It was another dazzling, fun-filled week in Major League Soccer as the cream of the crop continued to separate itself in the final weeks before the playoff race. There were big, impressive wins for Philadelphia Union and Sporting Kansas City, some derby joy for LAFC against LA Galaxy on Sunday, and a rare win for Inter Miami CF as they temporarily halted Orlando City SC’s rise in the Eastern Conference.
Jeff Carlisle recaps the weekend with a brand-new edition of MLS Power Rankings for all 26 clubs.
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Previous ranking: 2
Next MLS match: vs. Chicago Fire, Weds. Oct. 28 (7:30 p.m. ET, ESPN+)
Saturday’s match against Toronto was precisely the kind of game which in the past the Union would’ve fallen flat. Not so this time, as Philadelphia — and hat-trick hero, Sergio Santos — produced one of the most dominating performances in its history, winning 5-0. The Supporters Shield is there for the taking. Can the Union close the deal?
Philadelphia has rightly earned their spot as the best team in MLS right now, especially given how they dismantled previous front-runners, Toronto FC, this weekend. Bill Streicher-USA TODAY Sports
Previous ranking: 1
Next MLS match: vs. New York City FC, Weds. Oct. 28 (7:30 p.m. ET)
OK, so Pablo Piatti, Jozy Altidore and Chris Mavinga were among the bigger absences last weekend for TFC. That doesn’t fully explain getting hammered 5-0, even if it was by a very good Philadelphia side. It will be interesting to see how the Reds respond.
Previous ranking: 9
Next MLS match: at FC Cincinnati, Weds. Oct. 28 (7:30 p.m. ET)
SKC’s form was a bit uneven following MLS is Back, but the month of October has seen Kansas City rise up the table, and it now occupies first place in the West. Gadi Kinda has also proved to be quite the pickup, tallying his sixth goal of the season in a 4-0 win over Colorado.
Previous ranking: 4
Next MLS match: vs. LA Galaxy, Weds. Oct. 28 (10 p.m. ET, ESPN)
Usually the Timbers would be pleased with a road draw at rivals Seattle. Except for the fact that Thursday’s 1-1 tie marked the second time in as many weeks that Portland coughed up a stoppage-time equalizer. Cleaning up their defending on set pieces is paramount for the Timbers down the stretch.
Previous ranking: 5
Next MLS match: at Vancouver Whitecaps, Tues. Oct. 27 (10 p.m. ET, ESPN+)
Will Bruin grabbed a precious point for Seattle at the death against Portland, but taking two points from the last three games has allowed Kansas City to leap over it in the West. At the risk of being repetitive, Raul Ruidiaz’s return can’t come soon enough.
Previous ranking: 3
Next MLS match: vs. Atlanta United FC, Weds. Oct. 28 (7:30 p.m. ET)
The Lions’ 12-game unbeaten streak came to an end at last with a defeat to Miami, but results have been a bit less consistent this month. Can new signing Alexander Alvarado give Orlando the attacking spark it needs?
Miami stun Orlando with a late goal to secure a 2-1 win and boost their playoff ambitions. Watch MLS on ESPN+.
Previous ranking: 6
Next MLS match: at New York Red Bulls, Weds. Oct. 28 (7 p.m. ET, ESPN+)
A top-four finish — and a home playoff date — appears to be slipping away from the Revs following a loss to Philadelphia and a draw against Nashville in the past week. At least the return of Carles Gil from injury gives New England hope that it can begin climbing up the table again.
Previous ranking: 8
Next MLS match: at Toronto FC, Weds. Oct. 28 (7:30 p.m. ET)
Even without a true center forward, the Blues managed to get the better of Montreal 3-1, and with Orlando scuffling its own playoff run-in, the Cityzens could yet climb up the table. Anton Tinnerholm continues to have a standout season for NYCFC, and with Maxi Moralez getting back to his best, New York could yet cause problems in the postseason.
Carlos Vela returns with a goal in LAFC’s 2-0 win vs. rivals LA Galaxy. Watch MLS on ESPN+.
Previous ranking: 10
Next MLS match: vs. Houston Dynamo, Weds. Oct. 28 (10:30 p.m. ET, ESPN+)
Could it be a case of perfect timing for LAFC? Diego Rossi, Brian Rodriguez and Carlos Vela are all back, and Vela even scored with a gorgeous chip in the 2-0 win over the Galaxy. The Black-and-Gold are hoping the November international window doesn’t disrupt things too much.
Previous ranking: 7
Next MLS match: at D.C. United, Weds. Oct. 28 (8 p.m. ET)
Granted, the Crew’s schedule has been road-heavy of late, but such was their play earlier in the season that more is expected than one win in six. At least Darlington Nagbe and Lucas Zelarayan are back on the field.
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Previous ranking: 12
Next MLS match: vs. Colorado Rapids, Weds. Oct. 28 (8 p.m. ET)
It wasn’t pretty — games against FC Cincinnati rarely are — but the Loons got a badly needed win thanks to Aaron Schoenfeld’s late goal. A playoff spot seems a given, but the Loons look far removed from the team that looked so potent earlier in the campaign.
Previous ranking: 13
Next MLS match: vs. New England Revolution, Weds. Oct. 28 (7 p.m. ET, ESPN+)
The Red Bulls have been grinding out enough points to be solidly within in the playoff places, and stoppage time was once again kind to RBNY thanks to the efforts of Brian White, who seems to have a knack for being in the right place at the right time.
Previous ranking: 15
Next MLS match: at Montreal Impact, Tues. Oct. 27 (7 p.m. ET, ESPN+)
It was nearly an epic week for NSC, but they had to settle for a 1-1 draw against New England after beating Dallas 3-0. An encouraging sign is that the team’s forwards have begun to come alive. Walker Zimmerman has been outstanding at both ends of the field as well.
Playoff hopefuls Nashville SC and New England Revolution finish level in Tennessee. Watch MLS on ESPN+.
Previous ranking: 11
Next MLS match: vs. Inter Miami CF, Weds. Oct. 28 (8:30 p.m. ET, ESPN+)
After getting saved by the woodwork — and Jimmy Maurer — multiple times, FCD will gladly head back to Dallas with a point in tow. Taking a defensive posture against RSL after getting walloped by Nashville was probably the right move, but Dallas must get its offense back on track.
Previous ranking: 14
Next MLS match: vs. Real Salt Lake, Weds. Oct. 28 (10:30 p.m. ET, ESPN+)
Saturday’s 2-1 defeat to Vancouver was an opportunity squandered as it kept the Whitecaps and Real Salt Lake within touching distance of the playoff race. At least Cristian Espinoza continues to be an assist machine. His 21 helpers are tied for third-most in MLS since the start of 2019.
Previous ranking: 16
Next MLS match: at Minnesota United FC, Weds. Oct. 28 (8 p.m. ET)
After being idled for a month by a COVID-19 outbreak, the Rapids showed considerable rust in losing to Kansas City. They’ll have to regroup quickly with matches at Minnesota, home to Seattle and at Portland over the next 10 days.
Previous ranking: 17
Next MLS match: at Philadelphia Union, Weds. Oct. 28 (7:30 p.m. ET, ESPN+)
The Fire aren’t out of the playoff race yet, but throwing away two points in stoppage time against the Red Bulls cuts deep. Not for the first time in the last few seasons, the component parts look decent enough, but it’s not paying off in results.
Vancouver Whitecaps come back from a goal down against San Jose to win 2-1. Watch MLS on ESPN+.
Previous ranking: 19
Next MLS match: vs. Seattle Sounders FC, Tues. Oct. 27 (10 p.m. ET, ESPN+)
The Caps dug deep to come back and beat San Jose, a result that keeps them inside the playoff places. Considering that their “home” matches are being played in Portland, manager Marc Dos Santos deserves some kudos for the job he’s done.
Previous ranking: 18
Next MLS match: vs. Nashville SC, Tues. Oct. 27 (7 p.m. ET, ESPN+)
Manager Thierry Henry said he took the blame for the defeat to NYCFC after sending his players home to Montreal for some family time. But what’s really killing his team is the kind of backbreaking defensive errors that led to NYCFC’s opener.
NYCFC put up three goals in the second half to down Montreal Impact. Watch MLS on ESPN+.
Previous ranking: 22
Next MLS match: at FC Dallas, Weds. Oct. 28 (8:30 p.m. ET, ESPN+)
Yes, that’s Miami currently hanging on to the 10th and final playoff spot in the East, and they did it against Orlando without the suspended Gonzalo Higuain. And no Atlanta, you can’t have Leandro Gonzalez Pirez back, especially after his stoppage-time winner.
Previous ranking: 20
Next MLS match: at San Jose Earthquakes, Weds. Oct. 28 (10:30 p.m. ET, ESPN+)
If RSL fails to make the postseason, it will likely rue the home draw with Dallas, especially given the chances it squandered. Wednesday’s match at San Jose is shaping up to be a playoff place six-pointer.
Previous ranking: 24
Next MLS match: vs. Columbus Crew SC, Weds. Oct. 28 (8 p.m. ET)
Break up the Black-and-Red. That’s two road wins in a row following Saturday’s victory at Atlanta. The odds of making the playoffs are still slim but incredibly DCU is just three points back of the final playoff spot. Credit to interim manager Chad Ashton for picking the team up.
Previous ranking: 21
Next MLS match: at Orlando City SC, Weds. Oct. 28 (7:30 p.m. ET)
The Five Stripes are now 12th in the Eastern Conference and are playing just poorly enough to avoid victory. With a closing run that includes games at Orlando and away to Columbus, a playoff spot looks unlikely.
Previous ranking: 23
Next MLS match: at LAFC, Weds. Oct. 28 (10:30 p.m. ET, ESPN+)
Memo Rodriguez continued his solid season for Houston with a goal against Columbus, but the Dynamo’s 1-1 tie did little to help its playoff prospects.
Previous ranking: 25
Next MLS match: at Portland Timbers, Weds. Oct. 28 (10 p.m. ET, ESPN)
Yes, LAFC’s first goal was tainted. So it goes for the Galaxy. GM Dennis Te Kloese said his intention is for manager Guillermo Barros Schelotto to finish out the season. Given the way things are heading, it’s tough to see the Galaxy manager surviving much beyond that.
Previous ranking: 26
Next MLS match: vs. Sporting Kansas City, Weds. Oct. 28 (7:30 p.m. ET)
Last year, Cincinnati set a record for most goals conceded with 75. This year it might set a mark for averaging the fewest goals per game. At present, FCC has averaged 0.55 goals per game. The record belongs to the 2013 D.C. United squad that scored 0.65. FCC needs four more goals to avoid an ignominious mark.