MLS: Week 3 Power Rankings – Seattle Sounders saw

CINCINNATI, OH - MARCH 17: FC Cincinnati defender Kendall Waston (2) reacts after scoring a goal during FC Cincinnati's inaugural home match against the Portland Timbers on March 17th 2019, at Nippert Stadium in Cincinnati OH. (Photo by Ian Johnson/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)
CINCINNATI, OH - MARCH 17: FC Cincinnati defender Kendall Waston (2) reacts after scoring a goal during FC Cincinnati's inaugural home match against the Portland Timbers on March 17th 2019, at Nippert Stadium in Cincinnati OH. (Photo by Ian Johnson/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images) /

Three weeks into the MLS season, we’ve seen team’s preferred ideas and in-game adjustments. So here are the Week 3 Power Rankings, now with a sample size to draw some true conclusions.

Season-long league campaigns bring plenty of variance, especially with the MLS Power Rankings. The harsh card, or the blowout after a long flight, can lead to an occasional lopsided scoreline. The third week of MLS action has shown plenty of good, some bad, and the occasionally ugly situation.

This MLS Power Rankings is only concerned with games played in 2019. Going on reputation is for the offseason. Real games have real consequences, and there are now enough to draw more meaningful conclusions.

Three weeks in, each team gets three quick statements in the third edition of MLS Power Rankings.

  1. San Jose Earthquakes (1-4 L vs NYRB) Matias Almeyda would be within his rights to have walked to the bar before the final whistle and sounded like he gave it a thought in his post-game quotes. Chris Wondolowski was always a blue-collar poacher and should be benched or played with a second forward. The next time this team contends, or goes five games unbeaten, it will likely be a vastly different roster and front office.
  2. New England Revolution (2-3 L @ TFC) Brad Friedel is being forced back to the drawing board, if reports of changing the high press are to be believed. Optimistically, Carles Gil and Edgar Castillo have had bright starts to the season, and the team looks slightly improved from 2018. Pessimistically, the team has looked allergic to defending far too often.
  3. Orlando City SC (1-3 L vs Montreal) Allowing those two opening goals to happen within a minute is a sign of a team not taking things seriously enough. James O’Connor gave some fine anger-quotes to team media, but he was outcoached before, during, and after the game. Sasha Kjestian’s post-game quotes about learning lessons ring even more hollow since he has been a constant in the under-performing teams.
  4. Vancouver Whitecaps (2-3 @ Houston) Marc dos Santos knew he had a rebuilding project, one that now sports the worst start to a season ever. The possession and attacking ideas are there, just not in the right spots on the field. Until the weak defense is shored up, it’s unlikely Vancouver find much sustained success this season.
  5. Chicago Fire (2-4 L vs Seattle) Fabian Herbers made things slightly interesting and the Fire did manage a dozen shots on goal, but they were outclassed all day. Only once Seattle decided to sit on a three-goal lead did Chicago show much purpose going forward. Bastian Schweinsteiger looks resigned to one last lost season, going on his body language in front of the empty stands.
  6. FC Cincinnati (3-0 vs Portland) FC Cincinnati can print up the First Win and First Shutout, and First Sellout, and, well, the party is likely to run all week. Allan Cruz will not score a more audacious goal this season. The Nippert Stadium environment is already one of the best in the league and this expansion team may be a playoff challenge after all.
  7. Philadelphia Union (1-1 @ Atlanta United) Brenden Aaronson was exceptional considering what could have been reasonably expected. Don’t get too excited, it was the first open-play goal for the Union all season. While the lack of a striker has been a years-long problem, at least Kai Wagner looks a capable left-back.
  8. Montreal Impact (3-1 @ OCSC) Ignacio Piatti can still beat lower-level MLS teams on his own. The time-wasting tactics were cheeky and could have invited an injury-inducing tackle but instead produced a dumb red card. This team does not have the talent to play so cavalier and win against the league’s best.
  9. Colorado Rapids (1-1 vs Sporting KC) Never leave a Rapids home game early. In three games against 2018 playoff teams, the Rapids have shown they belong in the playoff conversation for the first time in years. Anthony Hudson had some confusing substitutions and was gesturing to pack it in with a 1-0 lead, which is troubling.
  10. Portland Timbers (0-3 @ FC Cincinnati) Gio Savarese has a tougher job holding this team together in his second season than he did in reaching the MLS Cu in his debut campaign. The Timbers’ 12-game road trip will leave Portland chasing the playoff line from behind all season. Finishing with ten men twice in three games is an awful habit.
  11. Real Salt Lake (0-5 @ D.C. United) Real Salt Lake took an early 5-0 thrashing last year too, and still made the playoffs, barely. Kyle Beckerman lost his hair last season, this season he just lost a few steps. Mike Petke needs a new recipe to find success.
  12. Minnesota United (2-3 @ LAG) Despite the loss, Minnesota United has handled the opening road trips exceptionally well considering last year’s results.
  13. Toronto FC (3-2 vs New England) Jozy Altidore came to the rescue as a substitute, and will hopefully return from the international break ready for starts once more. Reports of Micheal Bradley’s demise were greatly exaggerated. US youth international Ayo Akinola opened his MLS goals-scored account and finally looks to have the minutes available to fully realize his potential.
  14. FC Dallas (0-1 vs Columbus) Paxton Pomykal and John Nelson both should play twice as many minutes as they did last season, going on this week’s game alone. Dominique Badji has yet to show he was worth the trade. Jessie Gonzalez is growing more confident bossing older players into position, but still has plenty to learn about organization from the back.
  15. LA Galaxy (3-2 vs MUFC) Even without Zlatan Ibrahimovic’s services, the Galaxy played their best game of the year. Uriel Antuna and Sebastian Lletget are becoming irreplaceable in Guillermo Barros Schelleto’s system. David Bingham really must do better with long-range shots for this team to have a chance at trophies.
  16. Atlanta United (1-1 vs Philadelphia Union) It is not time to panic, but it is time to pull back the expectations. The team looks tired after six games in 18 days but has been lacking ideas in the final third since Frank de Boer took over. This team needs another month to find an identity for this year, instead of living on the last.
  17. Houston Dynamo (3-2 vs Vancouver) The greater Houston area should check out the relationship between Memo Rodriguez and Alberth Elis. Wilmer Cabrera is finally tuning his tactics and line-ups to the team’s talent, rather than forcing his tactics on uncomfortable players. Houston gave away two soft goals and could not put away a 10-man Whitecaps team.
  18. NYCFC (2-2 vs LAFC) This team has too much talent to not have a proper pitch. This team is too valuable to MLS to not have a proper pitch. Dome Torrent has the team playing well around Alexandru Mitrita, and the aggressive style to compact the game for opponents fits their field well.
  19. Columbus Crew (1-0 vs FCD) Gaston Sauro knows the runs to make on set pieces. Caleb Porter is settling into the role fine. Zach Steffen is going to be hard to replace.
  20. D.C. United (5-0 vs RSL) It is really hard to judge a team with a two-man advantage, but D.C. United created those situations and took advantage completely. Wayne Rooney’s hattrick brought out the best of Audi’s atmosphere. Bill Hamid wants everyone, MLS keepers included, to recognize another clean sheet.
  21. Sporting KC ( 1-1 @ Colorado) Sporting KC is the last MLS team in the CONCACAF Champions League after a 3-0 win at home. A couple of nights later, Sporting KC traveled to altitude and won a point with a late Johnny Russel freekick. Those doubts about Peter Vermes’ offseason moves are all but forgotten.
  22. LAFC (2-2 vs NYCFC) Carlos Vela’s MVP aspirations are becoming a reality. Adama Diomande cannot miss that sitter. Andre Horta’s absence shows Bob Bradley is still a hard-up demanding coach.
  23. New York Red Bulls (4-1 vs San Jose) Kaku had more sniping social media posts than minutes played. The scoreline is flattering to New York. Alex Muyl is the next homegrown Red Bull making a USMNT debut soon.
  24. Seattle Sounders (4-2 at Chicago Fire) Jordan Morris is back. The attack is better than ever. Seattle invented fast starts, being nine points better than a now passe slow start.