Power Rankings

Power Rankings: FC Dallas, Portland Timbers soar after MLS is Back

Power Rankings - Matchdays 1 + 2

What an opening week in MLS. A bunch of teams lost on the road, the teams who played in Concacaf Champions Cup earlier in the week struggled, and San Jose lost on a stoppage-time winner from a rising young star. It was truly an opening week unlike any other.

The Power Rankings are voted on by like 20 MLS writers, editors and personalities and are not solely the fault of the column’s author. Important note this week: The Power Rankings Committee seems to have immediately gone mad with power after one week. Portland jumped 12 spots??? 12 SPOTS??????

The Crew were in control from the jump against Atlanta and spent the first half asking a ton of questions of Atlanta’s backline until they found the net in typical Crew fashion.

They weren’t nearly as sharp in the second half after Mo Farsi left with an injury, but still saw out a 1-0 win. It’s their first 1-0 win under Wilfried Nancy and another sign the days of Columbus blowing late leads are over.

Previous: 1-0 win vs. ATL | Next: 3/2 at MIN

There were plenty of concerns about LAFC heading into the season. In particular, there were worries about the midfield and about who would lead the front line as their No. 9. Well, here’s how the midfield did.

And here’s how things went for their starting No. 9, Mateusz Bogusz.

Man can’t live on bangers alone, but it’s nice to be reminded that LAFC are still one of the most talented sides in the league. There are still question marks for this group, but any concerns will be dulled a bit after their win over Seattle.

Previous: 2-1 win vs. SEA | Next: 3/2 at RSL

Cincy rolled in CCC action midweek, picking up a 2-0 leg-one win over Cavalier FC. But they couldn’t find a rhythm against Toronto over the weekend in a 0-0 draw. Aaron Boupendza entered that game off the bench after picking up a hamstring injury. The Garys will be fine, but that performance did bring up some quiet concerns about who will step up in a post-Brandon Vazquez world where Boupendza isn’t available to make a difference every match.

Previous: 0-0 draw vs. TOR | Next: 3/2 at CHI

Inter Miami went up early against RSL midweek, but ceded control of the game in the second half and allowed RSL to find a handful of opportunities to get back in the game. It didn’t matter.

Inter Miami almost got run off the field against the Galaxy on Sunday. In the first half, LA created 2.32 xG worth of chances to Inter Miami’s 0.12. The final xG tally came out to 3.9 to 0.9 in favor of LA. The Galaxy even managed to turn one of those chances into a goal. It didn’t matter.

There are genuine concerns with this team. But rules are rules. If you come at the king, you can’t miss. 

Previous: 1-1 draw at LA | Next: 3/2 vs. ORL

Not many teams go on the road to LAFC and come out with points. Seattle were going to be fighting an uphill battle even if they had a full-strength lineup. They were far from that, missing João Paulo, Stefan Frei and Albert Rusnák, among others. Two LAFC stunners later and they left LA empty-handed.

Still, there’s good news from the opening weekend. New DP Pedro de la Vega made his debut off the bench and immediately showed why the Sounders spent big money to bring him in. He looked confident, creative and dangerous at all times. He even had the guts to take and convert a penalty. That’s a heckuva first impression.

And the hair. My goodness, the hair.

Previous: 2-1 loss at LAFC | Next: 3/2 vs. ATX

Dante Sealy found a surefire way to make sure the hype building around him this preseason got sent into maximum overdrive.

The 20-year-old, back in MLS after a loan to PSV’s reserve team, has immediately set himself up to be the next young star in Dallas. Thanks to Sealy and an outstanding strike from Asier Illarramendi, Dallas earned a win and didn’t need new DP striker Petar Musa (or Jesús Ferreira) to do it. Musa arrived in Dallas this week and should be set to make his debut soon.

Previous: 2-1 win vs. SJ | Next: 3/2 vs. MTL

The Union looked a little off this weekend after a 3-2 midweek CCC win over Saprissa. But the Union pulling out results at home is one of the few constants in this league. They were in trouble for a moment against Chicago, but earned a 2-2 draw in the end. They’ve lost one MLS home game since the start of the 2022 season.

Previous: 2-2 draw vs. CHI | Next: 3/2 at SKC

The Lions eased past Cavalry FC in leg one of CCC play with a 3-0 win, then got back to Orlando so they could claw out a 0-0 draw against Montréal. It took Orlando a while for their attack to get going in league play last year while they dealt with Concacaf. It wouldn’t be surprising to see the same this year.

By the way, read whatever you want into this, but Martín Ojeda and Nico Lodeiro started one game each in the center of Orlando’s attack last week. Ojeda joined Lodeiro on the field at the start of the second half against Montréal to provide an extra attacking option.

Previous: 0-0 draw vs. MTL | Next: 3/2 at MIA

The Timbers began Saturday night with a bit to worry about. DP attacker Evander got scratched from the starting lineup during warmups due to a right calf injury. But 30 minutes into their match against Colorado, all of their short-term worries had disappeared. Brazilian winger Antony, who arrived toward the end of 2023, bagged a brace in the first half to help guide the Timbers to a win, but the highlight of the night came via Eryk Williamson.

Williamson scored just nine minutes into his first appearance since tearing his ACL last season.

All that being said, scoring four goals on 0.4 xG probably isn’t sustainable for Portland. Probably. I’m just saying it might be a teensy bit hasty to move them up 12 ENTIRE SPOTS AFTER SCORING FOUR TIMES ON 0.4 XG AGAINST THE TEAM YOU VOTED TO PUT 28TH IN THESE SAME RANKINGS.

Previous: 4-1 win vs. COL | Next: 3/2 vs. DC

Atlanta United ran into the reigning MLS Cup champs on the road for the first match of the year. That went about how you’d expect for most teams. They can take solace in the fact they limited the Crew to one goal and controlled the majority of the second half once they got a little more comfortable on the ball. New DP center back Stian Gregersen showed flashes of being worth the tag.

Previous: 1-0 loss at CLB | Next: 3/9 vs. NE

The Galaxy put in one of the single best performances of the weekend against Inter Miami. Maybe the best. They ended the night with 3.9 xG worth of chances to Miami’s 0.9. But Mark Delgado’s second yellow put them on their heels late in the game and Lionel Messi found a way to cancel out LA’s one-goal advantage.

Still, there’s a ton of reason for optimism. New DP winger Joseph Paintsil looked the part in his first start, and fellow new DP winger Gabriel Pec showed some flashes in a substitute appearance. If Sunday is any indication, the front four for LA could be among the best in the league this year.

Previous: 1-1 draw vs. MIA | Next: 3/2 at SJ

Giacomo Vrioni’s first-half red card provided D.C. United a long window of opportunity to control the match and send as many balls as possible toward Christian Benteke. That typically goes pretty well.

Previous: 3-1 win vs. NE | Next: 3/2 at POR

St. Louis earned a win in CCC midweek and a point over the weekend. Both came in spectacular fashion.

Sam Adeniran gets more style points, but Hosei Kijima’s winner against Houston had the narrative. Kijima, a SuperDraft pick, signed a contract with St. Louis earlier that day.

Previous: 1-1 draw vs. RSL | Next: 3/2 vs. NYC

The Red Bulls looked effective in attack against Nashville thanks in large part to the addition of Emil Forsberg. But last year’s issues were this year’s issues. They finished their 0-0 draw with great underlying numbers and no actual end product. It feels like this team desperately needs someone who can put chances away. They’re so close to being a genuine contender.

Previous: 0-0 draw at NSH | Next: 3/2 at HOU

The Dean Smith era is off to a fantastic start. In front of a crowd of 63,000, The Crown handled a high-upside NYCFC team in a 1-0 win. Charlotte allowed just 0.6 xG worth of chances in a disciplined performance.

Previous: 1-0 win vs. NYC | Next: 3/2 at VAN

Tough start for Houston. They fell to St. Louis midweek in CCC play after allowing a late winner in leg one. In that same game, they lost DP forward Sebastián Ferreira to a non-contact injury. They’ll be waiting for Héctor Herrera to be back for a while. That’s all less than ideal.

At least they could earn a point against SKC in their home opener.

Previous: 1-1 draw vs. SKC | Next: 3/2 vs. RBNY

Coming out of Hell In The Shell with a point is a quality start to the season. They’ll be bummed to have not held onto a 1-0 lead, but a road point is a road point.

Previous: 1-1 draw at HOU | Next: 3/2 vs. PHI

RSL looked overwhelmed by the moment against Inter Miami midweek, especially in the first half, but they recovered to pull out a road point against St. Louis over the weekend. They’ll be happy Chicho Arango got on the board with an excellent team goal aided by new signing Matt Crooks. They’ll be less than thrilled they allowed St. Louis to equalize five minutes later.

Previous: 1-1 draw at STL | Next: 3/2 vs. LAFC

Giacomo Vrioni’s ill-judged second yellow in the first half derailed their chances against D.C. over the weekend. At least they took a 1-0 lead over CA Independiente in leg one of CCC play. And at least Carles Gil found the time to give us this.

Previous: 3-1 loss at DC | Next: 3/3 vs. TOR

The Loons, before they formally hired manager Eric Ramsay, went down to Texas and thumped Austin for 90 minutes in a 2-1 win that could have been a lot worse. It’s a great start. It’s also hard to be too hyped for a win over Austin. We’ll find out a lot more about this group when they welcome Columbus this weekend.

Previous: 2-1 win at ATX | Next: 3/2 vs. CLB

The Whitecaps were the odd team out last week. They’ll get their season started this weekend against Charlotte.

Previous: Bye | Next: 3/2 vs. CLT

CCC went just fine midweek, at least on the scoreboard. But their 3-0 win over Moca FC came at a cost. Both Hany Mukhtar and Sam Surridge missed Sunday’s 0-0 draw against Columbus with injuries. It shouldn’t come as a surprise that they were outplayed on the day. But, then again, any points you can get while competing in CCC early in the year are good points to get. They’ll take it and start praying Mukhtar is back soon.

Previous: 0-0 draw vs. RBNY | Next: 3/2 at COL

Did… did Chicago just speed-run a Chicago season in the first match of the year?

The Fire went up on the Union twice before letting the Union back into the game and nearly losing the lead altogether. They inspired hope and saw it dissipate moments later. Hopefully, that’s not a precursor of things yet to come.

In the end, they played well enough on DP striker Hugo Cuypers’ debut to make you think a better year just might be on the way. Even if they didn’t get the result, they at least got this moment from 20-year-old Brian Gutiérrez.

Previous: 2-2 draw at PHI | Next: 3/2 vs. CIN

Montréal started strong against Orlando, but couldn’t find an early breakthrough. That gave time for the Lions to recover, take control of the game and turn it into a slog of a 0-0 draw. Still, a road point against an Eastern Conference favorite isn’t a bad way to start the year.

Previous: 0-0 draw at ORL | Next: 3/2 at DAL

Toronto looked up for the fight against Cincinnati. They at least did enough defensively to limit Cincy’s chances in a 0-0 draw. Lorenzo Insigne and Federico Bernardeschi even got involved in the action a few times. It all could have gone much, much worse for a team everyone is doubting this season. Maybe that puts a chip on their shoulder they can use?

Previous: 0-0 draw at CIN | Next: 3/3 at NE

Last year’s NYCFC team became defined by their struggles in attack. This year’s NYCFC team started this year looking a lot like last year’s. They created just 0.6 xG worth of chances despite Hannes Wolf making his debut in the starting lineup and new forward Jovan Mijatović coming on around the 60-minute mark. It might take some time for a young group that's integrating some new pieces to gel. There were moments when they looked a half-step short of creating big opportunities.

An opening match loss shouldn’t cause too much concern, though. As the good folks at Hudson River Blue pointed out, NYCFC have lost five straight season openers now.

Previous: 1-0 loss at CLT | Next: 3/2 at STL

The Quakes began last season giving up a late winner to Thiago Almada. They began this year by giving up a late winner to Dante Sealy. Last year’s group responded by getting it together just enough to make the Audi MLS Cup Playoffs. This year’s group has a difficult task in front of them and there’s just not a lot of confidence they’re going to get it together in the same way. At least they got to see new DP Amahl Pellegrino make his debut for a few minutes.

Previous: 2-1 loss at DAL | Next: 3/2 vs. LA

…Let’s just move on.

Previous: 4-1 loss at POR | Next: 3/2 vs. NSH

It could be a long year in Austin. They got a consolation goal late, but Minnesota United blew the doors off them at home. 2-1 felt like a very flattering scoreline. 

Previous: 2-1 loss vs. MIN | Next: 3/2 at SEA