MLS Power Rankings — LAFC stumble again, Zlatan on fire as chaos reigns in the wild Western Conference

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Last time we met, the Major League Soccer playoff push was in full swing and every game seemed to count just a little bit more. New York City FC had ascended to the top of the Eastern Conference. Toronto FC had pulled themselves into a stable playoff position. Montreal had faded. Peace settled across the conference. This weeks’ results changed nothing.

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Meanwhile, in the Western Conference: chaos. The East is a PBS show about antiques. The West is a telenovela with more than one evil twin, an international conspiracy and rotating love triangles.

This week, seven teams moved up or down the standings based on the round of games in the West, and it doesn’t figure to calm down any time soon.

We live for the chaos. Rank ’em up.

Previous rankings: Week 27 | Week 26 | Week 25 | Week 24 | Week 23 | 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 (19 wins, 7 draws, 4 losses)

Previous ranking: 1

Next MLS match: Sept. 21 vs. Toronto FC (10:30 p.m. ET, stream live on ESPN+)

LAFC are now in the middle of an unprecedented four-game winless run, which is the 2019 MLS regular season equivalent of Drago getting cut in “Rocky IV.” Yes, that casts the Union as Rocky Balboa. Too easy.

Previous ranking: 2

Next MLS match: Sept. 22 at FC Dallas (11:00 p.m. ET)

The late season rise of Keaton Parks continues and NYCFC is navigating the absence of Heber just fine, thank you very much. This calls for some peanuts and Cracker Jacks.


Previous ranking: 3

Next MLS match: Sept. 22 at Red Bulls (6:30 p.m. ET, stream live on ESPN+)

Some people go back to school or take continuing education classes to improve their credentials. The Philadelphia Union play toe-to-toe with some of the league’s best teams to improve theirs.

Previous ranking: 4

Next MLS match: Sept. 22 at Portland (3:55 p.m. ET, watch live on ESPN/ESPN Deportes)

“Molino, Quintero, baby why don’t we go / to the playoffs…” The Loons are definitely going to go to the playoffs. Hopefully without terrible parody lyrics to a Beach Boys song we’d all like to forget.

Previous ranking: 8

Next MLS match: Sept. 18 vs. FC Dallas (10:30 p.m. ET, stream live on ESPN+)

Look, no one is going to say that the Sounders defense look MLS Cup-caliber at the moment, but as long they have a rampant Jordan Morris and Nicolas Lodeiro, no one should doubt their championship credentials.

Previous ranking: 13

Next MLS match: Sept. 21 at LAFC (10:30 p.m. ET, stream live on ESPN+)

Everything in Toronto is about bringing the talent in the squad to bear on the final few weeks of the seasons. It wasn’t comfortable against Colorado, but the Reds have the look of a team no-one will want to see in the postseason.

Previous ranking: 5

Next MLS match: Sept. 18 at FC Cincinnati (7:30 p.m. ET, stream live on ESPN+)

Whatever designs the Five Stripes had on first place probably died at the hands of the ghost Crew on Saturday. Everyone is allowed a blip, even in crunch time, so we’ll hold off on overrating the poorness of that performance.

Previous ranking: 10

Next MLS match: Sept. 21 vs. Montreal (10:30 p.m. ET, stream live on ESPN+)

The Galaxy scored seven goals against Sporting and yet — and yet — there are still serious questions about that defense. For now, Zlatan Ibrahimovic & Co. are in fifth in the West and lurking.

Previous ranking: 14

Next MLS match: Sept. 22 vs. Seattle (8 p.m. ET, stream live on ESPN+)

D.C. United got a lucky break (Portland’s own goal), were denied a chance at an insurance goal and still held on against the Timbers in Portland. Every win is worth the same three points, but those three points will feel like some of the biggest of the season.

Previous ranking: 7

Next MLS match: Sept. 18 vs. Red Bulls (10:30 p.m. ET, stream live on ESPN+)

The Timbers axe had no edge against D.C. United on Sunday. Without Brian Fernandez and Sebastian Blanco, Portland couldn’t muster enough in the attack to overcome Bill Tuiloma’s own goal. Mark that down as a very bad loss.



Zlatan Ibrahimovic breaks LA Galaxy’s single-season goals record with a hat trick in a 7-2 rout of Sporting KC. For more MLS subscribe to ESPN+.

Previous ranking: 6

Next MLS match: Sept. 21 at Atlanta (3:30 p.m. ET)

The Quakes lost at Yankee Stadium, and Matias Almeyda was back on the sidelines. That’s great because we then get quotes like this: “It’s a great stadium, but it’s a small-sided field. It’s not real. It stops being realistic before the game even starts.”

Previous ranking: 9

Next MLS match: Sept. 21 vs. Real Salt Lake (7:30 p.m. ET, stream live on ESPN+)

We didn’t even know Bruce Arena teams were allowed to be up two goals at halftime and somehow not win. A road point should never be taken for granted, but with a playoff berth on the line, that’s a draw that will hurt. The Revs have a record like a gymnastics score — but not as positive.

Previous ranking: 11

Next MLS match: Sept. 21 at New England (7:30 p.m. ET, stream live on ESPN+)

RSL had one of those weeks that speaks to how tight things are in the West. A win over San Jose? Good! A loss to Minnesota? Not so good! RSL looks like a playoff team, but nothing else can be stated with certainty.

Previous ranking: 17

Next MLS match: Sept. 21 at Houston (8:30 p.m. ET, stream live on ESPN+)

When only a win would do, the Lions go a three-goal performance — and still managed to only draw. Orlando is the Sisyphean Team of the Year so far: Just when they look like they’ve reached the top of the hill, the boulder rolls all the way back down.

Previous ranking: 12

Next MLS match: Sept. 18 at Seattle (10:30 p.m. ET, stream live on ESPN+)

They don’t let us post gifs in lieu of words in the Power Rankings. Just imagine that instead of these sentences, you’re seeing a famous person making a confused face. FC Dallas everybody!

Previous ranking: 19

Next MLS match: Sept. 21 at FC Cincinnati (7:30 p.m. ET, stream live on ESPN+)

Okay, Chicago, we see you. You didn’t like our little joke at your expense last week and you decided to take it out on FC Dallas. We guess you do have all the ingredients for a conflagration.

Previous ranking: 20

Next MLS match: Sept. 21 at Vancouver (5 p.m. ET, stream live on ESPN+)

Not going to lie, we’re very confused by what happened in Atlanta. It’s like the ghost version of the 2017 Columbus Crew inhabited the body of the current version and beat the champs at Mercedes-Benz Stadium. Spooky.

Previous ranking: 15

Next MLS match: Sept. 21 at Sporting Kansas City (8:30 p.m. ET, stream live on ESPN+)

The Rapids were a saved penalty away from keeping Robin Fraser’s unbeaten start as manager going against TFC in Toronto. It was never going to be simple for the new boss, and even in a loss there are positives for Colorado.

Previous ranking: 16

Next MLS match: Sept. 21 vs. Colorado (8:30 p.m. ET, stream live on ESPN+)

Um. Yeah. Peter Vermes, do you want to take this one?

Previous ranking: 18

Next MLS match: Sept. 18 at Portland (10:30 p.m. ET, stream live on ESPN+)

The Red Bulls are on red alert after an ugly defensive performance in Seattle. What this year’s entry from New Jersey lacks in assuredness they more than make up for in fragility. Wait, that’s not how that’s supposed to work …



The Timbers remain in sixth place in the West after falling to D.C. United via a Bill Tuiloma own goal. For more MLS sign up to ESPN+.

Previous ranking: 22

Next MLS match: Sept. 21 vs. Columbus (5 p.m. ET, stream live on ESPN+)

The Caps aren’t really in any danger of collecting the Wooden Spoon, but Saturday’s win was important (sorry, “important”) because it kept Marc Dos Santos’ team one head of FC Cincinnati in the win column.

Previous ranking: 24

Next MLS match: Sept. 18 vs. Atlanta (7:30 p.m. ET, stream live on ESPN+)

The results are in: Skyline chili is better than poutine.

Previous ranking: 23

Next MLS match: Sept. 21 vs. Orlando (8:30 p.m. ET, stream live on ESPN+)

So much for Zombie Dynamo. Houston lurched back to life in midweek only to fall to the worst team in the Western Conference on Saturday.

Previous ranking: 21

Next MLS match: Sept. 21 at LA Galaxy (10:30 p.m. ET, stream live on ESPN+)

Wilmer Cabrera, head coach of the Montreal Impact and a man with at least some say in what happens in Impact games (we think): “Losing against Cincinnati is one of the worst things that can happen to the players.” Well then.




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