MLS Power Rankings: Nashville stumbles, Atlanta continues climb


It’s as you were at the top of the order, but second-year side Nashville SC has slipped from its ascent, while Gonzalo Pineda’s Atlanta United is quickly becoming a team to be feared as the postseason looms.

Find out where your team sits in our Week 20 Power Rankings.

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Previous ranking: 1

Next MLS match: Sept. 25 at Chicago Fire, 8:00 p.m. ET, ESPN+

New England manager Bruce Arena was left fuming after a 1-1 draw against Columbus, one that the Revs utterly dominated but couldn’t close the deal. New England still remains in full control of the Supporters’ Shield race. — Carlisle

Previous ranking: 2

Next MLS match: Sept. 26 at Sporting Kansas City, 7 p.m. ET, ESPN+

The Sounders lead the West in points per game (1.88) but sit a point behind first-place Kansas City after a 1-0 loss to RSL on Saturday. It’s a big week for Seattle, which plays Club Leon in the Leagues Cup final on Wednesday before traveling to SKC. — Bonagura

Previous ranking: 3

Next MLS match: Sept. 25 vs Toronto FC, 8 p.m. ET, ESPN+

Despite getting just two points from two games this week, the Rapids are just two points back of first-place Kansas City with a game in hand. In a 1-1 draw with Vancouver on Sunday, Colorado welcomed back Younes Namli and Diego Rubio from injury, with Namli making his first appearance since May. — Bonagura

Previous ranking: 5

Next MLS match: Sept. 26 vs. Seattle Sounders, 7 p.m. ET, ESPN+

Sporting Kansas City put Minnesota to bed early on Wednesday in a 4-0 win as Khiry Shelton, Daniel Salloi, Johnny Russell and Cameron Duke all scored. The win puts SKC ahead of Seattle on points atop the Western Conference, but the Sounders have a game in hand. — Bonagura

Previous ranking: 6

Next MLS match:Sept. 25 at Philadelphia Union, 3:30 p.m. ET

Ezequiel Barco is a man on fire, as his goal and assist in a 3-2 over D.C. United gave him six tallies and five helpers in his past nine games. Marcelino Moreno has been doing his bit as well, as his mazy run set up George Bello for the eventual game-winner. With seven wins in eight, Atlanta is looking like a team no one will want to face in the postseason. — Carlisle

Previous ranking: 4

Next MLS match:Sept. 22 at Inter Miami, 7:30 p.m. ET, ESPN+

On the occasion of his 300th regular-season MLS appearance, C.J. Sapong bagged his 81st goal in league play, but that wasn’t enough to avoid a 2-1 defeat to Toronto. Nashville’s road form had been better of late, but this result shows there are still improvements to be made in that area. — Carlisle

Previous ranking: 8

Next MLS match: Sept. 25 vs. Atlanta United, 3:30 p.m. ET

Whatever hangover remained from their midweek exit in the CONCACAF Champions League, the Union got over it quickly in beating Orlando 3-1. The win vaulted Philadelphia back among the playoff places, and it has at least one game in hand on most of the other playoff contenders as well. — Carlisle

Previous ranking: 9

Next MLS match:Sept. 22 at New York Red Bulls, 8:00 pm ET; ESPN+

Keaton Parks often flies under the radar compared to the likes of Maxi Moralez and Valentin Castellanos, but he has quietly put together a solid season with NYCFC, and his first-half equalizer proved to be one of the turning points in New York’s 2-1 road win over FC Cincinnati. — Carlisle

Previous ranking: 7

Next MLS match: Sept. 25 at New England Revolution, 7:00 p.m. ET, ESPN+

The Lions are scuffling after a pair of defeats to Montreal and Philadelphia. Their defense is in shambles as well after conceding 10 goals in three games, and now Antonio Carlos is suspended after his late ejection. At least Nani is set to return from his own one-game ban. — Carlisle

Previous ranking: 17

Next MLS match:Sept. 25 at Columbus Crew, 7:30 p.m. ET, ESPN+

Wilfried Nancy likely won’t get too many Coach of the Year votes, but the fact that Montreal is in fifth place in the Eastern Conference after a six-point week speaks to the job the first-year manager has done. Djordje Mihailovic notched his 11th assist of the season against his former club. — Carlisle

Previous ranking: 15

Next MLS match:Sept. 25 at Real Salt Lake, 10:30 p.m. ET, ESPN+

The Timbers are unbeaten in five and climbed to fifth in the Western Conference with a 2-1 win against LAFC on Sunday night. It was a pivotal win for Portland, which is inching closer to the fourth-place LA Galaxy and the first-round home game that comes with that spot. — Bonagura

Previous ranking: 9

Next MLS match: Sept. 25 vs. Houston Dynamo, 8 p.m. ET, ESPN+

A brace from Emanuel Reynoso and another goal from Ethan Finley gave the Loons a 3-0 home win against the LA Galaxy, as they bounced back from a 4-0 midweek loss at Kansas City. The results leave Minnesota seventh in the West, a point ahead of LAFC with a game in hand. — Bonagura

Previous ranking: 11

Next MLS match:Sept. 22 vs. Nashville SC, 8:00 p.m. ET, ESPN+

None of the traits that Inter Miami displayed during a six-game unbeaten streak — defensive solidity, discipline, opportunistic finishing — were on display in a 4-0 defeat to the Red Bulls. While the 38th-minute ejection of Nicolas Figal didn’t help, Miami was being outplayed in all phases even before then. It’s a wakeup call for Phil Neville’s side. — Carlisle

Previous ranking: 13

Next MLS match:Sept. 25 vs. LAFC, 10 p.m. ET, ESPN+

The Earthquakes trailed 3-1 at Austin on Saturday before a three-goal onslaught led to an important 4-3 win. Javier Lopez bagged two goals, just three days after he scored a hat trick as the Quakes fell 4-3 to RSL. — Bonagura

Previous ranking: 14

Next MLS match: Sept. 25 vs. FC Cincinnati, 7:30 p.m., ESPN+

The Black and Red made a game of it against surging Atlanta — with highlight-reel goals from Felipe Martins and Edison Flores — but ended up falling short in a 3-2 defeat. Injuries meant that DCU had a short bench with two fewer subs than normal. Having a week until their next league fixture should offer some time to heal up. — Carlisle

Previous ranking: 16

Next MLS match: Sept. 25 vs. FC Dallas, 10 p.m. ET, ESPN+

One of the few teams in the league that played just once this week, the Whitecaps drew 1-1 with Colorado to stay within striking distance of the playoff line in ninth place. A bad giveaway from the Rapids led to a beautifully taken goal from Brian White late in the first half. — Bonagura

Previous ranking: 18

Next MLS match: Sept. 25 vs. Portland Timbers, 10:30 p.m. ET, ESPN+

Real Salt Lake’s 1-0 win against Seattle on Saturday could end up as a crucial three points in the playoff race. The goal from Damir Kreilach sent RSL into sixth place and gives them a three-point cushion over eighth-place LAFC. — Bonagura

Previous ranking: 10

Next MLS match:Sept. 26 at Austin FC, 9:30 p.m. ET, ESPN+

Taking just a point from two games against Houston and Minnesota isn’t exactly what the Galaxy were hoping for this week as they saw their winless streak reach six games. After spending most of the season near the top of the standings, the Galaxy are at risk of falling out of the top four and beginning the playoffs on the road. — Bonagura

Previous ranking: 18

Next MLS match: Sept. 25 at San Jose Earthquakes, 10 p.m. ET, ESPN+

Brian Rodriguez and Jose Cifuentes both missed badly on great chances in front of goal in a 2-1 loss at Portland on Sunday. The loss saw the Black and Gold finish the week in eighth place — out of playoff position. LAFC, who have been without Carlos Vela for a month, had run off three straight wins before the loss. — Bonagura

Previous ranking: 22

Next MLS match:Sept. 22 vs. New York City FC, 8:00 p.m. ET; ESPN+

After winning just once in their previous 11 games, the Red Bulls delivered a comprehensive performance in a 4-0 walloping of Miami, with their press in particular smothering the Herons. Fabio delivered two goals, and homegrown midfielder Omir Fernandez was everywhere in the victory. — Carlisle

Previous ranking: 23

Next MLS match: Sept. 25 at Minnesota United, 8 p.m. ET, ESPN+

It’s not going to save Houston’s season, but the team has taken seven points from its past three games — with wins against the other two clubs in Texas. — Bonagura

Previous ranking: 24

Next MLS match:Sept. 25 vs. CF Montreal, 7:30 p.m. ET, ESPN+

The Crew had hobbled goalkeeper Eloy Room to thank for preserving a 1-1 draw against New England, as the Curacao international delivered some gutty saves late. Combined with a midweek 2-1 win over the Red Bulls, things are looking a bit better in Columbus, although it’s still four points outside the playoff places. — Carlisle

Previous ranking: 20

Next MLS match: Sept. 25 at Vancouver Whitecaps, 10 p.m. ET, ESPN+

The Luchi Gonzalez era in Dallas is over. After guiding the club to the playoffs in his first two seasons after being promoted from academy director, Gonzalez was fired after a 3-2 loss to rival Houston. The club remains a source of exciting American prospects but it hasn’t translated to on-field success, with Dallas languishing in 11th place. — Bonagura

Previous ranking: 21

Next MLS match:Sept. 22 vs. New England Revolution, 8:00 p.m. ET, ESPN+

The 2-0 loss to Montreal had to hurt for the Fire. Not only did the slim chances of a postseason place recede even further, but DPs Gaston Gimenez and Ignacio Aliseda were left home for a violation of team rules. Oh, and former prodigy Djordje Mihailovic was one of the architects of their defeat, too. — Carlisle

Previous ranking: 25

Next MLS match:Sept. 25 at D.C. United, 7:30 p.m. ET, ESPN+

A pair of defeats to Atlanta and NYCFC halted what little momentum Cincinnati had generated following last week’s win over Toronto. FCC will feel hard done by in terms of the New York result after having a goal disallowed and then conceding a penalty, but so it goes when you’re one of the league’s worst teams. — Carlisle

Previous ranking: 27

Next MLS match: Sept. 25 vs. Colorado Rapids, 8:00 pm ET, ESPN+

A ray of sunshine peeked through Toronto’s brutal season with a surprising 2-1 over Nashville. Much-maligned defender Omar Gonzalez volleyed home the game-winner, giving TFC their first win since July 25. — Carlisle

Previous ranking: 26

Next MLS match: Sept. 26 vs. LA Galaxy, 9:30 p.m. ET, ESPN+

Make it five straight losses for Austin, who is seven points back of 12th-place Houston and nearly assured a basement finish in its debut season. The 4-3 loss to San Jose was especially painful considering Austin led 3-1 at halftime. — Bonagura

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