Power Rankings

Power Rankings: Which teams can catch the Columbus Crew?

Power Rankings - Matchday 5 - Cucho

What a week in MLS.

Concacaf Champions Cup teams rode ups and downs, two Western Conference teams played a wild match while everyone on the East Coast slept in bed, and an MLS team went viral for a goal that doesn’t really make sense even after you’ve watched it 30 times. It was truly a 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. The 2024 MLSsoccer.com Power Rankings Committee regrets how several members confused their MLS Power Rankings ballot with their "Love Is Blind" Power Couple Power Rankings ballot and, despite democracy voting in favor of it, we could not rank Cameron and Lauren ahead of your favorites.

I mean, come on.

The Crew repeatedly shrugged off New York’s press like it didn’t exist in a 3-0 win. In the meantime, they took down Houston in Concacaf Champions Cup to arrange a quarterfinal matchup with Tigres. They may just have the firepower to go toe-to-toe with them. They’re that good.

Previous: 3-0 win vs. RBNY | Next: 3/23 at CLT

Inter Miami took care of business in Concacaf Champions Cup against Nashville to finish what they started in the first leg’s comeback. Then they turned around and earned three points in D.C. despite missing Lionel Messi and despite going down 1-0 early.

It’s the same as it ever was for this team. They’re a horror movie villain who isn’t officially dead until you’ve cut them up and burned the pieces. And even then…

Previous: 3-1 win at DC | Next 3/23 at RBNY

Last year, it felt like Atlanta United could give up a goal at any moment. It’s great to have the attacking firepower they do, but it only goes so far when you’re liable to blow whatever lead you’ve grabbed or when you’re constantly playing from behind. This year, thanks largely to the addition of center backs Stian Gregersen and Derrick Williams along with new No. 6 Bartosz Slisz, the Five Stripes look confident defending for the first time in a long time. They kept a clean sheet in their 2-0 win over Orlando and allowed only one late clear-cut chance despite playing against the ball for most of the game.

Oh, and the firepower is still there too.

There are shades of 2023 Cincinnati in the way Atlanta have addressed and appeared to immediately solve their most glaring weakness.

Previous: 2-0 win vs. ORL | Next: 3/23 at TOR

Eric Ramsay’s debut as head coach went as well as anyone could have asked for. The Loons were in control against LAFC and earned a 2-0 home win to give them 10 points in four games. A home win may not seem like such a huge deal in a vacuum, but don’t forget Minnesota had an inexplicably terrible home record last season. The win, along with the return of Emanuel Reynoso, are a couple of outstanding signs.

Another outstanding sign is Robin Lod has been back in the lineup and playing a key role again. We didn’t talk enough about his absence last season and it’s clear the Loons are much better off with him available. He scored the opener in this weekend’s win.

Overall, it’s tough to gauge exactly how good this team is. But points in March count the same as they do in November. They're well on their way to a playoff spot already. As they get healthier and we learn more about Ramsay’s game model, we’ll start to understand where their ceiling actually is. It could end up being higher than anyone expected.

Previous: 2-0 win vs. LAFC | Next: Bye

It had to hurt to see Brandon Vazquez be the one to kill off their CCC hopes this week, but Cincy bounced back to take care of business on the road against New England. Luciano Acosta had a goal and an assist in the 2-1 win after coming on at halftime.

Previous: 2-1 win at NE | Next: 3/23 vs. NYC

Joseph Paintsil: A whole entire nightmare to deal with.

The Galaxy have a bonafide star in Paintsil and one of the scariest attacks in the league because of it. Unfortunately, their defense still has plenty of imperfections. They weren’t at their best in a 3-3 draw against St. Louis, but, then again, you probably can’t expect too many overhead kicks from center backs to be the reason you miss out on three points. It seems like we can chalk the draw up to MLS After Dark being too powerful a force more than anything.

Previous: 3-3 draw vs. STL | Next: 3/23 at SKC

The Whitecaps are quietly putting together an impressive start to the year. Vancouver have seven points through their first three games after a 3-1 win at Dallas last weekend. They’re as solid as any team in the West and could very well be set to hang out at the top of the conference for the majority of the year.

Previous: 3-1 win at DAL | Next: 3/23 vs. RSL

Uhh yeah, sure, why not?

It doesn’t feel like there’s a ton to take away from St. Louis’ wild 3-3 draw against LA, but a road point against a good team is a great result. Even if it takes something a bit out of the ordinary to get it.

Previous: 3-3 draw at LA | Next: 3/23 vs. DC

The Red Bulls faced their biggest test of the season so far when they went to Columbus. They did not pass. The Crew ran rampant in a 3-0 win and the Red Bulls got a sense of how far they have to go to compete with the Tier One teams in the league. 

Previous: 3-0 loss at CLB | Next: 3/23 vs. MIA

Montréal were well on their way to their 10th point in four road games until the universe intervened. Trips to D.C. and Seattle are up next before they can finally head home.

Previous: 4-3 loss at CHI | Next: Bye

The Timbers created plenty against Houston, but couldn’t break through on the road. It happens.

A DP striker could help with that in the future. For now, there’s still no official word on Portland’s next big signing.

Previous: 1-0 loss at HOU | Next: 3/23 vs. PHI

Sporting KC took care of business against San Jose and did it in style.

It’s the first time they’ve picked up a result besides a draw. Win and a pretty goal aside, we should probably note how they’ve created fewer chances than any team that’s played four games. 

Previous: 2-1 win vs. SJ | Next: 3/23 vs. LA

Sam Surridge sent home a header and Alex Muyl Moss’d a defender to give Nashville a 2-1 home win against Charlotte. They didn’t make it out alive against Miami in CCC, but at least they got Surridge on the board for the first time this year.

Previous: 2-1 win vs. CLT | Next: 3/23 at LAFC

D.C. United took an early lead on Inter Miami, but, as we all know by now, you need a little more than that to get the job done. They had chances that didn’t go their way, though. If you’re not going to take your opportunities (or catch a break), Miami will inevitably make you regret it. 

The good news is this team continues to look solid in their first few games under Troy Lesesne. They’re good enough to challenge for a playoff spot. 

Previous: 3-1 loss vs. MIA | Next: 3/23 at STL

Normally we would move on without making eye contact, but it’s worth talking about where the Union are after a 6-0 defeat to Pachuca in Concacaf Champions Cup and a 2-2 draw at Austin. Because it feels like all of the worries about not adding to or refreshing the roster in some way this offseason came back to bite them exactly how everyone feared it might bite them.

It’s been a long, long time since the Union folded like that in a moment of adversity. They didn’t look too interested in redeeming themselves this weekend in Austin, either. Just totally out-of-character stuff from a team that’s gotten so much right in the last few seasons. It would be shocking to see this spiral to the point where the Union are having to claw their way to a playoff spot, but it seems plausible in a way it hasn’t in a long while.

Previous: 2-2 draw at ATX | Next: 3/23 at POR

Toronto have picked up a couple of wins to start the year, but finally took their first loss when they went to The Bronx last weekend. They’ve scored just three goals in four games.

Previous: 2-1 loss at NYC | Next: 3/23 vs. ATL

Man, other than their 2-1 win over Seattle to start the year, it’s been a grind. LAFC haven’t scored since that win and fell 2-0 at Minnesota over the weekend. They could very well end up making their way toward the top of the West over time, but, right now, with so much turnover and two open DP spots, this group doesn’t seem to be the Death Star version of LAFC you’ve probably come to fear. 

Previous: 2-0 loss at MIN | Next: 3/23 vs. NSH

It’s… not going great.

The Sounders were a little lucky to come away with a point against Colorado last weekend after Josh Atencio’s second yellow derailed things in the second half. The Sounders have two points and two goals through their first three games and it will still be a moment before they’re at full strength. They don’t look like the Shield-contending team some expected. Not yet anyway.

Previous: 1-1 draw vs. COL | Next: 3/23 at SJ

The Rapids were gifted a man advantage after Seattle picked up a second yellow and eventually capitalized on it to earn a 1-1 draw on the road. Kévin Cabral (!!!!!!!) found the equalizer in this one and the Rapids were unlucky to not find a winner. Colorado have five points in four games and their only loss came when they allowed four goals on 0.4 xG to Portland. This is going pretty well all considered.

Previous: 1-1 draw at SEA | Next: 3/23 vs. HOU

Houston are officially out of Concacaf Champions Cup and can turn their focus solely to MLS now. That’s good news for their season, as is the fact they pulled out a win last weekend against Portland despite a double-game week. Yeah, they really only created one decent chance, but you take points however you can get them when you’re dealing with CCC. 

Previous: 1-0 win vs. POR | Next: 3/23 at COL

RSL took the week off to recover from their Rocky Mountain Cup loss to Colorado. They’ll face Vancouver on Saturday.

Previous: Bye | Next: 3/23 at VAN

This is going about as poorly as anyone could have expected. Dallas fell to Vancouver in a 3-1 home loss and now have just three points through four games. Their lone win came via a last-second winner against San Jose. They also may have already abandoned their switch to a back three?

Injuries certainly haven’t helped things, but expectations were higher than this. Even when Dallas struggled to find the net last year, they were at least able to grind out results thanks to a stingy defense. So far this year, they’re giving up two goals a game. 

Previous: 3-1 loss vs. VAN | Next: Bye

And lo, God said to the angels, “Y’all have been doing what to this team for the last 14 years? Oh man, that’s hilarious. For real though, we probably need to even that out a bit.”

You’ll never see anything like it again.

But don’t forget two, less ordained goals before Kellyn Acosta’s miracle brought the Fire back from a two-goal deficit in the 84th minute. New DP Hugo Cuypers got on the board for the first time in his MLS career in this one. This would have been somewhat of a positive step in the right direction even if a Wrigley Field pop-fly didn’t end up in the back of the net.

Previous: 4-3 win vs. MTL | Next: 3/23 at NE

Charlotte came up short on the road against Nashville. They’re still waiting on new DP winger Liel Abada to debut.

Previous: 2-1 loss at NSH | Next: 3/23 vs. CLB

That’s a bit more like it. It’s not a season-defining moment or anything, but NYCFC kept things from spiraling out of control when they came back from a 1-0 deficit to take down Toronto. That’s the kind of resolve they haven’t shown much lately. It’s the first positive step in a while for this group.

Now they have to build on it in their next two games…[checking]...on the road against FC Cincinnati and Inter Miami. Oof.

Previous: 2-1 win vs. TOR | Next: 3/23 at CIN

Austin are still chasing their first win of the season but, hey, they’ve only lost once in four games after a draw against the Union on Saturday. Maybe now that Sebastián Driussi is available and getting healthier, they can earn three points here and there. If they do earn three points sometime soon, they’ll earn their second win since July 15, 2023.

Previous: 2-2 draw vs. PHI | Next: 3/23 at ORL

It’s not clear how worried we should be about Orlando. They started slowly last year while losing to Tigres in CCC, recovering, then taking off in the second half and finishing second in the league. They’ve started slowly this year and just lost to Tigres. History tells us they’ll be fine. But, then again, the Lions outperformed their underlying numbers at a near-historic rate over the last half of 2023. Maybe we saw a mirage?

Anyway, after their loss to Atlanta this weekend, Orlando have one point in their first four games. They understandably looked disjointed the entire night without center-mids César Araújo and Wilder Cartagena, but still, they haven’t looked all that great with them in the lineup. It’s fair to be a bit worried. They need to bounce back this weekend when they host Austin.

Previous: 2-0 loss at ATL | Next: 3/23 vs. ATX

Have New England’s playoff hopes already been gently tossed over a stadium railing? The Revs have lost their first four games, including Sunday's 2-1 defeat at home to FC Cincinnati. That’s not the only bad news, though. The Revs moved on in Concacaf Champions Cup and will face Club América in the quarterfinals. That’s two more midweek games to worry about and they don't get much harder than this in North America. It might not get better for a while in New England. 

Previous: 2-1 loss vs. CIN | Next: 3/23 vs. CHI

The Wooden Spoon is calling. Through four games, the Quakes have no points and a negative-6 goal differential. They’re the only team with less than three points that isn’t in CCC or… uh… Seattle.

Previous: 2-1 loss at SKC | Next: 3/23 vs. SEA