The Original MLS Power Rankings – Week Three 2021

The third week has started to give us some real indications of who teams are, and we might as well get this out of the way – we were WAY wrong about Real Salt Lake. They may not be in the top tier, who knows? But they sure are NOT in the bottom where we had them. Not even close.

Other teams that we got wrong at the start of the season, to varying degrees – Minnesota, Austin, Vancouver, San Jose and maybe the Galaxy. On the other hand, we definitely got Seattle right, as well as, unfortunately, Cincinnati.

Remember, this isn’t just number crunching. This is a mix of things, including things like Points Per Game, The Pace (win at home, tie on the road), etc., to wash out schedule anomalies, but also based on our decades of watching this league and following which teams look like the have what it takes or not. MLS definitely has patterns, and we think we have insights into how teams fit into them.

So sit back, relax and listen to the 8-track (*waives at Meshell Ndegeochello*). Seriously, enjoy the MLS Power Rankings that have been here since the beginning.

Top Shelf

1. Columbus Crew (Previously 1)

A tie at Montreal, while in the middle of international play, is not bad, especially considering how other teams fared. The host D.C. next which should give them a chance to shake off being bounced from CONCACAF.

2. Los Angeles FC (2)

A tie in Houston is solid and keeps them where they are. This weekend they play the Galaxy, which should prove interesting, although the Galaxy’s loss to Seattle says maybe their first two results weren’t as magnificent as they may have appeared.

3. Seattle Sounders (3)

“Underestimate the Sounders at your peril, folks.” And they pasted the Galaxy to add to their resume. They might even deserve to be higher. This weekend they play at Portland, which always produces fireworks.

4. Toronto FC (4)

No game this week, but they host the Red Bulls, which should prove interesting considering their gaffer was running the Red Bulls this time last year.

Quality

5. New York City FC (9)

A 2-0 win over Philadelphia says a good bit. Maybe this is too big a jump based on a few factors, but considering how this team usually plays, we think this will prove out to be the right place. Besides, the other good teams below them did not have good recent results.

6. Portland Timbers (5)

Maybe we have too much faith in the Timbers? The result on Saturday in Dallas sure did not look good, but it clearly was a juggled side. We are going to give them credit for now, but opportunities to prove themselves are fast approaching.

7. Philadelphia Union (6)

“They play NYC this weekend, so that ought to show us how they bounce back – or not.” Whoopsie. This isn’t an awful slide considering international play, where they were the lone MLS team to advance, so we are giving them some overall credit – at least for now.

Philadelphia Union vs NYCFC. (PHILADELPHIA UNION, ANDREW ZWARYCH)

8. Sporting Kansas City (8)

“Now they travel to Utah and we find out of RSL is legit.” As they say in the legal profession, “Asked and Answered” – but not in the way Vermes would have wanted. We have questions about this team.

9. New England Revolution (11)

Nice win for Bruce and his side as they beat Atlanta, 2-1. That opening tie to Chicago seems to be less of an issue now, and they get to travel to Tennessee to take on Nashville.

The Revolution celebrate against Atlanta United. (DAVID SILVERMAN / NEW ENGLAND REVOLUTION)

10. Atlanta United (7)

Losing at New England is probably not an awful result. They need to get at least a tie out of their game at Miami, though.

11.  LA Galaxy (10)

“Now we get to see how real this all is as they travel to Seattle.” Not as real as they would like. It is early, and they have seen signs of being better, but work clearly remains. This weekend, that is against LAFC – good luck!

Solid

12. Real Salt Lake (23)

Those who follow us here know we rarely make big adjustment, but this one seems justified. Beating Minnesota is one thing as that team is in a nose give, but beating Sporting? They may not be Seattle, but they are solid enough that 23 was WAY too low for them. Hopefully we didn’t overshoot our mark.

13. Nashville SC (12)

“Not sure what we have here.” Another tie does not inspire confidence. They have a chance to prove themselves against the Revolution this weekend.

14. Colorado Rapids (15)

After losing 3-1 to Austin, the Rapids shook that off to beat Vancouver on the road. Can they continue to move positively when Minnesota comes to town?

15. Orlando City (14)

Is beating Cincinnati a significant thing or not these days? Not sure if that told us much about the Lions. On the other hand, they host NYC this weekend and that definitely will tell us something about both teams.

16. San Jose Earthquakes (17)

This team is definitely better than we thought, but how much better will be shown when they travel to RSL.

17. FC Dallas (19)

“This team has a lot to figure out.” Maybe they did. Granted it was against a dodgy Portland side, but they put them to the sword with aplomb, and then responded when the Timbers fought their way to a goal of their own with a counter that was quite enjoyable.

Jáder Obrian shoots and scores against the Portland Timbers, May 1, 2021. (Matt Visinsky, 3rd Degree)

18. Austin FC (22)

This is definitely a team that we hesitated to jump on board with, and we may have been mistaken in that assessment. They travel to Kansas City, so that should tell us more.

19. CF Montreal (18)

“But now they host Columbus and we get to see if they really can beat the best teams consistently.” Nope. Maybe they can get a win at Vancouver, though.

20. New York Red Bulls (20)

It was Chicago folks, and sorry, but in early 2021, that is not a quality win. Big game against their old boss this weekend as they play Toronto.

21. Minnesota United (13)

“This could be problematic if they don’t turn things around fast.” Losing to Austin may, or may not, be a bad thing when all is said and done, but yikes, this is not looking good. Now they travel to play the Rapids.

22. Vancouver Whitecaps (16)

“Hosting Colorado will give them a chance to show some consistency – the true test of quality.” Yeah, well. This is why we don’t jump the gun based on one result. They did not beat the Rapids. What can they do to Montreal?

23. Inter Miami (21)

“[T]hey are going to have to prove it.” After beating Philly, a tie at Nashville isn’t bad, but it doesn’t say, “We have arrived.” Playing Atlanta might give them another chance.

24. Houston Dynamo (25)

This may be too low as San Jose has proven to be a good team, but nothing jumps off the page that this team is better than what we thought to start the season. We get to see them up close and personal on Saturday, so that should be telling.

Lots of Questions and/or Concerns

25. D.C. United (24)

“Beat NYC, good result.” Downhill ever since.

26. Chicago Fire (26)

That opening tie against New England is looking like the exception to the rule. It early, but we are not excited about their near future.

27. FC Cincinnati (27)

If they ever institute relegation, they may call it the Cincinnati Rule. Please, FCC, prove us wrong.

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