What a week in MLS. St. Louis CITY SC came back to win, Nashville SC kept a clean sheet and Sporting Kansas City didn’t score despite attempting plenty of shots. It was truly a week unlike any other.
As always, the Power Rankings are voted on by like 15-20 personalities, writers and editors at MLS. The rankings themselves are not my fault. Although I did ask Tom Bogert to choose two numbers 1-29 this week and used those numbers to determine the ranking for one particular team. It’s up to you to figure out which one. Or if I even actually did any of that. Anyways, it’s all his fault.
You had to wonder if, after LAFC’s midweek rout at Costa Rica’s Alajuelense in the Concacaf Champions League, they might struggle to be at their best against New England on Sunday night. Dear readers, I’m here to report LAFC very much did not struggle.
A 4-0 mollywhopping – it could have been worse and included impressive performances from new “depth pieces” like winger Stipe Biuk and midfielder Timothy Tillman – just served as a reminder this LAFC team has everything it takes to compete for multiple trophies.
Oh, and Dénis Bouanga is probably going to be your Landon Donovan MLS MVP winner this year. Just thought I should mention that. Prepare how you see fit.
Previous: 4-0 win vs. NE | Next: 3/18 at SEA
FC Cincinnati haven’t played their best ball yet. They’ve still taken seven points from three games and just took down a Seattle side that exploded out of the gate to start the season. The fact there’s still a lot of room to grow and they’re getting results anyway has to be extremely encouraging.
Cincy are playing well defensively and their attacking talent has had enough quality to make limited chances count so far. If they start pairing a newfound ability to grind out wins with an ability to find the kinds of consistent, high-level chances they found last season, all the preseason talk about Cincy as a possible Supporters’ Shield contender will turn into a regular-season reality.
Previous: 1-0 win vs. SEA | Next: 3/18 at CHI
Looks like the Joaquin “Ilsinho” Torres trade is working out well.
WATCH: Joaquín Torres late-late show saves Philadelphia Union!
He’s been outstanding already as a super-sub and made the difference against Chicago over the weekend. They might need him to do the same in CCL this week as they try to break a 0-0 deadlock with El Salvador’s Alianza. And they’ll need everyone to start picking up the slack for a while if Andre Blake’s groin injury keeps him out for an extended amount of time. The all-league goalkeeper left early against the Fire.
Previous: 1-0 win vs. CHI | Next: 3/18 at MTL
The Sounders floated a little closer to Earth losing 1-0 at FC Cincinnati. That’s not all that worrisome though. It feels like there won’t be many tougher road trips in MLS this year.
What might be concerning is how Héber is already out for 2-4 weeks and Raúl Ruidíaz still isn’t ready to join the starting lineup. They brought Héber in to avoid the kind of nagging injuries in key positions that have plagued them for a while – and there are already concerns. Not major concerns. Just enough concern to spark a little twinge of anxiety.
Previous: 1-0 loss at CIN | Next: 3/18 vs. LAFC
Just so you know, Jacob Shaffelburg is your leading scorer for Nashville SC through three games. They seem to have figured out that letting Hany Mukhtar run through the heart of the defense before slipping Shaffelburg the ball is a recipe for success. They've also posted three shutouts and are the only team yet to allow a goal this year.
We’ll see how long it keeps up, but Nashville have to be a little more than happy about earning seven points through three games in which Mukhtar has played just over half the time.
Previous: 2-0 win vs. MTL | Next: 3/18 at NE
It’s not a magic trick. It’s not an illusion. Your league leaders (yes, league leaders) are just winning duels, capitalizing on chances and staying locked in for 90 minutes. They’ve caught a few breaks so far, but they’ve continuously put themselves in great positions to benefit from those breaks. In MLS, that’s far easier said than done. We’ll see how this keeps up over the course of a full season, but for now, no one wants any part of this team.
All that being said, don’t overthink this. Just sit back and enjoy one of the most impressive starts in league history. We’re watching something special.
Previous: 2-1 win at POR | Next: 3/18 vs. SJ
“Atlanta United are back.” But this time it might be true? The Five Stripes are off to their best three-game start in team history, are avoiding the critical mistakes that defined their defense last season, and are getting results without starters actually starting.
If you were paying close attention last year, the tactical principles were there even if the personnel and continuity weren’t. Now it seems like Gonzalo Pineda’s team has both and it should only get better throughout the season. That progress won’t be linear, but Atlanta are starting to prove they have the capability to be dangerous in 2023.
That’s all especially if Atlanta continue to press as well as they have since Miguel Berry and Giorgos Giakomakis got on the field at striker. And especially if midfielder Franco Ibarra continues to play miles above expectations. And if Caleb Wiley continues to look excellent. And if… we could do this for a while, there’s a lot of good right now.
Previous: 3-0 win at CLT | Next: 3/18 vs. POR
So uhhhhhh they have some work to do in CCL. Let’s just move on quickly and get to these absolute stunners they delivered against RSL over the weekend ooh wow look at how hard the soccer ball got kicked!!
That’s back-to-back wins in the league for Austin and, even with some CCL troubles and worries at center back, things look just fine in the standings.
Previous: 2-1 win at RSL | Next: 3/18 at HOU
The Revs made a cross-country trip to face LAFC and, well, it went about as well as a cross-country trip to face LAFC would go for a lot of teams.
The result would have been even worse if Djordje Petrovic wasn’t in goal. For now, Revs fans are holding their breath over how long Carles Gil might be injured. He came off the bench while nursing a knock, then was subbed out in second-half stoppage time with an undisclosed muscle injury.
Previous: 4-0 loss at LAFC | Next: 3/18 vs. NSH
FC Dallas played an extremely FC Dallas game against Vancouver and came out of it with a point. Their guy Paxton Pomykal also took an absolute beating in midfield (please be kind to him).
Previous: 1-1 draw at VAN | Next: 3/18 vs. SKC
The Pigeons were largely in control against Inter Miami, even if they needed a Chris McVey own goal to get on the scoreboard. Things already looked improved now that James Sands and Santiago Rodríguez are plugged into the starting lineup, but there’s still some fine-tuning to do before they look truly threatening in attack. That surely (eventually) involves getting Talles Magno back on the wing, but it also feels like you might pass out if you start holding your breath on that.
Previous: 1-0 win vs. MIA | Next: 3/18 vs. DC
Understandably, it feels like it’s going to be a while before we really see this team clicking on all fronts under new manager Wilfried Nancy. For now, I think you’re probably not worrying about style points. An actual road point in Toronto is just fine, regardless of how well they played. And they actually played ok despite being stuck chasing the game for most of the match.
Previous: 1-1 draw at TOR | Next: 3/18 at RBNY
The only person who could get a ball past goalkeeper Drake Callender on Saturday night unfortunately plays for Inter Miami. The Herons picked up their first loss of the year at Yankee Stadium and didn’t generate a ton of quality chances. On top of that, midfielder and team captain Gregore left the game early after a nasty-looking injury. We found out Monday he has a Lisfranc injury that will keep him out indefinitely. Bad weekend.
Previous: 1-0 loss at NYC | Next: 3/18 at TOR
A quick PSA: nobody cares about Orlando’s entertainment value if they pull off an upset against a Liga MX giant in CCL. They have a chance to do just that against Tigres this week after keeping the Mexico-based first leg deadlocked at 0-0.
I’ll reserve most of my judgment until they’re a little more focused on one competition, and I’ll be horrified if Matt Doyle somehow willed a Duncan McGuire breakout season into existence via Extratime.
Previous: 1-1 draw at DC | Next: 3/18 vs. CLT
It took a moment to find a breakthrough, but Cristian Espinoza eventually slammed one into the back of the net. That’s two straight late wins for the Earthquakes in a little bit of cosmic justice for their opening weekend loss to Atlanta. We’ll see if that continues when they travel to St. Louis on Saturday. Either way, I’m still feeling good about what’s being built in San Jose under new manager Luchi Gonzalez.
Previous: 1-0 win vs. COL | Next: 3/18 at STL
No real point in trying to take too much from a snowy game at Minnesota. The Red Bulls should be happy with the road draw and a bit disappointed to only have two points from their first three games. You have to think better results will come through soon.
Previous: 1-1 draw at MIN | Next: 3/18 vs. CLB
SKC are still looking for their first goal of the year. It’s not for a lack of trying (and trying).
Previous: 0-0 draw vs. LA | Next: 3/18 at DAL
The Galaxy are eager to get home. In two road games so far, they’ve looked… uninspiring is how you’d put it politely.
Previous: 0-0 draw at SKC | Next: 3/18 vs. VAN
We were well on the way to a Timbers Game Type One (1-1 draw with like 1.1 to 0.8 xG) until St. Louis found the net off a set piece. That’s not ideal for the Timbers. Even less ideal is how Cristhian Paredes left the game early with a non-contact injury and his replacement, new DP and club-record signing Evander, didn’t make it through the rest of the match before being subbed off, reportedly out of caution for an injury he picked up earlier in the week.
To be honest, even with Evander in, it doesn’t feel like much has changed for what’s largely the same group that missed the playoffs last year. Maybe new striker Franck Boli will help change that?
Previous: 2-1 loss vs. STL | Next: 3/18 at ATL
The Loons put in a decent shift by snow game standards and earned a point against the Red Bulls. The standout performance for Minnesota United this week came from the many, many fans who stuck it out in the cold to watch the Loons finish the game with the lowest single-game pass completion percentage in…[checking]...league history.
Previous: 1-1 draw vs. RBNY | Next: 3/18 at COL
Back-to-back difficult games against Seattle and Austin have meant back-to-back losses for RSL. It’s not going to get any easier with St. Louis coming to town a couple of weekends from now. At least they get a week off to prepare.
Previous: 2-1 loss vs. ATX | Next: 3/25 vs. STL
Chris Durkin, folks.
D.C. United probably deserved more against the Lions and might be a bit disappointed to draw them. But at least they’re showing an early tendency to grab points however they have to grab points at home. That should build some confidence for the Fighting Wayne Rooneys.
Previous: 1-1 draw vs. ORL | Next: 3/18 at NYC
They’re already down to their third-choice striker but, to his credit, Deandre Kerr found the net this weekend. The Reds couldn’t hold on for a win at home, though. It still feels like it’s going to be a while before things get going in Toronto this year. Especially with Lorenzo Insigne continuing to miss time.
Previous: 1-1 draw vs. CLB | Next: 3/18 vs. MIA
The Whitecaps really haven’t played terribly this year, but things seem a bit too complicated at times. No matter the root cause of the issue, Vancouver have just one point through their first three games and already feel like they’re falling behind. We’ve seen this character arc before, right?
Hey, at least they showed out in CCL against Honduran side Real Espana.
Previous: 1-1 draw vs. DAL | Next: 3/18 at LA
Chicago put up a heckuva fight against Philly. But also, can someone please make sure Xherdan Shaqiri's hamstrings are okay? This team really can't afford to lose him long-term or, heck, even short-term.
Previous: 1-0 loss at PHI | Next: 3/18 vs. CIN
It’s not going great, Bob. The Rapids are still looking for their first win of the season… and their first goal.
Previous: 1-0 loss at SJ | Next: 3/18 vs. MIN
Time to hit the panic button? Charlotte have started the year with three straight losses, all of the worries about how they’d fit Enzo Copetti and Karol Swiderski on the field have manifested on the field, and it feels like the players who are actually in their natural position right now are out of position.
Anyway, that’s a lot of words that could have just been summed up by this visual.
Previous: 3-0 loss vs. ATL | Next: 3/18 at ORL
Houston got a chance to rest this week and prepare for their first home game of the year. It’s a big one too. The Dynamo host Austin on Saturday.
Previous: Bye | Next: 3/18 vs. ATX
It’s not going great and Montréal are going to need a long adjustment period. One that won’t be made any easier by welcoming Philadelphia this weekend.
Previous: 2-0 loss at NSH | Next: 3/18 vs. PHI