MLS power rankings: FC Cincinnati back on top despite roster upheaval

<span><a class="link " href="" data-i13n="sec:content-canvas;subsec:anchor_text;elm:context_link" data-ylk="slk:Luca Orellano;sec:content-canvas;subsec:anchor_text;elm:context_link;itc:0">Luca Orellano</a> Orellano has been electric at left wingback for FC Cincinnati.</span><span>Photograph: Jason Whitman/NurPhoto/REX/Shutterstock</span>

Welcome back to the Guardian’s MLS power rankings, where I have a beef with your specific team and your specific team alone. Xherdan Shaqiri might have ducked out of his MLS duties early ahead of the international break, but me? I’m still going strong, baby.

Now, as a reminder, these aren’t your standard, run-of-the-mill power rankings. We’re still ranking teams from worst to first. But along with the rankings, we’re diving deep into a handful of teams from around the league who are doing particularly interesting things.

Chicago’s massive flop

29. New England Revolution

28. Chicago Fire

27. Sporting Kansas City

26. FC Dallas

25. CF Montreal

24. San Jose Earthquakes

Xherdan Shaqiri didn’t travel with the Chicago Fire last weekend for their away clash with DC United.

Instead, he left the club early to head across the Atlantic ahead of the Euros with Switzerland. Or, let me say all of that a different way: the fourth-highest paid player in all of MLS left a club that’s clawing for points to spend unnecessary time in his home country ahead of summer transfer window.

So, uh, yeah, it’s entirely possible that we’ve seen the last of Shaqiri in Chicago.

The Fire should be chomping at the bit to move on from one of the biggest transfer busts in MLS history. Shaqiri entered the league before the 2022 campaign, but hasn’t come close to justifying his profile or his price tag. He averaged less than half of a goal contribution per game during his time in Chicago and tallied just nine goal contributions in over 2,000 minutes in 2023. This year? He has only two goals and a single assist.

Across his 5,000 MLS minutes, Shaqiri has failed to elevate the (admittedly poor) roster around him while playing as a No 10. It’s time to move on, whether that be via a transfer back to Switzerland to the Chicago Fire’s sister club FC Lugano or to Saudi Arabia. Now, I don’t blame the Chicago Fire for taking a big swing at Shaqiri. At his best, the 32-year-old was a dynamo for club and county and the kind of player who would both draw fans and push the team forward on the field. But the Fire have, clearly, not had that version of Shaqiri.

If – or, it seems, when – he moves, the Fire will have the Swiss international’s Designated Player spot to work with. Expect the front office to be active when it comes to reshuffling the top end of…

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