MLS Power Rankings – Cucho Hernandez makes Columbus a problem for the rest of the league


The summer transfer window is in full swing. Every day there are a few more players, a few more absentees, and hot new gossip.

How do you make sense of a league and its teams in the midst of all this? With a smile.


We saw a few superstars make their Major League Soccer debuts last week, with Gareth Bale and Giorgio Chiellini wearing LAFC shirts for the first time. Federico Bernardeschi also arrived in Toronto, with certainly not too distant beginnings. Then you have summer signings like Cucho Hernandez, who needed all three games to make it clear that the Columbus Crew are going to be a problem with him up front. And none of that even touches on the upcoming moves.

What does all of this mean for the MLS Power Rankings? Let’s dive into it.

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Previous ranking: 1

Next MLS game: July 23 at Sporting Kansas City, 8:30 p.m. ET, ESPN+

Imagine being able to treat Bale and Chiellini like little cherries on top. LAFC basically manages to do that, and while the Superstars’ debut was a bit of a disappointment in Nashville, Cristian Arango was anything but. Another win, another great goal from Chicho and the Black and Gold keep humming.

Previous ranking: 3

Next MLS game: July 23 vs. Inter Miami CF, 7 p.m. ET, ESPN+

The Pigeons are the kings of New York thanks to Valentin Castellanos, who scored the winner against the Red Bulls, but will he put on an NYCFC shirt again? He wants a European move and there are reports of an imminent move to Girona in La Liga. Losing him would obviously be a major upset for the team, so they’re second…for now.

Previous ranking: 2

Next MLS game: July 24 vs. New York Red Bulls, 8 p.m. ET, ESPN+

Sweeping Texas in a week would have been nice, but after a win over Houston and a draw against Dallas, not to mention a look at the table, there’s no question who the best team in the game is. ‘State. There are many reasons for this, but one is Brad Stuver. From journeyman to, analytically, the best goalkeeper in the league.

Previous ranking: 5

Next MLS game: July 23 at Orlando City SC, 7:30 p.m. ET, ESPN+

Leading the East and tied for the league lead, the goal difference is impressive. Now imagine what Philly will look like when it starts clicking. Two more wins, against Miami and New England, Mikael Uhre is still having an impact and Jim Curtain’s side seem to be heading for something special.

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Daniel Gazdag fends off the penalty for Union to lead 2-1.

Previous ranking: 4

Next MLS game: July 24 at Austin FC, 8 p.m. ET, ESPN

Maybe the Red Bulls were just playing 4D chess losing to NYCFC? Drop all three points on a winner from Castellanos to push the reigning MVP in Europe, paving the way to the top of the city and the conference in the second half of the season. Play the long game.

Previous ranking: 6

Next MLS game: July 23 vs. FC Dallas, 10 p.m. ET, ESPN+

Justen Glad returns from injury and RSL ends their losing streak with a dominating win over Sporting KC. Amazing how that happens, isn’t it?

Previous ranking: seven

Next MLS game: July 23 at Real Salt Lake, 10 p.m. ET, ESPN+

Is Dallas the good team that keeps taking the lead, or is it the uncertain team that keeps blowing those leads? At some point FCD can’t keep allowing late goals and settling for draws like they did again against Austin, but you usually want to bet on the team that plays well for 70+ minutes most nights.

Previous ranking: 8

Next MLS game: July 23 at DC United, 8 p.m. ET, ESPN+

It’s always good to beat your rival, so it was work done beating Toronto, but most importantly for Montreal, Djordje Mihailovic came back from injury. Let’s see where this team goes now.

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CF Montreal take over after own goal from Lukas MacNaughton

Previous ranking: 9

Next MLS game: July 23 at FC Cincinnati, 7:30 p.m. ET, ESPN+

Nobody wants to drop points at home, but can you really be that mad when it’s because Cristian Arango scored the absurd goal he did? Sometimes you have to tip your hat and remember that you beat Seattle a few days ago.

Previous ranking: ten

Next MLS game: July 23 vs. Philadelphia Union, 7:30 p.m. ET, ESPN+

Two more points in road games is a good showing, but both ties last week (at Colorado and Atlanta) came from winning positions. Orlando is in the same boat as Dallas – you like what they can do for most of the game, but they have to figure out how to finish.

Previous ranking: 13

Next MLS game: July 23 at Houston Dynamo FC, 8:30 p.m. ET, ESPN

Adrian Heath’s squads are somewhat mundane by design, but Emanuel Reynoso is certainly standout right now. He’s playing as well as anyone in the league and the Loons’ four points last week (a draw against SKC, a win against DC) extended their unbeaten streak to five.

Previous ranking: 11

Next MLS game: July 23 vs. Nashville SC, 7:30 p.m. ET, ESPN+

The loss to the Crew will certainly sting more, but the draw with the Whitecaps earlier in the week was the biggest problem. Cincy has won just three of 10 home games this season.

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Cucho Hernandez headed in the 16th minute to set Columbus up.

Previous ranking: 19

Next MLS game: July 23 vs. New England Revolution, 7:30 p.m. ET, ESPN+

Lucas Zelarayan was good enough on his own, but now you give him Cucho Hernandez? Good luck to the rest of the league. The duo have combined for five goals and five assists in their last three games and made all hell too real for Cincy on Sunday.

Previous ranking: 21

Next MLS game: July 23 at Seattle Sounders FC, 10 p.m. ET, ESPN+

Gyasi Zardes has two goals and an assist in three games against the Galaxy since the club traded him in 2017, and the Rapids were happy to ride the wave of revenge to snap their winless streak on Saturday. Colorado is also just three points behind Los Angeles for the final playoff spot.

Previous ranking: 18

Next MLS game: July 23 vs. San Jose Earthquakes, 10:30 p.m. ET, ESPN+

A draw against the Whitecaps and now all three Cascadia teams hold eighth, ninth and tenth spots in the West, because what this rivalry needed was a playoff spot on the line. Let’s be wild, Cascadia.

Previous ranking: 17

Next MLS game: July 23 at New York City FC, 7 p.m. ET, ESPN+

Gonzalo Higuain scored in both of Inter’s games last week, a loss to Philadelphia and a win over Charlotte, but what really stood out was the defensive work he did to help create the winner of Miami’s stoppage time against Charlotte. The Industrious Higuain, as we all expected.

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Emerson Rodríguez scores a 93rd-minute goal as Miami takes a 3-2 lead over Charlotte.

Previous ranking: 15

Next MLS game: July 23 at Toronto FC, 7:30 p.m. ET, ESPN+

The best part of Yordy Reyna’s Miami goal wasn’t that he was perfectly curled into the top corner, it was that he ran away in celebration as soon as he got off his foot. Audacity. Unfortunately, Charlotte was unable to hold the lead.

Previous ranking: 14

Next MLS game: July 23 vs. Colorado Rapids, 10 p.m. ET, ESPN+

It’s been 300 minutes since the Sounders scored a goal, including 1-0 losses to Nashville and Chicago. I’m not a mathematician, but it’s not very good.

Previous ranking: 20

Next MLS game: July 23 vs. Chicago Fire FC, 10 p.m. ET, ESPN+

The Whitecaps have been terrible away from BC Place this season, so a pair of road draws in Cincinnati and Portland is cause for celebration.

Previous ranking: 16

Next MLS game: July 23 at Columbus Crew, 7:30 p.m. ET, ESPN+

Another blown lead, this time against Philadelphia, brings Revs points dropped from winning positions total at 24. Twenty-four!

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Gyasi Zardes scores in the 75th minute to give the Rapids a 2-0 lead over the Galaxy.

Previous ranking: 12

Next MLS game: July 24 vs. Atlanta United, 9:30 p.m. ET

The Galaxy is starting to look like, well, the Galaxy. New managers, new players, same results, but last week their losses hit two of the West’s bottom three teams in San Jose and Colorado. Not sounding the alarm in July, but maybe waving a little distress flag or something?

Previous ranking: 23

Next MLS game: July 24 at LA Galaxy, 9:30 p.m. ET

Beat RSL, draw Orlando and you’d think Atlanta was starting to find some stability, but eyes weren’t on the field. They were in the boardroom, where Darren Eales no longer sits at the head of the table after he left to manage Newcastle United. Who knows what’s next for the Five Stripes now?

Previous ranking: 22

Next MLS game: July 23 vs. Minnesota United, 8:30 p.m. ET, ESPN+

After beating San José, Dynamo are undefeated in the matches started by Hector Herrera! Small samples are fun.

Previous ranking: 25

Next MLS game: July 23 at Portland Timbers, 10:30 p.m. ET, ESPN+

You’d think a team playing three games in eight days would spin, but San Jose did as little as possible and barely went to their bench. Can anyone please get Alex Covelo more players?

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Jackson Yueill scores a 53rd-minute goal for the Earthquakes

Previous ranking: 27

Next MLS game: July 23 at Vancouver Whitecaps, 10 p.m. ET, ESPN+

The Fire have won 33% of their wins this season over the past five days, beating Toronto and Seattle. Those faint noises you hear in the distance are people thinking about re-enacting Chicago’s bandwagon.

Previous ranking: 26

Next MLS game: July 23 vs. LAFC, 8:30 p.m. ET, ESPN

Roger Espinoza was not in the referee’s good graces and Peter Vermes was shouting from the touchline at Salt Lake, so it was a bit like the Sporting days. Unfortunately, the football still doesn’t look like the old SKC, nor the results.

Previous ranking: 28

Next MLS game: July 23 c. CF Montreal, 8 p.m. ET, ESPN+

We don’t need Wayne Rooney to admit that DC’s defense is a mess. Add the absences of Ola Kamara and Taxiarchis Fountas up front and you have an expected winless week with a draw against Columbus and a loss at Minnesota.

Previous ranking: 24

Next MLS game: July 23 vs. Charlotte FC, 7:30 p.m. ET, ESPN+

The problem with TFC signing Federico Bernardeschi is that there is only one and, after losses to Chicago and Montreal, Toronto may need three more.