MLS Power Rankings: FC Cincinnati and LAFC stay on top

Defending champion LAFC (7-1-4 in MLS and 11-2-6 overall) doesn't play another MLS game until June 10 while it concentrates on U.S. Open Cup and Concacaf Champions League play. (Photo: LAFC)

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FC Cincinnati and LAFC stay on top in Soccer America's MLS Power Rankings, where they are joined by Nashville SC, Philadelphia and FC Dallas in the top five.
1. (1) FC Cincinnati (9-1-3)
Last Week
: 3-0 vs. CF Montreal, 3-2 vs. Columbus. This Week: Tuesday, at NY Red Bulls, U.S. Open Cup, Saturday, at Colorado.
FC Cincinnati continues to rack up the wins at TQL Stadium, where two victories last week improved its record to 8-0-0. Twenty-four (out of 30 points) have come at home, seven more than any other team has earned.

2. (2) LAFC (7-1-4)
Last Week
: 1-1 vs. Sporting KC, 2-1 vs. San Jose. This Week: Tuesday, vs. LA Galaxy, U.S. Open Cup, Saturday/Sunday, bye.
LAFC is atop the Western Conference with a two-point lead and two games in hand on second-place Seattle. It will be off the next two weeks of MLS play as it prepares for, then competes in the Concacaf Champions League final against Leon. LAFC head coach Steve Cherundolo said he couldn't be happier with how his players' approach: “They’ve been focused when they’ve needed to be focused. We’ve had very little time on the training field to work, so each minute we’ve had together on the pitch has been very focused and concentrated. So it’s been an amazingly professional environment.” They'll have to ready for the restart of MLS play, though. LAFC will have five games in 15 days after the Concacaf Champions League final series ends.

3. (5) Nashville SC (7-3-4)
Last Week
: 2-1 vs. Inter Miami, 2-1 at Charlotte FC. This Week: Tuesday, at Inter Miami, U.S. Open Cup, Sunday, vs. Columbus.
Hany Mukhtar, the 2022 MLS MVP, scored both goals against Charlotte to give him eight goals through 14 games, ahead of his pace in 2022 when he had six goals after 14 games.

4. (7) Philadelphia (6-4-3)
Last Week: 0-0 vs. D.C. United, 3-0 vs. New England. This Week: Saturday, at NYCFC.
• In the four games since being eliminated by LAFC in the Concacaf Champions League semifinals, the Union has three wins and one tie and conceded just one goal. So much for a CCL hangover.

5. (6)  FC Dallas (6-3-4)
Last Week
: 2-1 vs. Vancouver, 1-1 vs. Houston. This Week: Saturday, at San Jose.
FC Dallas conceded a late goal that forced it to settle for a 1-1 tie with Houston that prevented it from taking all nine points over the three games played in eight days. Nico Estevez said the tie hurt because "we had the game in our hands" but he tried to look on the positive side: "I told the guys we’re disappointed because of the result but in a week of nine points we got seven. Of course, we wanted nine points, and to win the derby for our fans and the club but we have to be objective about the difficulty of the week.”

6. (8) St. Louis City (7-4-1)
Last Week
: 4-0 vs. Sporting KC. This Week: Saturday, vs. Vancouver .
When City SC wins, it wins big. The 4-0 win over Sporting KC up its the average number of goals it has scored in its seven wins to 3.4. It's averaged just 0.4 goals in the other five games.

7. (3) New England (7-3-3)

Last Week
: 0-3 at Philadelphia. This Week: Saturday, vs. Chicago.
The Revs dropped from first to fourth in the Supporters' Shield standings, six points behind FC Cincinnati. The most concerning development in Saturday's loss at Philadelphia was star Carles Gil's exit with a right leg injury. Nothing has yet been released about the results of his MRI.

8. (4) Seattle (7-5-2)
Last Week: 1-2 vs. Austin FC, 0-2 at Vancouver. This Week: Saturday, vs. NY Red Bulls.
All of the sudden, things don't look quite so bright in Seattle. The Sounders have lost three of their last four games and scored just five goals in their last seven. Most concerning for a veteran team has been its sloppiness. Brian Schmetzer  pointed to the goal the Sounders allowed just before halftime to Whitecaps midfielder Pedro Vite on Saturday as an example. “The goal we gave up was not a good goal to give up,” he said.

9. (10) Atlanta United (6-4-4)
Last Week
: 4-0 vs. Colorado, 3-3 at Chicago. This Week: Saturday, at Orlando City.
The Five Stripes' seven goals last week give them 28 goals, the most in MLS. Greek Giorgos Giakoumakis has scored eight of them, the most of any first-year player in MLS.

10. (14) Orlando City (5-4-4)
Last Week
: 1-1 vs. NYCFC, 3-1 at Inter Miami. This Week: Saturday, vs. Atlanta United.
Coach Oscar Pareja said he was happy for Austrian DP Ercan Kara (photo), who scored his fourth goal in five MLS matches this season and picked up an assist, and Martín Ojeda, who scored his third goal of the year and added his team-high fourth assist in the 3-1 derby win in Fort Lauderdale. "We have a few players that are really finding their best form," he said, "and we understand that we have to provide for them an understanding in the moment."

11. (9) San Jose (5-5-3)
Last Week
: 1-2 at LAFC. This Week: Saturday, vs. FC Dallas.
• The Earthquakes fell to LAFC on a Carlos Vela penalty kick in the fifth minute of stoppage time. Luchi Gonzalez's only regret was conceding the opening goal to Stipe Biuk after the third minute. Otherwise, Gonzalez liked how the Quakes played, especially in the second half. "We were very solid defensively," he said. "I was very confident we would get one point out of the game and even potentially create a chance in transition that could lead to a win, but it didn’t happen."

12. (15)  Vancouver (4-4-5)
Last Week
: 1-2 at FC Dallas, 2-0 vs. Seattle. This Week: Wednesday, at Pacific FC, Canadian Championship, Saturday, at St. Louis City.
• A big concern in Vancouver is lagging attendance -- the Whitecaps have not drawn more than 20,000 fans for an MLS game at BC Place since 2021 -- but they continue to play well at home, going 4-0-2 since an opening day loss to Real Salt Lake.

13. (17) D.C. United (5-5-4)
Last Week
:  0-0 at Philadelphia, 3-0 vs. LA Galaxy. This Week: Saturday, at Toronto FC.
• Three goals in the second half gave depleted United the win over the Galaxy and five points for the three-game stretch. Even better news is that it might get Steven BirnbaumPedro SantosAndy Najar and Taxi Fountas back from injuries this week for the trip to Toronto.

14. (23) Minnesota United (5-5-3)
Last Week
: 1-0 vs. Houston, 1-0 at Portland. This Week: Tuesday, at Houston, U.S. Open Cup, Saturday, vs. Real Salt Lake.
The Loons are back to .500, getting a stoppage-time winner from South African Bongokuhle Hlongwane for the win at Portland. It was their fourth road win of the season, the most of any team in MLS.

15. (13) Columbus (5-5-3)
Last Week
:  2-0 vs. LA Galaxy, 2-3 at FC Cincinnati. This Week: Wednesday at Pittsburgh Riverhounds, U.S. Open Cup, Sunday, at Nashville SC.
Hell is Real is the name of the Ohio derby. It certainly was for Crew goalkeeper Patrick Schulte. After the Crew came back from 2-0 down to tie the score at 2-2, it lost when Schulte had a backpass get away from him on his second touch, allowing Luciano Acosta to steal the ball, which led to Junior Moreno's goal into an empty net.

16. (29) Austin FC (4-5-4)
Last Week
: 2-1 at Seattle, 1-0 vs. Toronto FC. This Week: Wednesday vs. Chicago, U.S. Open Cup, Saturday, at Houston.
Sebastian Driussi, the 2022 MVP runner-up, hasn't played since April 29 with a groin strain, so if Austin FC was going to get untracked it was going to need to get goals from someone else. Gyasi Zardes provided them with goals against both Seattle and Toronto FC, his first two goals since his move from Colorado.

17. (16) Houston (4-5-3)
Last Week: 0-1 at Minnesota United, 1-1 at FC Dallas. This Week: Tuesday, vs. Minnesota United, U.S. Open Cup, Saturday, vs. Austin FC.
• The Dynamo salvaged one point out of nine over its three-game week when former Duke star Thorleifur Ulfarsson  scored in the 85th minute. Victories have been hard to come by for Houston in Frisco, where it hasn't won since 2017.

18. (22) NY Red Bulls (3-4-7)
Last Week
: 0-0 at Toronto FC, 2-1 vs. CF Montreal. This Week: Tuesday, vs. FC Cincinnati, U.S. Open Cup, Saturday, at Seattle.
 The Red Bulls have played four games under Troy Lesesne since he replaced Gerhard Struber, and they have earned three wins (one in the Open Cup) and a tie.

19. (21) Charlotte FC (5-6-3)
Last Week
: 2-1 vs. Chicago, 1-2 vs. Nashville SC. This Week: Wednesday at Birmingham Legion, U.S. Open Cup, Saturday, at LA Galaxy.
The loss to Nashville SC on Mukhtar's stoppage-time penalty kick ended what was a good run for Charlotte FC: three straight wins in league play and five games without a defeat at home. “This game showed that we have to find another level -- and then another level,” Charlotte coach Christian Lattanzio.

20. (20) NYCFC (4-5-4)
Last Week: 1-1 at Orlando City. This Week: Saturday, vs. Philadelphia.
The point at Orlando saved NYCFC from going without a point on its four-game road trip. It will play its next three games at home, where it is 4-0-1.

21. (19) Chicago (3-4-6)
Last Week
: 1-2 at Charlotte FC, 3-3 vs. Atlanta United. This Week: Wednesday at Austin FC, U.S. Open Cup, Saturday, at New England.
• The Fire's problem this season has been dropping points late in the game. Against Atlanta, for a change, Chicago came back from 1-0 and 3-2 down to equalize on Maren Haile-Selassie's goal in the 89th minute. It was the Swiss winger's 99th-minute own goal -- off his back! -- that cost the Fire two points in a 2-1 defeat in its first meeting with Atlanta.

22. (18) Portland (4-6-4)
Last Week
: 0-0 at Real Salt Lake, 0-1 vs. Minnesota  United. This Week: Sunday, at Sporting KC.
For the second time in May, the Timbers dropped points in stoppage time at Providence Park. After Will Bruin's equalizer for Austin FC in the second minute of stoppage time in a 2-2 tie, Portland lost to Minnesota on Hlongwane's goal five minutes into second-half added time. On a positive note, Sebastian Blanco made his 2023 debut, coming off the bench for the final 15 minutes.

23. (26) Real Salt Lake (4-6-3)

Last Week
: 0-0 vs. Portland, 3-2 at Colorado. This Week: Wednesday at Colorado, U.S. Open Cup, Saturday, at Minnesota United.
RSL ended a four-game scoreless streak in a big way with first-half goals from Damir KreilachPablo Ruiz and Danny Musovski, marking the first time in more than four years it has scored three goals in the first half.

24. (11) CF Montreal (5-8-0)
Last Wee
k: 0-3 at FC Cincinnati, 1-2 at NY Red Bulls. This Week: Wednesday vs. Forge FC, Canadian Championship, Saturday, vs. Inter Miami.
Among Eastern Conference teams, only NYCFC has been as bad as Montreal on the road. Both teams have only three points in eight away games.

25. (12) Inter Miami (5-8-0)
Last Week
: 1-2 at Nashville SC, 1-3 vs. Orlando City. This Week: Tuesday, vs. Nashville SC, U.S. Open Cup, Saturday, at CF Montreal.
• The Herons' three-game winning streak in MLS play ended with back-to-back losses last week to Southeast rivals. After the 3-1 loss at home to Orlando in the Sunshine Clasico, Coach Phil Neville lost his temper during his press conference, dropping an F-bomb. He apologized for his language but had to ask for the reporter to repeat his question.

26. (25) Toronto FC (2-5-7)
Last Week
: 0-0 vs. NY Red Bulls, 0-1 at Austin FC. This Week: Saturday, vs. D.C. United.
 The Reds have not scored in their last 404 minutes, dating back to the 1-0 win over NYCFC on April 29, and put none of their three shots on target at Austin. Bob Bradley's analysis? "I think each game is different, and I think there are some games where we created advantages and have some pretty good chances, some opportunities on set pieces. Tonight’s one where there’s not much. Austin pressed us more, and I thought especially our passing, coming from the back into the midfield tonight against that pressure wasn’t good enough."

27. (27) Sporting KC (2-8-4)
Last Week: 1-1 at LAFC, 0-4 at St. Louis City.. This Week: Sunday, vs. Portland.
All the talk before the game was about which is a bigger soccer city, St. Louis or Kansas City? Visit KC boasts that "Kansas City is the Soccer Capital of America," taking "its rightful place as the national leader in soccer development." That didn't sit well with some St. Louisans, who take pride in their city's place in American soccer history. Sporting KC captain Johnny Russell tried to downplay the rivalry. "I think it’s got a long way to go before it can be considered a big rivalry,” he told the Kansas City Star before the game. “But, you know, it has to start somewhere.” (That was before Sporting lost, 4-0.)

28. (24) Colorado (2-6-6)
Last Week
: 0-4 at Atlanta United, 2-3 vs. Real Salt Lake. This Week: Wednesday vs. Real Salt Lake, U.S. Open Cup, Saturday, vs. FC Cincinnati.
The Rapids are the only team that played three games in eight days and lost all three of them.

29. (28) LA Galaxy (2-8-3)
Last Week
: 0-2 at Columbus, 0-3 at D.C, United. This Week: Tuesday, at LAFC, U.S. Open Cup, Saturday, vs. Charlotte FC.
The Galaxy hung on for 70 minutes before the late collapse, conceding three goals in a span of nine minutes against D.C. United to remain in the MLS basement, 29th out of 29 teams. The collapse began with a bad giveaway by keeper Jonathan Bond, which led to Christian Benteke's opening goal. "As I was just saying in the locker room, I take full responsibility for us losing the game," said Bond afterwards. "We actually played well, I thought, maybe without creating too much, but we defended really well. We dealt with Benteke really well when the game was in the balance, and then it obviously comes down to not making mistakes."

Photos: Mark Thor/Orlando City, Austin FC

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