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Mid(ish)-season MLS Power Rankings

Who wants some power rankings? Woohoo!

MLS: New York Red Bulls at New York City FC Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports

With the contrarian nature of Major League Soccer in comparison to European Leagues, summers can get dicey for American’s top domestic competition as international tournaments commence. Currently, the European Championships and the Copa America are happening simultaneously which gave reason for the MLS to take a mini-break.

Some teams last played at the end of May, others at the beginning of June. MLS’ esoteric scheduling is tough to follow, like a lot some of their other rules.

On the other hand, it gives us a chance to start up some power rankings ahead of the return to play. On this maiden voyage for Once a Metro into the deep ocean of MLS power rankings for 2016, the waters are choppy, mostly because the teams in the league have not all played the same number of games. Thus, it’s an apples to oranges comparison. This is inconvenient yet one of the lovable flaws that MLS carries, and an occupational hazard of starting a Power Ranking three months after the season started. In the words of J. Cole, "Love Yours”.

These rankings will be fun, they’ll be volatile. This edition, though, is the baseline. A general ranking of how the teams have performed to this point in the season before they start jumping and falling after every game as if they’re the NCAA college football top 25.

1. Colorado Rapids

  • 28 points, 1st in West
  • Last result: Colorado 1-1 Philadelphia

Raise your hand if you predicted that the Colorado Rapids would be on this end of the table in June? Alright, whoever put their hands up with fraudulent intent and duplicitous execution, go ahead and put them down. The one remaining hand you see belongs to Jermaine Jones, who was both brazen and petty enough to predict not only would they be in first place at this juncture, they’d be 14-0-0.

Oh and the league’s stingiest defense is about to be boosted by the arrival of Tim Howard.

2. FC Dallas

  • 28 points, 2nd in West
  • Last result: Dallas 1-1 Houston

Dallas started the season hot before being rummaged by the Red Bulls 4-0 then following that up with a 1-0 loss against Toronto in the 6.

Since? Haven’t lost. They seem an established force that’ll make another run in the playoffs, as well as challenging for the Supporters’ Shield.

3. Los Angeles Galaxy

  • 21 points, 4th in West
  • Last result: Los Angeles 0-0 Kansas City

It’s not necessarily their points and league position, hindered by having played just 13 games compared to a team like Dallas which has competed in 16, it’s the heights they reach when the team is clicking. When it happens, they make sweet music from a symphony blended of old, Steven Gerrard and Robbie Keane, and young, Gio Dos Santos and Gyasi Zardes.

They have a league best +11 goal differential, something the not even the Red Bulls can sniff, even with their recent wins of 7-0 and 3-0.

4. Philadelphia Union

  • 23 points, 1st in the East
  • Philadelphia 3-2 Columbus

As painful as it is sticking Philly ahead of the Red Bulls, it’s purely earned on merit. Similar to Colorado, no one expected the Union to beat the top-end of the table in mid-June, unless the person holding the table had it upside down.

5. Real Salt Lake

  • 23 points, 3rd in West
  • Last result: New York City 2-3 Salt Lake

With just 13 games played, Real Salt Lake could overtake second in the West as Dallas have played three more and stand just five points adrift.

They’ll have a home-heavy schedule going forward which bodes well for a team that’s rounded 4 wins in 4 tries at home.

6. New York Red Bulls

  • 19 points, 2nd in East
  • Last result: New York 3-0 Toronto

A microcosm of the MLS: the Red Bulls sit in second place in their conference despite having more losses (7) than wins (6) this season. How's that for parity?

Jesse Marsch and his team must be kicking themselves for such a shockingly bad start to the season, they could (and probably should) be pacing the East instead of looking up at rivals Philadelphia. They're on a three-game winning streak, though, scoring 11 goals to go alongside three successive clean sheets. Like the Galaxy, the Red Bulls have a high ceiling when things are going right.

7. Vancouver Whitecaps

  • 21 points, 5th in West
  • Last result: Vancouver 1-1 Houston

Had they been in the East, they’d be in second place. Unfortunately, geography wasn’t kind to the Canadian club in this instance.

They’ll be looking over their shoulders for the rest of the season as the likes of Seattle, Portland, and Kansas City are under-performing the sum of their parts and could be set for a charge back up the table.

8. Montreal Impact

  • 19 points, 3rd in East
  • Last result: Montreal 3-2 Los Angeles

Securing a 3-2 victory over the Galaxy, criminally aided and abetted by Galaxy keeper Brian Rowe, was a quality three points, regardless of however that last goal may have found its way into the net. Didier Drogba has only started 6 matches but has produced with 5 goals in his first full (ish) season in the league.

Montreal hold a game in hand against both the clubs ahead of them in the East, New York and Philadelphia.

9. San Jose Earthquakes

  • 20 points, 6th in West
  • Last result: Portland 1-0 San Jose

With Chris Wondolowski on bench duty for the United States national team, goals will be a laborious proposition for San Jose. He could be back as soon as this weekend or as late as the end of June.

10. Portland Timbers

  • 19 points, 7th in West
  • Last result: Portland 1-0 San Jose

Fun fact: their win against San Jose was their first shutout of the season. After winning the league last season, 2016 hasn’t gone quite to plan but there’s a long list of games still to be played.

11. Toronto FC

  • 16 points, 6th in East
  • Last result: New York 3-0 Toronto

Seba Giovinco has been worth every penny and then some. He’s a walking highlight reel and a blessing to those who run the MLS social media accounts.

Yet still, even with Giovinco, Michael Bradley and the ghost of Jozy Altidore, Toronto have struggled this season. They’ve corrected the defensive issues that plagued them last season but lost some of their attacking verve in the process.

Toronto has scored 14 goals this season. Giovinco has been responsible for 8 of them and assisted a further 5. So far 13 of their 14 goals have been directly caused by one player. He’s pretty much personifying Steph Curry at Under Armor: it’s all about one man, no help. And around him they’re making lousy, boring shoes.

12. New York City FC

  • 18 points, 4th in East
  • Last result: New York City 2-3 Salt Lake

This team is so weird, man. They’re horribly inconsistent and can’t alter their playing style to make it work at Yankee Stadium, where they have the fewest points per game at home in the league. Home field advantaged is served up to whoever is in the opposing dugout in the Bronx.

Imagine what Andrea Pirlo thinks every time he has to walk out of a baseball dugout to make it to a pitch that’s half laid over infield dirt, with weird dimensions and foul poles? I wonder if any of those Italian thoughts can be translated to “what the hell am I doing here?” Though, obviously, he’ll have said it much more eloquently and less direct than that, because he’s Pirlo.

13. Seattle Sounders

  • 16 points, 9th in West
  • Last result: DC 0-2 Seattle

The transition from Obafemi Martins to Jordan Morris was, as expected, not seamless. But Morris grew up quick after a few games and has acquainted himself to the league quite nicely, raising his goal tally to 5 after 12 starts.

Seattle have played just 13 matches and if they were in the East they’d be tied for 5th rather than being in 9th. But if they win the two games in hand they have on the majority of teams ahead of them, they could jump as high as 4th in the West.

14. Orlando City FC

  • 16 points, 5th in the East
  • Last result: New York City 2-2 Orlando

Thanks in part to a lackluster NYCFC performance after the New York club took a 2-0 lead as well as the turf that grabbed David Villa’s standing leg in his penalty attempt that fluttered far away from the net, Orlando rescued a draw at Yankee Stadium last time out.

They are so much better when Kaka is in the lineup. Nothing bold about that, though it’s unfortunate how often the Brazilian gets injured, as he currently is.

15. New England Revolution

  • 16 points, 8th in the East
  • Last result: New England 2-1 Seattle

A defense hemorrhaging goals has left New England in a suboptimal position returning from the Copa/Euro mini-break, but being in the East helps. They’re in 8th due to a -6 goal difference, but are tied for 5th on points and just three points out of second. They have the quality that should have them picking up points again, including a solid 2-1 win against Seattle in their last match.

16. DC United

  • 16 points, 7th in the East
  • Last result: DC 0-2 Seattle

DC are smack in the middle of mediocrity in the already painfully mediocre Eastern conference. They’re on 16 points; 9th place has 14 points and second place has 19.

In one or two weeks, all of these teams could be in a sharply varied numerical sequence. Two wins and they may find themselves in second place. Two losses and they’ll be in the minority of being on the outside looking in to the over-populated playoff picture.

17. Sporting Kansas City

  • 18 points, 8th in West
  • Last result: Los Angeles 0-0 Kansas City

For fans who haven’t caught much action this season and want to lean on standard generalities like Kansas City are good and usually great at home, well, those doesn’t apply this season.

The only team who has accrued less points per game at home (and a worse goal differential) is New York City, who play in a sandbox that was buoyed by the Red Bulls 7-0 thrashing. (Yes, I’m going to mention that every damn chance I get.)

18. Columbus Crew

  • 14 points, 9th in East
  • Last result: Philadelphia 3-2 Columbus

Well, this isn't what they had in mind after losing in the finals against Portland last season. No more Kei Kamara and a slow opening few months this season.

For Columbus, luck is on their side being that they play in the East and the league they compete in lessen the regular season importance as more than half the teams qualify for the postseason. They’re one win away from being in a playoff spot.

19. Houston Dynamo

  • 13 points, 10th in the West
  • Dallas 1-1 Houston

If nothing else, their games are entertaining from a neutral perspective. They’re middle of the pack in goals scored but close to the bottom in goals conceded.

After manager Owen Coyle has departed, maybe some defense consistency can be gained.

20. Chicago Fire

  • 11 points, 10th in the East
  • Last result: Chicago 1-1 Portland

What a... **clears throat, ensures everyone is listening** ... dumpster FIRE this team from Chicago has been, amirite???

Dad jokes for the win (editor’s note: approved).

But, yeah. Their bad is parallel to the bad of Houston, just in a different column. Chicago figured goals may be a problem but they’ve scored just 10 in 12 matches played. Simply not enough. The good news is they’ve conceded only 14, so if they could put a few away maybe they can douse this blaze.