One of the attractions of MLS is its unpredictability. This obviously applies during the season, but especially when it comes to pre-season predictions. We all go into a season with expectations for the teams, and every year there are several that are miles better than anyone else.
This leads us to the question: At what point do you become a theist? The early part of the season may be fool’s gold, but at some point you’ve seen enough that you have to admit: “I didn’t see this coming, but there’s clearly something there.”
That’s not quite the case at the top of the rankings this week, as the best teams still appear to be the best teams – but what about concerns about St. Louis City in their inaugural season? No matter, the newcomer appears to be a genuine playoff contender. And the San Jose earthquake has definitely left behind the volatility of the Matias Almeida years.
Where do these teams and everyone else stack up after three weeks? Let’s dig
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Past Ranking: 3
The Black and Gold beat the Revs 4–0, and Dennis Bounga added A Bonus Rock-Paper-Scissors Win in his account. It’s all fun and games for LAFC.
Past Ranking: 5
Gary is still unbeaten through three games, has a marquee win after defeating Seattle over the weekend and is showing an impressive ability to control both the tempo and where the pitch matches are played. Teams shouldn’t have this type of versatility at the start of the season, but Cinci has.
Past Ranking: 2
The Sounders lost in Cincinnati, but it’s hard to come back feeling bad about them. They played well and could have won on any other day. Such is the nature of a good team going on the road.
Past Ranking: 1
Philly needed 40 minutes with the man advantage and a 90th-minute goal, courtesy of some terrific goalkeeping, to beat Chicago, but of greater concern was the injury to goalkeeper Andre Blake. There’s no reason to question the Union’s long term, but the short term for a team predicted by many (including here) to be the best team in the league is looking shakier than expected.
Past Ranking: 7
The Five Stripes knew that Charlotte could be exposed on the left side of their defense and they attacked her ruthlessly. The result was a 3–0 victory that may not have been an advertisement for The Beautiful Game, but showed a team that came prepared and had the tools to execute a simple game plan. This goes a long way in the slog of the regular season.
Past Ranking: 6
An 18-year-old Owen Wolf picked up the ball not far from midfield, took it 25 yards and struck a precise shot into the bottom corner. So good was this Austin goal in a 2-1 win over RSL thanks to a John Gallagher miss that we forgot about their midweek Champions League disaster for a while.
Past Ranking: 8
“You can have the ball, we’ll have all the chances” is the Nashville way, and they executed it perfectly again in the win over Montreal.
Past Ranking: 4
Lions scored! Congratulations to him on his first goal of the season in a 1-1 draw with DC and double congratulations on a more heavy squad rotation that sets them up well for Tigres’ journey to the Champions League. He has made it very clear where his focus is right now.
Past Ranking: 9
TFC had the Crew on the backfoot, but Columbus found his footing and moved the game with the ball as the game went on. Getting the draw in Toronto is encouraging enough, but the way they progressed throughout the competition is really important as the Crew continue to learn Wilfred Nancy’s system.
Past Ranking: 10
Dallas will wonder how they took home only one point from Vancouver instead of all three, not only because they were the better team, but also because when one centre-back assists another centre-back on a goal That should count double.
Past Ranking: 26
This team just makes sense. They know what they have to do, they have the players to do it and they execute. It’s hardly flashy, but, especially this early in the season when a lot of teams are still figuring things out, it serves up points. Their win over Portland gives them nine out of nine, and even if teams start to catch up a bit, these points give them a huge buffer.
Past Ranking: 12
Minnesota cold and snow is an ugly game and no one loves an ugly game like the Red Bulls. There will be plenty of sneezes on the way back to New Jersey, but no one will sneeze at the well-earning place.
Past Ranking: 16
The Rapids did a good job of making it tough on the Quakes, but they were patient, united and kept hitting until a deflection netted them the win. We’ve said it before and we’ll say it again: This team is highly capable.
Past Ranking: 11
The loss to NYCFC isn’t a cause for concern, but Gregor has to suffer a serious injury.
Past Ranking: 14
There is nothing more exciting than a young homegrown striker and DeAndre Kerr’s TFC fans are dreaming after scoring on his first start of the season in a draw with Columbus.
Past Ranking: 19
The Loons celebrated their home opener on a snow-covered field with their Northern Lights kits on. Even though the football wasn’t a 1-1 tie with RBNY, it was still gorgeous to watch.
Past Ranking: 17
Is 30 shots and no goals good enough? No, but it’s impressive in its own way. They more than deserved the draw with the Galaxy and it looks like they are not far from being a healthy team for the first time all season, so patience is needed, but if they want to score one (1) goal this season If so, that would probably be a good idea.
Past Ranking: 21
The Pigeons were very good in their third and middle third. The final third could still use some work, but they are starting to figure things out and are happy to make it their goal to beat Miami.
Past Ranking: 24
On another day, DC would have been celebrating a win, but Saturday was not the day as Pedro Gallese was in goal for Orlando. Wayne Rooney’s side deserved the least from Chris Durkin’s late equalizer.
Past Ranking: 15
It’s not the worst thing in the world when a new signing has some trouble adjusting to a new league, but it is when you’re the Timbers and you made a few other upgrades to a team that was notably different a year ago. Wasn’t better than Newly designated player Evander was mostly missing again, with Portland suffering a home loss to St. Louis, and the Timbers had some work to do before the transfer window closed.
Past Ranking: 13
Sometimes the scoreboard lies, but it certainly didn’t lie in the Revs’ 4-0 loss to LAFC.
Past Ranking: 20
No one is going to complain about the far point, but anyone watching the Galaxy play in Kansas City will certainly have some complaints.
Past Ranking: 18
The midfield was once again in a mess as RSL fell at home to Austin. He has now played just one good half of six appearances to start the season. The math isn’t great on that.
Past Ranking: 28
We’re still waiting for Caps to look good, but we’re no longer waiting for his first point of the season. The 1-1 draw with Dallas was enough to put together and leave you wanting more.
Past Ranking: 22
It’s hard to feel that Charlotte just needs a little time to sort things out when they’ve gotten progressively worse with each game this season. The latest was a 3–0 defeat at home to Atalanta which lasted much of the first 15 minutes of play.
Past Ranking: 25
While the Dynamo kick up their feet on their bye week looking forward to their next match against Austin, their rivals are playing in the league and twice in the Champions League. Hello, Fresh Feet.
Past Ranking: 29
They had to play the last 40 minutes down after Fabian Herbers was sent off, Chris Brady conceded a point in the 90th minute and Kei Kamara topped it off with a red card of his own. And yet, the Fire played very well for the first 50 minutes. It’s not a good team right now, but they are giving fans enough chances to see their progress.
Past Ranking: 27
It’s hard to win when you don’t score, and the Rapids haven’t scored this season, even after the loss in San Jose.
Past Ranking: 23
Once Montreal decided to flip so much of the squad and make such a drastic managerial change toward Hernán Losada, there was no doubt they were making the decision to suffer short term for long term gain – But they may not have imagined it to be so bad in the beginning. They weren’t even competitive enough to lose to Nashville, and that has been the norm this season.