MLS Power Rankings: Miami, San Jose move up but Philly stays top; Galaxy, SKC take a dip

ByRyan Rosenblatt ESPN logo
Monday, March 13, 2023

MLS has a sample size that is now up to a whole 180 minutes per team! Well, except for the teams that have byes, so they're still at 90 minutes. And not really for a few of the teams in the CONCACAF Champions League, because they sent out weaker teams this weekend to prepare for continental play midweek.

And then there are the teams that are still sorting out paperwork or fitness for new signings. And can you really judge a team with a new manager clearly still working out the kinks? But at least we have those two* whole matches to make definitive statements about who is good and who is bad. Rank 'em!

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1. Philadelphia Union

Previous ranking: 1

On one hand, Philly lost to Miami. On the other hand, the Union were still the better team and *gestures at all of last season*.

2. Seattle Sounders

Previous ranking: 3

The 2-0 scoreline in their win over RSL did not do the Sounders justice. The haters had better savor last season's missed playoffs. Seattle is back.


Previous ranking: 2

LAFC turned off after going 3-0 up on Portland, and it's hard to blame them. They still won, and the gap between the top three and the rest of the league looks massive right now.

4. Orlando City

Previous ranking: 4

The Lions were clearly looking ahead to their CONCACAF Champions League clash with Liga MX side Tigres and just hoping to turn their match against Cincy into a rock fight for a point. They got their point, and now it's on to Monterrey.

5. FC Cincinnati

Previous ranking: 5

There was only so much the Garys could have done for their rep in Orlando. Win and everyone says "well, the Lions played their B team," but lose and maybe they're not contenders after all. A draw splits the difference, but you could see the growth in Cincy's play and the way the team was able to dictate a lot of how that match was played in Florida. Cincy needs to get sharper, but what it showed bodes well for the rest of the season.

6. Austin FC

Previous ranking: 6

Another season of MLS, another season of Maxi Urruti being a useful striker. It's like clockwork, and it delivered Austin a deserved win over Montréal.

7. Atlanta United FC

Previous ranking: 8

Are you dreaming on all that terrific play in the middle third translating to final third chances or asking yourself when their ability to drive play will actually turn into consistent winning? After their draw against Toronto, it's much easier to be the latter, but we'll be the former because you've gotta flirt with pain sometimes.

8. Nashville SC

Previous ranking: 7

Going into Red Bull Arena and walking away with a point is always a job well done, even if it left fans wondering what sport they just watched.

9. Columbus Crew

Previous ranking: 10

We'll see how long it takes for the Crew to really pick up Wilfried Nancy's system, but they already show some level of confidence in it and, as they showed in their win over D.C., Lucas Zelarayán and Cucho Hernández can carry the team in the interim.

10. FC Dallas

Previous ranking: 12

Two goals for Jesús Ferreira against the Galaxy, three points for Dallas and we could find ourselves in "he's not just a one-season wonder!" territory soon, despite nobody actually calling the forward a one-season wonder.

11. Inter Miami CF

Previous ranking: 16

The results say Miami is a contender, especially after it beat Philly this weekend. The eye test isn't quite as convincing, but those points live forever.

12. New York Red Bulls

Previous ranking: 9

RBNY's 0-0 draw with Nashville had nine bruises for every shot attempt.

13. New England Revolution

Previous ranking: 14

The Revs are back! Led by Bobby Wood! Welcome to the actually very real headlines of Matchweek 2, after the Revs beat down Houston.

14. Toronto FC

Previous ranking: 17

TFC hired Bob Bradley and spent ungodly sums of money because they wanted to be exceptional, but the only thing exceptional about the team right now is the injury list. Taking a point from Atlanta, all things considered, ain't bad.

15.Portland Timbers

Previous ranking: 15

The Timbers got absolutely smashed for 60 minutes before scoring a pair late to make things look more respectable in a 3-2 loss to LAFC, but the first hour sure looked a lot more representative of where this team is than the last half-hour.

16. San Jose Earthquakes

Previous ranking: 21

It's probably not a good thing that Quakes teams still get compared to the Goonies squad circa 2012 because, well, it's been that long since they were good. And this version of San Jose is not Goonies-level good, but it was very encouraging to see it come back to beat Vancouver without needing to be like the Goonies. The Quakes didn't win by late-game madness but instead by slowly and methodically growing into the match and then taking three well-deserved points. The Quakes are looking *gasp* reliably cromulent.

17.Sporting Kansas City

Previous ranking: 11

SKC looked pretty good in the opener and lost, so it only makes sense that they'd look shaky in Colorado this week and somehow walk away with a point.

18. Real Salt Lake

Previous ranking: 18

RSL need to cross their fingers people just saw the scoreline in their 2-0 loss to Seattle and didn't watch the game because woof.

19. Minnesota United

Previous ranking: 20

Early-season byes are helpful when you're still waiting for your best player to show up.

20. LA Galaxy

Previous ranking: 13

The Galaxy got absolutely burned in transition and their wingers were a black hole, but at least Dejan Jovelji looked good in the loss to Dallas. Sounds a lot like 2022.

21. New York City FC

Previous ranking: 19

There are a lot of moving parts in the Bronx, but as they showed in a draw with Chicago, a lot can be solved by having Keaton Parks in the midfield.

22. Charlotte FC

Previous ranking: 22

Charlotte conceded first by heading the ball into its own net, but at least it learned its lesson. Instead of repeating that same mistake for the next adventure in Gifting St. Louis Goals, Charlotte played a back pass right to City for an easy finish. That's growth, kind of.

23. CF Montreal

Previous ranking: 24

It's been two weeks and, after two losses, it's hard to figure out which is more worrying: the talent that went out the door in the winter or how inelegant a fit Hernán Losada is for the talent that is there.

24. D.C. United

Previous ranking: 23

DCU look like a competent, professional team. That is absolutely a backhanded compliment, but after the direction of the club in recent years, it is also a big step forward. Losing 2-0 in Columbus isn't going to win them any plaudits, but you can see them figuring out who they are.

25. Houston Dynamo

Previous ranking: 25

Once again, the Dynamo looked all right. And once again, they lost, this time to the Revs.

26. St. Louis City SC

Previous ranking: 28

Another memorable win for St. Louis City, which gives them iconic inaugural game and inaugural home game victories to savor forever. But while the victories are wonderful, it is still looking like fool's gold. What's going to happen when opposing teams stop handing them goals on a silver platter?

27. Colorado Rapids

Previous ranking: 27

One day, Darren Yapi is going to turn those chances into goals and the Rapids are going to have themselves a special player, but for now he's just an 18-year-old trying to polish off his game and they could manage only a draw at home with SKC.

28. Vancouver Whitecaps

Previous ranking: 26

Two games, two losses, but at least their winter goalkeeper signing of Yohei Takaoka looks like a home run. Now if they could just not ask him to do so much.

29. Chicago Fire

Previous ranking: 29

A point! But only one at home against an NYCFC team in transition? Eh. And the injuries are starting to pile up? Oh no.

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