It is still amazingly early in the MLS season, so keep that salt shaker nearby. On the other hand, we did get some legitimate results that we can work with to give you our first rankings of the season.
Interestingly, we had fewer teams than we expected play poorly, giving us even more confidence that this season will be the most competitive in MLS history. A number of teams jumped off the page a bit, including Sporting Kansas City, Minnesota, Montreal, Colorado and also the expansion teams.
1. Seattle Sounders. The reigning champions started 2020 strong, winning at home over the Chicago Fire. We probably want a few more results to really bracket the Fire, but the Sounders sure seem to be picking up where they left off.
2. Los Angeles Football Club. We are giving Inter Miami some credit here as LAFC only won, 1-0, but once again Vela showed he only needs a moment.
3. Atlanta United. They got the win on the road but lost Josef Martinez to an ACL injury. Good teams can survive without a key player for a while, and we think Atlanta will do that.
4. Minnesota United. There was a sense that the Loons might take a step back from their hot streak last year, but nope. Went on the road and demolished Portland. Things are fluid early on, but for now, this United team deserves to be up here.
5. Toronto FC. Greg Vanney’s side was up 2-0 on the road but allowed San Jose to get back in it and tie the game deep in stoppage time. Not ideal, but not a disaster.
6. NYCFC. Even playing down a man (deservedly) for much of the game, they made the Crew earn the victory. Let’s see how they play with a full 11 for the whole game, but we did not see anything that made us doubt their place in this tier.
7. Sporting Kansas City. Uhm, yeah. Sporting is good. Granted, it was only Vancouver, but that 3-1 road win was pretty convincing.
8. FC Dallas. Pomykal doesn’t start, a rookie does. They combine late for the insurance goal after winning the ball at midfield and racing forward. Add in Santos, and this was a much better opening game for Luchi Gonzalez than last year. Left wing could be really good for them too. Oh, and that Cobra dude is still scoring. If they can smooth out the ups and downs of their youthful season last year, watch out.
9. Columbus Crew. This is as much an instinct placement as anything else. They had NYCFC down a man from the 3rd minute on and had to take a 1-0 win at home, but NYC is pretty good.
10. LA Galaxy. Pavon showed his class and the Galaxy held on at Houston for a 1-1 tie against what appeared to be an improved and determined Dynamo side. That’s the good news. The bad news is their new captain did not exactly have a standout performance.
11. Real Salt Lake. It was a 0-0 tie at Orlando, so it is hard to read too much into this, so RSL treads water.
12. Montreal Impact. A 2-1 home win over a solid Revolution team gets our attention. Considering their current run of form, this team could be improved.
13. New England Revolution. This may be a little harsh after just one road game, but New England has been up and down enough that we can’t really justify giving them the benefit of the doubt.
14. Philadelphia Union. This team played better than the result showed as they prevented Dallas from their usual domination in possession. Then again, they gave Ondrasek just enough space when everyone has seen that the Kobra is the kind of player that punishes those mistakes and it cost them.
15. Colorado Rapids. This may be an overreaction, but the Rapids won on the road against a decent D.C. United side.
16. Portland Timbers. It is not clear how much of their home loss to Minnesota was United playing well or Portland playing poorly. We need more data to really have a good feel, but for now, this is where the Timbers sit.
17. Inter Miami. For an expansion team, they made a very good LAFC side have to really work to earn a 1-0 home win.
18. Houston Dynamo. All things considered, this was a decent start for Ramos as an MLS head coach. It was also better than we expected from Houston.
19. New York Red Bulls. They dominated a poor Cincinnati side but allowed them to pull close late. Not exactly an inspiring performance.
20. Chicago Fire. It is not entirely clear what the Fire are right now, but based on a few things, we will keep them here.
21. San Jose Earthquakes. We want to give them credit for coming back against TFC, but it was at home and they almost did not do it. This may be too low, but we are going to make San Jose earn their way up our rankings.
22. Nashville SC. They were not awful in their debut, and like Miami, they started off against a top team, but they were at home and the opposition had to deal with the loss of Martinez.
23. D.C. United. This might be too harsh, but you lost at home to a team that was not penciled into the top half of the league by most.
Lots of Questions
24. Orlando City SC. It might not be entirely fair to put Orlando this low after tying a good RSL team, but based on how this team performed last year, they are going to have to work for it.
25. Vancouver Whitecaps. Our impressions of this team being one the league had passed by were not changed by a home loss to Sporting.
26. FC Cincinnati. On one hand, they found a way to make it close, so maybe that is an improvement, but this team looks to once again be the bottom of the barrel.