MLS Power Rankings: LAFC vanquish another challenger, Philly up to No. 2
The MLS secondary transfer window slammed shut last Wednesday, ending a brief and intense barrage of moves as clubs worked to solidify their rosters for the stretch run of the season. The Galaxy finally got their man, Cristian Pavon, LAFC added a young star in Brian Rodriguez, and a handful of teams feverishly worked the trade market in a bid to get better.
What does it all mean? It's too early to tell. The impact the new players will have is yet to be seen, though there are several clubs expected to shake up their XIs with playoffs (and playoff seeding) on the line.
Previous rankings: Week 22 | Week 21 | Week 20 | Week 19 | Week 18 | Week 17 | Week 16 | Week 15 | Week 14 | Week 13 | Week 12 | Week 11 | Week 10 | Week 9 | Week 8 | Week 7 | Week 6 | Week 5 | Week 4 | Week 3 | Week 2 | Week 1
1. LAFC (17 wins, 4 draws, 3 losses)
Previous ranking: 1
Next MLS match: August 17 at Real Salt Lake, stream live on ESPN+ at 4 p.m. ET
The best remain the best. LAFC didn't play a perfect defensive game against the Red Bulls, but the attack is so good it didn't matter. With his goal in the win, Carlos Vela remained on pace to break the MLS single-season goal-scoring record.
2. Philadelphia Union (13-6-7)
Previous ranking: 3
Next MLS match: August 17 at Chicago, stream live on ESPN+ at 8 p.m. ET
A keeper gaffe and... whatever you call what Jack Elliot did... helped the Union to a second consecutive win against Houston Dynamo. This was an important one, since it kept Philadelphia atop the Eastern Conference in front of hard-charging Atlanta United. Gotta win those home games.
3. Atlanta United (13-3-9)
Previous ranking: 5
Next MLS match: August 18 at Portland, 10 p.m. ET
Josef Martinez's adductor seems to be fine in the win over New York City. The same can't be said for his hair, which seems to be a strange chrome color now. Maybe it's a message about the defending champions hunting silverware? Atlanta has to be considered an MLS Cup contender, and they'll play for the Open Cup title later this month.
4. San Jose Earthquakes (11-5-8)
Previous ranking: 2
Next MLS match: August 17 at Sporting KC, stream live on ESPN+ at 8:30 p.m. ET
You can't lose to Colorado and not slip in the rankings. Again, the Quakes lost a game not because they played poorly, but because they didn't finish their chances. Matias Almeyda's effort-heavy system was always going to be pushed to its limits in the altitude of Commerce City.
5. Minnesota United (11-5-8)
Previous ranking: 4
Next MLS match: August 14 vs. Colorado, stream live on ESPN+ at 8 p.m. ET
Just in case we all forgot that Minnesota United played (and won) a massive Open Cup semifinal in midweek and didn't put everything they had into a trip to FC Dallas, the team's game recap press release made sure to remind us: HEAVILY ROTATED MNUFC FALLS 5-3 TO DALLAS. In case you missed it, the Loons were HEAVILY ROTATED.
6. New England Revolution (9-7-9)
Previous ranking: 7
Next MLS match: August 17 at Red Bulls, stream live on ESPN+ at 7 p.m. ET
The Revs played a wild game full of twists and turns and VAR and penalty kicks and goalmouth scrambles against the Sounders and left Seattle with a single point. Disappointed or not, the Revs showed that they have the quality and the fight to be very dangerous when October comes around.
7. New York City FC (10-8-5)
Previous ranking: 6
Next MLS match: August 17 at FC Cincinnati, stream live on ESPN+ at 7:30 p.m. ET
Dome Torrent's team didn't rise to the moment in Atlanta and the NYCFC coach said as much after the game. "What is the reason you play different against Atlanta? You have to be brave in Atlanta. If you want to play here you have to be brave. If you are scared here, forget about it. Stay in New York. You have to play."
8. Portland Timbers (10-4-9)
Previous ranking: 10
Next MLS match: August 14 vs. Chicago, stream live on ESPN+ at 11 p.m. ET
The Timbers put a lesser team in the Whitecaps to the sword at home, something that hasn't come easily to them since Providence Park reopened. That's a good first step on the way -- they hope -- to making all their upcoming home games count toward a playoff spot.
9. Seattle Sounders (11-6-7)
Previous ranking: 8
Next MLS match: August 14 at Real Salt Lake, stream live on ESPN+ at 10 p.m. ET
The Sounders moved into second place in the West with a point against New England, but that won't make the sting of points dropped at home hurt any less. The way those points got dropped -- via a penalty kick given because the ball jumped up and hit Jordy Delem's hand -- was excruciating.
10. New York Red Bulls (11-4-11)
Previous ranking: 9
Next MLS match: August 17 vs. New England, stream live on ESPN+ at 7 p.m. ET
The Red Bulls gave it a shot out in LA, but the quality of LAFC was too much for the visitors to handle at Banc of California Stadium. Glimpses of the vintage (read: Jesse Marsch) era Red Bulls emerged in the loss, but it could only delay the inevitable.
11. FC Dallas (10-6-9)
Previous ranking: 12
Next MLS match: August 14 at LA Galaxy, stream live on ESPN+ at 10:30 p.m. ET
Paxton Pomykal had a hat trick of assists, Brandon Servania scored his first two MLS goals off the bench, and the Hoops bounced back multiple times to secure a win over Minnesota United in Frisco. FC Dallas put six shots on goal in the game and only failed to score with one of them.
12. Real Salt Lake (11-4-9)
Previous ranking: 13
Next MLS match: August 14 vs. Seattle, stream live on ESPN+ at 10 p.m. ET
In normal circumstances, the focus would be on RSL's win against Sporting Kansas City and what it might mean for the playoff push. With news that the club fired Mike Petke on Sunday night, the circumstances have changed dramatically. Freddy Juarez, this is your squad now.
13. LA Galaxy (12-1-11)
Previous ranking: 11
Next MLS match: August 14 vs. FC Dallas, stream live on ESPN+ at 10:30 p.m. ET
That's not the way it was supposed to go for the Galaxy on the road in DC. United didn't have Wayne Rooney and benched Luciano Acosta and still managed to do a smash-and-grab job on Zlatan Ibrahimovic and Co. Cristian Pavon's debut was a mixed bag on bad turf.
14. Orlando City (8-6-11)
Previous ranking: 14
Next MLS match: August 14 vs. Sporting KC, stream live on ESPN+ at 7:30 p.m. ET
One point in Toronto is better than no points, especially coming off of the emotional loss to Atlanta midweek in the Open Cup semis. The Lions are hovering -- not clearly a playoff team, but not clearly an also-ran -- and it may take the full balance of the regular season to suss out where they'll end up.
15. D.C. United (10-9-7)
Previous ranking: 16
Next MLS match: August 17 at Vancouver, stream live on ESPN+ at 10 p.m. ET
A throwback to the "Benny Ball" of yore earned the Black and Red a 2-1 win over the Galaxy at Audi Field on Sunday. Wayne Rooney was ill after flitting back and forth across the Atlantic and Luciano Acosta was rooted on the bench. It's hard to see DCU making a deep playoff run without those players.
16. Chicago Fire (7-9-10)
Previous ranking: 21
Next MLS match: August 14 at Portland, stream live on ESPN+ at 11 p.m. ET
The Fire have themselves a winning streak and a three-game unbeaten run thanks to a goal from Bastian Schweinsteiger that lifted them over the Impact on Saturday. It was Schweinsteiger's first goal of the year -- a tally that not only won the game but pushed Chicago to within three points of a playoff spot in the East.
17. Sporting Kansas City (7-7-10)
Previous ranking: 15
Next MLS match: August 14 at Orlando, stream live on ESPN+ at 7:30 p.m. ET
Sporting has lost more games at home than it has won, which tells you just about all you need to know about how this season has gone for Peter Vermes and his team. The narrowing window for Sporting to climb back into the playoff picture narrowed further with a loss to RSL on Saturday.
18. Colorado Rapids (7-5-12)
Previous ranking: 19
Next MLS match: August 14 at Minnesota, stream live on ESPN+ at 8 p.m. ET
Just when it looked like the Rapids' ascension under Conor Casey was crashing back to earth, Colorado goes back-to-back with wins over playoff-contending teams. Saturday's victory over San Jose probably doesn't do much for their playoff chances, but it renews the recent good feelings.
19. Columbus Crew (7-5-14)
Previous ranking: 17
Next MLS match: August 17 vs. Toronto, stream live on ESPN+ at 7:30 p.m. ET
Gyasi Zardes, at point blank range, had a chance to win the first MLS edition of the "Hell Is Real" derby in the closing seconds. He blazed over an open net and the points were shared.
20. Toronto FC (9-6-10)
Previous ranking: 18
Next MLS match: August 17 at Columbus, stream live on ESPN+ at 7:30 p.m. ET
It's hard not to see Saturday's draw with Orlando as a missed opportunity for the Reds. At home against a team battling with them for a playoff spot, all Toronto could manage was a single point. For a team that was once the league's elite team, the mediocrity is calcifying quickly.
21. Montreal Impact (10-3-13)
Previous ranking: 20
Next MLS match: August 17 vs. FC Dallas, stream live on ESPN+ at 7:30 p.m. ET
Remi Garde left some big names on the bench in Chicago, a move that might come back to haunt him and the Impact as their grip on the last playoff spot in the Eastern Conference begins to slip. Both of the clubs chasing the Impact have played one fewer game than Montreal.
22. Houston Dynamo (9-3-12)
Previous ranking: 21
Next MLS match: August 17 vs. Colorado, stream live on ESPN+ at 9 p.m. ET
Recently acquired striker Christian Ramirez scored on his Dynamo debut in Philadelphia, a positive sign for a team in need of goals. But the Dynamo's rapidly sinking stone means the playoffs are getting further and further away with each passing week. It was a rough week with two losses in the span of four days.
23. Vancouver Whitecaps (5-9-12)
Previous ranking: 23
Next MLS match: August 17 v. DC United, stream live on ESPN+ at 10 p.m. ET
Last week the 'Caps won a game against the worst team in the league. This week, they lost a game to a team decidedly better than that. The bright spot in Portland was 19-year-old homegrown signing Theo Blair's stunning first MLS tally. It's all about the future in B.C.
24. FC Cincinnati (5-3-17)
Previous ranking: 24
Next MLS match: August 17 v. NYCFC, stream live on ESPN+ at 7:30 p.m. ET
Saturday was big for FC Cincinnati: It was head coach coach Ron Jans' debut, representing a new start to life in MLS for FCC. It was the first game against their built-in, in-state rival Columbus and the chance to claim Ohio MLS supremacy. In that light, the 2-2 draw was disappointing and encouraging all at once.