MLS Power Rankings: Union, Sounders start hot but Whitecaps, Rapids woes continue

MLS is back! And not in “we really called the tournament like that” way. It’s just that on “the first weekend of the season, everyone is very excited and every team is still dreaming of glory.”

As each season begins, the dreaded question for all important power ratings comes up: how much do you invest in early results?

On the one hand, 90 minutes is a ridiculously small sample size – and you’re really going to throw out last season, winter transfers, and the basic belief that players who have played well in recent years will probably continue to play well even if the first leg didn’t go according to plan. ?

On the other hand, one game is the full sample we have and we’ve seen how quickly teams can change from year to year, or how the pre-season knocked us off track. So, a real, live, actual game that matters can be compelling.

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Simply put, there is no good answer. How much you move teams up and down in the first month of the season is mostly a matter of mood. So, without further ado, here is the first thoughts and vibes ranking of 2023.

(Editor’s Note: The Portland Timbers and Sporting Kansas City will be added and rankings adjusted slightly after their opening match is played on Monday night due to weather).

1. Philadelphia Union

Previous rating: N/A

Next MLS match: at Inter Miami, Saturday at 7:30 pm ET

What could be more compelling than bringing back every player from the team that scored the most points in the league last season, with plenty of young talent just waiting to get better? Beat a pretty good Crew 4-1 to open the season.


Previous rating: N/A

Next MLS match: vs. Portland Timbers Saturday 4:30 pm ET

The last time we saw LAFC they lifted the MLS Cup, so really who could stop this team? Mother nature, apparently, after heavy rains, forced to postpone the opening of the season.

3. Seattle Sounders

Previous rating: N/A

Next MLS match: vs. Real Salt Lake Saturday 10:30 pm ET

The season did pass for the Sounders after their CONCACAF Champions League run last season, but when they were healthy the squad was still mostly very good. They are mostly healthy and rested now, and a 4-0 win over Colorado this weekend is a good way to keep the season from getting away from you early on.

4. Orlando City

Previous rating: N/A

Next MLS match: vs. Cincinnati FC Saturday 7:30 pm ET

The Lions won the off-season with about 692 moves, most of which were very good. Their 1-0 victory over RBNY didn’t blow up the world, but with so many new players to integrate, enough points need to be scored at the start of the season to keep the train moving on the tracks until everything clicks. It is done.

5. FC Cincinnati

Previous rating: N/A

Next MLS match: in Orlando City, Saturday at 7:30 pm ET

Cinsi drew a lot of games they probably should have won last season, so while some might see the problem with Houston losing long stretches, they still came out victorious by a score of 2. :1 is probably a good sign. With a solid team in tow, the FCC will likely play reasonably well football each week. It’s about turning performances into points, that’s the question, and they answered it in the first week.

6. Austin FC

Previous rating: N/A

Next MLS match: vs. Montreal, Saturday, 8:30 pm ET

Austin was clearly good last season, but they also needed a bit of magic to score points. Is it reasonable to expect more this season? Because St. Louis had all the magic when they eliminated Verde at Q2 Stadium on Saturday.

7. Nashville SC

Previous rating: N/A

Next MLS match: to the New York Red Bulls, Saturday, 7:30 pm ET.

Can Nashville beat, overtake and outplay teams all season long? When they had energy last season, they were pretty good. When there were lulls, it was ugly. However, they had the strength in a 2-0 win over NYCFC to start the season.

8. Atlanta United

Previous rating: N/A

Next MLS match: vs. Toronto, Saturday 7:30 pm ET

Will Thiago Almada wear black and red after the summer transfer window? Who knows, but he was when he scored two goals in stoppage time to defeat Quakes.

9. New York Red Bulls

Previous rating: N/A

Next MLS match: vs. Nashville SC Saturday 7:30 pm ET

The Red Bulls missed just one shot in Orlando. Unfortunately, this shot was the only goal of the game, but the defense was good, and let’s see how the attack will look when Dante Vanzeir joins it.

10. Columbus Crew

Previous rating: N/A

Next MLS match: vs. DC United Saturday 7:30 pm ET

It’s been a week, but the 2022 rule already applies to 2023: Losing Philadelphia doesn’t count against you because Philadelphia does exactly that.

11. FC Dallas

Previous rating: N/A

Next MLS match: vs. LA Galaxy Saturday 8:30 pm ET

Dallas had most of the ball, dictated where the match would take place, looked in control, and lost very little to MNUFC. What is old is new again.

12. Los Angeles Galaxy

Previous rating: N/A

Next MLS match: at FC Dallas, Saturday at 8:30 pm ET

Mother Nature has done some cruel things lately; add to her list depriving us of Ricky Puig for another week.

13. New England Revolution

Previous rating: N/A

MLS next match vs. Houston Dynamo Saturday 7:30 pm ET

The Revs have a lot to like if their midfield holds up. For one week it was, and they won at Charlotte.

14. FC Inter Miami

Previous rating: WHAT

Next MLS match: vs. Philadelphia Union, Saturday, 7:30 pm ET.

On the one hand, you have a team that was very dependent on Gonzalo Higuain and Alejandro Pozuelo, two players who no longer wear pink. On the other hand, the defense was full of holes a year ago and they seem to have made some good moves to strengthen the defense. A 2-0 win over Montreal is a good way to convince people that defensive changes can make up for losses on the front lines.

15. Toronto FC

Previous rating: N/A

Next MLS match: in Atlanta United, Saturday, 7:30 pm ET.

TFC seems to be built on the belief that everything will work out as it should. Their stars will stay healthy to hide the faint depth, and they will be so careful in the game that they don’t get burned in the transition. Well, they got burned a lot in the transition when they lost in Washington to open their season.

16. Real Salt Lake

Previous rating: N/A

Next MLS match: in Seattle Sounders, Saturday at 10:30 pm ET.

The first half of an RSL victory in Vancouver would put them in last place, but their second half could put them in the single digits. Let’s share the difference.

17. New York City FC

Previous rating: N/A

Next MLS match: in Chicago Fire, Saturday, 8:30 pm ET.

NYCFC is so high because of their faith in the City Football Group scouting network, because the roster doesn’t inspire confidence on the surface, just like their loss in Nashville.

18. Minnesota United

Previous rating: N/A

Next MLS match: v. New York Red Bulls, March 11, 8:30 pm ET

Emanuel Reynoso is still out of the team and with all the attack going through him, which no other player and club in the league has had, that’s a concern, but the rest of the team is not bad. There are a lot of solid elements around that elevate the level of this team, as evidenced by their victory in Dallas, even if they absolutely need Reynoso to have at least some ceiling to think about.

19. Earthquakes in San Jose

Previous rating: N/A

Next MLS match: vs. Vancouver Whitecaps Saturday 10:30 pm ET

For the first time in a long time, the Quake team and approach makes sense. It’s an admittedly low bar, but that’s what they’ve set in recent years. They lost in Atlanta, but the Almada Circus needed to do it in stoppage time, and San Jose played very well. They are looking for things.

20. Charlotte FC

Previous rating: N/A

Next MLS match: in St. Louis City, Saturday, 8:30 pm ET.

There’s something to love about Charlotte, but to be kind, top-notch talent is in question. Back it up with questions about goals and you’ve got a 1-0 home loss to Revs that looks like a potential harbinger of the coming season.

21. DC United

Previous rating: N/A

Next MLS match: at Columbus Crew, Saturday at 7:30 pm ET

DC’s goals were scored by two designated players, Mateusz Klich and Christian Benteke, as well as homegrown player Ted Koo-DiPietro. This is what you need to set up a massive turnaround and their 3-2 win over TFC showed the plan.

22. CF Montreal

Previous rating: N/A

Next MLS match: at FC Austin, Saturday, 8:30 pm ET.

There is reason to believe that talent and managerial style don’t quite match up in Montreal, and their first loss to Miami did nothing to allay those fears.

23. Houston Dynamo

Previous rating: N/A

Next MLS match: in New England Revolution, Saturday, 7:30 pm ET.

Dynamo looked as good as it could be after the defeat. They had Cinsi in the background for many parts of the game and not only had to score a point, but also make an argument that they deserved all three.

24. Vancouver Whitecaps

Previous rating: N/A

Next MLS match: Earthquake in San Jose, Saturday, 22:30 ET.

Football is a 90 minute game. The Caps have only played 45 games against the RSL. Mathematics is not strong in this.

25. Colorado Rapids

Previous rating: N/A

Next MLS match: vs. Sporting Kansas City, Saturday, 9:30 pm ET.

The Rapids are really betting on Kevin Cabral. It’s been an entire off-season, a 4-0 loss to the Sounders, and it’s still not realized.

26. St. Louis City SC

Previous rating: N/A

Next MLS match: vs. Charlotte, Saturday, 8:30 pm ET

The youngest club in the league had a memorable first leg. There wasn’t much that would bode well for long-term success, but who cares. Game #1, win #1. And they did it in dramatic fashion in one of the Western Conference favorites in Austin. Come back after the season and this could still be one of the best moments of 2023 in MLS.

27. Chicago Fire

Previous rating: N/A

Next MLS match: vs. New York City, Saturday, 8:30 pm ET.

Hello gods of the schedule for…


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