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 6
It is fair to say that the results across Major League Soccer this week provided fans with no shortage of shock-results. MLS is proving why it is one of the hardest in the world to win, and this week showed that anyone is beatable on any given matchday.
That being said, there are quite a few teams trading spots in this week’s In Form Power Rankings, including quite a few newcomers to the table, too. So, without further delay, let’s kick off!
1. New York City FC
New York City Football Club played two games since the last installment of In Form, and since posted a convincing win over Real Salt Lake and a well earned draw against Atlanta United away from home.
Results from their two recent games ensure the Cityzen’s comfortable position atop the Eastern Conference on 17 points, which is four points clear of second-placed Atlanta United.
They have, however, played one more game than The Five Stripes, so they can not quite get too comfortable. Their form does say otherwise, however, as NYCFC’s star players are continuing to perform.
Both Maximiliano Moralez and Ismael Tajouri added to their impressive, early season totals against RSL, while David Villa got a much needed goal against Atlanta. NYCFC has looked beatable this season at times, but it’ll be hard to knock them off the top of my Top-10.
2. Atlanta United
A home draw against the top side in the league sees Atlanta United stay second in the Eastern Conference behind NYCFC. But, with a game in hand, United have a chance to narrow the distance between them and the Cityzens to one point, when the games finally catch up.
Despite only earning a point, Atlanta still looked dominant, and this game was the first instance where the team dropped points since week one. Perhaps the only disappointment is that the draw to NYCFC was on home soil.
Mercedes-Benz is usually a fortress, so to squander two separate leads during the game shows why the team are currently exploring several different defensive options. It’s that end of the pitch that has not looked stellar, and the rumored arrival of central defender Stephane Mbia only spells good news.
3. Sporting KC (+2)
Many people may not realize, but Sporting Kansas City have quietly been a force to reckon with in the Western Conference.
SKC have sat top of the Western Conference for the last few weeks, and they extended their lead at the top with a 2-2 draw against Seattle Sounders last time out. Sporting also benefited from losses by both Columbus Crew SC and Vancouver Whitecaps, but this takes nothing away from the team’s marvelous run of form.
Kansas City has not lost since Opening Day, and they have boasted a streak since then that includes four wins and two draws. On the heels of back to back shutouts, it is, perhaps, a bit disappointing to concede two goals to an injury ridden Seattle, but Peter Vermes’ side will still be relishing their recent form.
Next week features a massive test for SKC against Vancouver, one that will surely show where both of these teams stand.
4. Vancouver Whitecaps
It’s another week and another poor performance from the Whitecaps.
Admittedly, their back-to-back losses have come against quality opposition, which is the only thing keeping them in the Top-4. However, with all the bright spots in this lineup going forward, Vancouver will probably not be happy to have been blanked by a Los Angeles side that leaks goals like a faucet.
Unfortunately, the 2-0 defeat last weekend to Los Angeles Football Club sees the Whitecaps drop to third in the Western Conference, with a huge test looming next week against Sporting.
5. Columbus Crew SC (-2)
Columbus is another team that has suffered multiple losses in a row, and this drop in my Power Rankings has been a few weeks coming.
After last week’s loss to lowly Chicago Fire, the Crew had the perfect opportunity to bounce back against D.C. United, a team that currently sits at the bottom of the Eastern Conference.
Unfortunately, the attacking talents of Gyasi Zardes and Federico Higuain failed to turn up, and the Crew were beaten by a goal to nil. A loss makes it three straight defeats for Greg Berhalter’s side, and two of which have been to sides with zero wins going into the game.
Columbus are plummeting down the table, and many are wondering if this team really has what it takes this year, or was just riding a good run of form that extended from the end of last season.
6. LAFC (+1)
After dropping their last two contests and having conceded nine unanswered goals over that spell, a quality win over a top side in the Vancouver Whitecaps was much-needed for the league’s newcomers.
More importantly, however, LAFC were able to keep a relatively comfortable clean sheet against a tough attacking line. Big striker Kei Kamara is no easy task to deal with, but a tactical switch from Bob Bradley into a back three served the Black-and-Gold well.
LAFC will need more standout performances from their defensive line if they wish to get back to their early season form, but at least Diego Rossi and Carlos Vela got back on the scoresheet after a dismal outing in Atlanta.
7. LA Galaxy (+2)
To some, it might seem controversial to have the LA Galaxy still behind their cross-city rivals in power rankings. However, while both teams have their separate issues, Bradley’s team appears to be much easier to sort out than Sigi Schmidt’s.
A major problem for this Galaxy side is a lack of order and tactical awareness. Couple that with a consistency problem, and you get a side that (remarkably) sits second in the Western Conference, but has a poor loss to Real Salt Lake.
LA Galaxy have done well enough with a relatively difficult schedule in the opening few weeks, but they need to show more dominance against the lower sides in MLS if they are to keep moving up.
But don’t worry, Galaxy fans; I expect them to do just that.
8. New England Revolution (-2)
New England Revolution took a hit this past weekend with a loss to FC Dallas.
While the loss looks much worse on paper than it actually was, it does not change the result, and New England’s impressive run of form is on hold, at least for the moment.
Dropping this team two spots seems rather harsh, considering the Revs were one score away from at least an even result. However, given that Dallas has not lived up to their preseason billing so far, it only seems fair.
9. Orlando City FC (N/A)
Orlando City SC are officially the first of two newcomers this week.
Orlando is riding a three game win streak after only picking up one point from their first three matches. Reason be? Goals. They’ve been flying in for the Floridian side, as they have scored nine in their last three, which more than triples their count from the first three games of the season.
Dom Dwyer has been outstanding over this stretch, scoring four goals in three games. However, their goals have been matched by goals conceded, leading to a few narrow, but high-scoring, victories.
Orlando look good, but they really need to sort out their defense.
10. New York Red Bulls (N/A)
And, for the second time on this Philadelphian site, are the New York Red Bulls.And, this time I expect them to stay.
NYRB have been distracted by the CONCACAF Champions League, which they participated in during the beginning of the current MLS season. I had mentioned that their form would likely only turn around, but at the expense of the Champions League.
After a tough loss to Chivas, this is exactly the case. Now, New York can turn its focus to MLS play.
NYRB’s return to normalcy, if you will, showed in their dominant 3-1 victory over the Montreal Impact at the weekend. If the teams above them in the Eastern Conference continue to falter, I can easily see this side finishing third or fourth in the table.
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.