The Original MLS Power Rankings for the Week of August 9, 2023

The Cup Giveth, The Cup Taketh Away

So for the last month, MLS teams have played some league games and then began the Leagues Cup, where all of the teams competed with all of the Liga MX sides for some real money, and unlike previous versions, everyone seemed to come to play. Initially, I had planned on treating the Leagues Cup the same as the Open Cup as I expected many MLS sides to not take it seriously.

Oh my goodness was I wrong. And credit to our leader, Buzz Carrick, for telling me to plan for this eventuality.

The Leagues Cup has given us some amazing drama, and some great soccer, and on top of all that, one of the greatest players to ever play the sport has joined Inter Miami and, along with a friend or two, turned the worst team in the league into a juggernaut.

These rankings do not factor in games Saturday as many MLS clubs have been eliminated, but we will do another version as MLS league play restarts on August 20.

Top Shelf

1. FC Cincinnati (Previously 1)

“The more that things change, the more they stay the same,” is quite the cliche, but it sure applies here as the Ohioans seem to stay atop the league. They may be joined by the Revs, LAFC, and maybe Miami soon, but for now, they remain the only team at this level.

FC Cincinnati


2. New England Revolution (2)

It was very very tempting to move the Revs up, but the suspension of Il Bruce gives us pause. Why? Because he is so important to his teams. If proven wrong, we will openly admit it. Another reason for the hesitation is the competition. Most of the teams they have beaten or tied of late have not been quality.

3. Nashville SC (4)

Just in league play, Nashville had it a little rough, losing at home to Philly and on the road to Cincinnati, but in Leagues Cup they won, gave Touloca hell, and then beat Cincinnati to advance to the game against Club America. As we have said elsewhere, opponents matter.

4. Philadelphia Union (5)

We struggled to get a read on Philly. The Union beat Nashville on the road but then their other opponents have been iffy, so getting results like a pk “win” over D.C. in Leagues Cup seems good but not great.

5. St. Louis City SC (3)

This may be a little harsh to the new kids, but they lost at LAFC, then beat Miami at home before losing both Leagues Cup games to Columbus and Club America. With so many clubs shoring up their play, St. Louis seems to be leaning the wrong way.

6. Los Angeles FC (8)

This team seems to have shaken off the fund they were in, starting with a 3-0 drumming of St. Louis, followed by a road tie at Minnesota before destroying Juarez from the Liga MX. Definitely, a team that will move up.

7. Real Salt Lake (11)

We had previously moved them up a bit, but clearly not enough as they tied at SKC and beat the Red Bulls in league play, and started the Leagues Cup with a 3-0 win over Seattle. They did lose to Montrerrey but then beat Leon – the team that beat LAFC in the Champions League Final. For-real.

8. Inter Miami (27)

Yes, that’s right, a team that was 27th is now in the top quarter of the league and could very well be top four. Add Lionel Messi, Sergio Busquets, and Tata Martinez and you will turn around just about any MLS side, but Martinez’s experience in and out of MLS is key to integrating players like Messi and Busquets into the mix that is an MLS side, where high-quality internationals mix with US veterans and homegrown players that can blossom under the right gaffer. They still have some weaknesses, so it is hard to put them on top just yet, but yeah, they look the part.

Lionel Messi scores Inter Miami FC’s first goal in the League Cup match against FC Dallas at Toyota Stadium on Sunday, August 6, 2023. (Daniel McCullough / 3rd Degree)


9. Orlando City (9)

A win at Atlanta looked good in mid-July, but a home tie to Houston, a win over Santos Laguna and then a 3-1 loss to Miami means they stay where they are.

10. Columbus Crew (6)

A loss at Portland is rough. With other teams playing well at the time, that dropped them, but then they worked their way back a little in with wins over San Jose and Club America before falling to Minnesota in PKs.

11. Atlanta United (7)

It’s been a rough run for Atlanta, with losses at New England, against Orlando, at Miami, and then a tie against Cruz Azul. Can they shake it off to restart up in MLS play?

12. FC Dallas (14)

When a string of injuries hit, FCD was exposed as being thin and not as flexible – either in their tactics or roster composition – as they needed to be. there were a few bright spots such as wins over St. Louis and LAFC, but both had asterisks. But then they started getting some people back, and as regular play in July concluded and Leagues Cup play began, they hit some real high points. Definitely, a team headed up.

13. Seattle Sounders (10)

It has been a rough month for Seattle, losing on the road to San Jose, being tied by Dallas at home, then losing 3-0 at RSL and to Monterrey 4-2 in Leagues Cup play. Don’t count them out, but this is not the kind of form they want to be in.

14. Vancouver Whitecaps (19)

You could say their opposition might not be as salty as other teams, so maybe this is a little high, but the Whitecaps beat Austin, a somewhat resurgent Galaxy, and then at the Galaxy, with only ties versus Mexican clubs against that record. The win at the Galaxy seemed important.

15. Minnesota United (16)

Remember, these rankings are through Saturday, so don’t include The Loons success since then. An away win against Houston was good, but a home tie to a struggling LAFC, not so much. They beat Puebla but lose to Chicago before beating the Crew in PKs.

16. Houston Dynamo (12)

They have been up and down this year, especially really down to start the season, and a home loss to Minnesota, road tie to Colorado, road tie to Orlando, home tie to Santos Laguna finishing with a pk win over Puebla is a mixed bag when other teams – especially Minnesota – are playing better.

Good? Maybe?

17. San Jose Earthquakes (18)

Luchi Gonzalez’ guys had been doing well and beat Seattle 2-0 at home, but then fell to Portland and Tigres in Leagues Cup play, dropping them slightly.

18. Austin FC (13)

Rough run of play for the Central Texans. Lose on the road to Vancouver, beat SKC at home, but then lose to two Mexican clubs to crash out of Leagues Cup? No bueno.

19. Chicago Fire (23)

Some resurgence from the Windy City. A 3-0 home win over Montreal is very good, although everyone is beating Toronto. Then in Leagues Cup they were competitive as well, tying Puebla before beating Minnesota on the road. There is no embarrassment in losing 1-0 to Club America either.

20. Charlotte FC (20)

Every time we think The Crown is going to fall back into playing like an expansion team struggling to find itself, Charlotte finds a way to make an impression. While they lost at home to Montreal, they have had a strong Leagues Cup run that hasn’t ended yet – but it will as they play Miami and their defense just won’t survive. But they beat Dallas in PKs and tore up Necaxa before beating Cruz Azul in penalties in this stretch, showing that they are dangerous.

Charlotte FC

21. D.C. United (17)

Rooney’s side seems determined to be inconsistently good. They got destroyed at New England before beating Montreal on the road, then crashed out of the Leagues Cup quickly.

22. New York City FC (21)

This is not a former league champion. They just aren’t, even though there is talent there. A road loss to the Union doesn’t suck, but falling to the Red Bulls? No.

23. CF Montreal (15)

It has been a bad run for the Quebecers. Lose on the road to Chicago before beating Charlotte at home – that’s ok. But then they crashed out of the Leagues Cup in two games? No.

24. Sporting Kansas City (25)

For a while, it appeared Vermes had straightened things out, but unfortunately for Sporting fans, not so much. A home tie to RSL followed by a road loss to Austin led into Leagues Cup where they tied Cincinnati 3-3 and beat Chivas 1-0 before falling hard to Toluca.

25. New York Red Bulls (24)

A big investment in attacking players didn’t work out, so they fired their coach, which hasn’t helped. Losses to Cincinnati and at RSL preceded their tie to New England in the Leagues Cup. After that, they beat San Luis and then NYCFC so maybe things are turning around?

26. Portland Timbers (26)

For a bit, it seemed the Timbers might be turning things around as they tied Colorado on the road and then beat Columbus and San Jose, but then they ran into Tigres and Monterrey. What a wall to run into.

27. LA Galaxy (22)

Like the Timbers, it seemed the Galaxy had figured some things out, but then they lost to Vancouver on either side of a loss to Leon. Maybe it is a styles makes fights kind of thing, but that is a tough stretch.

Simply Awful

28. Colorado Rapids (28)

The fool’s gold that we saw for a stretch has been revealed for what it is – a team that lacks the talent and depth to truly play in MLS. Two home ties to Portland and Houston were followed by a road loss to Nashville and a 4-1 drubbing at the hands of Toluca.

29. Toronto FC (29)

Loss, loss, loss. At Chicago, at NYC, v Atlas.

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