Week 16 MLS Power Rankings: NYCFC claim top spot

Another packed week of MLS action saw every side in the league in action, and dropped points from the Western Conference leaders sees an Eastern Conference side at the top of the pack for the first time this season.

How the rankings work

These power rankings aren’t subjective, but use a stats-based model for each team to get a more in-depth look at where clubs actually stand. The model weighs points per game and strength of schedule heavily, and also factors in goal difference and expected goal difference to show not just how teams have done in the table, but how they’ve played on the field. If you’re interested in the methodology, the full model can be viewed here.

These power rankings aren’t an attempt to predict the final table, just to provide readers with a different angle from which to judge teams.

Week 16 power rankings

  1. NYCFC (↑2)
  2. Sporting KC (↓1)
  3. Seattle Sounders (↓1)
  4. Nashville SC (-)
  5. New England Revolution (-)
  6. LA Galaxy (-)
  7. Colorado Rapids (↑1)
  8. Real Salt Lake (↓1)
  9. Orlando City (↑1)
  10. DC United (↓1)
  11. Philadelphia Union (↑3)
  12. Minnesota United (↓1)
  13. New York Red Bulls (↓1)
  14. Columbus Crew (↓1)
  15. LAFC (↑1)
  16. CF Montréal (↓1)
  17. FC Dallas (↓1)
  18. Portland Timbers (↓1)
  19. Houston Dynamo (↑1)
  20. San Jose Earthquakes (↑2)
  21. Atlanta United (↓2)
  22. Austin FC (↓2)
  23. Vancouver Whitecaps (-)
  24. Toronto FC (↑1)
  25. Chicago Fire (↓1)
  26. FC Cincinnati (-)
  27. Inter Miami (-)

NYCFC have been pushing towards the top of the table, and in Week 16 they take the top spot for the first time this season. New York thumped Columbus Crew 4-1 at home, and with both Seattle Sounders and Sporting KC losing at home, they took advantage. New York’s 8.76 ranking is the highest of the season to date, 0.44 points higher than Seattle’s Week 12 high.

Philadelphia Union are the only side to move more than two spots this week, even though they only managed a 1-1 draw with 10-man Chicago Fire. This is down to a couple factors. One, Minnesota, New York Red Bulls and Columbus all dropped points this week and fell in the rankings. And two, despite the scoreline, they smashed Chicago. The Union outshot the Fire 25-4, and had 2.86 expected goals to Chicago’s 0.18. It’s the fifth-highest xG difference of the season, and they were unfortunate to walk out with a draw instead of a resounding win.

Nashville SC hold onto fourth place, but just barely. Their score dropped 0.08 points with a draw to a very low-ranked Toronto side, and New England Revolution is just 0.08 points behind them. Their Wednesday matchup will be a solid litmus test for the top ten, and the rankings could shift significantly with the result.

Projected standings

These projections are created by taking each sides home and away form and factoring them out across their remaining matches.

These projections will change significantly over the course of the season as teams get larger sample sizes at home and on the road (Nashville, for example, have just played away three times this season). And they’re not a concrete attempt to predict the final table, but rather to show each team’s trajectory based on current form.

Another point on the road moves Nashville up into sixth place in the projections. They’re currently on track to finish just four points behind Columbus Crew and a top four spot, but with two road matches coming up later in the week, their projections could change significantly. A loss to New England and a win against Miami would put them on pace for 53 points and top four spot. A draw against New England and win over Miami would set their pace at 55 points, just one point out of third.

Sure, the draw against Toronto was disappointing, especially given how well Nashville played. But there’s still plenty of matches to push into the top four, and they’ve still just lost once away from home. It’s important not to get too high or two low based on a single result, especially when overall the performance through the season has been impressive.

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