MLS Power Rankings: Three teams in the running for league's best

OK, so what did we learn? Clearly the Power Rankings Politburo overestimated a few teams (the Chicago Fire jump to mind) before the first whistle blew last weekend, and just as clearly we may have slighted teams like Real Salt Lake and the Montreal Impact a bit. But here's what we know: There's a three-horse race for the best team in MLS with one game in the books, and only one team who can lay claim to No. 19 in the polls.

Note: The LA Galaxy, Houston Dynamo and Seattle Sounders enter CONCACAF Champions League this week and do not play league games. Only MLS league games will be reflected in the rankings. The Power Rankings are voted on by the editorial staff at, and all comments are written by editor Matthew Doyle.

Let us know what you think in the comments below.

Rank Trending Club Comment


Last: 1

"Smart" can make up for a lot of shortcomings in the "big, strong, fast" departments. Mike Magee gave a Wondolowski-esque clinic in off-the-ball movement, and then did his best van Basten impression with those finishes. Also worth noting that the central midfield and central defense were both dominant.


Last: 2

SKC is the only one of the top three teams that struggled at all, and were lucky they didn't give up three or four in the first half at Philly. Then they turned on the style in the second 45, stringing together long sequences, controlling the tempo and making all that midfield talent count. There's worry, though, that the backline is "gappy," for lack of a more clinical term.


Last: 3

That was a thorough and professional victory by Houston against a very good D.C. team, and if Will Bruin had put on his finishing boots beforehand, it could have been even more emphatic. It was also quite probably Rico Clark's best game since his return (and maybe longer) – just the kind of performance you'd want heading into the CCL.


Last: 8

Through 65 minutes, RSL gave up more chances, more possession, and more of the field, but down the stretch Álvaro Saborío showed why he's probably the most underrated DP in the league with two textbook finishes. The play of Sebastian Velasquez and Luis Gil may be even more exciting, though, especially in the midst of a generational shift in Utah.


Last: 4

San Jose showed that they're more than just bombing down the flanks and whipping in crosses, as they created from all angles against RSL. We're guessing that the next time Chris Wondolowski has seven shots, he buries a couple of them. We'll give him a mulligan for this week, but it's hard to shake the feeling that the Quakes would have won this one last year.  


Last: 5

D.C. missed Dwayne De Rosario's creativity and fearlessness in the center of the park, and his absence ended up putting too much of the creative impetus on Chris Pontius (who still managed to have a pretty good game). Defensive subplot: This team looked very, very vulnerable on set pieces, even without the James Riley own-goal.


Last: 10

Beat one of the league's worst teams at home by only one goal, lose your captain and best defender for the year, and move up three spots? Yeah, we may be jumping the gun here, but the seeds of a dominant attacking team were sown in that Gershon Koffie goal, and we expect the 'Caps to improve week after week. Even without Jay DeMerit, the talent is there.


Last: 6

Like the Quakes, the Sounders were stymied by their own profligate finishing (and an extra layer of paint on the crossbar) in a disappointing season-opening loss. Like the Quakes, we're only going to drop them a little bit. But we wonder what a repeat of last year's CCL flameout would do to this team's already fragile confidence.


Last: 14


Catenaccio wins again! Montreal played deep, used their only forward as a midfield outlet valve, and were content to hit on the counter. It wasn't pretty, save for the buildup to Davy Arnaud's Goal of the Week nominee, but it damn sure was effective. Really couldn't ask for a better start to the Marco Schällibaum era.


Last: 11

It looks like Federico Higuaín wasn't a one-year wonder. The little playmaker was exactly what the Crew wanted (and needed) him to be against Chivas, and when he plays like that, everyone around him plays better as a result. Andy Gruenebaum deserves some credit as well. That's a solid foundation to build on. 


Last: 9

What team do we rank: the ruthless, energetic side that punished every mistake Portland made in the first 30 minutes, or the listless, confused one that spent the final hour chasing the game before coughing up two points? It's pretty clear New York, for all their talent, have a ton of work to do building chemistry on both sides of the ball.


Last: 13

It seems like Diego Valeri is the real deal. And behind him, Diego Chará and Will Johnson gave exactly the kinds of box-to-box effort we've come to expect from them. That means the wild card is Darlington Nagbe, who needs to bottle that second half and bring it with him week after week after week. He's talented enough to do that, but his mentality is still a question.


Last: 12

Of all the winning teams, FC Dallas were by far the least impressive, needing an incredible goalkeeping error for their only goal, and then bunkering in at home against a team that is definitely not amongst the MLS elite. David Ferreira was missing in action out wide, and Raúl Fernández looked pretty fumbly. Three points is three points, but that was not a confidence-building win.


Last: 7


Sean Johnson deserved better than a 4-0 hammering. He just about single-handedly kept Chicago in the game for more than an hour before the dam well and truly burst. The biggest culprit on defense was an inability to pressure the ball in central midfield, giving LA's playmakers plenty of time to pick their spots. Lots of film for the Fire to study.

  • Last Week: Lost at LA, 4-0
  • This Week: Saturday vs. New England (7:30 pm ET, NBCSN)


Last: 16

DeShorn Brown probably deserved a goal, and if last weekend was any indication, he will get his fair share as a rookie. He and Dillon Powers both looked like immediate contributors for a team that desperately needs some attacking spark. As for the goalkeeping, the less said, the better.


Last: 17

A bye week gave Jay Heaps a little extra time to prepare, and a little extra studying to do. His Revs won't go into very many road games as the favorites this season, but given how bad the Fire looked against LA, New England have to like their chances of taking at least a point out of Bridgeview.

  • Last Week: Bye
  • This Week: Saturday at Chicago (7:30 pm ET, NBCSN)


Last: 15

There just didn't seem to be anything Philadelphia could do to slow down the Sporting attack once SKC got rolling – a major concern since the new, veteran-laden squad was supposed to be more pragmatic than previous Union offerings. Just as worrying is that the second-half changes didn't do anything to shift the balance.


Last: 19

Step 1 for any bad team trying to improve is to get the shape right, and so we tip our collective hat to Ryan Nelsen. Toronto looked way more organized than they had any right to expect, and that alone will make them a much tougher out than in 2012. Getting Luis Silva back should help the anemic attack cause some worries – that'll have to be Step 2.


Last: 18

The Power Rankings Politburo finds Chelís – win or lose – endlessly entertaining. The first chapter of our forthcoming book will be titled I've Got to Get All the Stupidities out of My Head. We wish all managers were as honest!