Power Rankings

Power Rankings: LAFC remain elite, LA Galaxy slide before El Trafico

Power Rankings 1 4.11.23

What a week in MLS. Toronto FC played to a draw, FC Cincinnati won by one goal, LAFC’s Dénis Bouanga dominated, and Houston Dynamo’s Amine Bassi converted a penalty kick. It was truly a week unlike any other.

Not my fault, voted on by like 15 MLS personalities, editors and writers, etc., etc. Y’all know how the Power Rankings work by now. Probably. Although you should know I did let my dog rank one of the teams this week. You might be upset about that considering these determine the MLS champion, but she’s a very good dog. So. My hands were tied here.

Which one of Dénis Bouanga’s three goals on Saturday was your favorite? Real question.

No matter which one you choose, Bouanga should be your Landon Donovan MLS MVP frontrunner at this point. And LAFC should be your frontrunner to win every available trophy. They boat-raced Vancouver in Concacaf Champions League play midweek, then turned around and did the same to Austin FC on Saturday.

They’ve been doing all of this winning this season – and I genuinely cannot emphasize this point enough – while choosing to not start Ecuador international José Cifuentes at times. His start against Austin last weekend was his first since a CCL game on March 15. LAFC can afford to casually bench one of the best midfielders in the league just because they feel like it. They’re operating on another level.

Previous: 3-0 win vs. ATX | Next: 4/16 at LA

The new kids rolled into town and the Sounders were more than happy to provide them with their first beating in club history. Raúl Ruidíaz found the field and found his first goal of the season in a 3-0 win over St. Louis, taking the Western Conference lead. Good soccer team is good.

Previous: 3-0 win vs. STL | Next: 4/15 at POR

Sources are saying one-goal wins still count the same as other wins. Which means Cincy’s five one-goal wins on the season are enough to have them on top of the league after seven games.

What a world we’re in now when Cincy are atop the Supporters’ Shield standings and it still feels like they have way more to offer. They’re the best defensive team in the Eastern Conference right now and they’re just waiting on their attack to start turning these one-goal wins into three- and four-goal wins. 

Previous: 1-0 win vs. PHI | Next: 4/15 at STL

Unsurprisingly, the Revs rolled over Montréal last weekend. They’re second in the East through seven games and getting goals like this out of Dylan Borrero.

All is very, very well in New England. 

Previous: 4-0 win vs. MTL | Next: 4/15 at CLB

After the Columbus Crew’s 2-0 win over D.C. United last weekend, that’s a combined 12-1 advantage over their last three opponents. Say what you will about the competition they’ve played, but beatdowns in MLS don’t come easy. And the Crew are just bullying teams right now.

Did I mention they’ve done all this without star striker Cucho Hernández? He should be back from injury in the relatively near future, though. I’d buy some Crew stock while you still can.

Previous: 2-0 win at DC | Next: 4/15 vs. NE

The Five Stripes outplayed NYCFC at Yankee Stadium until a Franco Ibarra red card evened things up. Even still, they scored just a few minutes after the dismissal and felt unlucky not to get all three points. It’s a good soccer team, y’all.

Previous: 1-1 draw at NYC | Next: 4/15 at TOR

They weren’t going to win 34 games. They’re going to be just fine. Even after back-to-back losses.

Just keep in mind winning their first five games gave them a huge cushion to work with. If we’re saying 42 points gets you into the Audi MLS Cup Playoffs this year, they just need 27 points over the rest of the year. Everything is already well ahead of schedule by expansion club terms.

Previous: 3-0 loss at SEA | Next: 4/15 vs. CIN

Nashville played a game that ended in a 0-0 draw, can you believe it?

On a related note, every single Nashville game this season has featured at least one team failing to score a goal.

Previous: 0-0 draw vs. TOR | Next: 4/15 at NYC

FC Dallas did exactly what you’d expect them to do against an Inter Miami team in rough shape. They controlled the game, took an early lead, saw it through and that was that. This team is destined for another finish near, but not quite on top of the West and I promise that’s a sincere compliment.

Previous: 1-0 win at MIA | Next: 4/15 vs. RSL

I encourage everyone to listen to Jeremy Ebobisse’s thoughts on what took place at Red Bull Arena on Saturday.

Previous: 1-1 draw at RBNY | Next: 4/15 vs. SKC

The Loons’ five-game, season-opening undefeated streak ended thanks to Kei Kamara’s brace. These are just the kinds of things that happen in MLS.

Previous: 2-1 loss at CHI | Next: 4/15 vs. ORL

Philly probably should have gotten a little more against 10-man Atlas in the first leg of their CCL matchup. But they’ll at least take a 1-0 lead down to Guadalajara Wednesday night. All of the struggles in MLS may feel worth it if they can get the job done and set up a potential revenge matchup with LAFC in the CCL semifinals.

Previous: 1-0 loss at CIN | Next: 4/15 at CHI

NYCFC seem to have finally given up on putting Talles Magno up top. The problem with that is they don’t have a proven striker to fill the void. Gabriel Segal was handed his first two MLS starts over the last two games, and they've squeaked by with 1-1 draws each time. That’s not exactly ideal for a team with NYCFC’s standards.

They have a penchant for sorting these things out eventually, and there’s roster flexibility to do so. In the meantime, there’s still a ton of talent on this team to make up for all that.

Previous: 1-1 draw vs. ATL | Next: 4/15 vs. NSH

Full credit to Houston for gleefully exacerbating every single issue the LA Galaxy have. That's now three wins over their first three home games of the Ben Olsen era.

Part of that comes thanks to Amine Bassi’s record four straight games with a penalty conversion. And an even larger part of it comes thanks to a totally rejuvenated Héctor Herrera. The numbers suggest he’s been elite, and the eye test tells us he’s been really dang good. It feels like he has the support around him this season to excel in the way he definitely didn’t last year. Good things are happening in Houston because of that. Good things are happening in Houston in general.

Previous: 3-0 win vs. LA | Next: 4/15 at RBNY

The Lions had the week off to recover from a 2-0 home loss to Nashville.

Previous: Bye | Next: 4/15 at MIN

Previous: 1-1 draw vs. SJ | Next: 4/15 vs. HOU

Kei Kamara, still very good at this soccer thing.

The Fire, after Kamara’s brace, remain undefeated in their last four with just one loss in six games. Which means it’s absolutely time to bring out the flow chart…

I can see it → Oh, no → Oh, yikes, no → Well, maybe → Nope → But let’s just… → Oh, ok immediate no on that → But what if they tweak this → This looks better! → OH NO. THEY GOT ME AGAIN → No. → I’m not falling for that → No, forever. → Offseason → I can see it.

We’re officially at “I can see it”!!! Maybe, just maybe, this is the year the flow chart flows a little differently.

Previous: 2-1 win vs. MIN | Next: 4/15 vs. PHI

Don’t worry about what happened in CCL last week. Focus instead on Vancouver’s nine points over their last five league games. The Whitecaps look like they’re playing good ball right now and the underlying numbers suggest they’re playing really good ball. Like, on par with LAFC and Seattle kind of ball. It’s a little too early to put too much stock into that, but it can’t be a bad sign.

Anyways, it remains hilarious how two MLS teams have decided they would be better off without Julian Gressel. He’s been outstanding so far this year. Statistically, only Thiago Almada has generated better chances for his teammates.

Previous: 1-0 win vs. POR | Next: 4/15 at ATX

A 0-0 draw against Nashville is better than a 1-0 loss against Nashville. Although I’m not sure how ecstatic the Reds will be about their fifth draw of the season.

Previous: 0-0 draw at NSH | Next: 4/15 vs. ATL

I mean, to be fair, is anyone stopping Dénis Bouanga right now? 

Previous: 3-0 loss at LAFC | Next: 4/15 vs. VAN

They’re not out of the mud, but the performances lately have been decent. Colorado even got their first win of 2023 last weekend.

Previous: 1-0 win at SKC | Next: 4/15 at CLT

Behold. The greatest six minutes in MLS history?

Things were all going kind of terribly for RSL until they became the best team on the planet for a few minutes. Maybe that stretch is enough to jumpstart their 2023 campaign.

Previous: 3-1 win vs. CLT | Next: 4/15 at DAL

It’s not going great. And I’m not sure this call-out of Josef Martínez is going to make it better…

“He needs to play better,” Miami head coach Phil Neville said after a 1-0 defeat to FC Dallas Saturday night. “It’s the first time today we played with two strikers. Gotta say, I don’t think in the first half either had a shot on goal. Did we get him the service? Probably not. … We need more from Josef, that’s without a shadow of a doubt.”

We’ll see how Josef responds. But the team as a whole is in rough shape right now. Even with Leo Campana coming back into the lineup.

Previous: 1-0 loss vs. DAL | Next: Bye

Other than the six-minute period where they allowed three goals to RSL, things actually went pretty well.

Previous: 3-1 loss at RSL | Next: 4/15 vs. COL

Four losses in seven games, two goals scored, zero wins. The underlying numbers aren’t terrible, but the results sure are. Even with Alan Pulido returning to the starting lineup things feel dire in Kansas City. It’s not clear what the answers are. But like Portland and LA, it’s starting to become clear something needs to change.

Previous: 1-0 loss vs. COL | Next: 4/15 at SJ

Columbus were just the better team last weekend in a 2-0 loss. But at least D.C. are starting to get all three of their DPs on the field at the same time.

Previous: 2-0 loss vs. CLB | Next: 4/15 at MTL

The results are bad, the underlying numbers are bad, the injuries are bad and the team isn’t all that good right now. That’s blunt, but that’s where we’re at right now with this. The Timbers have just one win in seven games this year after losing 1-0 to Vancouver last weekend.

Previous: 1-0 loss at VAN | Next: 4/15 vs. SEA

Dude, buddy, pal. Whatcha doing?

It’s really, really bleak right now in LA. 

“To our fans who show up and fight for us every single game: They won't see that again. That was unacceptable, and it was disrespectful to our brand and to who we want to be," head coach Greg Vanney said post game. 

Anyway, the brand has to recover in time for El Trafico on the weekend. So that’s fun. 

Previous: 3-0 loss at HOU | Next: 4/16 vs. LAFC

It’s bad right now.

Previous: 4-0 loss at NE | Next: 4/15 vs. DC