MLS Power Rankings: LAFC rest up for CONCACAF Champions League and still manage to stay on top

ByRyan Rosenblatt ESPN logo
Monday, April 24, 2023

It was Parley week, which meant MLS and Adidas partnered to make two kits that the whole league had to wear for the weekend to celebrate Earth Day, and our contribution to the cause was putting in a little more work to figure out who's playing who.

Because only two kits are produced for the weekend, every match looked the same. Trying to figure out who is playing is a constant battle, and when you tune in to a whip-around or highlight show, it's a real test of wits just to know who you're watching.

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But we did it. We made it through Parley week and kept track of who was playing in each game and which black and/or teal team scored which goals when, because we are an intelligent and heady group of MLS watchers.

As for whether the black or teal kit proved superior, the answer is neither. Teams in black won six games, those in teal won six and there were two draws. Considering Parley kit colors couldn't rank the teams for us, so we'll have to do it ourselves.


Previous ranking: 1

The Black and Gold went away to Nashville and took a point, which is a solid result on its own, but they also managed to rest nearly half of their best XI ahead of Wednesday's CONCACAF Champions League semifinal. Coach Steve Cherundolo keeps coming up aces.

2. Seattle Sounders

Previous ranking: 2

The Sounders were not good against Minnesota, but their 1-0 win was their first by that scoreline and just their second one-goal win of the season. This isn't a team that ekes out wins to mask underlying problems. This is a great team that can still pull out the win in their occasional underwhelming performances.

3. St. Louis City SC

Previous ranking: 3

A draw in Colorado is a solid showing, but Joo Klauss did go out with an injury. If he misses time, it will be interesting to see how St. Louis manages without its beefy guy upfront.

4. FC Cincinnati

Previous ranking: 5

The Garys have been pretty good this season, but the attack has left a lot to be desired. Are we starting to see that turn, though? Last week's loss to St. Louis was bad, but Brandon Vazquez did get off a season-high five shots and this weekend they beat Portland thanks to a Vazquez winner. If Cincy has its No. 9 back in form, watch out.

5. New England Revolution

Previous ranking: 6

"Good first half. Crappy second half." We can always count on Bruce Arena to sum things up, this time after the Revs' win over SKC.

6. Columbus Crew

Previous ranking: 4

You only have to go back a few weeks to remember the Crew looking great, but then they needed a red card against New England last week to steal a point and followed that up with a loss to Charlotte. Are they good? Yes, potentially very good once Cucho Hernández gets back, but the past two outings sure didn't inspire confidence.

7. Atlanta United FC

Previous ranking: 7

Stealing three points from the Fire on a laughable kneeing of the ball off a back-and-in for an own goal eight minutes into stoppage time? Good and funny. Seeing Giorgos Giakoumakis go off injured? Rude and no joke.

8. Nashville SC

Previous ranking: 8

Walker Zimmerman goes off and LAFC immediately take control of the match, including scoring the equalizer. Coincidence? Absolutely not. Fortunately, his groin injury doesn't seem serious, a draw against the defending champs is nothing to sneeze at and the way NSC looked at full strength was pretty encouraging.

9. San Jose Earthquakes

Previous ranking: 9

The Quakes have been so exceedingly competent this season, but they also have a 3-0 loss to St. Louis on their resume and now a 3-1 defeat to Real Salt Lake. What do you make of a team that has racked up points by simple reliability from front to back, but has also been completely run off the pitch a couple times?

10. FC Dallas

Previous ranking: 10

Dallas got pretty well steamrolled at NYCFC because every time you want to believe in this team, they remind you they are pretty flawed. And every time you want to give up on this team, they tempt you with some gorgeous play, so expect them to look great against Minnesota next week. Stop playing us like this, Toros.

11. Minnesota United

Previous ranking: 11

There's no shame in losing at Seattle, but, once again, we saw the ceiling on this team as long as Emanuel Reynoso remains away. Get him back and all of a sudden you have a powerhouse that doesn't need to prey on mistakes for chances.

12. Houston Dynamo

Previous ranking: 14

Houston continues to get the job done, this time beating Miami. Sebastián Ferreira even got into this one, which is a good sign because the Dynamo's potential is clearly tied to what they get from their top-end forwards and Ferreira, for better or worse, is how they raise that ceiling.

13. Vancouver Whitecaps

Previous ranking: 15

A well-earned week off.

14. Philadelphia Union

Previous ranking: 18

Here come the Union! It took a couple months, but a couple of encouraging weeks culminated in a complete evisceration of TFC this weekend, and the timing couldn't have been better with the CONCACAF Champions League semifinals on tap.

15. Orlando City

Previous ranking: 12

The Lions did a lot this winter and the squad looked really dangerous, but the center backs were an area of concern, and for good reason. There's still reason to believe the midfield will sort itself out with more time, but if the center of the defense doesn't get fixed then it won't matter, as a 3-1 loss to D.C. showed.

16. New York City FC

Previous ranking: 17

The Pigeons are quietly right in the mix in the East after beating FC Dallas. They have been working through some roster turnover and it has been impressive watching them nab enough points to stay competitive as they sort out who they are, but they have yet to win on the road and are about to play four straight away from the five boroughs, so let's see what they've got.

17. Toronto FC

Previous ranking: 13

Lorenzo Insigne and Richie Laryea's goals were awesome. Unfortunately, Philly was already up 4-0 by the time TFC showed up.

18. Chicago Fire

Previous ranking: 19

Chicago deserved at least a point from its trip to Atlanta, so of course it lost deep into stoppage time because an accidental kneeing of a cross went off Maren Haile-Selassie's back and into its own net. This game exists to hurt you.

19. Colorado Rapids

Previous ranking: 21

Can you say the Rapids were unlucky to have to settle for a draw against St. Louis? They dominated the run of play and had the bulk of the chances, but they just don't have the great forwards to reliably convert the really impressive work in the first two thirds into goals. Someone please shake owner Stan Kroenke's pockets because just a little loose change is all it would take to make this team really dangerous.

20. D.C. United

Previous ranking: 22

Work hard, run fast and kick the ball toward Christian Benteke in the box. That's not enough all the time, but it was enough to beat Orlando.

21. New York Red Bulls

Previous ranking: 16

Even having the Red Bulls this high is a credit to their system and historical record of baseline competency, because they sure don't deserve to be at 21 after losing to lowly Montréal. They have just one win and six goals from nine matches, but the system will start lifting them up soon, right? Right?

22. LA Galaxy

Previous ranking: 26

The Galaxy's season has played out as follows: Greg Vanney plays his trusty 4-3-3, L.A. looks terrible, he switches to three at the back and the Galaxy look better, but fail to climb back from the hole they dug themselves early, and Vanney starts the next game back in his 4-3-3 to repeat the cycle again. This week, Vanney finally changed it up, going 3-5-2 from the start and the Galaxy won their first game of the season! Is that an oversimplification? Sure, but the talent on this team is just so much better suited to a 3-5-2 and all the evidence is that they play better that way. Stick with it, please.

23. Austin FC

Previous ranking: 20

Austin handed the Galaxy their first win of the season and now has scored just one goal total in its past five games.

24. Charlotte FC

Previous ranking: 25

The Crown hung around the playoff race last season entirely on their ability to rack up points at home, so it was odd to see them without a home win two months into this season. Now they have that elusive win in Charlotte after an impressive showing against Columbus.

25. Portland Timbers

Previous ranking: 23

The Timbers actually did a pretty good job of using last week's triumph over the Sounders as a springboard with a nice 90 minutes in Cincinnati, but the scoreboard didn't reflect it so they head home without any points.

26. Real Salt Lake

Previous ranking: 27

Hello, Andrés Gomez. The 20-year-old was dynamite in RSL's win over San Jose and might be reason enough to watch this team all on his own.

27. Inter Miami CF

Previous ranking: 24

Inter actually played pretty well and probably deserved a point in Houston, but nobody cares about what you deserved when you lost your sixth in a row, and the questions about Phil Neville's job security probably aren't going anywhere.

28. CF Montréal

Previous ranking: 29

At some point you stop caring how you get a win and whether it's repeatable or indicative of any growth. You just need a reprieve from the losing. Montréal doesn't care how it beat the Red Bulls, just that it won. Huzzah!

29. Sporting Kansas City

Previous ranking: 28

If you think it's bad that Sporting have as many red cards as points and goals this season (3), remember, that is still three more than they have wins (0) after losing in New England.