The Early Sub: MLS Power Rankings

It’s almost unreal that we’ve already gone sped by 10 weeks of the MLS season. Feels like just yesterday was Opening Day. Plenty of games have been played and each conference is beginning to take shape with contenders rising and pretenders dropping, and this week was no different. Every game had a winner or loser except for one and there were plenty of goals scored. Where does your favorite club land on my MLS Power Rankings? Read on and find out.

Week 10 Player of the Week

Before going on with the rankings, I’ll reveal the MLS player of the week and that award goes to Left Winger Rodney Wallace of NYCFC. “El Guaje” David Villa may receive all the headlines in the Bronx but it was Wallace who was responsible for NYC’s impressive win over Atlanta. He was directly responsible for all three goals, assisting two of them and poking one in himself. Wallace owned the Atlanta D to keep NYCFC flying. And now for the rankings.

22. Colorado Rapids

Amassed a total of 4 points in 8 games, the lowest in MLS. The Rapids biggest issue is their attack. There is none. They average the least amount of shots per game, the least shots on target per game and the least amount of successful dribbles as a team per game. As a result, they’ve lost 6 games (tied for the most) and are the worst team at home this season according to their team rating when they’re in Denver. Rough start for the Western Conference finalists.

21. Minnesota United

An excruciating beginning to life in the top flight, Minnesota have seemed to have found their legs which climaxed with a huge win over Sporting KC yesterday. They are just one spot outside of the playoffs in 7th which makes this spot a little harsh, but they are the worst performing team on the road and have conceded the most goals this season in MLS. Their wins have been nice, but I need to see more before I’m convinced that their SKC win wasn’t a fluke.

20. Real Salt Lake

RSL were demolished this weekend by the powerful western conference leading FC Dallas 3-0 at home. Beat downs at home are never acceptable and with only 2 wins and 8 points, they sit in 10th in the Western Conference.

19. Montreal Impact

The Impact of Didier Drogba is felt more this season then last season and you can see it in the way Montreal have performed this season. Insanely pitiful discipline has led to the Impact being handed 3 red cards in 9 games this season. For all you Mathletes out there, that’s a red card every three games. You won’t win many games playing a man down, even with magical Ignacio Piatti on your team.

18. DC United

DC are ahead of the Impact this week due to the fact that DC sit above them but the Impact were able to top DC in the nation’s capital this past weekend. A simple 1-0 loss for DC puts them in 8th in the Eastern Conference, all the while conceding the most shots per game, and having the least amount of possession in MLS. Their most frightening statistic is their 70 percent pass completion rate which is the worst in the league. You can’t keep the ball if you can’t pass, and if you can’t keep the ball then you can’t score. DC must find their rhythm offensively.

17. Vancouver Whitecaps

The most under the radar team in Cascadia by far, Vancouver climb to 6th in the Western Conference after their 1-0 win over lowly Colorado in Denver. It’s been up and down for the Caps, having 4 wins and 4 losses to go with a draw so far this season. I wasn’t expecting anything different from Vancouver this season though. In fact, they may be overachieving.

16. New England Revolution

It’s been difficult out of the gates for the Revs who have only managed two wins in 10 games this season which lands them in 9th in the Eastern Conference. A 2-0 loss to Columbus away from home compounds the pain and handed the Revs their 4th loss this season. Too many draws and losses, the Revs must turn things around with their attacking dynamo of Agudelo and Nguyen. The Revs have only been booked 10 times this season though, making them the most disciplined team in MLS. Their ability to not beat themselves gives them hope for the rest of the season.

15. Chicago Fire

Basti has jumpstarted this Chicago side that was in desperate need of a restart. He’s made himself right at home here in the States and Chicago have taken him in from the start. They still remain 3-3-3 but they sit in the final Eastern Conference playoff spot of 6th. Their draw to the Galaxy in Carson kept them from continuing their form but Chicago has quickly become one of the teams to watch in the East.

14. LA Galaxy

It’s been the season that the Galaxy have been expecting thus far. Their mass exodus of their most experienced and battle hardened leaders have stripped LA of their strength and has left them scrambling to find a new answer. Only 8 points in 9 games has them in 9th in the Western Conference and they’ve only amassed 2 wins to go with 5 losses. The bright spot on the side is blinding however. Romain Alessandrini came to LA from Marseille this winter and the man has been one of MLS’ top players. With no more: Keane, Gerrard or head coach Bruce Arena, Alessandrini has had to carry the team on his back, and with Gio and Gyasi underperforming, Romain will need the strength of Atlas to push the Galaxy into the top 6.

13. Philadelphia Union

The 2nd worst team in the league thus far this season, Philly hadn’t won a game since August of last year, ouch. So why so high on this list? Although they’ve only amassed one win, they’ve still managed to draw 4 games to go with their manageable 4 losses. Not to mention that the Union have the best goalkeeper in MLS in the form of Andre Blake. The Union have been unfortunate as twice the Union have lost the lead late to drop points and to settle for a draw. They’re 3-0 demolition of the New York Red Bulls was wildly impressive as well and may be the turning point for Philly.

12. New York Red Bulls

The most up and down team in the league this season, NYRB have the most bookings in the league with 27 yellow cards but are the best  performing team at home this season. They sit in 5th in the East but were crushed by Philly 3-0. 5 wins and 5 losses. That’s up and down and that’s how it’s gone for the red side of New York.

11. Orlando City

Another up and down side, Orlando have been one of the best teams when playing in the Florida sun but take them up north and we have a problem. Unbeaten at home and winless on the road, Orlando have amassed 18 points, which is good enough for 2nd in the East but what’s going to happen to OC when they have to leave the comforts of the Lion’s Den? A true 2nd place team can win anywhere and Orlando have proven that they can’t win anywhere outside of Florida. Need proof? They just lost 4-0 to the Dynamo in Houston which is the biggest margin of victory or defeat for Orlando this season and that loss brought their goal difference back to zero.

10. Columbus Crew

The 2015 Eastern Conference Champions had an off season last season with the struggles and eventual departure of Kei Kamara but the Crew are doing a decent job of righting the ship this season. 16 points in 10 games is inconsistent but having more wins then losses is the right idea and after missing the playoffs last season, the mission is to get in and to see what happens. Their 2-0 win at home over New England this weekend put them up to 4th which is more then enough to enter the playoffs. The Crew could perform better, but certainly no complaints thus far for their season.

9. San Jose Earthquakes

One of the least successful sides in MLS history, the Quakes are past due for some MLS success, and there’s been signs that this season is the season for the Quakes to shake up the league. Sitting in 5th in the Western Conference, San Jose has accumulated a cool 4 wins and 3 draws in 10 games thus far. They average the most successful dribbles in the league with a nice 10 dribbles a game. San Jose looked phenomenal this past weekend, delivering a lesson that Portland shan’t not forget soon with a 3-0 drubbing at the Ayava. A huge win like that over a top MLS club like Portland could springboard San Jose to further success for the rest of the season.

8. Atlanta United

The high flying expansion side have been impressive in their inaugural season. Sold out home games and a ton of goals with attractive, positive football has the Dirty South infatuated with their new club. Tata has Atlanta playing with plenty of freedom and creativity but as expected, the defense is what usually suffers from their high flying style. 11 points through 9 games isn’t bad for a new club and they sit one spot out of the playoffs, but their loss to NYCFC yesterday in the Bronx set them back and their lack of discipline is astonishing with 3 red cards already. A very exciting side that needs help in the back, a good start for Atlanta but still plenty to learn for MLS’ newest member.

7. Houston Dynamo

Easily MLS’ most surprising side this season thus far. An awful past couple of seasons for Houston has left many question marks for first year coach Wilmer Cabrera, and he’s responded admirably. A hot 5-1-3 start for the Dynamo, their 16 points is good enough for 4th at the moment in the Western Conference. Their sitting back and spring forward tactics has given Houston the most goals from counter attacks this season with three. Their fast paced counters catches defenses on the back foot and it leads to many goals, chances, and set piece opportunities from dangerous areas and you can see it in the statistics. Houston also leads MLS in set piece goals with 7 goals. An excellent start to the season, Houston most recently put on their most impressive performance with their 4-0 annihilation of Orlando City in H-Town. Cabrera’s Dynamic Dynamo are one to watch for the rest of the season.

6. Portland Timbers

The 2015 MLS Cup Champs struggled last year missing the playoffs but this season has been much more like it for the Timbers. Snatching up 17 points in 10 games, Portland sit in 3rd of the Western Conference and have scored the most goals in the entire league. Their fantastic start is all credited to their attacking duo of Diego Valeri and Fandendo Adi who’s offensive onslaught makes it difficult for other sides to keep up, that is unless you’re San Jose. A bruising loss to the Quakes on the road surely slows down the Timbers role and they must be careful to not let this loss affect other games. Portland are focused this season and look to continue to put on the offensive showcase this season.

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5. Seattle Sounders FC

The defending champs have had a real struggle in the beginning of their title defense. 2 wins, 3 losses and 4 draws have the Sounders in 8th which is a less then ideal start to a title defense but there are still plenty of positives. The 4 draws means that this side could go either way with wins or losses. Draws mean mediocrity and a roster like Seattle means that mediocrity is coming due to effort and performance. With Dempsey back and Ozzie Alonso playing in superb form means that the rest of the XI must perform to their ability. Their build up look good with Seattle having the best passing percentage in the league but their finishing must be better. Lodeiro and Alonso control everything from the midfield but they can’t slot in every goal and they can’t stop every attack. Morris must perform, Dempsey must perform and that defense must perform. And I say that they will. Seattle will rise very soon.

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4. Toronto FC

One of the flashiest and brightest sides in MLS, Toronto have been just a little short of ruthless. Only one loss in 10 games is a scary statistic for the rest of the league, but what gives everyone a sigh of relief is their four draws. Their 19 points in 10 games is the best in the East thus far and Sebastian Giovinco has been at it again, being one of the three best players in the country this season thus far. They had a nice and tidy win this past weekend over defending champs Seattle away from home with a 1-0 win. Toronto were close last season, and they look to finish the marathon this time around, a good start but there is one side in the East who could topple Toronto…

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3. New York City FC

They may sit in 3rd in the East behind Toronto and Orlando but the stats clearly show that NYCFC are the most dominant team in the East. Their 3 losses must be taken with a grain of salt due to the fact that 2 of those losses came to Orlando and their other loss was to DC who NYC wrecked 4-0 earlier in the year as well. In 3 of NYC’s 9 games, they have scored 3 goals or more along with a couple of clean sheets. Patrick Vieira’s style puts the pressure on opposing teams as NYC averages the most shots on target while also averaging the most possession in the league. On the defensive side, NYC averages the most successful tackles per game with a crunching 22 tackles per game. And to top it all off, Captain David Villa has been one of the best 5 players in the league this season. Vieira has had NYC playing a terrific brand of football in the Bronx.

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2. FC Dallas

Arguably the best team in MLS, Dallas have been spectacular this season as they remain as the last unbeaten team in MLS. The only reason I have them 2nd is due to their lack of games in MLS since they’ve played 8. Sporting KC were also unbeaten at their 8 game mark and only since have dropped two games, due to this turn of events, I just want to see Dallas play their 9th game before I hand them the top spot. An fantastic display over RSL in Salt Lake with a 3-0 walk through over their lowly Western Conference rivals. According to team rating, FC Dallas have been the best team away from home in the league as well and although his name isn’t in the headlines, Maxi Urrutti and Matt Hedges have been two of MLS’ top performers this season.

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1. Sporting Kansas City

It’s been a rough couple of games for SKC who’ve played two more games then Dallas this season due to Dallas’ obligations to the CONCACAF Champions League earlier this season. They dropped a game in Frisco to Dallas in April but had put up 2 clean sheets after that at home. KC went back on the road afterwards to Minnesota and dropped that one 2-0. Dallas may very well deserve this spot but KC has just quite simply been more dominant then Dallas in their pay. SKC put on the most shots per game out of any team in the league while also conceding the least amount of shots per game. That balance of offense and defense is absolutely terrific, and speaking of terrific, that’s what you use to describe Benny Feilhaber. he controls every game from the middle of the park, being their best playmaker while also participating on defense. 2 Man of the Match awards this season, Benny has had a match rating of less then 7.0 only three times this season and KC either drew or lost each one of those games. He’s critical and playing out of his mind, even if the goals column from him don’t show it. SKC will have an enormous test on Saturday as they walk into the fortress that is the Lion’s Den in Orlando.

 

 

 

 

 

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