The Original MLS Power Rankings for March 21, 2023

This is the fun time – where we have enough games to wash out a lot of the pre-season ideas and look just at games played this year.

At the bottom of the league, you had a few teams get their first win. What will be interesting to see is if these were what in the financial industry is called a Dead Cat Bounce or if this a real change in direction. Often, it is a professional team just unwilling to keep losing and step up for one game, but it definitely is different than what Colorado is doing. Ouch.

Behind LAFC and St. Louis, it’s just a variation on the theme of “we’re figuring ourselves out.” Some teams are better than others, but who is Philadelphia? Miami? Austin? At times these clubs have looked good, but then have really wet the bed. We’re here to give some insight, and then we see what happens.

Top Shelf

1. Los Angeles FC (Previously 1)

Seattle is probably one of the better teams in the league, so LAFC tying them in Seattle is significant. We do think the Sounders will continue to move up too.

2. St. Louis City SC (6)

Whoa, Nellie! This team is legitimate, and while we are not ready to say they will stay in this tier long-term, we sure can’t say they don’t deserve to be here now. Amazing start to the season.

St Louis City is on a roll. (Courtesy St Louis City)
St Louis City is on a roll. (Courtesy St Louis City)


3. FC Cincinnati (2)

As we said last week, for real. On the road, down 2, they come back to steal a point and keep Chicago in the gutter.

4. Nashville SC (5)

They lost on the road to a Revolution side that found a way to win, rather than gave it away. They remain a hard team to beat. Higher than you expect? Look at who they played and where.

5. Philadelphia Union (3)

Were we wrong about the Union? Possibly. But they didn’t fold against Montreal – they made them earn it. Also, on the crazy review, the ref mechanics were not pretty, but they got the call right. Pros need to be ready to deal with that.

6. Minnesota United (8)

At the start of the season, there were lots of doubters. All the Loons have done is grind out results – this week on the road against Colorado.

7. New York City FC (9)

Back-to-back wins is good momentum. Their latest is a home win over a not-good D.C. but it’s still a win.

8. Seattle Sounders (10)

Solidifying their resume as back to what they were before last season, they tied an amazing LAFC side. Even though it was at home, a lot of teams won’t do that.

9. New England Revolution (12)

Well now, for a team that looked awkward going into the season, and have picked up some injuries, really they only have the LAFC loss as a negative on the resume. Their prior wins were against poor teams, but a 1-0 win over Nashville at home is legit.

10. Atlanta United (16)

We had them too low, no lie. And we still might. And that dude (learn the name Thiago Almada) is something else. Portland may not be that good, and it was at home, but 5-1 is a statement.

11. Orlando (7)

Pareja’s lads laid an egg after a heartbreaker in CCL. It happens. Losing to Charlotte hurts even more, even if it was just by a 2-1 scoreline. The question is how do they respond?

12. Inter Miami (4)

Yeah, maybe we should have reacted a little more to their loss to NYCFC. Maybe Toronto is just better than we expect. Either way, a 2-0 loss in Canada is not good.

13. FC Dallas (13)

Technically they didn’t move up, but they definitely solidified their place here with the 2-1 win over Sporting Kansas City.

Alan Velasco dribbles toward Sporting KC defender Ben Sweat in the MLS match on Saturday, March 18, 2023, at Toyota Stadium. (Daniel McCullough, 3rd Degree)
Alan Velasco dribbles toward Sporting KC defender Ben Sweat in the MLS match on Saturday, March 18, 2023, at Toyota Stadium. (Daniel McCullough, 3rd Degree)

14. New York Red Bulls (14)

Another solidifying result, a 2-1 home win over the Crew is good. Still not the production they are paying for, but it’s better than what they got to start the year.

Good But Not Great

15. Austin FC (11)

Did they take Houston for granted? Did the Dynamo explode in frustration from prior results? A mix of both? Either way, 2-0 on the road is not a good look for Wolff’s lads.

16. Columbus Crew (17)

It’s hard to read the Crew, especially considering the resume of some of their opponents. With the struggles of teams around them, they actually move up one despite their 2-1 road loss to the Red Bulls.

17. Real Salt Lake (18)

Did not play and the teams around them didn’t show too much variability so like the Crew they move up a little.

18. Los Angeles Galaxy (19)

Tied by Vancouver at 1-1 because they had a goal called back and couldn’t overcome the momentum of it. That’s not a good sign long-term.

19. San Jose Earthquakes (15)

Maybe it’s harsh to move them down this much because of a loss to the red-hot expansion team from Missouri, but this is a results-oriented business. But goodness, St. Louis is on fire right now.

20. CF Montreal (21)

They won, over Philadelphia no less, but was that one game or who they really are? Their past results say to hold off for now.

21. Sporting Kansas City (22)

They got a goal! And made it tough for the home team. So there is that. On the other hand, they gave up the winner despite having a tactical advantage for much of the game and starting off with the lead. Compare their 2-1 loss to Dallas to Minnesota’s win to start the year.

Just Not Good

22. Portland Timbers (20)

Yikes. 5-1, ouch. Yes, it was on the road. Yes, that dude (Thiago Almada) is that good. But giving up five? Yikes.

23. Toronto FC (24)

Hello there, maybe we have been too harsh on Toronto to start things. Oh, they lost to D.C. to start the year? Never mind. But yes, a win over Miami is a good win and we will watch to see if it was a one-off or a change in direction.

24. Charlotte FC (26)

A road win is a good thing, and not to be discounted, but it was against an Orlando side that had played their heart’s out mid-week against a Mexican club. Like Toronto, let’s see what follows.

25. Houston Dynamo (29)

Hello there. A 2-0 win over Austin is a very good result for the team bringing up the rear. Like the other wins from the clubs in this group, it remains to be seen whether they can follow it up.

Ben Olsen. (Courtesy Houston Dynamo)
Ben Olsen. (Courtesy Houston Dynamo)

26. Vancouver Whitecaps (25)

A road tie against the Galaxy is a result. Nothing great, but it isn’t a road loss so there is that.

27. D.C. United (23)

It was a road loss, but with everyone around them, losing 3-2 to NYCFC means they move down.

28. Chicago Fire (28)

When they were up 3-1, some had to be thinking maybe they could break out. And then Cincinnati came back to tie it at 3s. Ouch.

29. Colorado Rapids (27)

This team is just hurting for any MLS quality, and it shows. Minnesota being able to come back for the win just drives the point home.

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