p.m. ET, ESPN+

It’s early, but the MVP rumblings for Djordje Mihailovic are audible and it’s hard to disagree. His expected goal and assists tally currently sits at 3.17; he’s notched four and three, respectively. After Montreal opened the season with losses to Orlando, then Philadelphia, followed by NYCFC, conceding eight goals while scoring two, it’s won three in a row. It would be further up the list if those opponents had combined for more than three wins. Montreal has a challenging month ahead: Philly, Atlanta, Orlando, Charlotte. Even middling success vaults it into the conversation. — Hajducky

Previous ranking: 12

Next MLS match: April 23 at San Jose Earthquakes, 10 p.m. ET, ESPN+

This was another week when Seattle claimed the bigger prize — a midweek draw against NYCFC that saw the Sounders clinch a spot in the CONCACAF Champions League final against Pumas — but stumbled when it came to league obligations, in this case a 1-0 defeat to Miami. The Sounders will be fine, but it’s a result that will irritate a proud group. — Carlisle

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Robbie Robinson scores in the 42nd minute to give Inter Miami CF the lead

Previous ranking: 22

Next MLS match: April 23 at D.C. United, 7:30 p.m. ET, ESPN+

The Revs ended a four-game losing streak over the weekend, hanging on for a plucky 2-1 home win over Charlotte. Matt Turner-less New England sits in 11th in the East. It couldn’t stop scoring in 2021, leading MLS with 65 goals; it’s coming at a premium so far in 2022, with ten through seven matches — four combined in the last two weeks. There are signs of life in Foxborough. — Hajducky

Previous ranking: 25

Next MLS match: April 24 vs. Atlanta United FC, 1 p.m. ET, ESPN

Only San Jose and Montreal have conceded more than Miami through mid-April. It was outscored 10-2 in March; however, building on its first lead of 2022, it battered and bruised Seattle (20 fouls committed) en route to a 1-0 victory, its second in as many weeks. Miami is tied for eighth in the league in chances created, but no one but Leonardo Campana, Gonzalo Higuain and Robbie Robinson has found the net. It could go either way for David Beckham’s squad, but there are positive harbingers brewing. — Hajducky

Previous ranking: 21

Next MLS match: April 23 at Colorado Rapids, 9 p.m. ET, ESPN+

It’s been a Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde situation down in Charlotte thus far. Its ravenous Bank of America Stadium atmosphere on display in Kaila Burns-Heffner’s preseason feature has yielded three wins in four home matches; unfortunately, on the road, Charlotte is winless. Outside of Karol Swiderski (four goals, one assist) the attack has been relatively stagnant. With road matches against Colorado and Orlando on the docket, it might get worse before it gets better. — Hajducky

Previous ranking: 27

Next MLS match: April 24 vs. LAFC, 5 p.m. ET

Cincinnati allowed 74 goals in 2021, tied for the second-most all-time in an MLS season behind … 2019 Cincy, with 75. Translation: It really couldn’t get much worse, so 2022 thus far has been promising, underscored by a tie with Atlanta over the weekend. I’ll be the first to say I was worried the Orange and Blue’s season was over after being manhandled 5-0 by Austin on opening day, but there are highlights: consecutive wins over Orlando and Inter Miami, for one, 23-year-old Club Tijuana youth product Brandon Vazquez tied for the Golden Boot lead, for another. The East is pretty wide open right now, but Cincy has a really tough stretch ahead. — Hajducky

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Ruben Gabrielsen goal 90th minute DC United 2-3 Austin FC

Previous ranking: 23

Next MLS match: April 23 vs. New England Revolution, 7:30 p.m. ET, ESPN+

Oof. Austin might possess the most terrifying offensive firepower in the league, but surrendering a 2-0 lead with three 80-plus-minute goals is downright heartbreaking. Since starting the season 2-0-0, D.C. has lost four straight, three by one goal. Whereas others milling around the bottom of the Power Rankings show signs of life, the Black and Red have created the second-fewest chances in the league and are tied for the ninth-most shots on goal allowed. It could be a long season in Buzzard Point. — Hajducky

Previous ranking: 24

Next MLS match: April 23 vs. Columbus Crew, 8:30 p.m. ET, ESPN+

After Sunday’s 3-1 defeat to LAFC, the season is looking more and more like an uphill climb for SKC, which lies 12th in the West. And it had to hurt seeing Ilie Sanchez provide the kind of foundation for LAFC that he used to do for Kansas City. Peter Vermes will need to be at his best to pull SKC out of this funk. — Carlisle

Previous ranking: 26

Next MLS match: April 23 at Austin FC, 8:30 p.m. ET, ESPN+

The Whitecaps thought they had a late equalizer against Montreal, only to see it waived off — correctly — with the help of VAR. It’s the latest in a series of gut punches, with injuries taking a toll. The hope in Vancouver is that the reported arrival of ball-winning midfielder Andres Cubas will arrest the ‘Caps’ slide. — Carlisle

Previous ranking: 28

Next MLS match: April 23 vs. Seattle Sounders, 10:00 p.m. ET, ESPN+

The Matias Almeyda era has come to a merciful end, finishing with a contest akin to Demolition Derby between Almeyda and the front office; both are battered and bruised. It’s now up to U23 manager Alex Covelo to revive the Quakes. He certainly can’t do much worse after a 2-2 draw against Nashville extended San Jose’s winless streak to seven games. — Carlisle


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