Power Rankings

Power Rankings: Supporters' Shield champs! FC Cincinnati complete turnaround

Power Rankings - 10.3.23

What a week in MLS. Minnesota didn’t win at home, Montréal lost on the road and St. Louis won by multiple goals. It was truly a week unlike any other.

The Power Rankings are voted on by 15 people (give or take) and the author would really like you to know the order is not entirely his fault, even though he does in fact have a vote. He is not solely liable for these.

The Supporters' Shield was inevitable.

Those original Cincy teams were all-caps bad. Their turnaround is one of the best stories in the history of MLS and we likely won’t see anything quite like it for a long, long time. Congrats to Cincy fans, in particular, for dealing with those first three seasons. They earned this one.

Previous: 3-2 win at TOR | Next: 10/4 vs. RBNY

St. Louis leaned on Sporting KC until they toppled over and then kept kicking them while they were down. The hosts piled on four goals after the 70th minute, locked up the top spot in the Western Conference, booked a 2024 Concacaf Champions Cup spot, set the record for single-season wins (17) by an expansion team and likely sank SKC’s playoff hopes. That’s as good as it gets in the early days of a burgeoning rivalry.

Previous: 4-1 win vs. SKC | Next: 10/4 at VAN

The Lions took care of business against Montréal at home and looked, once again, like genuine MLS Cup contenders. They’re now second in the East with a four-point advantage on fifth-place Columbus. They’re heading into tough matchups this week with Nashville and New England, but they close the year with a Decision Day trip to Toronto. Seems like the Lions are a near-lock for a top-four spot.

Previous: 3-0 win vs. MTL | Next: 10/4 at NSH

It was a bye week for Atlanta United, but they got the result they wanted: Philadelphia and Columbus played to a draw. The Five Stripes face the Crew and then the Union before closing the year with FC Cincinnati. They’re going to have to really earn this top-four spot (and the home-field advantage that comes with it).

Previous: 4-1 win vs. MTL | Next: 10/4 at PHI

The Crew put up 21 shots and 2.4 xG against Philadelphia, but could only come away with a goal and a 1-1 draw at home. They’ll want a little more than that over their next couple of games, though. They’ve got huge matchups in New England and Atlanta on the way.

Previous: 1-1 draw vs. PHI | Next: 10/4 at NE

The Union had two totally fine draws against Dallas and Columbus last week. But that’s five straight draws and just one win in their last seven. They’re still in a top-four spot, yet aren’t inspiring much confidence right now. They need to start rounding into playoff form ASAP. They close the year with Atlanta, Nashville and New England – they could easily find themselves on the road to start the playoffs. Fine is fine. You just expect more from Philadelphia.

Previous: 1-1 draw at CLB | Next: 10/4 vs. ATL

Congrats to Houston on their first trophy since 2018 (both US Open Cup) and their fourth major title in club history. They’ve somehow gotten ahead of schedule on a rebuild that’s been powered by new ownership being willing to spend, a revamped front office and an increased use of analytics. That’s a great formula for sustainable success. This feels like a start and not an end.

Previous: 0-0 draw vs. DAL | Next: 10/4 at MTL

Romney has quietly been among the best offseason signings of the year. He’s started all 30 games for the Revs and helped keep the New England backline steady in the injury-imposed absence of Henry Kessler. His late winner against Charlotte put the Revs back into a top-four spot with a game in hand on the teams around them.

Now New England just need to survive a run of Columbus, Orlando, Nashville and Philadelphia to close the season. They… uh… might need a few more goals from Romney.

Previous: 2-1 win vs. CLT | Next: 10/4 vs. CLB

Tomás Avilés (kind of) salvaged a tough week for Miami. They came up short against Houston in the US Open Cup Final and nearly came up short against NYCFC over the weekend. Avilés' 95th-minute equalizer at least rescued a point. They have four games to close a four-point gap in the standings and it’s not clear if Lionel Messi will be involved in those four games. He missed both matches this week.

Previous: 1-1 draw vs. NYC | Next: 10/4 at CHI

It’s bad and not good right now. They’ve won twice in eight games since Leagues Cup (LA and Colorado) and have as many goals as you and I do over the last three games. There are more issues than anyone expected at this point and they’re running out of time to correct them. LAFC fans rightly expect more.

Previous: 1-0 loss vs. RSL | Next: 10/4 vs. MIN

Nashville played to a 0-0 draw vs. Seattle over the weekend. There’s still a chance they could sneak into a top-four spot with some luck and a few wins, but they face Orlando, Philadelphia and New England in their next three games and need a little help. They seem like they’re destined for seventh place in the East.

Previous: 0-0 draw vs. SEA | Next: 10/4 vs. ORL

A 0-0 draw in Nashville this week for Seattle. There doesn’t seem to be much urgency from everyone involved right now. That’s understandable in the West. Seattle will probably coast into a home playoff spot. The question is if they can actually turn it on for the playoffs or if they’re just a team missing a higher gear. 

Previous: 0-0 draw at NSH | Next: 10/4 vs. LA

RSL followed up last week’s comeback win over Vancouver with a road win against LAFC. Those are two solid results (incredible by Western Conference standards) and this team is finally showing signs of pulling out of a post-Pablo Ruiz injury tailspin. They jumped to second place in the West.

Should they be ranked higher? Probably. Maybe the whole negative-2 goal differential thing is weirding folks out a bit.

Previous: 1-0 win at LAFC | Next: 10/7 vs. SKC

The Whitecaps couldn’t hold onto two different leads at home against D.C. United. They still earned a draw, but could have challenged for a top-four spot with the win. Every team in the West is fully committed to the bit though and you can’t help but respect it. Maybe someday soon someone besides St. Louis will try to stand out from the rest of the pack.

Previous: 2-2 draw vs. DC | Next: 10/4 vs. STL

The Timbers earned a 3-3 draw in LA to stay out of a Wild Card spot. They’re one of the hottest teams in the league and, even more remarkably, one of the most entertaining. This run has them three points behind second in the West and they’re almost certainly a playoff team. Portland seem like a group primed to make a run once they get there, too.

Previous: 3-3 draw at LA | Next: 10/7 at MTL

Dallas played to a 0-0 draw against Houston and a 1-1 draw against Philadelphia that kept them ninth in the West. I’ll let those in the know sum up the experience for Dallas fans.

Previous: 0-0 draw at HOU | Next: 10/4 vs. COL

SKC got blown out by St. Louis on Saturday. That might have been that for their playoff hopes. They’re three points out of ninth with two games left and Dallas have a game in hand.

Previous: 4-1 loss at STL | Next: 10/7 at RSL

San Jose have been stunningly average for a while now. They earned a solid 1-1 draw in Minnesota last weekend to remain eighth in the West, but only have two wins in their nine games since Leagues Cup. Few people feel confident about a Quakes run right now. Considering where they were at the beginning of the season, that’s kind of a bummer.

Previous: 1-1 draw at MIN | Next: 10/7 at DAL

NYCFC went down to Miami and got the job done. They earned a road point, kept the Herons at arm's length and jumped to eighth in the East thanks to everyone around them sputtering through the weekend. They only have two games left, but they’re two winnable games against D.C. and Chicago. If they get results in both, their playoff odds are very, very high.

Previous: 1-1 draw at MIA | Next: 10/7 at DC

The Galaxy played a wild one against Portland. Full credit for putting on a show in a 3-3 draw, but it’s just one point at home when they needed three. They’re six points behind ninth-place Dallas with four games left. They do have a game in hand though. And if they stay close, a Decision Day matchup with Dallas could be winner-takes-all.

Previous: 3-3 draw vs. POR | Next: 10/4 at SEA

D.C. earned a road point in Vancouver thanks to Christian Benteke and Mateusz Klich. That’s enough to keep them tied for ninth in the East on points, but they’ve played an extra game compared to their peers. The playoffs feel like a long shot.

Previous: 2-2 draw at VAN | Next: 10/4 at ATX

Road Montréal are not a good soccer team. They got pummeled by Orlando City over the weekend for their league-leading 12th road loss of the season. Fortunately, they’ve got two more home games left before they head to Columbus on Decision Day. Unfortunately, those two games are against two of the hottest teams in the league: Houston and Portland. For now, Montréal are holding onto the last playoff spot in the East.

Previous: 3-0 loss at ORL | Next: 10/4 vs. HOU

Minnesota had a lead at home and then they didn’t. They’re still technically in the running for a playoff spot, but it’s hard to imagine them getting one given their form at Allianz Field. It’s their fatal flaw.

Previous: 1-1 draw vs. SJ | Next: 10/4 at LAFC

The Red Bulls piled on shots against Chicago, outshot them 18-5, didn’t allow a shot until the 64th minute and lost 1-0 anyway. If anyone is attached to the Red Bulls’ league-record 13-year playoff streak, it’s likely time to start planning your final words.

Previous: 1-0 loss vs. CHI | Next: 10/4 at CIN

Chicago capitalized immediately on a Red Bulls’ red card and pulled out a critical road win in Harrison. Let’s see where that leaves us…

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.

If you believe in the established timeline, we’re officially at “I’m not falling for that.” It’s an extra dose of hope that might hurt in the end, but at least there’s hope. They’re tied on points for ninth in the East with three games left to play. Winnable games. Games against immediate competition too. Inter Miami, Charlotte and NYCFC to close the year sets up as well as it can for them. Now they just have to shake off more than a decade plus of bad vibes.

Previous: 1-0 win at RBNY | Next: 10/4 vs. MIA

Charlotte looked like they might steal a point from New England for a minute. Literally, a minute. But Dave Romney followed up Karol Swiderski’s late equalizer with a late winner and Charlotte stayed four points out of a Wild Card spot with four games to go and five teams to jump. It doesn’t feel like it’s going to happen in year two for The Crown.

Previous: 2-1 loss at NE | Next: 10/4 vs. TOR

Austin aren’t officially eliminated, but we all know how this story likely ends. I think most fans in Austin will be glad to see 2023 end and let new sporting director Rodolfo Borrell get to work.

Previous: 1-0 loss at COL | Next: 10/4 vs. DC

Interim coach Chris Little has the Rapids playing decent soccer! Their win over Austin last weekend makes them 2W-2L-1D in their last five games.

Previous: 1-0 win vs. ATX | Next: 10/4 at DAL

John Herdman has officially arrived. Related: Toronto FC only have to play three more games in 2023.

Previous: 3-2 loss at CIN | Next: 10/4 at CLT