MLS is Back: Power Rankings after the group stages

MLS, Columbus Crew (Photo by Michael Reaves/Getty Images)
MLS, Columbus Crew (Photo by Michael Reaves/Getty Images) /
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Chicago Fire, San Jose Earthquakes
Chicago Fire, San Jose Earthquakes (Photo by Mark Brown/Getty Images) /

15. D.C. United (-2)

For the third time in the tournament, D.C. United fell behind, but this time they were unable to recover from the deficit, and a 1-0 defeat to Montreal Impact sees them crash out of MLS is Back at the first hurdle.

Following draws with Toronto and New England, D.C. needed at least another result against the Impact to have a chance of qualifying for the knockout stages, but a 31st minute Saphir Taider strike gave the Canadian side the points and sent United packing.

Ben Olsen’s men finish bottom of Group C with just two points, while Montreal made their way into the reckoning for a wild-card place with the victory. A draw would have seen it be the other way round between the sides.

14. New York Red Bulls (-4)

Well, well, well. The New York Red Bulls had qualification in the palm of their hands, knowing that a draw against FC Cincinnati in their final Group E fixture would be enough to see them through as the second-place team in the group.

However, the Orange and Blue, last year’s basement side, showed them no mercy, With a Yuya Kubo strike before the break, followed by a Florian Valot own goal in the second half, the 2019 expansion side took the win.

The Red Bulls attempted 51 crosses, had 19 shots and more than two-thirds of the possession in the match, but they were unable to break down the Cincy defences. Questions will be asked as they make the trip to the Big Apple.

13. Atlanta United (-7)

Three games, three defeats, no goals. Atlanta United are the big shock of the tournament, as they fall at the group stages having broken unwanted club records following a 1-0 loss to Columbus Crew, who topped Group E.

A single goal from Youness Mokhtar 18 minutes into their third group game was enough to condemn the Five Stripes to a third straight defeat, the first time in history they have lost three straight MLS matches.

It is also the first time in their short history that they have gone three MLS games without scoring, and the absence of Josef Martinez was clearly felt throughout the tournament in Orlando. They have to hope that the Venezuelan is back sooner rather than later, or there might not be post-season action come the end of the campaign.

12. San Jose Earthquakes (+5)

The San Jose Earthquakes have now gone three games unbeaten in MLS is Back play, and have secured their place in the last 16 after finishing top of Group B with seven points, even with Chicago and Vancouver having to face off in the remaining fixture in the group.

It was a comfortable victory over the Fire that assured San Jose of the top spot, with second-half goals from Cristian Espinoza and MLS all-time leading scorer Chris Wondolowski that gave them a 2-0 win.

The ‘Quakes go through to the knockout stages as the top team from Group B and will meet Real Salt Lake, who themselves made it through to the last 16 as the best-placed wild-card team. They will face off on Monday evening.

Last 16 Fixture: v Real Salt Lake (July 27, 8:30 pm ET)

11. Real Salt Lake (+1)

A win could have seen Real Salt Lake wrap up Group D and go through as the top team, but they faltered in their final match of the group stages, losing out 2-0 to Sporting Kansas City in Orlando on Wednesday morning.

They fell behind immediately after kick-off, as Johnny Russell scored inside the opening minute. They continued to fight, but a second Sporting goal, courtesy of Gerso Fernandes late on, condemned RSL to a defeat.

After coming through in third place in Group D, Real Salt Lake now face the San Jose Earthquakes in the last 16. The ‘Quakes came through as the top side in Group B, and remain unbeaten in the tournament up to now.

Last 16 Fixture: v San Jose Earthquakes (July 27, 8:30 pm ET)