The Original MLS Power rankings – preseason 2024

And 2024 is upon us, and isn’t it wonderful? Twenty-nine MLS teams, most of which are some level of good and they will give your favorite team a game. And there is a variety of styles, levels of play, and personalities – much more than some of the other major leagues.

Add in this Messi dude and return what was a phenomenal new tournament in the Leagues Cup, and you have the makings of some great soccer.

For a variety of reasons, MLS remains one of the most volatile leagues when it comes to season-to-season change, so don’t expect a team that was awesome last year to remain so, or a team that sucked last year to also suck this year – except for Toronto.

As such, we can’t truly rank these Pre-Season Rankings in a direct order. Rather, as we have done for the past few years, will do groups to start with until we get a sense of which teams have added, and which ones have added by subtraction.

One thing for those who don’t follow the league super close – early in the season, some of the top teams are playing in CONCACAF tournaments, and that takes a toll, so maybe some good teams might be focusing on those games rather than MLS matches to start, or otherwise might struggle to balance between the two.

Top Tier

Columbus Crew

Last year’s champions were the best team in the league when it was all said and done, with only their fellow Ohioans really even close. In large part, they brought the same team back and while it may take a little time to get back in the groove, they showed that Wilfred Nancy is worth every penny they pay him to manage that team.

FC Cincinnati

Almost wire to wire, they were the best in MLS last year, winning the Supporters Shield, and while they lost a few things, overall they return what was head and shoulders above everyone else last year.

Seattle Sounders

For a lot of last year, Seattle was not who they typically were in prior seasons, but by the end of it, they had gotten their feet back under themselves. They look to have gotten younger and better in the offseason. Look for them to start well this year.

Philadelphia Union

Almost didn’t include them here because in past years, they had the talent but fell short and there isn’t anything to really show them to be different this year. But the talent really is solid and maybe this is the year they find a way to produce regularly.

Philadelphia Union celebrate a win over the Crew, February 25, 2023. (Courtesy Philadelphia Union)
Philadelphia Union celebrate a win over the Crew, February 25, 2023. (Courtesy Philadelphia Union)

St. Louis City SC

What a start they had last year, and frankly their whole season was of high quality. Not just for an MLS side, they came into the league last year with a plan and executed it well. As the season wore on, other teams did find ways to understand what worked for them and tried to attack it. Look for them to start in that neighborhood this year, but that is still at worst the bottom of the top tier.


Los Angeles FC

Steve Cherundolo did a lot of great work with the talent he had and had LAFC in a lot of high-level games. This might be a little low, but they really did struggle a few too many times last year, but notice that they did find their way back to MLS Cup.

Atlanta United

Some changes to this side, and hopefully, they add some stability. Last year, they were at times Hotlanta and at times just not good. If they can be more consistent, and closer to the top end of their range last year, watch out. Could the addition of Dax McCarty be the solution?

Nashville SC

Like Atlanta, but in their own way, Nashville was great at times, and not great at others. Their quality was high enough that they stayed in this tier, but they lost more than Atlanta did. This might be a team we watch to see if they can maintain their level.

New England Revolution

Boy howdy, what a roller coaster this team was in the back half of the year… But like many other teams here, the talent returns and there is no reason to think they will struggle. The question for them is can they maintain and improve? Maybe an offseason to rebuild the chemistry is what they need.

Orlando City SC

Oscar Pareja’s team was on fire in the back half of the season and really did some damage. Age, change, and maybe playing above themselves last year might bring them back to the mean a little. Then again, the rivalry with Miami might keep them sharp.

Inter Miami

Wow, what a ride they were last year. They were completely awful for the start of the season, then their mid-season additions came in and it was magic. True, blue soccer magic. It lit MLS on fire for a run of weeks that saw some amazing play from a variety of teams. Then Messi went to play for Argentina and got hurt. Now they have added Luis Suarez but had to shed a lot of salary to do it, so … maybe they will be great? Maybe they will be really good? Either way, should be fun.

Leonel Messi enters the field of battle to take on FC Dallas at the Cotton Bowl, January 22, 2024. (Matt Visinsky, 3rd Degree)
Leonel Messi enters the field of battle to take on FC Dallas at the Cotton Bowl, January 22, 2024. (Matt Visinsky, 3rd Degree)


Real Salt Lake

For a time, RSL was playing WAY above their heads. Significantly so. And then as happens in sports, they fell back to who they were, which was still very good. They have had a number of changes – good players in and out – so it will depend on how well the new roster gels.

FC Dallas

A team that was very competitive in a lot of situations but was bitten by injuries and really needed a true striker… got healthy in the off-season and also added a true striker, so odds are they are going to take a step forward once Petar Musa starts playing regularly, which could be soon.

Portland Timbers

This might be a bit of a stretch here as they struggled for much of 2023, but late they got it together and added some offseason talent so they could be back to being very good.

Vancouver Whitecaps

They were better last year than they had been in prior seasons, and then added more talent in the offseason — another team to watch.

Probably Solid?

Houston Dynamo

Last year, they were in the tier above, but they lost talent and didn’t replace it at the same level, so we have questions.

Sporting Kansas City

For a Peter Vermes team, last year was awful. They kind of got it together after the Leagues Cup break, but not enough. For a team that struggled with injuries and age last year, they didn’t address those concerns in the offseason, so they can stay here if they can stay healthy. Maybe?

San Jose Earthquakes

For Luchi Gonzalez’s first season, last year went well, but they did not make the kind of moves to improve on it, so we will have to see.

Luchi Gonzalez joins San Jose Earthquakes. (Courtesy MLS)
Luchi Gonzalez joins San Jose Earthquakes. (Courtesy MLS)

CF Montreal

Now this is a team that made some changes and might be significantly better than last year, but it may not matter. After losing Nancy as the head coach, they tried to go in a different direction and lost half a season for the effort. To their credit, they made the change and added talent in the offseason, but is it enough to pass the likes of Orlando, Nashville, etc.? Probably not.

Could Be Good?

Los Angeles Galaxy

There is zero reason they were as bad as they were last year, but they sure were. All season, they just couldn’t get it together. To their credit, they did seem to be proactive in getting out the problems and bringing in solutions, but it does not appear to be enough to move them up much more than this – for now.

Chicago Fire

Another team that was trash for much of last year, but they did several things to add talent, including adding Kellyn Acosta. The right holding/defensive mid has done wonders for other teams in MLS throughout the years, and it could be the same here.

New York City FC

Like the Galaxy, NYC is typically a quality side with enough talent they should be in the top half. Also like the Galaxy, it is not clear they did enough to answer enough questions.

Charlotte FC

They were not trash last year and had some bright spots, but also did not do a lot in the offseason to change their trajectory. On the other hand, they were consistently better than the teams below them and we expect more of the same this year.

Serious Questions

Colorado Rapids

If they hadn’t been so amazingly awful last year, they would be one tier up because they did seem to be aggressive in adding talent and moving out what wasn’t working, except last year was truly something special – just not in a good way. As the season goes along, those new parts could very well gain momentum, but we just can’t start them off higher than here.

Minnesota United FC

They started playing above their talent last year, but by the end, it was obvious they were not what they had been in years prior. They didn’t do much in the break to change.

New York Red Bulls

Last year they went big on spending and fell flat. They did less so this year but maybe were more strategic. Will it matter?

Austin FC

In 2022, the Central Texas side was on fire, getting all the breaks because they played with cohesion and aggression, and it fell their way. People said they would fall back to the mean, and boy did they ever last year. Like Minnesota and others, they didn’t shake things up, which may mean another year at the bottom.

D.C. United

We didn’t completely write them off last year, but we had our doubts. We were right. Yikes levels of not-good. Yes, they brought in a new coach but didn’t give him much more to work with so how can we think they will be much better?


Toronto FC

This team was bad in ways few MLS teams have been throughout a quarter-century of soccer, and in the offseason, they did pretty much nothing. Talk about a fanbase that deserves better.

Brandon Servania with Toronto FC. (Courtesy Toronto FC)
Brandon Servania with Toronto FC. (Courtesy Toronto FC)

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