Published On: Thu, Mar 1st, 2018

MLS Preseason Power Rankings: TFC sits top, but where does LAFC rank?

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Welcome to the 2018 MLS Power Rankings, where we rank each team after each week with a mind to form, latest results, stats, and other intangibles to craft an idea of how things stand in one single table.

Here’s how each team ranks before the start of the 2018 season:

1. Toronto FC

  • Final 2017 Ranking: 1st
  • First MLS Match: March 3 vs. Crew SC (1:00 p.m. ET)
Significant Additions Position
Gregory van der Wiel DF
Ager Aketxe MF

Toronto FC goes into the 2018 season as the uncontested cream of the crop, and for good reason – this team won the treble and broke the league record for points in a single season last year. Can anyone overtake the Reds’ throne?

2. Atlanta United

  • Final 2017 Ranking: 2nd
  • First MLS Match: March 3 at Houston (3:30 p.m. ET)
Significant Additions Position
Darlington Nagbe MF
Ezequiel Barco FW

If Atlanta United can overcome the sophomore slump – and mitigate the loss of Carlos Carmona in midfield – then there may be another contender in the East. Gerardo Martino’s side is only getting stronger on paper. But will it translate?

3. New York City FC


  • Final 2017 Ranking: 4th
  • First MLS Match: March 4 at Sporting KC (7:30 p.m. ET)
Significant Additions Position
Jesus Medina MF
Anton Tinnerholm DF

New York City FC is heading into its fourth season in MLS with heightened expectations and a desire to paint the Big Apple blue, once and for all. That means winning the MLS Cup, which will be Patrick Vieira’s sole objective.

4. Seattle Sounders

  • Final 2017 Ranking: 7th
  • First MLS Match: March 4 vs. LAFC (5:00 p.m. ET)
Significant Additions Position
Magnus Wolff Eikrem MF
Kim Kee-hee DF

The Seattle Sounders suffered a thorough demolishing in the 2017 MLS Cup final, and enter 2018 having lost Jordan Morris to an ACL injury. Still, there’s enough talent on this team to compete throughout 2018.

5. Portland Timbers

  • Final 2017 Ranking: 5th
  • First MLS Match: March 4 at LA Galaxy (10:00 p.m. ET)
Significant Additions Position
Andy Polo FW
Samuel Armenteros FW

The Portland Timbers go into 2018 with a new leader in Giovanni Savarese. The former NY Cosmos boss replaced Caleb Porter at the Timbers’ helm and will work to implement a new culture within a team that may have plateaued.

6. New York Red Bulls

  • Final 2017 Ranking: 9th
  • First MLS Match: March 10 vs. Portland (7:00 p.m. ET)
Significant Additions Position
Alejandro “Kaku” Romero MF
Carlos Rivas FW

The New York Red Bulls once again traded their captain during the offseason, and will look even more to Jesse Marsch for guidance. This high-pressing side will need to remain physically fit throughout 2018 to stand a fighting chance.

7. Chicago Fire


  • Final 2017 Ranking: 3rd
  • First MLS Match: March 10 vs. Sporting KC (6:00 p.m. ET)
Significant Additions Position
Aleksandar Katai MF
Toni Tchani MF

Last season, the Chicago Fire finally reversed their poor fortunes and enjoyed a strong year, fuelled by the addition of Bastian Schweinsteiger and Nemanja Nikolic. But is there enough new quality here to upset other Eastern giants?

8. Orlando City

  • Final 2017 Ranking: 18th
  • First MLS Match: March 3 vs. D.C. United (7:30 p.m. ET)
Significant Additions Position
Sacha Kljestan MF
Justin Meram FW

Orlando City is the most improved outfit on paper, having added a number of new faces to its roster for 2018, including Kljestan, Meram, and Josue Colman. Those new names have reshaped the team, making the Lions one to watch.

9. Sporting Kansas City

  • Final 2017 Ranking: 10th
  • First MLS Match: March 4 vs. NYCFC (7:30 p.m. ET)
Significant Additions Position
Felipe Gutierrez MF
Johnny Russell FW

Sporting Kansas City is usually competitive, and will feel confident of a strong Western Conference campaign regardless of questions surrounding its scoring abilities. Peter Vermes’ steadfast defensive line should hold steady in 2018.

10. San Jose Earthquakes

  • Final 2017 Ranking: 12th
  • First MLS Match: March 3 vs. Minnesota (10:30 p.m. ET)
Significant Additions Position
Magnus Eriksson FW
Joel Qwiberg DF

The San Jose Earthquakes are intriguing, and climb a bit in our rankings as a result of some new additions. Under new head coach Mikael Stahre, this oft-forgotten California outfit may just come to dominate the state by year’s end.

11. FC Dallas


  • Final 2017 Ranking: 13th
  • First MLS Match: March 3 vs. Real Salt Lake (8:00 p.m. ET)
Significant Additions Position
Reto Ziegler DF
Santiago Mosquera MF

FC Dallas endured a strange and inconsistent 2017 season, but this is still a team that should be able to compete week in and week out. We imagine some new signings and a fresh start will serve Oscar Pareja’s players well.

12. Columbus Crew

  • Final 2017 Ranking: 6th
  • First MLS Match: March 3 at Toronto (1:00 p.m. ET)
Significant Additions Position
Gyasi Zardes FW
Milton Valenzuela DF

Columbus Crew SC finished 2017 well, making the Eastern Conference Final, but have lost far too many important pieces like Ola Kamara and Meram to remain competitive in what is looking increasingly like its final season in MLS.

13. Houston Dynamo

  • Final 2017 Ranking: 11th
  • First MLS Match: March 3 vs. Atlanta (3:30 p.m. ET)
Significant Additions Position
Darwin Ceren MF
Juan David Cabezas MF

The Houston Dynamo reinforced its central midfield and will now feel more confident in its attacking intents as a result. But the theory and the execution are two different things – this team will still need to perform with consistency.

14. Vancouver Whitecaps

  • Final 2017 Ranking: 8th
  • First MLS Match: March 4 vs. Montreal (6:00 p.m. ET)
Significant Additions Position
Kei Kamara FW
Anthony Blondell FW

The Vancouver Whitecaps lost Fredy Montero, added Kamara and Blondell, and reinforced multiple positions in defense, which in theory should help. But there might just not be enough pure talent here to compete in the West.

15. LA Galaxy


  • Final 2017 Ranking: 22nd
  • First MLS Match: March 4 vs. Portland (10:00 p.m. ET)
Significant Additions Position
Ola Kamara FW
Perry Kitchen MF

The LA Galaxy look set for a rejuvenated campaign – or, at the very least, look unlikely to wallow in mediocrity at the bottom of the Western Conference table. Sigi Schmid’s new signings fill immediate needs, which is a real positive.

16. Real Salt Lake

  • Final 2017 Ranking: 14th
  • First MLS Match: March 3 at Dallas (8:00 p.m. ET)
Significant Additions Positions
Jefferson Savarino FW
Alfredo Ortuno FW

We’re in a state of “wait and see” with Real Salt Lake. There’s a lot of potential here, but much of it is unfulfilled. Can RSL surprise its foes and emerge as a contender? Most definitely. But will they? That’s a whole other story.

17. Montreal Impact

  • Final 2017 Ranking: 15th
  • First MLS Match: March 4 at Vancouver (6:00 p.m. ET)
Significant Additions Position
Michael Petrasso MF
Saphir Taider MF

The Montreal Impact lost a lot of important players during the offseason. Like, a lot a lot. In an effort to mitigate those losses, new coach Remi Garde added Zakaria Diallo to reinforce his backline … but then he got injured. Not good.

18. Los Angeles FC

  • Final 2017 Ranking: N/R
  • First MLS Match: March 4 at Seattle (5:00 p.m. ET)
Significant Additions Position
Carlos Vela FW
Diego Rossi FW

We’re going to go ahead and declare that new franchise Los Angeles FC will enjoy a debut season that ranks somewhere in between Atlanta’s blistering-hot start and Minnesota’s cold debut. Bob Bradley is building an intriguing side.

19. D.C. United

  • Final 2017 Ranking: 21st
  • First MLS Match: March 3 at Orlando (7:30 p.m. ET)
Significant Additions Position
Yamil Asad MF
David Ousted GK

D.C. United hasn’t added enough quality to inspire confidence in a playoff berth, but that being said, there’s enough here to compete for a wild-card spot. Losing Bill Hamid wasn’t ideal, but Ousted is an adequate replacement.

20. New England Revolution


  • Final 2017 Ranking: 16th
  • First MLS Match: March 3 at Philadelphia (7:00 p.m. ET)
Significant Additions Positions
Cristian Penilla MF
Wilfried Zahibo MF

The New England Revolution have been a bit busy in the offseason, but may be starting the 2018 season a bit worse off than they ended 2017, as Lee Nguyen attempts to facilitate a departure from the club.

21. Philadelphia Union

  • Final 2017 Ranking: 17th
  • First MLS Match: March 3 vs. New England (7:00 p.m. ET)
Significant Additions Position
David Accam FW
Borek Dockal MF

The Philadelphia Union added just two players of significance this season – and while Accam is certainly a known quality, he alone cannot overturn all of the team’s attacking deficiencies. Did Jim Curtin’s side do enough for 2018?

22. Colorado Rapids

  • Final 2017 Ranking: 20th
  • First MLS Match: March 10 at New England (1:30 p.m. ET)
Significant Additions Position
Edgar Castillo DF
Danny Wilson DF

The Colorado Rapids just don’t have a goal-scorer. As much as the team has invested in its backline, there’s just no one player you can identify as a scoring threat. It’s an issue the Rapids have faced for years now, without addressing it.

23. Minnesota United

  • Final 2017 Ranking: 19th
  • First MLS Match: March 10 at Orlando (7:30 p.m. ET)
Significant Additions Position
Tyrone Mears DF
Matt Lampson GK

If Minnesota United can be categorized as an MLS franchise, it’s in name only. This team is built like a USL contender. This offseason was an opportunity to make a statement, but fans of the Loons may have to wait until 2019 for it.

Further Reading:

(Photos courtesy: Getty)



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