MLS Power Rankings: Nashville reaps home comforts

May 9, 2022Jeff CarlisleCloseU.S. soccer correspondentJeff Carlisle covers MLS and the U.S. national team for ESPN FC.Dan HajduckyCloseESPNHajducky is a reporter/researcher for ESPN. He has an MFA in creative writing from Fairfield University and played on the men’s soccer teams at Fordham and Southern Connecticut State universities.Our leading trio has been reasonably well established for…

MLS Power Rankings: Nashville reaps home comforts
May 9, 2022

  • Jeff Carlisle

    CloseU.S. soccer correspondent

      Jeff Carlisle covers MLS and the U.S. national team for ESPN FC.
  • Dan Hajducky


      Hajducky is a reporter/researcher for ESPN. He has an MFA in creative writing from Fairfield University and played on the men’s soccer teams at Fordham and Southern Connecticut State universities.

Our leading trio has been reasonably well established for some time, but it’s the teams nipping at the heels of LAFC, the Philadelphia Union and the LA Galaxy that are making power moves in our Power Rankings. After spending two full months on the road to start the season, Nashville SC is beginning to reap the rewards of home cooking, while CF Montreal is demonstrating it’s a genuine contender in the Eastern Conference.

Nashville secured its first-ever win at GEODIS Park with a 2-0 victory over last season’s Western Conference finalists Real Salt Lake, while Montreal welcomed Orlando City SC to Quebec and duly dispatched the Lions to the tune of 4-1, firmly entrenching both sides in our top 10.

With Week 10 in the books, Jeff Carlisle and Dan Hajducky look at the results, break down where all 28 teams stand after a wild weekend of action and bring you the latest edition of MLS Power Rankings.

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Previous ranking: 1

Next MLS match: Saturday at Colorado Rapids, 3:30 p.m. ET

Games involving LAFC and Philadelphia are usually barn burners, and this one was no different, as the two sides played to a 2-2 draw. The Black and Gold’s resilience was on display, as it twice came back from a goal down. LAFC’s balance in terms of scoring has also been remarkable, with 13 different players scoring goals this season. — Carlisle

Previous ranking: 2

Next MLS match: Saturday vs. New York Red Bulls, 7:30 p.m. ET, ESPN+

Even after three straight draws to Montreal, Nashville and then Saturday against LAFC, Philly still sits atop the East. Although just five points separate the Union and seventh-place Atlanta United, Philadelphia has been so stingy on defense (eight goals allowed, tied for best in the conference and third-fewest in MLS) that its subpar offensive output — T-20th in MLS in shots on target from open play since April 15 — hasn’t stopped it from taking points. — Hajducky

Previous ranking: 3

Next MLS match: Saturday vs. FC Dallas, 10:30 p.m. ET, ESPN+

The 1-0 road defeat of Austin FC on Sunday was the latest proof that the Galaxy have a bit more iron in them than last season. It wasn’t pretty, but it didn’t need to be thanks to Mark Delgado’s early strike from distance. — Carlisle

Previous ranking: 6

Next MLS match: Saturday at Houston Dynamo, 8:30 p.m. ET, ESPN+

After being forced to settle for a draw in GEODIS Park’s grand opening, Nashville gave its new home venue a proper welcome, beating RSL 2-0. It was a deserved victory for NSC, who were dominant throughout, although it took Dave Romney’s goal midway through the second half to break the deadlock. — Carlisle



Nashville’s C.J. Sapong slots home a goal in stoppage time to give his team a 2-0 lead over Real Salt Lake.

Previous ranking: 4

Next MLS match: Saturday at Philadelphia Union, 7:30 p.m. ET, ESPN+

The New York Red Bulls, across all competitions, haven’t lost in a month. And although four of their five wins have come when scoring first, they fell behind Portland and mounted a comeback over the weekend, capped off by Aaron Long’s scrappy scrambler in the 67th minute. New York barely concedes (T-3rd in MLS in goals allowed) and it’s brutal on defense (2nd in MLS in tackles and aerial duels won), but it also hasn’t finished higher than sixth or made it past the first round of the MLS Cup playoffs since 2018. That streak should stop here. — Hajducky

Previous ranking: 5

Next MLS match: Saturday vs. Columbus Crew, 7 p.m. ET, ESPN+

After getting ousted from the eventual CONCACAF Champions League victors Seattle on April 13, NYCFC have been on a tear: They’re unbeaten in four straight league matches and have found the net three or more times thrice. Between the U.S. Open Cup and MLS play, they’re looking at three games in nine days, so some fatigue might settle in. After failing to find the net in his first five MLS contests, 2021 Golden Boot winner Valentin Castellanos has five in his past three games. Since April 17, only LAFC have created more chances than the Bronx Blues while Sean Johnson has prevented the fifth-most goals across the league. — Hajducky

Previous ranking: 8

Next MLS match: Saturday at LA Galaxy, 10:30 p.m. ET, ESPN+

Facing a heavily rotated Seattle side, this was a game Dallas should win and did in a 2-0 victory. Jesus Ferreira’s goal saw him pass father David on Dallas’ all-time scoring list. Paul Arriola scored the other, and has given FCD a significant boost to their attack this season. — Carlisle

Previous ranking: 7

Next MLS match: Saturday at Real Salt Lake, 9:30 p.m. ET, ESPN+

After largely feasting on the league’s poorer sides in the first few months, Austin faced its biggest test yet against the Galaxy, and save for Sebastian Driussi hitting the post, never really got going in a 1-0 defeat. The Verde is no doubt an improved team from a year ago, and it’s only one game, but still looks like it has a bit more to prove to reach contender status. — Carlisle



Marky Delgado puts LA Galaxy up 1-0 in the sixth minute with a goal from outside the box.

Previous ranking: 12

Next MLS match: Saturday at Charlotte FC, 7 p.m. ET, ESPN+

Players with 50% of their shots on target (min. 15 shots, including blocks), 80% of passes completed and at least five goals: Djordje Mihailovic. That’s it, which explains why the Montreal attacking mid is an early frontrunner for league MVP. “He’s on fire,” Victor Wanyama said of his teammate recently, before musing that the 23-year-old is probably not long for the league. That would be a shame for Montreal, which also happen to be on fire: Its last loss was March 12 to NYCFC and it has outscored opponents 18-11 since, tying Philly and upending the New York Red Bulls, Orlando City and Atlanta in the process. — Hajducky

Previous ranking: 9

Next MLS match: Saturday vs. Austin FC, 9:30 p.m. ET, ESPN+

It’s been difficult to get a handle on up-and-down RSL. This week they fell to Nashville at brand-new GEODIS Park, last week they topped the Galaxy, the week before they were knocked out of the U.S. Open Cup by the Northern Colorado Hailstorm. The tell here is in the table: No team in a playoff position has scored fewer goals than Salt Lake’s 10, and only two such teams have conceded more than its 15 goals against.

Previous ranking: 10

Next MLS match: Saturday at Toronto FC, 3 p.m. ET, ESPN+

Tough weekend for the Lions in the Great White North. Not only did they get thrashed by Montreal, but it wasn’t even close; Montreal had ten shots on goal and five blocked shots. They’re still in good shape — Orlando is seventh in MLS shot conversion rate — but face off against the first-place Union on Tuesday. They could be looking at a slide in the standings. — Hajducky

Previous ranking: 11

Next MLS match: Sunday at Seattle Sounders FC, 4 p.m. ET, ESPN

Conceding a stoppage-time winner at home is always a gut punch, but Minnesota couldn’t have many complaints about its 1-0 defeat to Cincinnati, as goalkeeper Dayne St. Clair kept the Loons in the match. The hope is that forwards Luis Amarilla and Robin Lod will recover from illness soon. — Carlisle



Brandon Vazquez scores the first goal of the game in stoppage time to give FC Cincinnati a 1-0 win over Minnesota United FC.

Previous ranking: 14

Next MLS match: Saturday vs. Sporting Kansas City, 10 p.m. ET, ESPN+

The good news is that the Timbers finally scored a goal after failing to find the net in their three previous games. The bad is that they conceded a second-half set-piece goal against the Red Bulls to turn three points into one. While injuries have played a part in Portland’s early struggles, 10 games into the season, a return to MLS Cup seems very far away. — Carlisle

Previous ranking: 19

Next MLS match: Sunday vs. New England Revolution, 1:30 p.m. ET, ESPN

Injuries, man. You’d think a four-goal extravaganza for a club struggling to score would soothe the wounds of Five Stripes faithful who’d been ticking days off the calendar until Josef Martinez’s return. In April, Atlanta only scored three MLS goals. But the story of Atlanta’s (and USMNT) fans’ weekend was Miles Robinson’s Achilles tear, the third in a month for the club, including goalkeepers Brad Guzan and Dylan Castanheira. Despite all the misfortune, Atlanta still lead MLS in passing percentage and are third in chances created – largely due to Brooks Lennon’s 4th-best total (29) – a feat considering how shorthanded they’ve been. — Hajducky

Previous ranking: 13

Next MLS match: Saturday vs. Nashville SC, 8:30 p.m. ET, ESPN+

Water seems to be finding its own level in Houston. While the Dynamo remain in the seventh and final playoff place in the West, Houston slumped to its third straight defeat in losing 2-0 to D.C. United. Chance creation continues to be a problem with the Dynamo’s mark of 6.8 chances per game ranking bottom of the league. — Carlisle

Previous ranking: 17

Next MLS match: Saturday at New York City FC, 7 p.m. ET, ESPN+

After their shock ousting from the U.S. Open Cup in mid-April at the hands of USL Championship side Detroit City, the Crew have rebounded to go unbeaten in league play since. Columbus showed grit against New England on Saturday, erasing a 2-1 deficit in the 89th minute. After going scoreless in league play for a month, the Crew have scored five in their past two — and only Cincy’s Luciano Acosta and reining MLS MVP Carles Gil have created more chances than Lucas Zelarayan. Coupled with backstop Eloy Room’s third-most MLS goals prevented (2.05), Columbus might be turning a corner. — Hajducky



The New England Revolution and Columbus Crew each get goals late as the two sides play an entertaining 2-2 draw.

Previous ranking: 20

Next MLS match: Sunday at Atlanta United, 1:30 p.m. ET, ESPN

Although Matt Turner returned with a clean sheet against Miami on April 30, an 89th-minute goal spoiled what would’ve been a 2-1 win against the 2020 MLS Cup champions Columbus Crew this past weekend. Not that it was Turner’s fault: Uncharacteristic man-marking lapses on crosses led to both goals the Revs conceded. After only allowing 41 goals all 2021, New England has already conceded 18. It looks a revitalized side with the Arsenal-bound Turner back in net, but it’s lost half its matches despite only conceding first in three games. The historic efficiency of 2021 has proven elusive thus far. — Hajducky

Previous ranking: 16

Next MLS match: Saturday vs. LAFC, 3:30 p.m. ET

The Rapids are officially in scuffle mode following their 1-0 defeat to San Jose, having won just once in their past seven matches. Goals have been tough to come by during that span — just six in seven games — although it’s still early days for Gyasi Zardes’ time in Colorado. — Carlisle

Previous ranking: 15

Next MLS match: Saturday vs. FC Cincinnati, 8 p.m. ET, ESPN+

The last time I wrote about Chicago, it had only lost once. I may have even said, “It’s not a fluke.” Can I … take it back? A gifted PK on April 30 marked Chicago’s first goal since March 19, which was the last time the Fire took maximum points. Over the weekend, they were drubbed by Atlanta down in Fulton County and now sit in last in the East. They’ve been staunch goal defenders, allowing only 11 through 10 games, but the retooled offense has been paltry. Former Liverpool man Xherdan Shaqiri and Kacper Przybylko — who tallied the third-most MLS goals from April 2019 to the start of the 2022 season — have combined for just 10 shots on goal. — Hajducky

Previous ranking: 24

Next MLS match: Saturday at Chicago Fire, 8 p.m. ET, ESPN+

Don’t look now, but Cincy is … in form? Yes, it beat Toronto twice, but its last loss was a 2-1 decision to stalwart LAFC on April 24 that easily could’ve gone the other way. It also boasts MLS’ leading chance-creator in Luciano Acosta and has new defensive life: Cincinnati, who has the two worst goals-conceding seasons of all time, hasn’t allowed more than one goal in a game in all competitions since April 2. Cincy is also last by far in shooting goals added in the MLS, so, who knows if it’ll last. — Hajducky



Andre Shinyashiki goal 68th minute Charlotte FC 1-0 Inter Miami CF

Previous ranking: 21

Next MLS match: Saturday vs. CF Montreal, 7 p.m. ET, ESPN+

Charlotte remains winless on the road but flaunts a conference-high four home wins. That won’t get it done, but it’s got a favorable round-of-32 matchup with USL One’s Richmond Kickers on Wednesday to focus on. It’s still anyone’s game in the Eastern Conference, with nine points separating first and last place. If Charlotte, who allows roughly 1.18 goals per, can simply convert more shots on goal (shot conversion rate: 8.1%, 24th of 28 in MLS) to actual goals, things could trend upward and fast in Queen City. Three of its next four league matchups are at Bank of America Stadium. — Hajducky

Previous ranking: 18

Next MLS match: Saturday vs. Orlando City, 3 p.m. ET, ESPN+

After going unbeaten from March 19 to April 16, including delivering Philly its first and only loss to date on the campaign, Bob Bradley’s Toronto FC has faltered precipitously. Four straight losses with a new nadir reached over the weekend: A 1-0 loss to Vancouver, who boast the league’s worst goal differential — tied for fewest goals scored — and percentage of shots on target. MLS record signing Lorenzo Insigne can’t get here quick enough. — Hajducky

Previous ranking: 22

Next MLS match: Saturday vs. D.C. United, 8 p.m. ET, ESPN+

Things have improved for Inter Miami — whose three league wins have all come since April 9 — but it couldn’t get a whole lot worse. Gonzalo Higuain, one of the highest-paid players in MLS history and fighting off recent retirement rumors, has only scored 15 league goals in 45 appearances; good (or bad) news, depending on your vantage point, is that Leonardo Campana can’t stop scoring of late, much needed for a side who has only tallied nine goals all season. More troubling is that only one team in the East has allowed more goals than Inter Miami. — Hajducky

Previous ranking: 23

Next MLS match: Sunday vs. Minnesota United, 4 p.m. ET, ESPN

All hail the CONCACAF Champions League … uh … champions. And the continental triumph left manager Brian Schmetzer little choice but to rotate his lineup against Dallas, resulting in a 2-0 defeat. The talent on this team is unquestioned. The expectation is that some rest will see the Sounders rebound. The ensuing weeks will reveal if it works out that way. — Carlisle



FC Dallas’ Jesus Ferreira takes the ball in the middle of the box and fires one past the keeper to put his team up 1-0.

Previous ranking: 24

Next MLS match: Saturday at Inter Miami, 8 p.m. ET, ESPN+

D.C. has won two of its past three league matches and certainly looks much improved from a few weeks back, but it’s still exceedingly average both offensively and defensively. With a tough upcoming schedule, including three games in eight days (including the Red Bulls in the U.S. Open Cup on Tuesday), that’s unlikely to change. — Hajducky

Previous ranking: 27

Next MLS match: Saturday vs. San Jose Earthquakes, 7 p.m. ET, ESPN+

Did Vancouver’s 1-0 win over Toronto have a huge slice of luck about it? You bet, as a disallowed goal from TFC’s Jayden Nelson should have stood. The Whitecaps won’t care, nor should they. They got a badly needed win — it snapped a three-game losing streak — thanks to Tosaint Ricketts’ late goal, his first in MLS since 2020. — Carlisle

Previous ranking: 28

Next MLS match: Saturday at Vancouver Whitecaps, 7 p.m. ET, ESPN+

Among the odd aspects of the Matias Almeyda era was his team’s inability to get more out of home matches. That looks to be changing under Alex Covelo, as the Quakes defeated Colorado 1-0 for their second straight home win. The return of Nathan has provided a big boost as well. — Carlisle

Previous ranking: 26

Next MLS match: Saturday at Portland Timbers, 10 p.m. ET, ESPN+

A 0-0 draw with NYCFC extended Kansas City’s winless streak to six games, but a road point against the defending champs counts as a positive. A revised team shape in which Peter Vermes utilized a 4-3-1-2 gave SKC more defensive strength as well. — Carlisle