Week 7 Power Rankings: Philadelphia bouncing back, Miami in freefall

Major League Soccer concluded the final week of matches before the international break. With 18 days until the season gets back up and running (12 if your Sporting KC or Austin FC), we have a good snapshot at how teams stack up with 20% of the season in the books.

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.

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. As the season progresses, we’ll being to incorporate a projected standings table. More on that later.

Week 7 power rankings

1: Seattle Sounders (-). Another draw at home has decreased their lead on the rankings, but they still have a solid buffer in front of second place. A 0-0 draw against Austin with just two shots on target isn’t a confidence-inspiring way to head into the break, but they clearly have enough quality to beat anyone on their day. Have yet to lose a match.

2: Sporting KC (-). Won 3-2 over Houston with a dominant second half, and a really important showing from Gianluca Busio. The match wasn’t nearly as close as the scoreline suggested, but their defense can be suspect. Still, with one of the most exciting attacks in MLS, they can hang with just about anyone.

3: Nashville SC (-). Things looked pretty grim late against Atlanta until Hany Mukhtar took over in the 80th minute to rescue a 2-2 draw. The result leaves them and Seattle as the lone unbeaten sides in MLS. The defensive lapses are concerning, but they’ve still found ways to get results. If they could just stop spotting teams two goal leads…

4: New England Revolution (-). The Revs round out an unchanged top four. They absolutely shellacked Cincinnati on the road, and were unfortunate to only get a single goal. The best attacking side in the East.

5: NYCFC (↑4). Bounced back with a massive 2-1 comeback win on the road over LAFC. Found a 90th minute winner, despite being down a man. And they’re doing all this without Héber, their top scorer from 2019.

6: LA Galaxy (↑2). It wasn’t pretty, but they nabbed a 1-0 win over San Jose, thanks to a 12 save performance from goalkeeper Jonathan Bond. They’ve managed to get results consistently, even when they haven’t played well.

7: Atlanta United (-). A 2-0 win over Nashville SC would have given their ranking a significant boost, but they conceded two goals in three minutes and were left with just a point. On the plus side, Santiago Sosa is an absolute stud, and Josef Martínez is rounding into form.

8: Colorado Rapids (↑5). The Rapids were quite efficient in a 3-0 win over FC Dallas. They play some of the more attractive soccer in the league and find themselves in a top four spot heading into the international break.

9: Orlando City (3). Were thoroughly outplayed by New York Red Bulls, managing just six total shots despite playing from behind for 55 minutes. A stark contrast from their prior displays, but they’re still in third place in the East.

10: Philadelphia Union (↑6). They absolutely murdered Portland on set pieces in a 3-0 win, and were pretty damn good from open play, too. They’ve quietly pushed into second place in the East and appear to be over their CCL hangover.

11: LAFC (↑1). They lost at home to a 10-man NYCFC, but the model actually improved their ranking marginally. They’re creating plenty of chances, and have been somewhat unfortunate to concede as much as they have. Eventually things should even out and their results will improve, but however you slice it, they’ve been disappointing through seven matches.

12: San Jose Earthquakes (2). Beaten 1-0 by LA Galaxy, despite putting shots on target. Their chance creation numbers are elite, and their defense has been one of the shakiest in the league. Until they clean things up at the back, their ceiling is pretty limited.

13: Portland Timbers (8). A 3-0 win in Philadelphia isn’t bad on face value, but they didn’t even look competitive. In fairness, they’re dealing with upwards of ten injuries, including their best center-back, a Best XI calibre holding midfielder, a DP winger, a TAM winger, a DP striker, and their three first-choice goalkeepers. It’s a lot.

The fact that they’re in a playoff spot is kind of a miracle. They’ll get some key players back over the break, and we should see a much improved Portland side for the rest of the year.

14: Real Salt Lake (3). A 1-1 draw at home against a pretty bad Minnesota United didn’t do their ranking any favors. They may be regressing to their actual level.

15: New York Red Bulls (↑4). They were dominant against Orlando, and they’ve gotten some big performances from some really exciting young players in recent weeks. They’ve been super up-and-down this season.

16: Columbus Crew (2). Picked up another win, beating Toronto FC 2-1 at home. Their score actually improved, but they’re jumped by a couple sides in this week’s model. After their early season issues, they’ve pushed into a playoff spot, despite only creating 4.1 xG (!!) in seven matches.

17: Houston Dynamo (2). They had moments against Sporting KC, but were outclassed by a superiorly talented side. They seem like a side who will cause problems for some teams above them in the standings, but will probably finish right around the playoff line.

18: Toronto FC (). Lost 2-1 on the road in Columbus, which has been just about par for the course. They have plenty of off-field issues to keep them busy in addition to their struggles on the pitch.

19: Austin FC (↑3). Picked up one of the surprise results of the season, drawing Seattle 0-0 on the road. They play some beautiful possession soccer, and have an identity firmly established just seven matches into their debut season. They’ll finally play at home after the break, too. They’re a likely candidate to climb the rankings.

20: CF Montréal (). Picked up a 1-0 win on the road in Chicago. Unfortunately, Chicago’s so abysmal that winning by a goal only marginally improves their score.

21: FC Dallas (4). Lost 3-0 in Colorado to continue their freefall to the bottom of the Western conference table. Their only win of the season came back in week three against a heavily rotated Portland side. Dallas has issues. Lots of them.

22: DC United (↑2). Absolutely ruined Inter Miami’s first full capacity home match. Ola Kamara returned to his 2017 form, and Paul Arriola put in a captain’s performance against a team in free fall. It’s hard to tell if a result like this is more an indicator of how good DC is or how poor Miami is, but either way it was a positive result and one that they’ll try to build on.

23: Minnesota United (2). They couldn’t extend their winning streak in Salt Lake, putting their only shot on target in the net for a comeback 1-1 draw.

24: Vancouver Whitecaps (↑1). Didn’t play this week, but move up a spot due to other results.

25: Inter Miami CF (2). It’s tough being bad. It’s even more tough being bad after spending lots of money. And it’s objectively funny to be this bad after committing excessive roster violations like playing with five designated players and paying four others above the roster limits. Just days after MLS levied hefty fines for their violations, Miami played in front of the first full-capacity crowd in history and were booed off the field after an abject 3-0 loss to DC United. They’ve absolutely plummeted since their first couple matches.

26: Chicago Fire (). Lost 1-0 at home to Montreal to the surprise of absolutely no one.

27: FC Cincinnati (-). They managed to keep things tight in a 1-0 loss to New England, despite conceding 26 shots. Their defense is the worst in MLS by a significant margin. It’ll be hard to improve much until they stop conceding 20.5 shots and 2.3 goals a game.

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