To better get out of the way of the Copa America Centenario, Major League Soccer took a two-week break way back at the start of June. This MLS Power Rankings column took things a step farther. With wall-to-wall coverage of the Copa America and Euro 2016 dominating our time here on Planet Futbol, it’s now been six weeks since we’ve taken stock of where every team stands in MLS. Now the MLS Power Rankings are back, and we return to a league that looks strangely similar to the one we left all those games ago.
The Colorado Rapids continue to get solid results despite a less-than-awesome scoring record. Robbie Keane and the LA Galaxy, as professional as ever, continue to get the job done. Dallas balanced runs of total dominance with head-scratching instances of being dominated. The Fire and Dynamo are still bad. So, what has changed?
A lot! Orlando City parted ways with longtime head coach Adrian Heath, Vancouver parted ways with a disappointing Designated Player in Octavio Rivero, and the New York Red Bulls shook things up by sending winger Lloyd Sam to D.C. United.
But perhaps no change seemed as glaringly obvious as the marked uptick in the form of NYCFC, which now holds a three-point lead at the top of the Eastern Conference (the Philadelphia Union, in second, do have a game in hand and a superior goal differential). Frank Lampard may have done enough during this run alone to squash any suggestion that he is MLS’ worst-ever foreign signing.
Now, does a team leading MLS at the midway point and a player avoiding an ignominious distinction count as huge developments? Maybe not. But in a league where change is constant, the remarkable thing about the last several weeks is just how little upheaval there has been in the league's pre-Copa America order. Perhaps there are some twists and turns to come. Knowing MLS, there probably are.
This week’s rankings take into account all the games played since the end of the Copa America break. We’ll get to them in a second. First, a couple awards:
Offensive player of the weeks: Ola Kamara, Columbus Crew
He was the pick for this award here here six weeks ago, but I have no problem handing it out to Kamara again. The Crew haven’t been able to make his goals count, but that shouldn’t diminish the accomplishments of the striker who replaced Kei Kamara after this season’s shocking trade. Many other players would have folded under the pressure and expectation of replacing a 22-goal scorer, but Ola has fit right in and now has nine goals in nine games as a started, including five in Columbus’ last six contests.
Defensive player of the weeks: Matt Hedges, FC Dallas
Dallas sorely missed the presence of Hedges during his recent injury layoff, and there’s no better evidence of that than the way Dallas has shut down opponents since he’s been back. Hedges’ presence was key in three straight shutout wins for Dallas, and he played no part in the team’s 5—0 loss to Seattle. When he came back against Chicago this weekend, the only goal the Fire could get came in garbage time.