MLS Power Rankings: LA Galaxy slip further down as San Jose Earthquakes break into top 10

ByRyan Rosenblatt ESPN logo
Tuesday, April 18, 2023

You think you know a team, then you see them in a rivalry match and all of a sudden everything you thought you knew gets thrown out the window.

First, the Seattle Sounders not only blew a lead in the last 20 minutes against the Portland Timbers -- they got absolutely run off the field, 4-1. The ability to control matches, dictate tempo and exploit weaknesses that defined the first two months of their season disappeared.

LAFC didn't lose to the LA Galaxy. In fact, they won in Carson, California for the first time ever, but the Black and Gold's normally excellent defense gave up two to a Galaxy attack that has not really broken down anyone this season.

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Rivalries matter. Heck, they are the most important matches on the schedule. They are giant circuses of mess and delight, but when it comes to what you know about teams, and how they'll stack up against most anyone else? Forget it. Take them into your heart, not your mind.

So, with that in mind, let's rank the teams.


Previous ranking: 2

The thing about El Tráfico is that it's a giant mess that doesn't really make sense and it's only partially a soccer game. It's beautiful, as long as you're not playing in the match, so getting out with a win of any form is a job well done. LA is still black and gold.

2. Seattle Sounders

Previous ranking: 1

"It's not another loss. It's against the Timbers. We have to get back to understanding that this is a rivalry." The Sounders may still be very good, but Brian Schmetzer clearly does not care much about that right now.

3. St. Louis City SC

Previous ranking: 5

City's aggressive style has a bit of a boom or bust nature to it. It was one hell of a boom as they smashed a Cincy defense that previously looked unsmashable.

4. Columbus Crew

Previous ranking: 4

The Crew deserved the point they got from Sean Zawadzki's stoppage time header and they should have gotten a second for making Bruce Arena rant about the ref allowing them to score so deep into stoppage time. That was some good entertainment and should be rewarded.

5. FC Cincinnati

Previous ranking: 3

Pat Noonan was probably very excited to coach back in his hometown. His feelings were surely different after St. Louis smoked Cincy, 5-1.

6. New England Revolution

Previous ranking: 9

The Revs had the upper hand at a very good Crew side until Dylan Borrero's red card. It was maybe their most impressive hour of play this season and a draw in Columbus is a pretty good result too.

7. Atlanta United FC

Previous ranking: 7

No Thiago Almada, Giorgos Giakoumakis went off with an injury and the Five Stripes still got a point in Toronto. Not bad.

8. Nashville SC

Previous ranking: 6

NSC games get pretty fun when they fall behind and have to push forward, but they'd probably prefer the wins. That didn't come Saturday in New York, despite their late flurry.

9. San Jose Earthquakes

Previous ranking: 12

The Ultras celebrated their 20th year -- a stretch that included their team leaving and, with the fans' push, returning -- so it was only right that they got to see the Quakes beat SKC.

10. FC Dallas

Previous ranking: 8

They walked away with three points, but they were probably the inferior team. At home. Against RSL.

11. Minnesota United

Previous ranking: 10

The Loons out-played Orlando, but they didn't finish enough of their chances and walked away without a point. They've now blown leads in every home match this season.

12. Orlando City

Previous ranking: 11

Duncan McGuire has been too effective to have made just one start this season. After scoring the winner to finish the comeback in Minnesota, he needs to start.

13. Toronto FC

Previous ranking: 13

Their draw with Atlanta has stretched their unbeaten run to seven, but six of those are draws, which sums up where TFC is pretty well. Good, but definitely need to get better.

14. Houston Dynamo

Previous ranking: 15

A draw at Red Bull Arena is always a good showing. The Dynamo are just a little top end talent away from becoming really dangerous and it doesn't help that their designated player forward Sebastián Ferreira continues to sit on the bench. Just don't ask Ben Olsen why. He's sick of the question.

15. Vancouver Whitecaps

Previous ranking: 14

Six in a row without a loss after a draw in Austin and the results continue to match the underlying numbers. Buy, buy, buy.

16. New York Red Bulls

Previous ranking: 16

A goal earned RBNY a draw with Houston that was more than deserved. Having to celebrate it in front of a nearly empty supporters section after a walkout to protest the club's handling of last week's racist incident was also deserved.

17. New York City FC

Previous ranking: 17

The Pigeons were undefeated in the seven matches they played in Queens last season and the borough worked its magic again in a 2-1 win over Nashville.

18. Philadelphia Union

Previous ranking: 18

I've been talking myself into the Union despite their results all season, so why stop now? A draw at Atlas and then a comeback draw in Chicago is the type of jump Philly has needed. The best of the Union is right around the corner (he said for the fifth time this season).

19. Chicago Fire

Previous ranking: 20

The Fire were 2-0 up and the clearly better team until Gastón Gimenez and Carlos Terán came off injured and things flipped pretty quickly to Philly. There's a pretty good team here, if they can keep their best players on the pitch, and the point they took Saturday is a decent result, considering.

20. Austin FC

Previous ranking: 19

Usually when a team with attacking talent is struggling to score, it's the result of some unlucky finishing bound to correct itself with time. But Austin isn't creating chances and that was the case again in a scoreless draw with Vancouver.

21. Colorado Rapids

Previous ranking: 21

The last time the Rapids lost was March 18. They'll have to turn some of these draws into wins if they want to make the playoffs, but they've been a reliably solid team against good teams and bad, home and away, for a month now, with the latest being a draw in Charlotte.

22. D.C. United

Previous ranking: 23

D.C. have made a point of upgrading their top end talent of late, and after Lewis O'Brien's first goal was the difference in a win at Montréal, they have to feel quite a bit closer to being the team they want.

23. Portland Timbers

Previous ranking: 28

Finally, life from the Timbers. They've made a habit of leveling up for the Cascadia Cup in recent years and they did it again in a late flurry to stun Seattle, 4-1. The question now is whether this is a one-off for a derby or is this the spark they've been waiting for. Regardless, the Dairon Asprilla bicycle kick will live forever.

24. Inter Miami CF

Previous ranking: 24

A week off is just what they needed after losing five straight.

25. Charlotte FC

Previous ranking: 26

The Crown had come back from a goal down to take the lead, they were into stoppage time, the crowd was rocking. Then George Marks forgot how to catch a ball and Colorado had snuck a point from Charlotte. Cold world.

26. LA Galaxy

Previous ranking: 22

The Galaxy played better than they have all season, except for the couple moments where they were terrible. The result? Their first ever home loss to LAFC, their winless season continues and every day that passes seems to further make their boycotting supporters' point.

27. Real Salt Lake

Previous ranking: 27

RSL followed up last week's win with a good performance in Dallas. Unfortunately they lost, but Jefferson Savarino and Andres Gomez are playing well, the breakdowns are less common. Things are looking up.

28. Sporting Kansas City

Previous ranking: 25

Another goalless match, another loss, this time to San Jose. Their two goals through eight contests is a new MLS record, double worse than the previous record for goal scoring ineptitude.

29. CF Montreal

Previous ranking: 29

Losing to D.C. by only one goal at home is a pretty legitimate step forward, if you wanted to sum up CFM's first two months of the season.

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