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 8:
Is it Matchweek 8 already? It feels like just yesterday that the 2018 MLS season kicked off, and if nothing else that is a tribute to how exciting this year has been. So far, fans have been treated to some incredible results and fantastic football, too.
This season has also brought a new derby and the birth of a brand new club. All in all, the first quarter of the season has been spectacular, so let’s break down which teams are good, bad, and ugly. It’s time for In Form!
1. New York City Football Club
It was another dominant victory at the weekend for Patrick Vieira’s side who continued their winning ways. New York City Football Club battered FC Dallas 3-1 at Yankee Stadium on Sunday, handing the Texan club its first loss of the campaign.
Rumors linking Vieira to the open Arsenal job have been growing stronger, and with red-hot Atlanta United breathing down their necks, it was important for the Cityzens to nab all three points.
Perhaps more important was the return to form for Spanish forward David Villa, who scored twice with one being a milestone, 400th career goal for club and country. Villa’s season total now stands at four goals and level with in-form teammate Maxi Moralez.
It certainly seems like more good times are ahead for NYCFC, but keeping hold of their manager will be crucial.
2. Atlanta United
Atlanta United continue to mount pressure on NYCFC at the top of the Eastern Conference, managing a win last time out, to stay a point back of the conference leaders, with a game still in hand.
Atlanta’s Five Stripes are now unbeaten in their last seven, with their only slip up coming in a draw to none other than NYCFC.
Leading the charge for Atlanta during this current stretch have been the South Americans Tito Villalba, Josef Martinez, and Miguel Almiron, who have an astounding 27 goals between them (10, 9, and 8 respectively). Almiron has also chipped in with nine assists, and is making his case for MLS Player of the Year so far.
3. Los Angeles Football Club (+1)
It appears the new kids on the block, Los Angeles Football Club, have found their footing again, after back to back defeats a few weeks ago.
Since then, they have boasted three straight victories and currently sit two points back, with two games in hand. LAFC is in a pretty good place, at the moment, considering the team has played the first six games of the season away from home. However, this past weekend, Los Angeles christened its new ground with a deserved win and clean sheet against Seattle.
I think, by now, followers of MLS know just how threatening this team is going forward, with the likes of Mexican international Carlos Vela and Uruguayan youngster Diego Rossi. And, if players like Belgian international Laurent Ciman can continue to step up when needed, the ceiling could be quite high for this team.
4. Sporting Kansas City (-1)
Sporting Kansas City dropped points over the weekend, with a tough 1-0 defeat on the road, to New England Revolution.
However, while the result was probably deserved, it was more of a testament to the quality of the opposition than that of a poor display by Kansas City. That said, it is still a result that, coupled with an LAFC win, all of a sudden makes things interesting out West.
On a positive note, this is just the second game that Sporting have failed to keep a clean sheet, which is a promising sign. On a sour note, it is the first game since an Opening Day defeat to NYCFC in which SKC has failed to score.
5. New England Revolution (+1)
New England Revolution bounced back nicely after a tough defeat to FC Dallas, with a deserved victory at home to SKC. This is a huge result for the Revs as they look to cement their place among the top sides in the Eastern Conference once again.
Veteran forward Teal Bunbury has established himself as a first-team regular this season, while a clean sheet against one of the league’s most prolific attacking sides is indicative of goalkeeper Matt Turner and his undeniable upside.
New England is just a bit of consistency and experience away from getting back to their former glory.
6. Columbus Crew (-1)
Although Columbus Crew SC righted, or at least appear to have temporarily righted the ship, with a win against lowly San Jose Earthquakes at the weekend, they still drop a spot in my Power Rankings due to the strong performances of teams near them in the table.
Columbus’ win this past weekend was its first win in five games, and it was definitely needed to avoid slipping any lower than fifth in the Eastern Conference. However, the Crew could still fall, once teams catch up in the games played department.
7. Orlando City SC (+1)
Orlando City SC have gone from a bottom of the table side to third place in the Eastern Conference and in just a matter of weeks. City have now won five straight, following a slim victory over Colorado Rapids over the weekend.
So why is this club, which is riding the longest win streak in the league, sitting third place in the highly-competitive Eastern Conference, so low on the list? Simply put, the teams they have beat have not been of prolific quality so far.
Arguably the best opponent Orlando has faced, and beaten, this season has been the New York Red Bulls, and that victory took an incredible comeback. But here’s the reality: it came against a side preparing for a CONCACAF Champions League match.
Neverthless, Orlando, in my opinion, is one quality win away from shooting up the In Form rankings.
8. Vancouver Whitecaps (-1)
Vancouver Whitecaps are the second club on this week’s Power Rankings that have dropped a spot after a win. However, given the context of that win, and the performance of Orlando City, it simply had to be done.
Vancouver was able to grab their first win in their last four matches, to stop their bad spell of form. And, having been a man down, makes this result even more impressive.
Now it’s up to the Cascadian club to finally find their goal-scoring boots again.
9. New York Red Bulls (N/A)
New York Red Bulls finally make the In Form Power Rankings after a two week hiatus, and currently find themselves in sixth place in the Eastern Conference.
NYRB sits in sixth, with 4 wins and 3 losses so far. However, New York sits only two points away from fourth place. This, coupled with the fact that NYRB have games in hand over both of the sides above them, means Jesse Marsch’s team is in a good spot.
And, without the burden of the Champions League anymore, I could really foresee NYRB shooting up the table soon.
10. FC Dallas
Despite a loss this past weekend, FC Dallas remain at the bottom of my Power Rankings this week.
Dallas loss to New York City in what was its first loss of the season, and although Dallas still has the potential to be a good side this year and even stay in my Top-10, the Texan club needs to improve against the teams they really should be beating.
NYCFC is not one of these teams, but results in bigger games will certainly help, too.
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.