Is NYCFC a contender after derby win vs. Red Bulls?

Published on: 22 May 2024

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It's Monday and another week of MLS action is in the books, which means it's time for ESPN's Power Rankings.

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Our Power Rankings are derived from a combination of key season statistics (points per game, goal differential, expected goal differential), recent performance, the Opta computer ratings and the observations of our writers.

Who's climbing the table? Who's in free-fall? We've ranked all 29 clubs in the league after Matchday 15. Let's dive in.

1. Inter Miami CF

Previous ranking: 1

Even with various injuries, Inter Miami's depth looks strong ahead of a busy summer away from the team for Lionel Messi and others. It was another Leo -- Leonardo Campana -- who scored late to earn Miami three points against D.C.

2. FC Cincinnati

Previous ranking: 2

The league leaders in points per game, FC Cincinnati have been so brutally effective in 2024. It hasn't mattered that Aaron Boupendza has been a nonfactor or that the right wing-back spot has been a revolving door.

3. Real Salt Lake

Previous ranking: 3

This RSL team isn't perfect, but boy-oh-boy do they have some juice. Chicho Arango and Andres Gomez bagged braces in the best Rocky Mountain Cup clash we've had in a long time. This 5-3 win for Real Salt Lake showed they can run over anybody.

4. Columbus Crew

Previous ranking: 6

There's not a soul who should've been worried about the Crew during their seven-game winless streak. They've now won two in a row and are back on track. Columbus has just one more game in league play before it travels to Mexico to take on Pachuca in the Concacaf Champions Cup final.

5. LAFC

Previous ranking: 5

LAFC enjoyed the weekend off, but we still learned something about this team: Olivier Giroud will be their starting No. 9 come the summer. The Frenchman signed as a Designated Player last week.

6. New York Red Bulls

Previous ranking: 4

Not that we needed much confirmation, but the New York Red Bulls without Emil Forsberg in the starting lineup are not nearly as scary as RBNY with Forsberg in the starting lineup. That 2-1 loss to NYCFC stings.

7. Minnesota United

Previous ranking: 7

Eric Ramsay has landed on his go-to setup -- he's using a 3-4-3 these days -- and his team is picking up results. The Loons have won four of their past five after topping the Timbers on Saturday.

play1:03NYCFC move back ahead on Monsef Bakrar's simple finish

NYCFC move back ahead on Monsef Bakrar's simple finish

8. New York City FC

Previous ranking: 11

Hudson River Derby win? Check. Monsef Bakrar getting his first goal of 2024 after 800 painful minutes? Check. This NYCFC squad is inching closer to the real trophy contender conversation.

9. LA Galaxy

Previous ranking: 8

Joseph Paintsil's injury is a bummer, although it won't sideline him for too long. But keeping a clean sheet against Charlotte FC is a positive for one of the worst defensive teams in MLS.

10. Philadelphia Union

Previous ranking: 9

There's just nothing quite like a match against the Revs to get you back on track. The Union hadn't won since April 6, but a red card from Ryan Spaulding tilted Saturday's clash in Philly's favor.

11. Vancouver Whitecaps

Previous ranking: 6

The Whitecaps didn't pass this brutal stretch of their schedule with flying colors, but they look like a solid playoff team in the Western Conference. Their 1-1 draw in Seattle is the latest example of that.

12. D.C. United

Previous ranking: 10

Keeping Messi & Co. at bay is good. Leaving Sergio Busquets open in midfield to pick a pass to a backup striker, who then puts the ball into the back of your net in stoppage time? That's less good. D.C. looks like a high-upside team, but its floor is lower than anyone in the nation's capital would like it to be.

13. Charlotte FC

Previous ranking: 13

Charlotte has quietly put together a nice stretch of results and drew with the Galaxy this weekend. Built on the back of their defense, which sits fourth in the league in nonpenalty xG allowed per 90, according to FBref, Dean Smith's team is brutal to play against.

14. Colorado Rapids

Previous ranking: 15

They jumped out to a hot start against RSL, but awful goalkeeping cost the Rapids a chance at three points. Zack Steffen has been a problem in Colorado, allowing 0.42 goals more than expected every 90 minutes based on FBref's data.

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2 Related15. Toronto FC

Previous ranking: 16

Hanging five goals on your rivals, who also happen to be approaching full-chaos mode, feels wonderful. Toronto's win over Montréal was the latest reminder that Federico Bernardeschi is one of the absolute best wide players in MLS.

16. Atlanta United FC

Previous ranking: 12

Thiago Almada and Giorgos Giakoumakis missed Atlanta United's 1-1 draw in Nashville. Even when those two have been on the field, the Five Stripes have performed well below expectations in 2024. Nashville's Gary Smith was the first coach to go. Atlanta's Gonzalo Pineda might be the second.

17. Seattle Sounders

Previous ranking: 14

Pedro de la Vega is back! In Seattle's 1-1 draw with Vancouver, the Argentine DP made his first appearance for the Sounders since March 2. De la Vega has been dealing with a leg injury for a couple of months now and still isn't quite ready to start a game from the jump, but Seattle desperately needs him to be a difference-maker in the attack.

18. Houston Dynamo

Previous ranking: 17

Speaking of needing a difference-maker, the Houston Dynamo. So many of the Dynamo's attacks come from delightful bits of buildup that carve right through the opposing block. And then those attacks die in the final third.

19. Orlando City

Previous ranking: 18

Oscar Pareja is living, laughing and loving a 3-5-2 shape these days and his Orlando City team has earned three straight results since the switch away from a 4-2-3-1. The Lions enjoyed an ugly win on the road in San Jose.

20. St. Louis City SC

Previous ranking: 19

Far more important than St. Louis' loss to Cincinnati over the weekend is the situation facing the Löwen family. In a news conference last week, midfielder Eduard Löwen announced that his wife has been diagnosed with cancer. We wish strength and perseverance to Ilona Löwen.

21. Austin FC

Previous ranking: 25

Daniel Pereira had himself a game in Austin FC's 3-2 win over Sporting Kansas City. Playing in a more advanced role on the right side of central midfield, Pereira had two assists in the first half over the weekend. Virginia Tech hive, stand up.

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22. Nashville SC

Previous ranking: 21

Nashville became the first team in MLS to part ways with their manager this year when they let go of Gary Smith. The club's floor has dipped in the past nine months due to Smith's reactive, cross-heavy tactical approach and poor squad-building from the front office. One of those things has been addressed. We're waiting on the other.

23. Portland Timbers

Previous ranking: 26

The Timbers have allowed two-plus goals in 10 straight games. Phil Neville has shifted to a back five. It hasn't helped.

24. Sporting Kansas City

Previous ranking: 20

Only one team in MLS takes worse shots than Sporting Kansas City, who averaged just 0.058 xG per shot in their loss to Austin. Peter Vermes was pleased with his team's effort, but fans should be less pleased with the roster Vermes has constructed.

25. FC Dallas

Previous ranking: 24

FC Dallas isn't a good team, but it's managed to pick up results in six of its past eight games across all competitions. A point on the road in Houston will do fine, thank you.

26. San Jose Earthquakes

Previous ranking: 23

Hernan Lopez has added ball progression and a twist of goal scoring since he joined the Quakes, but the No. 10 has struggled to create chances. Lopez has just one key pass in his past three MLS games and didn't impact Saturday's 1-0 loss to Orlando.

27. Chicago Fire

Previous ranking: 27

Who could've predicted that this low-talent, playmaker-less Chicago Fire would struggle against the Crew? Ah, that's right. Everyone.

28. CF Montréal

Previous ranking: 22

It's easy to fall in love with how Laurent Courtois wants to play with this Montréal team. At their best, they're incisive and clever in possession. At their worst? They're losing by four goals to Toronto.

29. New England Revolution

Previous ranking: 29

A three-goal loss, an early red card and Caleb Porter getting testy with reporters ... things are going great for the worst team in MLS.

Source: espn.co.uk

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