MLS Power Rankings: LAFC remains on top

Teenager Erik Duenas (18) made his first MLS start for unbeaten LAFC at
Nashville SC. Almost twice his age, Dax McCarty (6) made his 400th MLS start. Photo: LAFC.

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LAFC, MLS's only unbeaten team, heads into the Concacaf Champions League semifinals against the Philadelphia Union while the other teams unchanged in the top four have midweek Open Cup action.

1. (1) LAFC (5-0-3)
Last Week
: 1-1 at Nashville SC. This Week: Wednesday, at Philadelphia, Concacaf Champions League, Saturday/Sunday, bye.
Youth Movement:
Ahead of the first leg of the Concacaf Champions League semifinals at Philadelphia on Wednesday, Steve Cherundolo rotated his starting lineup at Nashville, giving 18-year-old Mexican-American Erik Duenas and 21-year-old Pole Mateusz Bogusz their first MLS starts.

2. (2) St. Louis City (6-2-1)
Last Week
: 1-1 at Colorado. This Week: Tuesday, vs. Union Omaha, U.S. Open Cup, Saturday, vs. Portland.
Roman Buerki, the former Borussia Dortmund keeper, rescued City SC at Dick's Sporting Goods Park, making a career-high 12 saves, the most in a game in MLS this season. Coach Bradley Carnell's assessment: "His footwork was excellent, got into great spots, which made some saves look easy, but they were proper high-class, high-level saves."

3. (3) FC Cincinnati (6-1-2)
Last Week
: 2-1 vs. Portland. This Week: Wednesday, vs. Louisville City, U.S. Open Cup, Saturday, at New England.
Has Cincy seen the last of Brenner? The Brazilian had only one goal in seven games before heading off to Italy to finalize a reported $10 million transfer to Udinese next season. He didn't play in the 6-1 loss at St. Louis City nor in the 2-1 win over Portland. In his place, Sergio Santos, picked up last summer from Philadelphia, scored his team-high fourth goal of the season against the Timbers. He leads all MLS players with 1.18 goals per 90 minutes.

4. (4) New England (6-1-2)

Last Week
: 2-1 vs. Sporting KC. This Week: Tuesday, vs. Hartford Athletic, U.S. Open Cup, Saturday, vs. FC Cincinnati.
Giacomo Vrioni,
a 2022 DP signing, scored two goals in a game for the first time, tallying four minutes apart in the first half. Asked about the Albanian international's performance, Revs coach Bruce Arena said, "He did score two goals. Yes. Good effort by Giacomo.” What did he like about Vrioni's play? “Well, he scored two goals tonight," Arena added. "That’s what we like about that.”

5. (6) Seattle (6-2-1)

Last Week: 1-0 vs. Minnesota United. This Week: Wednesday, vs. San Diego Loyal, U.S. Open Cup, Saturday, at Real Salt Lake.
The Sounders have yet to allow a goal in five home games, setting a record for most games without conceding a goal  in their 15 seasons at Lumen Field.

6. (7) Atlanta United (5-1-3)
Last Week: 2-1 vs. Chicago. This Week: Wednesday vs. Memphis 901, U.S. Open Cup, Saturday, at Nashville SC.
Besides Sergio Santos, first-year Greek DP Giorgos Giakoumakis is the only other MLS player averaging more than a goal per 90 minutes (1.08). His goal against the Fire was his fifth goal in his fifth start.

7. (12) NYCFC (4-2-3)
Last Week
: 3-1 vs. FC Dallas. This Week: Saturday, at Toronto FC.
Santiago Rodriguez was moved from his No. 10 position to center forward, and it paid off with two goals against FC Dallas. NYCFC coach Nick Cushing said the move isn't permanent, but he believes the young Uruguayan, signed to a permanent deal as a DP in March, is capable of putting up numbers like other top No. 10 players such as Philadelphia's Daniel Gazdag, Austin FC's Sebastian Driussi and Nashville SC's Hany Mukhtar have recently done in MLS.

8. (5) Columbus (4-3-2)
Last Week: 0-1 at Charlotte FC. This Week: Wednesday, vs. Indy Eleven, U.S. Open Cup, Saturday, vs. Inter Miami.
The Crew looked to have scored a tying goal in the 89th minute, but midfielder Aidan Morris' goal in the 89th minute was nullified after a check by Video Review.

9. (8)  FC Dallas (4-3-2)
Last Week: 1-3 at NYCFC. This Week: Sunday, at Minnesota United.
FC Dallas got a consolation goal at Citi Field from defender Jose Martínez with his first MLS goal in 58 matches over three seasons.

10. (14) Houston (4-3-1)

Last Week
: 1-0 vs. Inter Miami. This Week: Wednesday, at Tampa Bay Rowdies, U.S. Open Cup, Saturday/Sunday, bye.
The Dynamo is the first team in MLS history to open the season with four consecutive shutout victories at home.

11. (9) Orlando City (3-3-2)
Last Week
: 1-3 vs. D.C. United. This Week: Saturday, vs. LA Galaxy.
Head coach Oscar Pareja said losing is always disappointing, but it is especially so home where the Lions' losing streak is now three games. "This group is trying to do the job right," he said. "We are missing some continuity, but we cannot get desperate. I have always respectfully told our fans that we know how important it is to win at home, not only because we must win, but because we are playing in front of them, and their support tonight was great. That is why this loss hurts."

12. (10) Minnesota United (3-3-2)

Last Week: 0-1 at Seattle. This Week: Tuesday, at Detroit City FC, U.S. Open Cup, Sunday, FC Dallas.
The Loons have lost three games in a row, but Adrian Heath said he was pleased with his players' effort in Seattle. “I’ve criticized the players for their performance in Chicago [2-1 loss], nowhere else," the Minnesota coach said. "I can’t criticize the players for their effort this evening. We’ve come to a very difficult place and thought the game was very even. In general play, I didn’t feel we were ever in real danger."

13. (19) Philadelphia (3-4-2)
Last Week
: 4-2 vs. Toronto FC. This Week: Wednesday, vs. LAFC, Concacaf Champions League, Saturday/Sunday, bye.
Things are finally back to normal in Chester, where the Union has made it a habit of scoring in bunches. The four goals against Toronto FC came in a span of 40 minutes, the first three from Mikael Uhre. The four goals marked the ninth time in last 12 regular-season home games Philly scored four or more goals.

14. (11) San Jose (4-3-2)
Last Week
: 1-3 at Real Salt Lake. This Week: Tuesday, at Monterey Bay F.C., U.S. Open Cup, Saturday, at Austin.
The Quakes are looking for their first road win of the season. Over the last two seasons, they are 1-14-6 away from PayPal Park, the worst road record in MLS.

15. (15) Nashville SC (3-3-3)

Last Week: 1-1 vs. LAFC. This Week: Wednesday, vs. San Antonio FC, U.S. Open Cup, Saturday, vs. Atlanta United.
• Dax McCarty made his 400th career MLS start against LAFC, becoming the third field player in league history to reach the milestone, joining Kyle Beckerman (461) and Chad Marshall (404).

16. (13) Chicago (2-2-4)
Last Week
: 1-2 at Atlanta United. This Week: Wednesday, vs. Chicago House AC, U.S. Open Cup, Saturday, vs. NY Red Bulls.
The Fire looked like it earned a point at Mercedes-Benz Stadium when Kacper Przybylko equalized in the 90th minute and six minutes later keeper Chris Brady pushed Juanjo Purata's header over the crossbar. But bad luck struck in the 99th minute when Machop Chol flicked a corner kick across the six-yard box and the ball ricocheted off Purata and off the back of Maren Haile-Selassie and into the net for an own goal.

17. (16)  Vancouver (2-2-4)

Last Week
: bye. This Week: Saturday, vs. Colorado.
Down on the farm ... Whitecaps FC 2 gave starts to first-team players Isaac Boehmer, Déiber Caicedo, J.C. Ngando and Karifa Yao in the 5-2 win over MNUFC2 on Sunday night at Swangard Stadium. Caicedo, who was limited to 41 minutes of MLS play before suffering a meniscus tear, had the game-winning goal.

18. (23) D.C. United (3-4-2)
Last Week:
3-1 at Orlando City. This Week: Wednesday, vs. Richmond Kickers, U.S. Open Cup, Saturday, vs. Charlotte FC.
On the field, it was a good weekend for United, winner of back-to-back games for the first time since the first two games of the 2022 season. Off the field? Iraqi international Mohanad Jeahze was arrested Saturday on allegations of assault while in his native Sweden during an approved leave. (He has been suspended pending an investigation by MLS and Swedish authorities.)

19. (24) Charlotte FC (2-4-3)
Last Week: 1-0 vs. Columbus. This Week: Tuesday, vs. South Georgia Tormenta FC, U.S. Open Cup, Saturday, at D.C. United.
 Charlotte FC accomplished what no team has done this season, and that's shut out the Crew, which came into the game with 18 goals, the second-most in MLS.

20. (22) Colorado (1-3-5)
Last Week
: 1-1 vs. St. Louis City. This Week: Wednesday, vs. Northern Colorado Hailstorm, U.S. Open Cup, Saturday, at Vancouver.
• Michael Barrios
scored a stoppage-time equalizer in a second consecutive match.

21. (26) Real Salt Lake (3-5-0)
Last Week: 3-1 vs. San Jose. This Week: Wednesday, at Las Vegas Lights, U.S. Open Cup, Saturday, vs. Seattle.
Some nice combination work produced the three goals scored by Jasper Loeffelsend, Jefferson Savarino and Andres Gomez. Loeffelsend's opening goal came after he initiated a give-and-go with Danny Musovski, a first-half substitute for the injured Anderson Julio.

22. (27) LA Galaxy (1-4-3)
Last Week: 2-0 vs. Austin FC. This Week:  Saturday, at Orlando City.
The Galaxy had lots of positives in finally getting its first win of the season, in particular how its 3-5-2 formation did and how well the midfield did. One of those positives was the play of Riqui Puig, who had a goal and an assist on Chicharito's goal. Unfortunately, the young Spaniard picked up a yellow card in the third minute and will be suspended for tor the match at Orlando with his fifth yellow card of the season. "He’s feisty and fiery," said head coach Greg Vanney, "and he seems to be in the middle of a lot of things, so it didn’t take him long to that threshold."

23. (29) CF Montreal (2-6-0)
Last Week
: 2-0 vs. NY Red Bulls. This Week: Saturday, at Sporting KC.
After getting shut out in six of its first seven games, Montreal got a break against the Red Bulls when Aaron Herrera's cross was deflected in by defender Andres Reyes for an own goal. And it held on after an Ilias Iliadis red card in the 65th minute, putting the game away on Mathieu Choiniere's goal in stoppage time. "There are times when you must be combative and smart," said Coach Hernan Losada. "I don't think we gave away many chances, even when we were a man down."

24. (17) NY Red Bulls (1-3-5)
Last Week: 0-2 at CF Montreal. This Week: Saturday, at Chicago.
How much longer does Gerhard Struber have as head coach? Three supporter groups — the Viking Army, Empire Supporters Club and Torcida 96 — walked out before the game against Houston to protest the handling of DP Dante Vanzeir, who was suspended for using racist language in a game against San Jose. Among the chants was "Fire Struber," who did not take Vanzeir out of the match against the Quakes until long after the incident in question. The 2-0 loss at 10-man Montreal left the Red Bulls with a single win in nine games. Said Struber, “It’s on me. It’s my responsibility to bring better results."

25. (18)
Toronto FC (1-2-6)

Last Week: 2-4 at Philadelphia. This Week: Saturday, vs. NYCFC.
The Reds are another team with only one win in nine games and a head coach, Bob Bradley, in the hot seat. They were 3-0 down at the half against the Union. Yes, things got away from Toronto early. "They came out with more intensity," said Bradley. "We were second to every ball. We made some bad mistakes."

26. (20) Austin FC (2-4-2)

Last Week
: 0-2 at LA Galaxy. This Week: Saturday, vs. San Jose.
Some MLS teams struggle after long runs in the Concacaf Champions League. Austin FC's collapse followed a first-round exit to Haiti's Violette. Since then, it has no wins and only one goal scored in six games.

27. (21) Portland (2-5-2)
Last Week: 1-2 at FC Cincinnati. This Week: Wednesday,, vs. Orange County SC, U.S. Open Cup, Saturday, at St. Louis City.
Head coach Giovanni Savarese and defender Dario Zuparic did not travel to Cincinnati due to MLS's health and safety protocols. (Yes, they are still in place.) Six other Timber players were unavailable due to injuries.

28. (25) Inter Miami (2-6-0)
Last Week: 0-1 at Houston. This Week: Wednesday, at Miami FC, U.S. Open Cup, Saturday, at Columbus.
After five losses in a row, it was time for a shakeup. Josef Martinez, scoreless since his move from Atlanta, was benched. Still, no change. Despite 20 shots and an edge in expected goals (1.3 to 0.6) for the first time since the season opener, the Herons dropped another 1-0 decision. "None of our forwards can come into my office and say we weren’t creating chances after tonight," said Coach Phil Neville. "We created chances. We deserved to win the game, but they scored off their chance and we didn’t off ours." 

29. (28)
Sporting KC (0-6-3)
Last Week: 1-2 at New England. This Week: Tuesday, vs.Tulsa Athletic, U.S. Open Cup, Saturday, vs. CF Montreal.
Another mess, another loss. Sporting fell behind 2-0 after 35 minutes -- "I don't think we were good in the first half," said Peter Vermes -- got back into the game on Johnny Russell's first goal of the season and 50th career MLS goal in the 50th minute but then lost Andreu Fontas to a red card 11 minutes later, Sporting's third of the season. "Nine games, three red cards," added Vermes. "It's hard to play a man down."

Photos: Mikael Uhre (Philadelphia Union), Chicharito (LA Galaxy).

2 comments about "MLS Power Rankings: LAFC remains on top".
  1. humble 1, April 25, 2023 at 11:31 a.m.

    MLS's Primary Transfer Window ended at 10PM PST yesterday.  Not a lot of news comging out - but I know my local team will have for the rest of the season - a lot of changes in their roster.  Likely the same around the league.  The pivot to players with experience in Europe is in full force.  Teams that do not get on this train - are getting crushed - I mean crushed.  The maturation of the MLS, the cleaning up of the stadiums, removing football paint, especially, now combing the carpets to put horizontal lines, and all the new stadiums that have come on line, coupled with the Apple deal - which makes it so that your people - all over the world - including scouts - and other teams - can see your play - and other factors that people that actually work in the business know better than I - have opened the floodgates - and the players are moving.  Just look at the back four - used this was main-stay of Americans - changing quickly.  Level is going up - as these Euro developed and experience players - be they European, African, Asian, (very few South Americans as MLS has direct line to that market, but few mostly Mexican veteran players), are professionals, they left their home country, made to a certain level in Europe, learned another language, proven themselves on training ground and pitch, and they come here, settle in quick, and get on the pitch and impact the game.  The MLS teams caught sitting on their hands - will be the ones - out of playoffs - playoffs will be full of Euro developed and experienced players this year.  Look at your local teams rosters moves - if they are not on this trend - good luck! 

  2. humble 1 replied, April 25, 2023 at 11:35 a.m.

    What this means for US MLS Next and other Academy players - that is a topic worth touching - it will impact - but - leave it for another day.  Short term - bump in the road - long term - possible big benefit for our young men, and women.  C'mon!  

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