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 11:
For starters, I don’t know why I even bother to keep up with Matchweeks since Major League Soccer does not make it very easy to do so. It has been little more than a week since the last installment of In Form, and most teams — emphasis on most — have played two more games.
So, that said, for our sake let’s just call this week Matchweek 11, and you can take that with a grain of salt.
Alright, enough prelude, let’s kick off!
1. Atlanta United
In what was a roller coaster of a week, Atlanta United knocked off one of the hottest teams in the league in Orlando City SC, before dropping a frustrating home match to another one of the league’s most in form sides in the New York Red Bulls.
However, despite a taking one step forward, one step back, United remain first in the Eastern Conference and a point above New York City Football Club. Atlanta boasts one of the most potent attacks in MLS, one that looks even more dangerous with the addition of Ezequiel Barco to the attack.
If Barco and friends can continue to pour in the goals for Atlanta, then I fully expect the slip up, if you will, against the Red Bulls to be nothing more than a blip on United’s radar.
2. New York City Football Club (+1)
New York City Football Club bounced back after a woeful loss to NYRB a few weekends ago, posting a well-earned draw and victory in their last two outings. In those games, NYCFC bagged six goals, a figure that suggests the attack is finally coming to full form.
For as good as NYCFC have been this season, there have been suggestions that some of their big-name players have not hit top form. However, three goals from Spanish forward David Villa in two games might be just what the side need in midst of head coach Patrick Vieira’s rumored departure to the vacant Arsenal job.
3. Sporting Kansas City (-1)
Sporting Kansas City, the frontrunners in the Western Conference, drop a spot this week after a disappointing draw.Now this might seem harsh, but hear me out.
It was a 1-1 draw that came against a Minnesota United side with a -8 goal difference. Sporting, who have scored for fun for the majority of this season, were only able to sneak one past United keeper Bobby Shuttleworth.
Nevertheless, head coach Peter Vermes’ side remain a force to be reckoned with in the West. Given the fact SKC have only conceded once in their last five games is certainly a promising sign and a step in the right direction.
4. New York Red Bulls (+4)
Head coach Jesse Marsch’s side have been on a tear as of late, and are thoroughly deserving of a leap into fourth this week.
NYRB have won five from their previous six games, a run that includes impressive wins against both Atlanta United and NYCFC. English forward Bradley Wright-Phillips has been on a tear recently, after a considerably slow start to the season.
However, goals have been pouring in from elsewhere, with players like Daniel Royer and Florian Valot in fine-form as of late. New York are now, in my opinion, the team to beat in the heavily-contested Eastern Conference.
5. Los Angeles Football Club (-1)
Matchweek 11, or whatever it is, did not spare Major League Soccer’s newcomers.
Los Angeles Football Club recorded a draw and a loss to quality opponents in NYCFC and Portland Timbers respectively. In what were two entertaining and closely contested games, LAFC’s defensive frailties were, again, brought to light.
Los Angeles has already been in a similar spot this season, and has since bounced back nicely. LAFC remain second in the Western Conference, and Mexican international Carlos Vela continues to show his class.
I fully expect head coach Bob Bradley’s team to bounce back again, even if their defense is shady at best.
6. Columbus Crew
Speaking of bouncing back, Columbus Crew SC are doing just that.
Crew SC have posted consecutive wins since the last installment of In Form two weeks ago, which means Columbus is now unbeaten in their previous six matches and has boasted an impressive four wins in that span.
However, I am not quite ready to announce the return of the Columbus.
Head coach Greg Berhalter’s side have certainly righted the ship and done enough to sit third in the Eastern Conference, but the key to maintaining their form lies on the shoulders, or feet rather, of breakout forward Gyasi Zardes.
And, with the explosive Red Bulls breathing down their necks, the Crew will especially need Zardes to maintain his high-level of offensive production up top. On a positive note, Argentinian maestro Federico Higuain looks reborn since an early season slump.
7. Portland Timbers (N/A)
Perhaps the biggest mystery in MLS so far this season has been regarding the whereabouts of the Portland Timbers through the first five weeks of the current campaign.
One of the most highly-touted teams at the beginning of the year simply disappeared until week six.
However, week six’s victory against Minnesota United spurned a nice run of five consecutive victories that, so far, culminated in a massive win last time out, against red-hot LAFC.
Over that span, the Timbers have a goal difference of +7 and are averaging around two goals a game. It’s an impressive run of form for the Timbers, and it’s good enough for third in the Western Conference, with a game in hand over LAFC who sit ahead of them.
8. Orlando City SC (-3)
Obviously, Orlando City SC could not maintain their remarkable run of form, and losses against Atlanta United and Toronto Football Club are certainly nothing to be ashamed of.
However, the Lions’ recent losses bring to question their ability to win in big games.
Orlando’s sore spot, if you will, could be star forward Dom Dwyer who has not scored in the previous two losses, further highlighting the American’s importance to Jason Kreis’ team.
It appears that if Dwyer doesn’t show up, neither does Orlando City.
9. New England Revolution (-3)
It has been a rollercoaster year for first-year head coach Brad Friedel and the New England Revolution.
New England followed up a brilliant and deserved 2-1 victory against Toronto with a disappointing loss against Columbus. Granted, the team is young and there are certainly better times ahead, but to be successful this campaign, the Revs need to find consistency in order to build momentum.
Friedel’s side have frequently failed to take advantage of mounting momentum, following up victories with half-hearted efforts that have resulted in both draws and/or losses.
And, although New England is in a better position then most supporters thought it would be this season, Brad Friedel still has a lot of work to do.
10. FC Dallas (-1)
Surely there must be a clever nickname I could bestow upon FC Dallas to poke fun at their astounding five draws through 10 games played so far this season. Oh well, I’ll let fellow PFD writer Cal Dymowski crack the jokes.
Draws, while certainly not the worst of results, are almost certainly holding back Dallas from what would otherwise be a fantastic season.
Fourth place in the Western Conference is not bad, but it’s not good either. Considering Dallas has only lost once, it looks, at least on paper, that Oscar Pareja’s side is capable of bigger things.
Still, a win and a draw this past matchweek is enough to keep them In Form.
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.