It's MLS Cup week. On Saturday, Atlanta United hosts the Portland Timbers in the final, and it will be either Atlanta's first crown in Tata Martino's last game, or we will see the Timbers win their second title in four years and inch towards establishing, potentially, a dynasty.
But it will soon be time for these teams and others to regroup and think about next season. Now, the 2019 season is still months away. It begins in March, and there will be a new team in the league with FC Cincinnati joining. But who are the three teams, outside of the finalists, that are early contenders for the crown? This trio of teams is positioned well to make a run next season at MLS Cup 2019:
This team went from the bottom midway through the season to the playoffs simply with the addition of Wayne Rooney. He made that big of a difference, scoring 12 times in 21 games. A proud franchise with a rich history, it's been awhile since this team has contended, but you can expect them to try and make another splash this summer and possibly bring in another big name alongside their core after seeing how the Rooney experiment has gone. This is a team that could also see its chances increased due to what has happened to others in the Eastern Conference. Atlanta United loses Martino and possibly star Miguel Almiron, who is catching the eye of many European clubs. Then you've got NYCFC, who lost David Villa to Japan. On top of that,, the Columbus Crew no longer have coach Gregg Berhalter. Combine all of that, and there's a window there, though we must not forget about Toronto FC even if the team somehow lost 18 of its 34 games.
New York Red Bulls
Another team that should greatly benefit from the movement around the conference, the Red Bulls will enter the season as the favorite in the east. But how will they fill the void in the midfield with Tyler Adam's transfer to Red Bull Leipzig, which was announced on Sunday? This was the best defensive team in the league in 2018, but their stellar attack could only score once on Atlanta United in 180 minutes in the playoffs. If they can add some depth to the midfield and make a move in attack, there's no reason why they can't get over the hump and get to MLS Cup 2018.
This one is all about progression. LAFC finished third in the Western Conference in their first season, winning 16 games. They gave up way too many goals and need to address the defense above all, but when you have a guy like Carlos Vela in attack, you've got a chance. Diego Rossi should only improve up top, though he did finish with 12 goals. But the Uruguayan faded a bit towards the end of the season after an electric start. With Bob Bradley leading the way and showing that they aren't afraid to spend, a boosted squad could end up being the favorite in the west next season.
Saturday's MLS Cup can be streamed on fuboTV (Try for free).
How the rankings work
We list the top 25 teams in the world based on recent form. The teams playing the best soccer -- in their respective leagues and in international competitions -- will be considered. Quality of the opponents will also be taken into an account, but above all, the most important factors are recent results and overall standings in competitions.
World Club Soccer Power Rankings
Manchester City (ENG)
|Ten wins out of 11, and doing so even with some inconsistency defensively. So many players on this team can deliver in attack. Just dominant.|
|Hitting its stride after that loss to Manchester United. Four straight wins, all clean sheets. Oh, and Cristiano Ronaldo has scored in three of them.|
|Massive win over Liverpool midweek in the Champions League. That may be the result that saves their UCL campaign.|
|Lacked creativity against PSG, but that was abounce back against Everton. For the fans that are nervous about UCL, you should be.|
|Gerard Pique has scored in back-to-back games and the team keeps on winning. And the schedule is pretty easy through the rest of the year.|
|What a victory over Tottenham. That's a statement win. Is it time to consider them contenders in the Premier League?|
Borussia Dortmund (GER)
|Another win, and another goal from Paco Alcacer. The current Bundesliga favorite.|
|Napoli takes on Atalanta on Monday.|
|Took care of business against Fulham as expected but in danger of slipping out of the top four. Must maintain form with Manchester City game looming.|
Inter Milan (ITA)
|Good draw at Roma, but just one win in in their last four. Next up, Juventus on Friday. |
Atletico Madrid (ESP)
|A draw at Girona isn't all that bad of a result. This team is quietly getting results and should contend in each competition. |
|Absolutely crushed by Arsenal. That's a tough pill to swallow. Should get six points against Southampton and Leicester next though. But that win over Inter Milan midweek was clutch.|
Bayern Munich (GER)
|A fine win at Werder Bremen and now looking a bit more confident. That's two wins in a row and an easy schedule coming up. |
River Plate (ARG)
|Copa Libertadores final against Boca Juniors is set for next Sunday.|
|The champions ended their season with a 90th-minute winner by Bruno Henrique to beat Vitoria. This team lost just four times in 38 league matches.|
| Boca Juniors (ARG)|
|Copa Libertadores final against River Plate is set for next Sunday.|
|Three games without a win now with just two goals in those matches. Still in a good spot but not showing it can get it done against the big boys.|
Cruz Azul (MEX)
|Into the semifinals in Mexico and that's just three goals allowed in the last seven games. Pedro Caixinha has his team gelling at the right time.|
|Well, there goes that perfect record in the league. Just a hiccup though. This team is built to win the league and is still the heavy favorite.|
|Just barely got by Toluca after some frantic final minutes in the quarterfinals. Showed determination in getting two early goals and could end up winning the entire thing. |
|No shame in drawing at Lille, but defensively the team hasn't been as sound as earlier in the season. There needs to be more communication and better responses to crosses.|
|Nowhere near a contender to win the Champions League, but in winning their group, they made it look easy. Not going to be an easy out come the knockout stage.|
|Stay in first place was short lived. Unlikely to get back there with a tough upcoming schedule. Still looking like a top-four contender.|
Universidad Catolica (CHL)
|The champions of Chile. In 30 games, La Catolica lost just three times, conceding only 25 goals. Defense does win championships.|
Racing Club (ARG)
|Leading the Argentine first division and unbeaten in their last four. At 35 years old, Lisandro Lopez (Porto and Lyon) still has it.|
Biggest movers: Roma and Bayern Munich.
Out of top 25: Flamengo (BRA), Eintracht Frankfurt (GER)
Honorable mentions: Atlanta United (MLS), Deportivo Alaves (ESP), Montepellier (FRA).