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Everything You Need To Know About MLS Power Rankings

MLS Power Rankings

There are many ways to measure the quality of a soccer team, but are they all equally effective?

We often look at clubs and judge them on their historical success, counting trophies and other honors. But that only paints a picture of the past. What about the here and now?

This is where MLS Power Rankings come in.

Using information covering every angle of the club’s current position, power rankings give an up-to-date idea of which teams are most dangerous and which are most at risk.

These rankings are based on much more than recent performances, although they are included in the process, so attempt to provide a more holistic representation of the season at that moment in time. They provide a constant flow of news for people to talk about.

Power rankings change from one month to the next, making them relevant only for a short time, but they arguably provide the most accurate up to date analysis of form and team strength. They can highlight trends or a change in fortunes, inform the betting public and those who make predictions, offer insight and create talking points for fans and analysts.

Power Rankings vs Points

The first thing to understand is although power rankings are an indication of current form and potential, they do not have any official use within a competition.

They are a subjective take on which teams are currently the most and least powerful, but the rankings have no impact on who wins their conference or who gets into the playoffs.

In the regular season, teams play for points. The number of points each team has decides where they finish in their conference, and therefore which teams make it through to the playoffs to compete for the MLS Cup.

The number of points a team has at the end of the season is therefore indicative of how they have performed over a long period of time. Power rankings are different. They are re-visited every month, so offer a snapshot of a team’s form over a much shorter period.

For this reason, you might see a team placed number 1 in the power rankings even if they aren’t top of their conference – it’s about more than the games they have won and the points they have earned.

Who Decides How Teams are Ranked?

Who Decides MLS Power Rankings

Technically anybody can come up with power rankings.

A bunch of Youtubers and armchair analysts create their monthly lists, giving reasons for their choices and discussing the changes they make from one month to the next.

Of course, huge organisations like ESPN do this too, and far more people pay attention to them than small time content creators.

The MLS have their own official Power Rankings Committee, made up of 20 major league soccer writers, editors and personalities, and they all vote on each team’s position.

You won’t usually find huge discrepancies between one organisations rankings and another’s, not at the top or bottom ends anyway.

What Statistics are Used?

Everyone will have their own way of doing things, but many factors will be considered.

Recent performances including results, statistics, winning streaks and consideration of the strength of their opposition will make up part of each team’s ranking. Any significant injuries will be sure to bring the ranking down, while key players smashing out stellar performances will help keep rankings buoyant.

More detailed statistics such as passing and shooting accuracy, possession and goals scored vs expected goals (xG) might be included too.

Then there are other factors such as any major new signings, perhaps an exciting youth player coming through, the performance of the coaching staff in terms of match decisions, strategies and formations and perceived morale.

Then there is the gut feeling and experience of the people making the ranking decisions.

It all comes together to create an overall picture of the current state of affairs, and from this, power rankings can be decided.