In Form — Barnes’ MLS Power Rankings: Matchweek 11

Extra Time, In Form, MLS, News

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. 

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In Form — Barnes’ MLS Power Rankings: Matchweek 9

Extra Time, In Form, MLS, News

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 9:

Wow. Just, wow. It has been another exciting week of Major League Soccer, with some intriguing and massive results, as well.

Naturally then, readers should expect some big shuffles to my weekly MLS Power Rankings this week. So, enough talk, let’s get right to it then, shall we? Time to kick off this week’s In Form.

1. Atlanta United (+1)

Before I get too in depth, it must be said that the process of ranking this week’s top-three was nearly impossible; the following three clubs are, in my opinion, about as even as it gets.

Now, with that being said, Atlanta United get the top spot this week, despite a midweek loss to Sporting Kansas City.

Before its loss, Atlanta was on an eight-game unbeaten run after defeating Chicago Fire at the weekend. A bevy of good results saw the Five Stripes leapfrog New York City Football Club to go top of the Eastern Conference.

I think, with all their attacking talent, United could stay there for quite a while.

2. Sporting Kansas City (+2)

Now talk about a statement win.

After an expected victory at the weekend against the Colorado Rapids, Sporting Kansas City scored a MASSIVE 2-0 victory on the road, in Atlanta. Sporting were helped by an early red card to Atlanta keeper Brad Guzan. 

Peter Vermes’ side added to their impressive scoring tally while keeping yet another clean sheet. SKC seem to have sorted out their early-season defensive issues, and they now sit comfortably atop the Western Conference.

It is no wonder that Vermes is being rumored to take over the United States National Team job.

3. New York City Football Club (-2)

It feels so, so wrong dropping New York City Football Club two slots after a loss. Nevertheless, it is how things panned out after this week.

That said, NYCFC did fall, or endure rather, in a 4-0 drudging to rivals New York Red Bulls over the weekend. It was a derby game in which they, well, simply failed to ever get off the coach.

Still, there is not a doubt in my mind, or anyone’s mind to be fair, that Patrick Vieira’s team is good. If Maxi Moralez can keep up the superb form he has been in so far, this team will go far.

And, if anything, the result to New York shows that, in fact, this NYCFC team is human. It’s going to be a dogfight for the top-spot in the Eastern Conference all. season. long. Especially come playoff time.

4. Los Angeles Football Club (-1)

Los Angeles’ new boys Los Angeles Football Club stayed in the race out West, with a tough, but deserved, draw against FC Dallas. LAFC followed that result up with a road victory against Minnesota United.

Currently, the newest club in the City of Angels are flying high, sitting second in the Western Conference and four points behind first-placed Sporting. And, with two games in hand as well, LAFC seem primed for a playoff run in the back two thirds of the season.

However, a slight concern for the club is the fact that Mexican international Carlos Vela appears to have cooled off in the past few games. Fortunately, it does not seem to have impacted their goalscoring, as other players have stepped up.

5. Orlando City SC (+2)

So this Orlando City SC team is for real, and they have since proven me dreadfully wrong from my early-season predictions.

After yet another win over the weekend against Real Salt Lake, Orlando sits third in the Eastern Conference and a point behind NYCFC with a game in hand. A win over the weekend lengthens their winning-run to six games.

However, there is still plenty of concern for the Floridian side, given that they have yet to play a top-side since their earlier defeat to NYCFC.

But, if marquee players like Dom Dwyer can keep up their impressive form, there is no reason, at least in my mind, to think the Lions can’t as well.

6. Columbus Crew SC

A win against the Philadelphia Union this past weekend seems to signal a partial return to form for Columbus Crew SC, as they are currently unbeaten in four games with two wins to their name in that span.

Even batter, forward Gyasi Zardes was able to get back on the scoresheet, which is something that is, perhaps, more important for the team going forward.

Crew SC still have a ways to go, in my opinion, to vie for the top-spot in the Eastern Conference, especially given the caliber of teams above them. But, at the very least, a win ensures they move back into fourth for the time being.

7. New England Revolution (-2)

A 4-0 defeat to Montreal Impact at the weekend shows that, for as good as the New England Revolution have been at times this season, they still have a ways to go in order to seriously compete.

It’s the type of result that emphasizes the importance of breakout forward Teal Bunbury to the Revs this season; when he goes quiet, the rest of the team does, too.

Still, its only the Revs second loss since Opening Day. New England has shown its fans that there is some great football for fans to look forward to for the rest of the current MLS campaign.

8. New York Red Bulls (+1)

New York is Red, no?

New York Red Bulls stamped their name and are demanding some R E S P E C T  after a BIG New York Derby victory over the weekend, defeating NYCFC by four goals to nil.

And, with the win, NYRB move one spot in my MLS Power Rankings. Despite their position in this week’s In Form, I could realistically see the Red Bulls continue their ascension, as they make up the games they missed due to the CONCACAF Champions League.

On that note, NYRB seem to have taken their exit from that competition personally, as they now have two wins in two since their exit.

9. FC Dallas (+1)

FC Dallas posted another draw at the weekend, which puts them at four on the year.

However, the fact Dallas was able to hold an electric LAFC attack to just one goal speaks volumes about this team going forward. Dallas has dropped just one contest so far, which is certainly a positive, but they will need to start winning games soon to stay competitive in what is churning up to be a tough Western Conference this season.

10. Vancouver Whitecaps Football Club (-2)

Honestly, the only thing keeping Vancouver Whitecaps in my power rankings is their standing in the Western Conference.

Remarkably, the Canadian club remains third in the West. However, this is likely to change soon, as they are level on points with Dallas, despite having played two more games.

Last week, I thought the Whitecaps had righted the ship with a victory against RSL, but a loss to Minnesota this past weekend has all but proven me wrong. It’s the type of result that shows the Whitecaps are hapless in front of net. VWFC have now recorded a paltry three goals in five matches.

If this does not change soon, there is no chance the ‘Caps will stick around the In Form rankings.

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. 

In Form — Barnes’ MLS Power Rankings: Matchweek 8

Extra Time, In Form, MLS, News

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. 

In Form — Barnes’ MLS Power Rankings: Matchweek 7

Extra Time, In Form, MLS, News

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 7

It’s that time of the week again. It’s time to break down the biggest results around Major League Soccer, to see who is In Form.

It was another exciting weekend of MLS action, with great games and shock results.

I think that, technically speaking, this is Matchweek 8, but a lot of teams have only played six or seven games, so who really knows? All that really matters are the rankings, so let’s get right to them and this week’s edition of In Form.

1. New York City Football Club

New York City Football Club suffered their first loss of the campaign, against the Portland Timbers, narrowing their lead at the top of the Eastern Conference to just a point.

Yes, hope of another invincible season for Patrick Vieira might be gone, but they still have all the qualities of a side that has what it takes to compete for silverware later this season.

I see this particular result as a small blip in an otherwise brilliant season, although they have some legitimate competition below them in Atlanta United.

2. Atlanta United

A win against LA Galaxy at the weekend means it is now six games unbeaten for Atlanta United, and another clean sheet means it is now their third in that same span of matches.

Atlanta has sured things up in the back since that disastrous Opening Day blowout to the Houston Dynamo, and has only conceded four goals since then. This, coupled with a string of explosive and offensive performances by top goalscorer Josef Martinez, has led The Five Stripes on an impressive unbeaten run.

United still sit second in the Eastern Conference behind NYCFC, but after the Cityzens dropped dropped three points at the weekend, Atlanta is now just a point back and with a game in hand, too.

3. Sporting Kansas City

Sporting Kansas City solidified their spot on top of the Western Conference with a massive 6-0 win against Vancouver Whitecaps this past weekend. Sporting also further solidified their spot as one of the top-three sides in MLS, in my opinion.

It’s Sporting’s third clean sheet in four games, and although they were helped by two Vancouver red cards, Peter Vermes’ side will still be more than happy.

SKC has stepped up defensively, too, and they continue to dominate going forward. Kansas City totaled a remarkable 34 shots at the weekend and has been finding the net habitually.

Sporting certainly look the side to beat out in the West.

4. Los Angeles Football Club (+2)

MLS’ newcomers are averaging an impressive three goals a game this season, a stat that has seen them hover in and around the top spot in the Western Conference for most of the season so far.

However, the problem with this LAFC side lies in the back.

If the goals ever dry up, they are in serious trouble defensively. Fans saw that for themselves in respective losses to rival LA Galaxy and Atlanta United. However, LAFC appeared to turn the corner last week, with a clean sheet against Vancouver.

It may be concerning that they let up three goals at the weekend to a considerably weaker Montreal Impact. On the plus side, LAFC scored five and Carlos Vela and Diego Rossi continue to light up the league going forward.

5. Columbus Crew

A point against the red-hot New England Revolution may seem like a decent result to Columbus Crew SC fans, a result that may have stopped Columbus’ skid that they have endured these past few weeks.

But, in reality, it means that the Crew have picked up just one point from their last four, and have dropped to fifth place in the Eastern Conference.

I know it is strange to have a fifth place side this high in the rankings, and maybe I value their wins early in the season too highly. But, either way, this is a team whose goals have dried up and could very easily continue to plummet in the In Form rankings next week.

6. New England Revolution (+2)

New England has cooled off a bit, since their run of three wins in four.

However, after that run, the Revs now sit fourth in the East and have turned many heads so far this season, including mine. So far, New England has looked like a team that will eventually be solid on both sides of the ball, and the emergence of players like Teal Bunbury and Cristian Penilla is promising.

New England’s investments in Diego Fagundez and Juan Agudelo are also paying off, and I could see the Revs continuing to fight for a playoff spot later this year.

7. Vancouver Whitecaps (-3)

Wow.

Usually, I would feel bad dropping a team by three spots in one week, but a 6-0 drudging to another Western Conference side in Sporting leaves me with no choice for Vancouver.

I have faith that this team can and will turn it around, but they need to get out of this bad spell of form fast. Carl Robinson’s side has now lost three straight, and have only netted once in that span.

After an impressive start to the season, the lack of goals is concerning for this team, and they need to find their goalscoring form soon. With both Cascadia rivals Seattle Sounders and Portland Timbers picking up wins at the weekend, the battle for the region may just be heating up as well.

8. Orlando City SC (+1)

Orlando City SC have now won four in a row after knocking off San Jose Earthquakes at the weekend, and they continue to mount a quiet, but solid, start to this current campaign.

After a considerably sluggish start, this current run of wins has propelled the Lions to third in the East, although it will be tough to keep pace with the top two sides. However, Orlando has been grinding out wins like clockwork, as three of their last four have been by a less-than-fashionable one-goal margin.

Defensively, this could be a concern when they face considerably better clubs, but for the moment, three points is three points.

9. LA Galaxy (-2)

Statistically, LA Galaxy are looking more and more like a mid-conference side, as they are dominant against weaker sides, but have failed to pick up a win against any of the top clubs.

A win in the El Trafico derby was impressive, but that was weeks ago. If anything, this is further evidence that the Galaxy do not have everything figured out, organizationally speaking, just yet.

Los Angeles certainly has the talent to get past smaller sides, but it was made evident, at the weekend, that they struggle against top-teams like Atlanta United. While I think the addition of Zlatan Ibrahimovic has helped the side with depth and talent, the ego he brings might be detrimental to the organization of the club.

10. FC Dallas (N/A)

FC Dallas were, in my opinion, considerably quiet, after what I thought to be a prominent start to the season. Dallas, who has settled for draws against mid-table sides, now appears to have turned the corner, however, as winners of its last two.

Dallas remains the only unbeaten team in MLS, with 12 points from six games, which is good enough for third place in the Western Conference.

Dallas has tough fixtures coming up against NYCFC and LAFC, respectively. But, if they can pick up results in either of these fixtures, I think that FC Dallas can prove they are a legitimate side in MLS this season.

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. 

In Form — Barnes’ MLS Power Rankings: Matchweek 6

Extra Time, In Form, MLS, News

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.