MLS Power Rankings: Seattle maintains status as No. 1 while RSL, Montreal stuck in the cellar

ByRyan Rosenblatt ESPN logo
Monday, April 3, 2023

The early months of the season are usually spent trying to parse out who the best teams in the league are, and this season is no different. While the Seattle Sounders and LAFC have both been good and feel rather trustworthy based on roster and reputation, exactly who can truly challenge at the top is a week-by-week feeling-out process.

Where there are fewer questions is at the bottom. Real Salt Lake and CF Montreal haven't just been abysmal, they're throwing a wrench in the analytics because whoever plays those two teams gets a massive and unfair boost in the numbers most every week. They've been that bad.

Right now, there are 27 teams jockeying for position and then the bottom two. As for how that top 27 looks, let's dive in:

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1. Seattle Sounders

Previous ranking: 1

The Sounders' performance against the Galaxy did not please manager Brian Schmetzer, but when you can struggle and still win away from home, you've got a good thing going.


Previous ranking: 2

Their draw in Colorado was perhaps their worst showing of the season, but, as with the team above them, when you're getting results out of rough weeks, you're doing all right.

3. FC Cincinnati

Previous ranking: 4

Another team that did not play near their best and drew the ire of their coach after the game, but they still beat Miami. Worry about their attack all you want after another subpar game, but there's talent there that should come good, and their defense stands up against any in the league.

4. St. Louis City SC

Previous ranking: 3

Pour one out for the undefeated streak. Losing to Minnesota is nothing to be ashamed of, but Seattle and Cincinnati are on tap, so it's not about to get any easier.

5. Nashville SC

Previous ranking: 5

Completely stifle opponents defending deep and let Hany Mukhtar cook in transition. Rinse, repeat, three points, this time against Orlando.

6. Columbus Crew

Previous ranking: 10

The Crew beat down RSL and have now scored 10 goals in their past two matches. If you think that's scary, just wait until they add Cucho Hernandez back into the team.

7. Atlanta United FC

Previous ranking: 7

Thiago Almada's free kicks are a work of art and his play in the final third wins Atlanta matches, but then you see him almost single-handedly break RBNY's press at times in Saturday's win and you realize there's basically nothing he can't do.

8. FC Dallas

Previous ranking: 8

FC Dallas might rightly say that they were simply unlucky to give up a late equalizer to Portland and that they played well enough to take all three points, but they also mostly played well enough to be up multiple goals and weren't, which is a multiyear problem for them.

9. Minnesota United

Previous ranking: 16

The Loons have no problem playing through traffic, defending deep or exploiting space in front of them. The result: the end of St. Louis's perfect start and three points to a Minnesota team that, unless you defend them in a low block, doesn't really seem to be missing Emanuel Reynoso.

10. New England Revolution

Previous ranking: 11

The Revs could have been 2-0 up and on their way to victory over NYCFC if it weren't for VAR, but they were maybe a little fortunate to take a point based on the overall gameplay, so the draw wasn't much to complain about.

11. Orlando City

Previous ranking: 9

The season is more than a month old; the CONCACAF Champions League is in the rearview mirror; and the Lions' attack is still missing. At some point, instead of looking at the roster and seeing theoretical goals, we'll have to look at the scoreboard and see actual goals. They didn't come in a 2-0 loss to Nashville.

12. San Jose Earthquakes

Previous ranking: 15

The Quakes had their first real stinker of the season in St. Louis, but they bounced back with a 2-1 win over Houston on Saturday. Tick "ability to respond to a bad week" off the Highly Competent Team checklist.

13. Philadelphia Union

Previous ranking: 6

They've taken just one point from three matches after drawing SKC, and it's not as if the schedule has been difficult. They played Montreal, Orlando and Kansas City in that run.

14. Toronto FC

Previous ranking: 14

Do you celebrate TFC extending their unbeaten streak to five or rue them blowing a 2-0 lead to Charlotte at home and having to settle for a draw?

15. Austin FC

Previous ranking: 12

Their week off was well timed with LAFC up next.

16. New York Red Bulls

Previous ranking: 13

They have only one win and four goals on the season after losing in Atlanta, and the way the Five Stripes were completely unbothered by the RBNY press and midfield has to be a worry for a club that has long had a high floor because of its constant pressure system.

17. New York City FC

Previous ranking: 17

The Pigeons walked out of New England with a point and upset that it wasn't three. It was the type of performance they needed, even if the points didn't match it.

18. Houston Dynamo

Previous ranking: 18

The Dynamo really do so many things well, but also not quite good enough. A good summer transfer window would do them wonders, but until then, they'll have to take their loss in San Jose.

19. Vancouver Whitecaps

Previous ranking: 21

The Caps have been mostly good this season until they get into the final third, so Montreal did them a solid with an early red card that let Vancouver spend the last 67 minutes of the match getting practice in front of goal. The 5-0 win was absolutely deserved.

20. D.C. United

Previous ranking: 19

Midfield, midfield, where art thou? Christian Benteke could use even a smidgen of service, but a draw in Chicago will do in the meantime.

21. Sporting Kansas City

Previous ranking: 23

No team in the league has scored fewer goals than Sporting this season, but after a scoreless draw in Philly, their two points on the season have both come in games in which they didn't score. Sort that out.

22. LA Galaxy

Previous ranking: 22

The current state of the Galaxy is that the Sounders walked into Los Angeles, took three points and then talked postgame about how their performance wasn't good enough.

23. Inter Miami CF

Previous ranking: 20

A loss in Cincy makes it four in a row for Inter, who have no problem keeping the ball but plenty of trouble creating much with it.

24. Charlotte FC

Previous ranking: 24

The Crown are getting much better full-back play this season and then add the massive impact of Kerwin Vargas of late and you have the type of contributions from the wing that make the attack click. They might have fallen two goals down in Toronto, but their ability to come back and take a point speaks to that growing attack.

25. Colorado Rapids

Previous ranking: 27

Few teams this season have the back-to-back performances to match the Rapids outplaying Austin last week and LAFC this week. Unfortunately, they have only two points to show for it and are still searching for their first win of the season.

26. Chicago Fire

Previous ranking: 25

It looked as if Kei Kamara had earned them a second straight stoppage-time winner, but Tyler Miller ruined the Fire's good time and made them take just one point.

27. Portland Timbers

Previous ranking: 26

Maybe stealing a late point in Dallas can get the Timbers going because there wasn't much to smile about before that.

28. Real Salt Lake

Previous ranking: 28

They were every bit as bad as that 4-0 scoreline looked in Columbus. Maybe worse.

29. CF Montreal

Previous ranking: 29

Their 5-0 loss to Vancouver had them dreaming of the beautiful bye week that preceded it.