MLS Power Rankings: LAFC get back on track as Philadelphia continues to climb the order

ByRyan Rosenblatt ESPN logo
Monday, May 15, 2023

It was a banner week for teams low in the MLS standings. The West's two bottom teams, Sporting Kansas City and the LA Galaxy, picked up comfortable victories. In the East, three of the bottom four won as the New York Red Bulls, Chicago Fire and Charlotte FC all added three points to the ledger.

MLS may not be quite the bastion of parity it once was. Great teams don't stumble like they used to and MLS Cup increasingly goes to one of the best teams, but the middle and bottom of the league is still a free for all.

So who's at the top, middle and bottom this week?

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Previous ranking: 1

The Black and Gold may have shown they were human in finally slipping last week, but they are still exceptional humans, so they bounced back by smashing RSL this week. They're rolling again.

2. Seattle Sounders

Previous ranking: 3

Fredy Montero, Clint Dempsey, Obafemi Martins, Jordan Morris, Nicolás Lodeiro, Paul Rothrock. OK, Rothrock may not have written his name onto the list of Sounders legends with his 87th-minute winner in Houston, but the lower-league journeyman signed to Seattle from MLS NEXT Pro on a short-term loan did give us a moment to remember.

3. FC Cincinnati

Previous ranking: 4

A weekend off before a two-match week is some excellent timing for a bye.

4. New England Revolution

Previous ranking: 2

Was Latif Blessing interfering when Noel Buck scored? Everyone in Revs blue said "no" and everyone in Miami pink said "yes." Unfortunately for the visitors, the referees went pink and New England took an L.

5. Nashville SC

Previous ranking: 5

NSC are good, so they left D.C. with a point despite their underwhelming performance, but if they really want to be a contender they need to find a way to create chances out of transition.

6. Columbus Crew

Previous ranking: 8

There's no reason to sound the alarm after a fourth straight match without a win. The Crew have Cucho Hernández back, who looked terrific with two assists against Orlando, and all that separated Columbus from a deserved win was the slightest bit of luck.

7. St. Louis City SC

Previous ranking: 6

City were never going to keep up their early-season form, but one win since March 25 is more than a little cause for concern. This week came with the added salt of losing to Chicago.

8. Philadelphia Union

Previous ranking: 12

The Union made a surprise switch to a 3-5-2 in Colorado and it worked. They looked comfortable and snapped the Rapids' unbeaten streak, even getting into a late-match dust-up that led to a couple red cards. It looks like Philly is back on track.

9. San Jose Earthquakes

Previous ranking: 7

The Quakes have been a lot better this season and have some very impressive showings, but none of those have been away from the Bay Area, remaining winless on the road. Getting played off the pitch by the Galaxy may have been their worst performance yet.

10. Atlanta United FC

Previous ranking: 9

Last week, Josef Martínez beat Atlanta. This week, Justin Meram put two past them. The Five Stripes need to stop playing against former players.

11. FC Dallas

Previous ranking: 11

Jesús Ferreira isn't getting the same hype as he was en route to his 18-goal campaign a year ago, but after scoring the 89th-minute winner against Austin, he's on pace for another 18 goals this year.

12. Vancouver Whitecaps

Previous ranking: 10

The Caps' eight-game unbeaten streak is over after a loss in Portland. Losing a Cascadia Cup contest will hurt, but probably more hurtful is all the draws in that unbeaten streak. They probably should have had more than three wins in those eight results.

13. Minnesota United

Previous ranking: 13

The Loons weren't as bad as the scoreline indicated in their 3-0 loss to SKC, but they allowed a goal on a set piece, gave up a cheap transition for another and fell asleep for a third. Oh, and Jeong Sang-Bin had a weak penalty saved. It wasn't a good day.

14. Houston Dynamo

Previous ranking: 14

As Hector Herrera goes, so go the Dynamo. On Saturday, he went to the dressing room with a red card and Houston went home late losers against Seattle.

15. Colorado Rapids

Previous ranking: 16

The Rapids' unbeaten streak is over after falling to Philly, but they didn't play badly at all and probably should have taken at least one point. Sometimes things don't go your way, but when you're a solid team, that's not reason to freak out. Colorado shouldn't freak out.

16. Toronto FC

Previous ranking: 15

TFC had a lot of impressive draws earlier this season, but they have just two wins on the campaign and let Montréal get the upper hand in the Canadian Classique this weekend. Maybe most concerning is the slew of injured players that will make it tough to turn things around.

17. D.C. United

Previous ranking: 19

No Christian Benteke? No problem. D.C. had a 17-year-old Kristian Fletcher to feed 21-year-old Theodore Ku-Dipietro for the equalizer and earn an impressive draw against Nashville.

18. Orlando City

Previous ranking: 17

Goals from their Designated Player, Ercan Kara, and rookie draft pick, Duncan McGuire, plus a whole lot of luck was enough to steal a point in Columbus.

19. Portland Timbers

Previous ranking: 21

The Timbers beat the Caps to keep their good run of form going, and while it's not a coincidence that the results have followed Evander's improving play, the bigger difference is at the back. Their leaky defense has started plugging some holes and not asking goalkeeper Aljaz Ivacic to rescue them match in, match out.

20. New York Red Bulls

Previous ranking: 20

Gerhard Struber out, a win over NYCFC in.

21. New York City FC

Previous ranking: 18

Keeping the ball isn't a problem for the Pigeons. It's how they create chances when they have the ball that they still haven't figured out. Signing a No. 9 in the summer would be a big help, but in the meantime they get 68% of possession, no goals and watching the Red Bulls paint New York red.

22. Chicago Fire

Previous ranking: 23

The Fire's first game under interim boss Frank Klopas delivered Xherdan Shaqiri's best match of the season and a win in their first-ever match against St. Louis.

23. Austin FC

Previous ranking: 22

Austin have just one win from six home matches, and Saturday's loss may have been their toughest one yet. They fell to Dallas on an 89th-minute goal and remain winless against their rivals in six regular-season matches. That one playoff win is doing increasingly heavier lifting.

24. Charlotte FC

Previous ranking: 25

The Charlotte fans have been terrific all season despite the Crown's struggles, so the large traveling contingent who filled a section of blue in Atlanta absolutely deserved the joy of seeing their team roll to victory against their rivals.

25. Inter Miami CF

Previous ranking: 26

From six straight losses to three straight wins, the latest over New England, Inter are figuring out how to play without Gregore, and Josef Martínez finding some form gives them some much-needed punch.

26. CF Montréal

Previous ranking: 27

It looked like Montréal were lost a month ago, but now they have four straight 2-0 wins, and Saturday's Canadian Classique win over Toronto counts as two wins in their hearts.

27. LA Galaxy

Previous ranking: 28

Was Greg Vanney on the hot seat against San Jose on Sunday? It's hard to say, but it was a lot cooler after Dejan Jovelji rushed the bench in a fabulous goal celebration that wrapped up the California Clásico win.

28. Real Salt Lake

Previous ranking: 24

RSL got smoked by LAFC, which isn't shocking, but the problem in Salt Lake remains the defense. They've given up the most goals in the league and the underlying numbers don't suggest bad luck. They have a defense that needs fixing ASAP.

29. Sporting Kansas City

Previous ranking: 29

It took Sporting 10 matches to get their first win, and now they have back-to-back wins. The injury excuse for their struggles in the past 14 months is looking a lot more valid after their 3-0 thumping of Minnesota.