MLS Power Rankings: Earthquakes remind the league that LAFC are human after all

ByRyan Rosenblatt ESPN logo
Monday, May 8, 2023

It's still early May, but manager carnage is officially underway. The New York Red Bulls parted ways with Gerhard Struber on Monday and the Chicago Fire jettisoned Ezra Hendrickson not long after. It's never fun to see someone lose their job, but the first manager firings do mark somewhat of an important point in a season.

No longer is it too early to judge a team. This is who they are, and the clubs are ready to pass judgment on themselves.

Now, let's pass our own judgment.

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Previous ranking: 1

The Black and Gold have looked so good this season that you'd be forgiven for forgetting that they are balancing MLS and CONCACAF Champions League play, rotating through their squad and playing high-stakes match after high-stakes match that would expose most any team. Well, they finally cracked this weekend in a loss to San Jose. They are human, after all.

2. New England Revolution

Previous ranking: 4

Few teams play from ahead as well as the Revs. Opposing teams know that and that puts pressure on them. Toronto buckled under that pressure, gifting Bobby Wood a goal and letting New England jaunt back across the border with three points in hand.

3. Seattle Sounders

Previous ranking: 2

The Sounders can come up with pretty reasonable excuses like missing players and tinkering with the system, but nothing really explains away losing at home to lowly SKC. They've now gone four games with pretty underwhelming play. Time for them to find the accelerator again.

4. FC Cincinnati

Previous ranking: 3

The Garys' defense returned to form with a good showing against D.C., but the attack is still not quite right. Not quite right and consistently delivering wins will work for now, though.

5. Nashville SC

Previous ranking: 5

Nashville sent Chicago home with their egos bruised and their head coach on the way out. It was the consummate "we are contenders and you shouldn't be up here with the big boys" performance.

6. St. Louis City SC

Previous ranking: 6

City went to Dallas only for lightning to postpone the game.

7. San Jose Earthquakes

Previous ranking: 9

The Quakes have been playing well all season and have the results to match it, but what they lacked was a statement win. Well, they've sure as hell got that now after convincingly beating LAFC. The San Jose train is flying down the tracks now.

8. Columbus Crew

Previous ranking: 7

A week off was probably good for the Crew following a couple of disappointing losses.

9. Atlanta United FC

Previous ranking: 8

Josef Martínez braces don't hit in Atlanta like they used to. They also deliver L's instead of W's now.

10. Vancouver Whitecaps

Previous ranking: 13

Guess who's unbeaten in eight straight after beating Minnesota this weekend? Yep, the Caps are for real.

11. FC Dallas

Previous ranking: 10

St. Louis was going to be a fun test for Dallas until lightning ruined things and got the game called off.

12. Philadelphia Union

Previous ranking: 15

Their CONCACAF Champions League run came to an end as LAFC bit them once again, but the Union got a soft landing back in MLS play. A win over RBNY made it 10 in a row unbeaten against the once-mighty energy drinks.

13. Minnesota United

Previous ranking: 11

A loss in Vancouver is nothing to be ashamed of, but it wasn't even the real news of the weekend in Minnesota. Emanuel Reynoso is back in the Twin Cities and reintegrating into the team, giving the Loons legitimate MLS Cup contender upside.

14. Houston Dynamo

Previous ranking: 12

Having two young center-backs like Micael and Ethan Bartlow is a good foundation to build upon. Now they're just waiting on something similar up front to turn matches like Saturday's draw with RSL into wins.

15. Toronto FC

Previous ranking: 16

You wonder what could have been if Sigurd Rosted didn't have the ball taken off his foot to gift New England an easy goal and let the Revs play from ahead, but he did and Toronto never really found a way through.

16. Colorado Rapids

Previous ranking: 19

The Galaxy were, as always, a mess, but what stood out on Saturday was how well set up the Rapids were to capitalize on LA's mistakes. That's what Robin Fraser has built in Colorado: a coherent, sound team that will not let you off the hook. And they took another three points because of it.

17. Orlando City

Previous ranking: 14

Losing to Montréal is bad, but the Lions have been alternating wins and losses for nearly two months, so this was just them staying on schedule.

18. New York City FC

Previous ranking: 17

A loss in Charlotte leaves the Pigeons still winless on the road with two more away from New York on deck.

19. D.C. United

Previous ranking: 20

A loss in Cincy has us once again wondering where D.C. can get a bit more quality from to push them into a comfortable playoff team, but consider where this club was at this time last season. We were talking about how bad they could be, not how good they could be. Things are moving in the right direction.

20. New York Red Bulls

Previous ranking: 21

The 1-0 loss to Philly marked the end of Struber's time as Red Bulls boss. They continue to play decent soccer, but they don't score, they don't win and now they don't have a coach.

21. Portland Timbers

Previous ranking: 22

The Timbers are much better than they were earlier this season, but their defense is still a problem. It's why they had to settle for a 2-2 draw with Austin when they very easily could have won.

22. Austin FC

Previous ranking: 23

The Verde drew in Portland and still haven't won since way back on March 11. If they don't beat Dallas in Austin next week, expect the heat to be turned up.

23. Chicago Fire

Previous ranking: 18

Hendrickson avoided being the first manager fired this season by mere hours, but that's probably little comfort after the Fire's 3-0 loss to Nashville -- that wasn't as close as the scoreline suggested -- ended his spell in Chicago.

24. Real Salt Lake

Previous ranking: 24

The bright side of starting the season as badly as RSL did is there is nowhere to go but up, and they are certainly getting better. They were every bit as good as the Dynamo in Houston and now have points from four of their past five matches.

25. Charlotte FC

Previous ranking: 27

The Crown still can't defend, but it doesn't matter much when they attack the way they did in beating NYCFC.

26. Inter Miami CF

Previous ranking: 26

Martínez saw the Five Stripes across the pitch and de-aged himself five years. All Inter had to do was sit back and let him bring them three points.

27. CF Montréal

Previous ranking: 28

Don't look now, but CFM are on a three-match win streak. Orlando was their latest victim and the timing couldn't be better with the Canadian Classique on tap.

28. LA Galaxy

Previous ranking: 25

Greg Vanney has escaped a lot of criticism because Chris Klein has been the deserved subject of all Galaxy-related ire, but it's not like he's doing a very good job either. The Galaxy are a mess in every aspect and it showed in Saturday's loss to Colorado, which had Chicharito fed up with the mess in LA.

29. Sporting Kansas City

Previous ranking: 29

The only thing more surprising than it taking SKC 10 weeks to pick up their first win of the season was that they finally got off the schneid against Seattle.