And so it begins. The 2023 MLS season is underway and there have been some real surprises. Some good, some bad. Sadly, some things predictably came true, and one game got rained out. One interesting thing – no ties!
Let’s start with the wonderful event in Austin, where expansion side the St. Louis City SC won their inaugural match. Surely, Bobby Rhine was smiling as his hometown team joined the league with a wonderful start.
Across the nation, and in three days, 28 teams were scheduled to play in the largest and most flourishing soccer league America has ever seen. What should have been one of the highlight games, LAFC and the LA Galaxy, ended up being pushed back because of a level of awful weather rarely seen in Southern California. Most of the other games, though, saw a lot of dynamic play, especially for this early in the season.
One word of warning – as we said last week, there is a lot of variability in the MLS off-season, and these are just the first games of the year. It is doubtful this is where these teams will stay.
1. Philadelphia Union
Gave up the first goal against the Crew but then scored four unanswered to show they are not taking a step back after winning the league last year.
2. Los Angeles FC.
El Trafico was rained out, and that sucks.
3. Nashville SC
The Tennessee club may have found the attack against NYCFC that will make them dangerous throughout the year.
4. FC Cincinnati
This may be too high for them, but they won at home against Houston after finishing well last year.
5. Orlando SC
Some real excitement here after the win over NYRB. This team is good and could be better than expected.
6. Inter Miami
They won at home over Montreal, which is not a bad result. They may not be this good, but right now they look it.
7. Minnesota United
The Loons are going through a tough time in their locker-room right now, but they turned it into a solid result on the road. Their defensive system is FC Dallas’ kryptonite but a road win is a road win.
8. Real Salt Lake
A road win is big even if it is against Vancouver. If we are being honest, we had doubts about a player of Damir Kreilach’s age recovering from a back injury. All he does is score the game-winner.
9. New York Red Bulls
Losing on the road against a team like the Lions is not awful. We have some faith in this roster, but not so much that we won’t drop them if they don’t show more soon.
10. LA Galaxy
They didn’t get to play LAFC cause of the rainout, so they kind of hold steady.
11. New York City FC
It’s a tough way to start the season on the road against a good team (Nashville). On the other hand, they should be better than this. This is definitely a team on thin ice.
12. Austin FC
This may be too much of a drop but losing to expansion St Louis City at home is not a good thing.
13. Seattle Sounders
Oh my, they really do look all the way back. As bad as they were at the end of last year, we hesitate to move them all the way up, but they sure looked the part Sunday night against the Rapids.
14. CF Montreal
It’s one game, on the road at Miami, but not a good sign for a team we have questions about.
15. FC Dallas
There is talent on this roster but it’s clear that certain teams have a way to shut down the offense and FCD is not a team that can win off its defense alone.
16. New England Revolution
We had questions about Arena’s team and they sure answered them in the first week, with a win against a pretty good Charlotte side.
17. Portland Timbers
They made a lone goal stand-up against Kansas City. It will be interesting to see how the Timbers work out.
18. Columbus Crew
Thought they might catch some magic against with their first game under their new coach, Wilfried Nancy, but it was not meant to be against the Union.
19. Atlanta United
It took some luck after going down a goal to a poor San Jose side at home, missing a penalty kick, and being in the last minute of injury time until Thiago Almada saved their butts.
20. St. Louis City SC
What a debut! Score first, go down by a goal, then fight their way back to win it outright. In Austin, no less. This may not be who they are all season, but this is a game to savor.
21. Charlotte FC
Losing to New England is a little surprising, but it’s just one game.
22. Sporting Kansas City
They made Portland earn the victory.
23. Colorado Rapids
This team has some real challenges ahead of it after getting smoked by Seattle.
24. D.C. United
A dramatic win for a team that needed it badly. Too bad it was against Toronto.
25. San Jose Earthquakes
They started well on the road against Atlanta, but couldn’t hold on and then gave up the match-winner at the death.
26. Vancouver Whitecaps
More of the same against RSL from a team that just doesn’t seem to be able to gain traction.
27. Houston Dynamo
Maybe they are better than this, but they were playing a top team in Cincinnati. We need to see more results based on how poor they were last year.
28. Chicago Fire
The one team scheduled to not play. We still don’t know if they are as bad as we think they are.
29. Toronto FC
Age will not be kind to this team. We have already seen signs of it in the first game against DC.