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We are coming down to crunch time in the MLS season with a few teams only having 10 matches remaining. Points are becoming tougher to come by and teams who have had a tendency for making playoffs find themselves on the outside looking in (looking at you Seattle and Galaxy). Here are my thoughts on the top 10 teams with my power rankings.
10. Columbus Crew
Well, just like his former club, Caleb Porter and company seem to finally be getting their season back on track. Columbus currently sit in sixth place in the Eastern Conference but have struggled to find the back of the net with Lucas Zelarayan and Derrick Etienne each having scored five goals each this season. But where they struggle in goals scored, they make up for goals allowed. They allow the second-fewest goals in the Eastern Conference. Could defense win championships?
9. Portland Timbers
Welcome back Sebastian Blanco. He scored the fourth-fastest goal in Major League Soccer history in the draw against Minnesota. Portland seems to be finding their summer form after being unbeaten in their last eight matches with four wins and four draws. The play of former backup keeper, Aljaz Ivacic has been sensational with five clean sheets and 72 saves.
Montreal have been one of the most remarkably inconsistent teams this season. They started the season with three loses, then come back and go unbeaten for eight straight, only to lose to Nashville. They thrive in the East but when it comes to Western Conference opponents, they split the series with two wins and two losses. Can they find consistency and string together another big run? It certainly is possible with a weak schedule remaining.
7. Minnesota United
The Loons have entered the chat as being a real threat to the Western Conference. After a dismantling display against Premier League side, Everton, and a gutsy performance against Portland, Minnesota are hitting their stride. They are unbeaten in their last seven matches racking up 18 goals in that span. All-Star weekend has started to spark firepower in Minnesota and Adrian Heath could not be happier.
6. FC Dallas
They may not have the greatest form with only two wins in their last six matches but I firmly believe this team has the grit to make a move toward playoffs. Their back-to-back wins against playoff-contending clubs make things a little easier to swallow but they are certainly a contender going down the stretch. A big match against struggling Seattle could do the trick to make three-straight wins.
The Big Apple club may have a problem. The defending MLS champions now find themselves without their best scorer for the rest of the season after Taty Castellanos was sent out to greener pastures. The issue from here is where does the goal scoring come from? Their game against Montreal was not a great sign of things to come with only two shots and a clean sheet allowed against them.
4. New York Red Bulls
The Red Bulls seem to find themselves in a familiar sight being above the playoff line in July. One of the most-consistent teams in making it to the postseason. Yet, they have no real superstars. A team of quality players just putting together great tactics to find success. The biggest signing being Lewis Morgan from Inter Miami. The blowout loss to Orlando in the US Open Cup was not ideal, but now all focus can be on attempting to have some postseason success, which they have lacked for a while.
3. Austin FC
Sebastian Driussi is a superstar and is now the best striker in the league now that Taty Castellanos is gone. Austin FC are legit and do not let anyone tell you otherwise. Diego Fagundez has been a powerful addition to the club by taking plenty of pressure off of Ethan Finlay and Julio Cascante in the midfield. Austin’s only weak spot is their defense can shut down and allow multiple goals through. But with Driussi scoring the way he does, that should not be too much of a problem.
2. Philadelphia Union
If anyone is going to challenge LAFC for the Supporters Shield, it is going to be the Union. They have yet to lose at home and have only lost twice all season. Philadelphia has been under the radar all season despite them leading the East for most of the season. They do not have many big names which could be why they aren’t getting the attention. However, Alejandro Bedoya and Kai Wagner are having sneaky good seasons, as well as their defense only allowing 15 goals on the season so far. Do not sleep on Philly.
It is LAFC’s world, and we are all just living in it. They lead the West by four points with a game in hand. They made the big signings of Gareth Bale and Giorgio Chiellini during the summer transfer window. Both have made an immediate impact with Bale finding himself on the score sheet against Sporting Kansas City. There is no reason this team should not win the West and/or the MLS Cup. So much talent and championship experience, it is hard to bet against them.