MLS Power Rankings: Matchday 11

Happy Matchday 11 to all who celebrate! While the league may call it Matchday 11, this is the week where most teams have played 10 matches. And while the season is still in it’s early stages, contenders and pretenders are starting to emerge.

We’re breaking the league down into tiers. These aren’t set in stone predictions, but rather reflections of how teams have performed from the first 10 weeks of the season. Let’s dive in.

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For a detailed breakdown of how our OPI model works, check out this explainer from 2022. Here’s the shortened version:

  • Points per game – 30%
  • Goal difference – 15%
  • Form in last five games – 15%
  • Expected goal difference – 12.5%
  • Strength of schedule – 12.5%
  • Home and away form – 12.5%
  • Goals added – 2.5%

Matchday 11 Power Rankings

1Inter Miami CF4-1 win at NE21.29+6+4.54
2Vancouver Whitecaps1-1 draw at RBNY21.26-1+1.24
3Minnesota United2-1 win vs SKC19.93+3+3.11
4New York Red Bulls1-1 draw vs VAN19.80-1+1.04
5Real Salt Lake2-1 win at PHI19.52-3+0.71
6LAFC3-2 win vs POR18.08+2+3.11
7FC Cincinnati2-1 win vs COL17.79+3+3.25
8Philadelphia Union1-2 loss vs RSL17.50-3+0.63
9LA Galaxy0-2 loss at ATX16.40-5-1.76
10DC United2-1 win vs SEA15.54+3+2.86
11Columbus Crew0-0 draw vs MTL15.47-2+0.81
12New York City FC2-1 win vs CLT15.40+2+3.07
13Atlanta United0-0 draw at CHI15.07-1+0.83
14Colorado Rapids1-2 loss at CIN13.88-3-0.38
15St. Louis CITY SCBye13.33
16Toronto FC2-1 win at ORL12.06+2+2.74
17Charlotte FC1-2 loss at NYC10.800-0.52
18Houston Dynamo0-2 loss at DAL10.20-2-1.71
19Austin FC2-0 win vs LA9.03+5+3.45
20Seattle Sounders1-2 loss at DC8.86-1-0.15
21CF Montréal0-0 draw at CLB8.53+0.13
22Sporting KC1-2 loss at MIN8.06-2-0.75
23Portland Timbers2-3 loss at LAFC6.92-0.11
24Orlando City SC1-2 loss vs TOR6.90-2-0.88
25FC Dallas2-0 win vs HOU6.33+2+4.39
26Chicago Fire0-0 draw vs ATL5.26-1+0.85
27Nashville SC1-1 draw vs SJ3.36-1-0.16
28San Jose Earthquakes1-1 draw at NSH0.17+1.08
29New England Revolution1-4 loss vs MIA-3.34-1.64

Tier 1 – Elite

1. Inter Miami – Just 0.04 points behind the Whitecaps, Miami have climbed the rankings quickly since exiting Concacaf Champions Cup, and their more regular schedule has brought more consistency. I expect them to be on top of the rankings for basically the rest of 2024. 1.91 points per game. 2.36 goals per game. Oh yeah, and Lionel Messi.

11. Columbus Crew – Yes, I’m cheating here. These rankings don’t include any non-MLS results, so Columbus’s Concacaf Champions Cup run doesn’t do anything for their score. In reality, the Crew are one of (maybe the) best team in MLS. They’ve navigated their CCC run really well, even with heavy rotation from Wilfried Nancy. Once they can solely focus on MLS, I think they’ll be utterly dominant.

2. Vancouver Whitecaps – I know the jury is still out on the Whitecaps in a lot of ways. But this team continues to meet every challenge they face. Only Miami are winning more points per game. Only Miami have a better goal differential per game. The ‘Caps have the toughest strength of schedule of any team in the West. They’re really good.

3. Minnesota United – No one thought Minnesota would be this good, even with Emmanuel Reynoso. Now, with maybe the best pure No. 10 in MLS awol once again and with the youngest head coach in the league on the touchline, they’ve turned into a fantastically cohesive side who can beat you in several different ways, and they’re getting a Best XI-caliber performance from Robin Lod. We’ll see if they can sustain it, but they don’t look like they’re slowing down.

4. New York Red Bulls – Like Minnesota, RBNY are another team that surprised people with a huge shift in how they play. Sandro Schwartz still mixes in the odd press, but it’s not the all-out press they’ve used for a decade. Instead they’ve dropped their lines, actually play with the ball (a wild concept for any of the Red Bull global teams) and have a dynamic and fluid attack. At this point I won’t be shocked if they’re a conference finalist.

5. Real Salt Lake – Another really fun, dynamic and dangerous team. They’re able to change shape and get consistent performances from players 1-16 on their roster, and are getting an MVP-level season from Chicho Arango, who’s all of a sudden one of the most well-rounded attackers in MLS. Their defense is quietly elite, conceding a league-best 0.90 goals per game, despite playing multiple games with no healthy center backs. In my mind they’re the Western Conference favorites.

Tier 2 – Definitely Good

6. LAFC – Denis Bouanga is a superhuman striker of the ball, and runs downhill at opposing defenses for 90 minutes. He’s truly elite. The rest of this team has concerns, especially on the backline, which was thin before injuries and is even thinner now. But with two open DP spot (a wild thing for a team with LAFC’s ambition to have) and Olivier Giroud coming in the summer, this team looks set to get a lot better quickly.

7. FC Cincinnati – Lucho Acosta hasn’t maintained his 2023 pace, but he’s still been among MLS’s very best attackers. Defensively they’re tied for the best goals-against record, but their attack is still going through some growing pains, primarily revolving around the departures of Álvaro Barreal and Brandon Vazquez. Luca Orellano is starting to look like a very good Barreal replacement, but Aaron Boupendza is really struggling. He’s been dropped the last two games in favor of Corey Baird and Yayu Kubo, and when he has played he’s never looked on the same page as Acosta. Pat Noonan needs to figure this out quickly. Signing Kevin Kelsy is a great first step.

8. Philadelphia Union – It’s kind of the same story for the Union; maintain the same core, spend minimally, and add academy talent. It’s worked this season, though, with Quinn Sullivan especially taking a giant step forward, and Julian Carranza continuing to be one of the league’s more under-the-radar No. 9s. Their defense has been a mess, though. Jack Elliot and Jakob Glesnes both look a half-step behind their 2023 form, and Andre Blake has had a nightmare start to 2024. Until they improve at the back, their ceiling drops significantly.

9. LA Galaxy – The Galaxy are a vibe. Riqui Puig is the most fun non-Messi player to watch in the league, and has elite runners in Gabriel Pec and Joseph Paintsil. Dejan Joveljić is in elite form to start the year, answering questions about his ability to perform as a long-term starter. The real issues are defensive. Only Miami scores more than their 2.10 goals per game, but only eight teams concede more than their 1.60 goals per game. The Galaxy are going to have to score 2-3 goals every game to win. It’s box office viewing.

Tier 3 – Probably good

10. DC United – I’ll be honest, I’m always a little surprised at how much the model likes DC United. They’ve been better than expected in their first season under Troy Lesesne, but they’re in eighth place in the East and 16th in the Supporters’ Shield standings. Their underlying numbers, though, are fantastic. 20.8 expected goals, more than anyone in the league. 15.8 goals added, also the best in the league. Like Lesesne did with Red Bulls, they’re doing a lot right on the pitch. If they keep this level up, results will follow.

12. New York City FC – NYCFC have the best form in their last five matches along with Miami, averaging 2.20 points per game. They struggled to impose themselves on games early in the year, but things are starting to click. If they can find a No. 9 to finish chances at even an average level, they’ll take a big step forward. Monsef Bakrar hasn’t been it so far.

13. Atlanta United – Thiago Almada is one of the more talented players in the league, but he’s been good-not-great so far this season. Only two goals and one assist from nine matches leaves a lot to be desired so far. If Almada can find his form, this attack is MLS Cup caliber.

14. Colorado Rapids – Chris Armas has exceeded expectations so far, getting four wins from his first 10 matches. There are still holes on this roster, particularly up front and in midfield, and their underlying numbers aren’t particularly special.

Tier 4 – Probably average

15. St. Louis City SC – Another team that the model likes more than I do. They’ve taken a step forward in possession this season, but they haven’t been particularly threatening up front and don’t have a player who can single-handedly take control of a game. Roman Bürki has regressed from an otherworldly goalkeeper to simply a very good goalkeeper, Eduard Löwen has been hurt or average, and Sam Adeniran has been banished to the reserves. Of all the teams in this tier, St. Louis would be the least surprising candidate to crash out.

16. Toronto FC – John Herdman has already exceeded expectations for me this season, turning Toronto into a semi-functional team and getting solid production from fringe players. Lorenzo Insigne and Federico Bernardeschi have been actually interested in playing, and they’ve been elite performers when they’re healthy. Insigne, though, has missed a ton of time, and their depth is so limited that it’s hard to see them playing at this level for a full season without him. I think they’ve been great for 10 games, and I’m simultaneously doubtful they can sustain this.

17. Charlotte FC – Like Toronto, they’ve been more functional than expected under Dean Smith, but they’re still a team in rebuilding mode. Enzo Copetti isn’t a starting-caliber No. 9, let alone a DP No. 9. Liel Abada looks promising, and young players like Patrick Agyemang, Iuri Tavares and Nikola Petković should continue to contribute. I think they’ll fade over the course of the season.

18. Houston Dynamo – I don’t want the Dynamo to be average, because they play some of the most attractive soccer in MLS under Ben Olsen. Their depth is very shaky, though, and without Hector Herrera their ceiling lowers significantly. In a perfect world with a fully healthy roster I think they’re truly a good team, but having a fully healthy roster is such a rarity in MLS that it’s hard to count on. To me, though, they have the most upside of any team in this tier. One or two signings in the summer will move them up quickly.

19. Austin FC – They were awful to start the year, but have been really good in the last five games, winning four of the last five. If you dive in a bit deeper, though, it looks less impressive. Aside from an impressive 2-0 win over the Galaxy this weekend, their only wins have come against Houston, San Jose and Dallas. They’re wildly overperforming their underlying numbers, with a +1 goal difference against a -8.1 expected goal difference. They’re better defensively than last year, and Diego Rubio has been an upgrade at the No. 9 position, but I have concerns about their depth and their ability to keep this up long-term.

20. Seattle Sounders – The Sounders are elite on paper, unlucky on the field, bad in the table. They’ve had a tough schedule to start the year, they’ve had a lot of injuries, and key players like Jordan Morris have consistently missed chances. Brian Schmetzer has stuck to his game plan to a fault and has been too slow to adapt to counter their struggles, but I’m still holding onto hope that this team is too talented to be this bad for an entire season.

21. CF Montréal Montréal’s six game road trip changes the perspective on their performance so far, and they’ve shown flashes of Laurent Courtois’s Wilfried Nancy-esque vision. However, they haven’t been able to flip the switch at home, and have actually regressed a bit since playing at Stade Saputo. They also just don’t have the top-end talent, even when Matías Cóccaro and Josef Martínez are healthy. They have one DP (Victor Wanyama), and he doesn’t play, and I’m not optimistic they’ll invest heavily in the summer. This wasn’t going to be an instant fix, but I’ve been really impressed with Courtois.

Tier 5 – Probably bad

22. Sporting KC – Things look an awful lot like they did to start 2023 for Sporting KC, except this time they’re pretty much healthy. They haven’t won in their last four games. Their defense is conceding 1.80 goals per game, exactly the same amount they’re scoring. Their 1.06 expected points per game is the fourth-worst in the league. They look like a team that has held onto their core for a year or two too long, a problem that has plagued them for quite a while.

23. Portland Timbers – Evander is really, really good. The rest of this team is… not. They’re conceding two goals a game. Only San Jose has a worse defense, and it offsets a lot of the good work they’re doing in attack. They’ve shown glimpses of being a decent team, but their penchant for bad giveaways and mental lapses has dragged their floor down into the basement.

24. Orlando City – This team is kind of a mess. Luis Muriel hasn’t looked like a starter, much less a DP. Nico Lodeiro is no longer a top-end No. 10. Facundo Torres isn’t an elite No. 10 either, however much Oscar Pareja would like him to be. They’ve been injured in central midfield and regressed in defense. Pedro Gallese is struggling. Things are trending down quickly for the Lions.

25. FC Dallas – If there’s a long-term plan for this team, I can’t tell what it is. Everyone has been injured, the healthy players aren’t producing, and Nico Estévez doesn’t seem to have any answers. It’s hard to find anything to be optimistic about, other than things hopefully improving once some players get back.

Tier 6 – Definitely bad

26. Chicago Fire – Aside from Chris Brady, I can’t think of a player on this team who would be a nailed-on starter at any other team in MLS, let alone ones who can drag the Fire out of the muck they’ve been stranded in for nearly a decade. For a team that spends close to the top of the league, the decision to hand Frank Klopas the permanent job felt weirdly temporary. I don’t understand what the vision for this team is.

27. Nashville SC – All of a sudden Nashville are leaky defensively and toothless in transition. Concerning, given that those were the two things they’ve built their identity on since 2020. Hany Mukhtar has still been semi-productive, albeit below his normal levels, but both he and Sam Surridge have been completely starved of service. They’ve had awful luck with injuries, but the lapses that they’ve been prone to defensively run deeper than just missing players. Losing Dax McCarty was more impactful than the front office calculated. Gary Smith’s seat feels quite hot.

28. San Jose Earthquakes – The Quakes are conceding 2.50 goals per game. They’re scoring 1.40 goals per game. Their defense and goalkeeping have been so bad that it’s hard to see them improving significantly this season, even once new DP Hernán López starts playing.

Tier 7 – Awful

29. New England Revolution – It feels a bit mean to create a separate category for the Revs, but they’ve been a separate category of bad in 2024. -0.88 expected goal difference per game. -1.33 goal difference per game. 0.44 points earned per game. One win from nine games. This was supposed to be a good roster that just needed an experienced manager to bring them back to their prior top four pace. Instead, they’re the worst team in the league by a very comfortable margin.

Author: Ben Wrightis the Director of Soccer Content and a Senior MLS Contributor for Broadway Sports covering Nashville SC and the US National Team. Previously Ben was the editor and a founder of Speedway Soccer, where he has covered Nashville SC and their time in USL before journeying to Major League Soccer since 2018. Raised in Louisville, KY Ben grew up playing before a knee injury ended his competitive career. When he is not talking soccer he is probably producing music, drinking coffee or hanging out with his wife and kids. Mastodon

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