Week 19 MLS Power Rankings: NYCFC back on top, Seattle climb

Another packed weekend of MLS action saw the top teams flip-flop, while Nashville put pressure on the top four with a 5-2 win.

How the rankings work

These power rankings aren’t a subjective result of one person’s opinion, 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 most heavily, with goal difference and expected goal difference weighted incrementally less. This is an attempt 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 19 power rankings

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

The top two sides in the rankings flip this week, despite each earning 2-0 wins. NYCFC reclaim the top spot after beating Inter Miami 2-0, and dominated the expected goals battle. Sporting KC also won by two goals, but had a much more difficult time of it, with FC Dallas creating the better of the chances.

Seattle Sounders jump up into third place with a resounding 6-2 win over Portland Timbers. They’ve quieted down after their breakneck start to the season, but they’re finally getting healthy. Nico Lodeiro came off the bench at halftime, Nouhou is getting closer to full fitness, and Jordan Morris is continuing to get more involved in training. They’re the masters of getting hot down the stretch, and if their trajectory continues on its current track, they’ll be back on top quickly.

New England Revolution fans have been upset with this model for a while, and this week won’t be any different. They’re the top team in the league on points, and have earned an insane 2.15 points per game. Despite their position in the table, though, NYCFC, Sporting KC and Seattle each have a better goal difference, and their 6.84 expected goals differential is seventh in the league.

Nashville stay in fifth place after a 5-2 win over DC United, although their score improved by 0.81 points. Again, their exceptional home form has propped them up despite some abject performances on the road. They’re on track for a playoff place, and if they can begin to dictate the game more on the road, a home playoff place should be well within their reach.

There’s more than a point and a half separating the top five from the rest of the league, with Colorado Rapids and LA Galaxy bunched together in sixth and seventh. CF Montréal jump two spots with a 2-1 win over New York Red Bulls, while Atlanta United‘s 1-0 win over LAFC push them up to 17th.

Towards the other end of the table, Chicago Fire move out of the bottom five with a 1-0 win over Columbus Crew. Inter Miami took a hit with their loss to NYCFC, but they had enough of a cushion over Toronto FC and FC Cincinnati that they hold onto 25th.

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 (for example, Nashville’s spot in the power rankings is boosted by their home form, while their projections are hampered by projecting their poor road form over the rest of their schedule). And they’re not a concrete attempt to predict the final table, but rather to show each team’s trajectory based on current form.

Nashville’s projections didn’t change at all after their win over DC United, and their 0.71 points per game on the road has them taking just seven points from their remaining 10 road games. That would be a shocking return for a side with as much talent as they have, and while they’ve a rough go of it away from Nissan Stadium, I expect them to pick up more than that.

On the plus side, dropped points from Columbus gives Nashville a five point cushion in the playoff race. It’s easy to over react following a road loss (I’ve done it), but Nashville should comfortably be a playoff team, even if they continue to struggle away from home.

Meanwhile the West is tight towards the final playoff spot, with Dallas, Minnesota and Austin all within reach. Sporting KC, LA Galaxy, Seattle and Colorado have established an edge in the hunt for a home playoff spot, with Portland, LAFC and Salt Lake significantly behind.

Leave a Reply