NYCFC takes over top spot as MLS Power Rankings get major makeover
A look at how the teams in Major League Soccer stack up after Week 1 of the season.
1. NYCFC (+3)
One of the league’s better road teams in 2017 started off the new season with an impressive win in Kansas City. David Villa wasn’t perfect but his assist for NYCFC’s first goal of the year was an excellent start to his season.
2. Columbus Crew (+4)
Crew SC laid down a clear marker that it can play with the best in the Eastern Conference by taking down Toronto at BMO Field. If the combination of Federico Higuain and Gyasi Zardes play like that all year, Columbus will be a contender.
3. Houston Dynamo (+6)
The Dynamo are out to prove last year’s march to the Western Conference final wasn’t a fluke and a 4-0 thrashing of highly regarded Atlanta United is a good first step. The high press and lightning quick attack are a dangerous combination.
4. Toronto FC (-3)
It wasn’t the start the champs wanted to their MLS Cup follow-up campaign, losing to Columbus at home and failing to score in the process. Maybe it was the short offseason or the Champions League but either way, the Reds lost at home — something they did just once last year.
5. Atlanta United (-3)
Tata Martino’s alchemy failed in Week 1 in spectacular fashion. It wasn’t just that the Dynamo took down one of the Eastern Conference favorites, it’s that they did it so easily. The Five Stripes have a hole in midfield that needs to be fixed.
6. Seattle Sounders (-3)
Seattle’s focus on the Champions League tested the club’s depth early. The result was a disappointing home loss to expansion side LAFC and some headaches over the attacking combinations.
7. Chicago Fire (-2)
The Fire have to wait until Week 2 to get their season started. Then we’ll see what Bastian Schweinsteiger & Co. are made of.
8. San Jose Earthquakes (+4)
The schedule was kind to the Quakes on opening weekend with a home tilt against Minnesota United. New head coach Mikael Stahre notched his first win on the job thanks in part to a pair of goals from Danny Hoesen. No matter the competition, the San Jose attack impressed.
9. Vancouver Whitecaps (+2)
Kei Kamara scored on his debut for the Whitecaps, doing what he does best by heading the ball home. Vancouver will need a lot of that this season, in addition to the continued growth of Alphonso Davies, who chipped in with a goal of his own.
10. New York Red Bulls (-2)
The Red Bulls sat idle this week with CONCACAF Champions League play impacting the schedule. All eyes will be on their season opener at home to Portland on March 10.
11. LA Galaxy (+8)
There are reasons to be positive about the new-look Galaxy thanks to an opening weekend home win. Ola Kamara showed why LA traded for him and Romain Alessandrini picked up where he left off in 2017. The only problem: Alessandrini came off early with what looks to be a muscle injury.
12. Philadelphia Union (+5)
The Union’s biggest offseason acquisition (David Accam) didn’t score, but last year’s top goal scorer (C.J. Sapong) and an 18-year-old local kid (Anthony Fontana) did. The competition will get tougher from here.
13. Portland Timbers (-6)
The Timbers showed some fight on the road in Carson but ultimately fell short in a 2-1 loss to the Galaxy. The defense was shaky and there have to be concerns for Giovanni Savarese about simple communication errors at the back.
14. Sporting Kansas City (-4)
SKC was a step too slow to keep up with NYCFC in its 2018 home debut. Aside from a late penalty call that referee Mark Geiger reversed using VAR, Sporting’s attack was limited to an abundance of low-percentage crosses.
15. Real Salt Lake (-2)
RSL was well on its way to three road points in Frisco when a disastrous moment from Marcelo Silva resulted in an own goal and a disappointing draw. Nick Rimando showed why he remains so important to RSL even at 38 years old.
16. LAFC (+7)
Was LAFC good on the road in a 1-0 win over the Sounders or were the Sounders complicit in their mediocrity? It hardly matters for the expansion side, which is already ahead of schedule thanks Diego Rossi’s tally at Century Link Field.
17. D.C. United (+3)
Despite being up a man and a goal on the road in Orlando, United left Florida with just a point. That’s a disappointing return for the Black & Red, who will need to take advantage of every opportunity to accrue road points ahead of Audi Field’s opening this summer.
18. FC Dallas (-4)
Oscar Pareja’s side came up against a good goalkeeping performance and its own wastefulness in front of goal. The single point isn’t good enough but FC Dallas will count itself lucky that a point was earned at all.
19. New England Revolution(-4)
Brad Freidel’s tenure with the Revolution started poorly due to a toothless attack and a defense that blundered its way into two red cards for Claude Dieina and Antonio Dalamea Mlinar. Next week will be difficult with both first choice center-backs out due to suspension.
20. Orlando City (-4)
Playing with a weakened team due to suspension and injury, the Lions nearly figured out a way to lose to 2017’s last-place team in the Eastern Conference. Considering the circumstances — several starters missing, down a man for almost an hour — the draw will feel like a win.
21. Montreal Impact (-3)
A new head coach and a host of new faces marked the Impact’s 2018 debut. Montreal canceled out Vancouver for a half but succumbed in the second 45. Reviews are mixed on the additions, though playing in Vancouver is never the best place by which to judge a team.
22. Minnesota United (-1)
The Loons took a casual approach to team-building during the offseason and showed many of the same issues to start 2018 that marred their debut season. If the defense doesn’t do better, improvement will be hard to come by.
23. Colorado Rapids (-1)
No game for the Rapids this week because of the CONCACAF Champions League.
Jason Davis covers Major League Soccer and the United States national team for ESPN FC. Twitter: @davisjsn.