Apologies for the late rankings the last two weeks. We should be back to our early-week slot next week.
Overall, we feel really good about our groupings now. The teams have settled into them rather well, and while there are going to be some exceptions and some movement, we think we have a good handle on where teams are right now.
We want to highlight two groups in particular, starting with the top – while there is not a huge gap between the Top Shelf and Quality groupings, it absolutely is just LAFC at the top. No other team has been as consistently good, no matter the location or opponent, as Cherundolo’s side. We aren’t going to try to compare them to other great teams from other seasons – it’s way too early for that – but for sure, FC Hollywood is the best team in MLS.
On the other end of the spectrum, it’s just as clear. The bottom four teams have not shown us anything of significance pretty much all season, with little sign of that changing in the near future. That isn’t to say it can’t change – as we have seen from the Rapids, bad teams can figure things out – but for now, that is the group battling for the wooden spoon.
1. Los Angeles FC (Previously 1)
Don’t let the score fool you, LAFC won this game while the Galaxy chased it and found a way to make it look competitive late. And if you compare this result with other rivalry matches this weekend, it’s clear that LAFC has it together and the Galaxy does not.
2. New England Revolution (4)
We doubted them early, in part because of a pummelling at the hands of LAFC, but Il Bruce has it together, with the Revs tying the red-hot Crew, 1-1, on the road last Saturday.
3. St. Louis City SC (6)
Wow – what a rebound. After a few results that showed St. Louis was in fact human, they tore up FC Cincinnati in Ohio by a 5-1 scoreline. Talk about re-affirming your presence with authority.
4. Seattle Sounders (3)
What a fantastic example of how rivalry matches go. The Sounders had taken the lead on the road and seemed in control until the Timbers scored a fantastic goal that fired up everyone involved with Portland and next thing you know it was 4-1 Timbers. Not exactly how Seattle wanted things to end, but their curriculum vitae for 2023 is solid enough that this is just a one-off. Right?
5. FC Cincinnati (2)
Based on their body of work, a 5-1 home loss to the surprising side from Missouri is probably not a sign of impending doom. Probably.
6. Atlanta United (7)
Other than their ugly loss to the Crew, this side has consistently played well and typically gotten the results needed to keep moving up the standings, including their 2-2 tie at Toronto.
7. Columbus Crew (5)
After a few weeks where Columbus tore up their opponents, they faced the Revs who tied them, 1-1, at home. Considering their slow start, it is possibly they got hot against the right opponents. We are pulling them back a tick until we know more.
8. Orlando City (10)
Pareja’s side has been mostly good, with a few exceptions, and last Saturday went to Minnesota and beat a team that has been hard to beat, 2-1.
9. Minnesota United (8)
Throughout the season, this team has punched above its weight. Is their 2-1 home loss to the Lions a sign that they are running out of punching-up steam?
10. FC Dallas (11)
The mid-block has been one of their nemesis of late, as has struggling against bad teams and suffering ties or losses when they should have won. Last week they played a bad RSL team and while they were lethargic at times, they found the winner they needed to take the game, 2-1.
11. San Jose Earthquakes (12)
Early on we had some doubts about Luchi Gonzalez’s team, but lately, they have been getting solid results, including last Saturday’s 3-0 win over Sporting. While Kansas City is struggling, they haven’t been giving up 3 goals in most games. The only other team to hurt Vermes’ side like that this year was the Sounders.
12. Houston Dynamo (13)
For a team that struggled early on, the Dynamo have put a good run together of late. Getting a 1-1 tie at the Red Bulls is another solid outing.
13. New York City FC (14)
Is this the NYC we expected to see? A 2-1 win over Nashville is a good result against a good team.
14. Nashville SC (9)
The defense is still there, but the offense is too inconsistent despite some early-season signs. Losing 2-1 at NYC is another example of the struggle.
Sometimes Good, Sometimes Not
15. Chicago Fire (16)
Like Houston, the Fire have risen from the bottom. While their 2-2 tie at home against the Union isn’t what the team wanted, Philadelphia is good enough that it’s not a huge blemish on the resume.
16. Philadelphia Union (17)
This is not the season that Philly fans want, but it’s what is happening on the field. A road tie against a solid Fire side is at least not another surprising loss.
17. New York Red Bulls (15)
The lack of scoring punch bites them again. We hate to be a broken record, but spending big money on international players is not a guarantee of success in MLS. Being tied 1-1 by the Dynamo at home is just the latest example.
18. Vancouver Whitecaps (20)
While they aren’t scoring at the pace they were a few weeks back, they are still getting results, including last Saturday’s 0-0 draw at Austin.
19. Austin FC (18)
It’s not as bad as it would have been a month ago, but the 0-0 tie against the Whitecaps is another disappointing home result for Wolff’s side.
20. Colorado Rapids (22)
Fraser has this team getting results where they would have failed a month ago. Charlotte is not a great team, but a 2-2 tie on the road is another point the Rapids need to climb out of the cellar.
21. Toronto FC (23)
A team that we had doubts about at the start of the year continues to struggle but with some signs of possible success here and there. In some ways, a home tie isn’t good, but 2-2 against Atlanta is a result most MLS clubs would take.
22. Portland Timbers (27)
We probably overreacted to some tough results by having them at 27, but they just weren’t playing well. Has the sleeper awoken with that chilena from Dairon Asprilla? Very possibly. It is not a question of talent for Portland, but health and cohesion. It may have crystalized during that 4-1 win over Seattle. Or it could have been just getting up to beat your rival. Time will tell.
23. Real Salt Lake (21)
From time to time, RSL has shown it can play, but more often than not they have fallen short. Giving Dallas the chance to win the game late can’t feel good for Mastroeni.
24. Inter Miami (19)
This might seem like a big drop for a team that didn’t play, but not playing gives us a chance to look at their whole resume, and that hurt Beckham’s team this week.
25. D.C. United (29)
We still have lots of concerns about United as a whole, but they have gotten a few good results that get them off the bottom. Winning 1-0 at Montreal is still winning on the road in MLS.
Very Not Good
26. Charlotte FC (28)
Like the other teams in this group, Charlotte hasn’t shown us much of anything but at least they tied the Rapids 2-2, even though it was at home.
27. LA Galaxy (24)
Some might look at their 3-2 loss to LAFC as playing well against a great side but they were behind way too much. This team can’t find its way to results, and this deep into the season, that’s a problem. They have talent, but like Miami, it means nothing if it doesn’t translate into wins.
28. Sporting Kansas City (25)
Peter Vermes rarely has had a team this poor. And in some ways, it’s not the entire team as the defense has been stingy, but you have to score to get results and this Sporting side just isn’t doing that.
29. CF Montreal (26)
Losing at home to the worst-ranked team the week before will put you on the bottom, and that is what Montreal did by losing to D.C., 1-0.