MLS Power Rankings: What happened to LAFC and Atlanta?


With the MLS is Back Tournament a distant memory and the regular season well and truly underway, with a schedule jammed full of matches, ESPN’s Power Rankings make their long-awaited return. With nearly six months since our last installment, a lot has changed in this week’s order.

And since the bubble tournament concluded in Orlando, we’ve already seen three matchdays’ worth of contests by the time you’ve read this, so expect plenty more volatility in these ratings for the remainder of the year.

What has happened to LAFC? And Atlanta? Buckle up, because this week’s edition is a wild one.

Previous ranking: 10

Next MLS match: Tuesday vs. Montreal, 8 p.m. ET, ESPN+

TFC’s league regular-season unbeaten streak now stands at 18 games, just two away from owning the longest in league history. TFC’s competition hasn’t been the toughest since MLS is Back, but the streak still speaks to the talent level at BMO Field.

Previous ranking: 7

Next MLS match: Wednesday at Real Salt Lake, 9:30 p.m. ET

Whatever sour taste might have remained from MLS is Back has been washed away with a 3-0 road win at rivals Portland and a 3-1 home triumph over LAFC. Jordan Morris remains in fine form.

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Previous ranking: 5

Next MLS match: Wednesday vs. Philadelphia, 7:30 p.m. ET, ESPN+

If you count its knockout in the round of 16 vs. Minnesota United via a shootout, Columbus has won just once in its past four matches, including Saturday’s scoreless draw against Hell is Real rivals Cincinnati.

Previous ranking: 12

Next MLS match: Wednesday at Columbus, 7:30 p.m. ET, ESPN+

Andre Blake‘s shutout streak was ended at 243 minutes against D.C., but Kacper Przybylko and Brenden Aaronson combined to beat the nation’s capital club, 4-1, and put Philly in the thick of the fight atop the East.

Previous ranking: 22

Next MLS match: Wednesday at Nashville, 8:30 p.m. ET, ESPN+

There was a sense that maybe the Lions had fallen back to earth after a loss to Inter Miami, but wins over Nashville and Atlanta have Oscar Pareja’s side back to winning ways.

Previous ranking: 3

Next MLS match: Wednesday vs. Dallas, 8:30 p.m. ET, ESPN+

This is a team still struggling with consistency, especially on the defensive side of the ball. Every time Kansas City gets an impressive result (2-1 away win at Minnesota), it undoes it with a head-scratcher (getting punked 5-2 at home against Houston.) A 1-1 road draw at Colorado stopped the bleeding.

Previous ranking: 2

Next MLS match: Wednesday at Houston, 8 p.m. ET, ESPN+

Minnesota has three goals in its past 270 minutes of action, which explains why Adrian Heath’s preferred front four of Ethan Finlay, Kevin Molino, Robin Lod and Luis Amarilla were hooked at halftime in a 3-1 loss in Dallas.

Previous ranking: 14

Next MLS match: Wednesday vs. LA Galaxy, 10:30 p.m. ET, ESPN+

The high of the Timbers’ MLS is Back Tournament title didn’t last long, as they lost convincingly in their first game back from Orlando — at home — against archrival Seattle, before settling for a high-scoring 4-4 draw at Real Salt Lake.

Previous ranking: 15

Next MLS match: Wednesday vs. NYCFC, 8 p.m. ET

The loss of Carles Gil to what could be season-ending Achilles surgery remains a massive blow, but the Revs continue to grind out results thanks to Gustavo Bou up front and Matt Turner in goal.

Previous ranking: 18

Next MLS match: Wednesday at Portland, 10:30 p.m. ET, ESPN+

Their group-stage exit was embarrassing for such a storied club, but the Galaxy have flourished since returning to the comforts of Los Angeles with wins over LAFC and San Jose.

Previous ranking: 1

Next MLS match: Wednesday vs. San Jose, 10:30 p.m. ET, ESPN+

There’s no timetable for Carlos Vela‘s return from an MCL injury, and last year’s Supporters’ Shield winners have lost two straight since their elimination from MLS is Back.

Previous ranking: 20

Next MLS match: Wednesday at LAFC, 10:30 p.m. ET, ESPN+

-The Quakes haven’t been deep under Matias Almeyda, and now that Magnus Eriksson has returned to his native Sweden, it will be interesting to see who replaces him in the center of midfield. It’s not all bad news, mind you: 16-year-old Cade Cowell did score an impressive goal in his first start, a 3-2 loss to the Galaxy.

Previous ranking: 9

Next MLS match: Wednesday vs. D.C. United, 7:30 p.m. ET, ESPN+

The Red Bulls haven’t scored more than a single goal since their opening match of the season against Cincinnati, and their leading scorer — with two goals — is a defender. Meanwhile, in Los Angeles, Bradley Wright-Phillips has three. Just sayin’.

Previous ranking: 23

Next MLS match: Wednesday at New England, 8 p.m. ET, ESPN+

It’s been 369 minutes since an NYCFC attacker has scored from open play, but contributions from all over — notably Alexander Ring — have propelled the Bronx side to two wins in a row.

Previous ranking: 21

Next MLS match: Wednesday vs. Seattle, 9:30 p.m. ET, ESPN+

RSL’s tumultuous week finished on a positive note thanks to an impressive fight-back in the 4-4 draw against Portland. Is Giuseppe Rossi‘s goal a sign of things to come?

Previous ranking: 11

Next MLS match: Tuesday at. Toronto, 8 p.m. ET, ESPN+

Two matches against Toronto this season, and two one-goal losses. Montreal has its work cut out for it as it heads to Ontario.

Previous ranking: 4

Next MLS match: Wednesday vs. Miami, 7 p.m. ET

Pity Martinez definitely benefited from the new manager bounce with two sumptuous goals against Nashville. It didn’t last long, though, as the Five Stripes followed that up with a humbling loss to Orlando.

Previous ranking: 26

Next MLS match: Wednesday vs. Chicago, 7:30 p.m. ET, ESPN+

Jaap Stam looked to have righted FCC’s ship defensively, with four clean sheets in league play since he took over. Cincy’s attack is still missing, however.

Previous ranking: 13

Next MLS match: Wednesday at Red Bulls, 7:30 p.m. ET, ESPN+

DCU spent considerable offseason capital on acquisitions like Julian Gressel, Edison Flores and Yamil Asad yet the Black and Red’s attack still looks disjointed. Only expansion Miami is below DCU in the Eastern Conference.

Previous ranking: 24

Next MLS match: Wednesday vs. Orlando, 8:30 p.m. ET, ESPN+

Manager Gary Smith has long touted that he would give his corps of forwards a chance. But with just four goals in seven games, it’s looking like time is running out. Fortunately, Anibal Godoy popped up to bag the winner against Miami.

Previous ranking: 25

Next MLS match: Wednesday at Atlanta, 7 p.m. ET

Miami got off the proverbial schneid with a win over Orlando, and Julian Carranza is beginning to justify his $6m price tag. A road loss to Nashville stings, however.

Previous ranking: 17

Next MLS match: Wednesday at Cincinnati, 7:30 p.m. ET, ESPN+

In Chicago’s three games since returning from MLS is Back, the home team has scored three goals and gone on to win. Unfortunately for the Fire, they’ve been the road team twice in that span, and visit Cincinnati in midweek.

Previous ranking: 19

Next MLS match: Wednesday vs. Minnesota, 8 p.m. ET, ESPN+

What a time for Tab Ramos and the Dynamo to get their first win, with Ramos getting one over on old buddy Peter Vermes. While some questions in defense still linger, Houston’s attacking pieces are a sight to behold, especially in transition.

Previous ranking: 8

Next MLS match: Wednesday vs. Sporting KC, 8:30 p.m. ET, ESPN+

In Dallas’s 270-minute scoreless streak prior to playing Minnesota, it had mustered just seven shots on target. FCD equaled that mark in 90 minutes vs. the Loons, putting three past the visitors.

Previous ranking: 6

Next MLS match: Saturday at San Jose, 10:30 p.m. ET, ESPN+

Colorado has conceded 12 goals in its past five games. A 1-1 draw against Sporting was a step in the right direction.

Previous ranking: 16

Next MLS match: Saturday vs. Toronto, 9:30 p.m. ET, ESPN+

Vancouver’s trip out east hasn’t been particularly fruitful, losing by a combined 6-0 in two losses to Toronto and one to Montreal. The Whitecaps return to BC Place, where their only match this season was also a loss, to take on Toronto and a doubleheader vs. Montreal

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