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In Form — Barnes’ MLS Power Rankings: Matchweek 5

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Who’s up, who’s down? Each week, Philly Football Daily’s MLS contributor Noah Barnes ranks the ten hottest clubs in MLS based on results, performances, and however else Barnes attempts to justify positioning in his column, In Form.

MLS Power Rankings Matchweek 5

Welcome back to In Form. A new matchweek has passed, which means there are new power rankings.

Not every team played this week. Neverthless, there were no shortage of big games and surprising results around the league. Given that most clubs have played five games at this point, this In Form is based on results from Matchweek 5.

So, without hesitation, let’s kick off!

1. New York City Football Club

New York City Football Club did not play this weekend, so there really is nothing new to say about this outfit other than they have a game on Wednesday against Real Salt Lake that could have implications for both NYCFC and RSL who are both in this week’s Top-10.

I expect New York side to pick up all three points, as RSL have not been the best against big sides early on this year. NYCFC also boast the talent necessary to continue their hot run of form.

NYCFC should come out as winners, especially if Maximiliano Moralez continues to find the back of the net.

2. Atlanta United

Breathe easy, Atlanta United fans.

It appears United fans can rule out the dreaded sophomore slump after this weekend’s five-nil drubbing of newcomers Los Angeles Football Club.

Atlanta have since put the Opening Day four-nil defeat to Houston Dynamo behind them, and they haven’t looked back, winning their last four matches and in convincing fashion, too.

Much of ATL’s success, in large part, is due to the goals that are flying in at a rate of almost 2.5 per game. Currently, The Five Stripes lead the league with 13 goals scored. Venezuelan striker Josef Martinez is having a phenomenal season so far, notching five goals in as many games, a mark which sees him atop the scoring charts in this early stage of the season.

Last time out, this United team proved just how hard it is to come to the Mercedes-Benz. And if they keep this run of form up, I could see them challenging NYCFC for the Eastern Conference title later down the line.

3. Columbus Crew

Last week I said that I would not be surprised if Columbus Crew SC started to trip up against larger opponents. And while I am sticking to my guns, I was still surprised to see them drop three points to lowly Chicago Fire this past weekend.

Columbus’ frailties are beginning to show, and they simply have to be more clinical going forward and more careful in possession, too. Yes it was only a one-nil loss, but the result against Chicago brought to light all of Columbus’ underlying issues.

Gregg Berhalter’s team hit the woodwork three times at the weekend, and were lucky not to get caught out on many counter attacks started by misplaced midfield passes. Chicago’s lone goal eventually came from a horrendous individual mistake by the Crew’s keeper, Zach Steffen, but it is finishing that ultimately cost them this game.

4. Vancouver Whitecaps

So what’s keeping Crew SC in third place for this week’s In Form? Just ask Vancouver Whitecaps FC, who failed to win at the weekend, as well.

A 2-1 loss to Real Salt Lake last time out sees the Canadian outfit remain second in the Western Conference, while the team below them in this week’s Top-10 sits above them in the table.

Vancouver still look good, and are, by far, the strongest side in Cascadia at the moment, which is an achievement that usually means as much as a berth in MLS Cup Playoffs. However, Carl Robinson’s team need to avoid any more slip-ups in what is looking like it is going to be a tight race for the Western Conference.

5. Sporting KC (+1)

Another clean sheet makes it two-in-two for Sporting Kansas City.

Even sweeter? Peter Vermes‘ side did so against a LA Galaxy side that put four past LAFC last week. More importantly, however, a win sees SKC remain atop the Western Conference standings, and with a legitimate gripe to jump into the top four in my Top-10.

Felipe Gutierrez continues to bag the goals, and is currently the league’s second highest scorer. If Vermes truly has ironed out the defensive issues, this SKC team could prove a real threat this season.

6. New England Revolution (+1)

New England Revolution got their third win in four trips this past weekend with a four-nil thumping of Montreal Impact.

It may still be too early to tell if first year head coach Brad Friedel has righted the ship after sinking it in Matchweek 1, but the Massachusetts side are currently on a tear and show no signs of slowing down.

However, the Revs have had the benefit of only playing one of their last four games away from home. And, while they won that game, it will still be interesting to see if standout players Cristian Penilla and Teal Bunbury can keep up their form in hostile environments, away from home.

Fixtures against Columbus and Atlanta loom on the horizon.

7. Los Angeles Football Club (-2)

For those who did not watch the display against Atlanta United at the weekend, dropping LAFC two spots may seem harsh.

After all, they have gone from number two to number seven in just two weeks time. However, in those two weeks, Bob Bradley’s team have conceded a concerning nine goals, lost a derby against the Galaxy, and were thumped by Atlanta.

LAFC can be excused for their losses, however, as derby games can swing either way and the Mercedes-Benz is a difficult place to pick up points. But the manner in which they have lost, conceding nine unanswered goals in two games, is worrisome to me.

Perhaps more worrisome, however, is the fact that LAFC have looked equally as dreadful going forward against Atlanta, and as a result were blanked in the match. Fans will hope it was just a slip, and not an inability to perform in big games.

8. Philadelphia Union (+2)

Philadelphia Union bounced back nicely, after last week’s worrisome defeat in Colorado, with a draw at home against the San Jose Earthquakes.

Philly can feel hard done by only earning a point, however, as they looked like the more threatening side throughout the game in Chester. Were it not for some heroics from San Jose keeper Andrew Tarbell, they would have almost certainly been the victor.

Regardless, the kids, overseen by manager Jim Curtin, continue to look alright, and may even lead the Union into a playoff spot by the end of the year. Still, only time will tell, and there are clearly growing pains.

Union fans should be careful not to expect too much this season, especially away from home.

9. LA Galaxy (-1)

LA Galaxy failed to ride the magic and momentum from their El Trafico victory into their home contest against Sporting Kansas City this past weekend, and it resulted in a 2-0 defeat.

Perhaps most concerning was their inability to put anything past a Sporting back line that has looked and proved leaky through the first few weeks. And, while the Galaxy certainly have the individual talents in their squad, head coach Sigi Schmid has been unable to form any semblance of an attacking outfit.

As a result, the Galaxy have developed an unhealthy and unsustainable reliance on moments of magic, which simply will not come every time out. LA have the pieces; they are there for the Galaxy. Now they just need to be put together.

10. Real Salt Lake (N/A)

Real Salt Lake are officially this week’s only new addition, and it comes at the expense of the New York Red Bulls.

NYRB did not play this week due to their participation in the CONCACAF Champions League Semi-Final. New York will face off against Chivas this midweek.

However, this is not to take anything away from head coach Mike Petke’s RSL, who rightfully earned their spot this week with a big-time win over Vancouver.

It’s undoubtedly a massive result for Real, but they still need to pull off more results from bigger clubs as the season carries on, especially if they want to push for a playoff spot.

For RSL, there opportunity to prove the doubters wrong begins on Wednesday, against the biggest fish in the pond, at the moment: NYCFC.

Check back at the end of next Matchweek to see who’s up, who’s down, and of course, who’s In Form. In the meantime, let me know what you think of my Top-10 on Twitter. Cheers. 

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