The MLS season schedule is almost 20% played after the Easter holiday games. Here are the Week 8 Power Rankings with the standings beginning to take shape.
This season’s MLS Multiplex Power Rankings did a week’s worth of varying angles and narratives. In trying to view team’s through different prisms, the teams moved up and down quite a bit some weeks despite the results. Now, results matter more as the remaining points available dwindle while point gaps in the standings grow.
The greater MLS narratives have been shaped through the early portion of the schedule. The eventual MVP candidates are becoming clear. Some contending teams looking the part can rest easy in their team-wide approach. Others that expected success and have found little have a lot of work to do if they are to right the ship.
There is another jam-packed MLS schedule this week, with several midweek games. With every team having played at least a handful of games, top teams will deal with the busy schedule with rotated lineups. Teams with more games played than points earned will have less complimentary terms for benched talents.
The MLS Multiplex Power Rankings has made some determinations. Each team has at least one ‘easter egg’ that could still bring teams fortune this season. Some have only ‘the one’ positive season’s findings (Rapids) while others have a full squad worth (LAFC).
Here are the Week 8 MLS Power Rankings.
New life anyone?
24. Colorado Rapids – Deary, deary me. Colorado Rapids’ fans highest point of hope and goodwill towards this year’s team came from the contract extension announcements for Kellyn Acosta and Benny Feilhaber. Anthony Hudson yanked Acosta at halftime, though the Rapids were level with Chicago. Kei Kamara has finally solved the Rapids’ striker woes, but it has mattered little. The Rapids have yet to win a game, Tim Howard looks another two steps slower, and the players look tired of Hudson’s fragile tactics. Vegas will not take bets on the Rapids breaking the goals conceded record, that’s all but assured eight games in. All the wrong records lead to the Wooden Spoon. Will the remaining fans have the loyalty to wait out Hudson’s wretched tenure?
23. San Jose Earthquakes – Matías Almeyda is trustworthy after all. The San Jose Earthquakes will score goals in the post-Wondolowski era. San Jose’s player groupings in the line-up are starting to make as much as the two wins suggest. Very few teams achieve blowout results against Sporting KC. San Jose gifted two penalties, but only suffered the loss of a clean sheet. Danny Hoesen and Jackson Yueill might be able to lead this club back to respectability.
22. Vancouver Whitecaps – Marc dos Santos’ Vancouver Whitecaps arguably played better in their 1-0 loss in Orlando than they did while beating LAFC 1-0 in the midweek. Marc dos Santos is cooking on low heat, but the ideas for a great end product are visible. Inbeom Hwang got his first goal, earning the Whitecaps manager his first MLS win. The defense showed an ability to play from the back against Orlando, but the lauded offensive talents have yet to have a breakout game. That is making it tough to break out of the bottom of the table. LAFC were resting a few players; Orlando were playing for blood. Vancouver’s results reflect as much at the end of the week.
21. Portland Timbers – The Portland Timbers have not been felled yet. As such, their season could spring to life after all if only they take their chances. Gio Savarese has only one job really, which is to keep this team together and relatively healthy going into the renovated Providence Park. They had to get their first win on the road to have a chance. Portland found their opening goal from a set piece, the second came from well-worked passing, and the third blast of a goal was a mostly individual effort. Last year, the counter-attacking strategy worked well with much of the same players as this year’s roster. The long road trip is now over halfway gone. Portland has taken a few too many losses to not be skeptical. History is great for everything but sporting performance. In sports, it just means a team is one year older with the added playoff miles, not much more.
20. New York Red Bulls – The New York Red Bulls academy could not churn out enough talent, so now it appears the MLS managerial churn will begin soon. Chris Armas did well last season, until overthinking crucial playoff series tactics. The dour mood at Red Bull Arena from that night has lingered into this season. Tarps are being used in parts of the stadium, but they cannot cover the Red Bull’s flaws. Thierry Henry will bring a new approach and probably lift some spirits. Can anyone lift the Red Bulls sans Tyler Adams above the playoff line?
19. Montreal Impact – The Montreal Impact were without Ignacio Piatti once again. Once again, they take a shutout loss. The players are showing plenty of hustle but just lack the talent or attacking direction without Piatti. Maxi Urruti had little help or service and has no goals to help ease the scoring burden. Remi Garde, without Piatti, is the real-life version of a Bull Durham, “How’d we ever win two” scene. The Impact have won three and sit above the playoff line, but each team below could argue for being better at this moment. Most of the Eastern Conference middle-class seem to be more ambitious than Montreal in giving their star support. Piatti likely sees little reason to rush back from injury.
18. Atlanta United – Oddly enough for the 2018 MLS Cup winners, Atlanta United scare no one anymore, save for their own fans. If Josef Martinez dropped any deeper to find the ball, he would effectively be playing a holding midfield position. No one went forward with any purpose or end product. The blame for this tentative play? It falls on Frank de Boer. Leandro Gonzalo Pirez, in particular, looked to be uninspired, if not altogether bothered by having to participate. This locker room is lost and fractured, and that is reflected in the team’s play.
17. New England Revolution – The New England Revolution held on for the 1-0 win versus the New York Red Bulls. In the battle for an apathy trophy that few in the northeast care to fight over, New England found a way to bag three points. Brad Freidel was a big name hired based on his playing days. He is still arguing with refs like a player and has spent most of his time of tyranny shedding attacking talent. Playing musical chairs with his keepers has kept the intra-team competitions tense. That could breed the type of hard culture that grinds out 1-0 wins, or it could deplete what’s left of the club’s (fans and players) morale while only occasionally earning a point or three.