MLS Power Rankings: Seattle and LAFC lead the way; Chicharito overshadowed in LA Galaxy debut

Chicharito 'starving for service' in Galaxy opener (2:29)

Herculez Gomez takes a deeper look at Chicharito's less-than-ideal debut with the LA Galaxy. (2:29)

Between Josef Martinez's ACL, Paxton Pomykal's mustache and the debut games for two expansion teams, Week 1 of the 2020 Major League Soccer season was a roller coaster of emotion that we're still coming to grips with (stream replays on ESPN+ in the U.S.).

Throw in the first MLS appearances for the league's rash of multimillion-dollar offseason signings and the opening weekend was almost too much to handle.

So with Lzzy Hale's guitar riff ringing in our ears from Nashville SC's debut, here are the always infallible, never questionable Power Rankings for the first week of MLS' 25th season.

1. Seattle Sounders

Previous ranking: 1

Next MLS match: March 7, vs. Columbus Crew, 10 p.m. ET, ESPN+

Someone around here picked Jordan Morris for MVP. Can't remember who that was, but whoever it was, he or she is a genius and deserves to be celebrated as one of the leading soccer minds of our time. The Sounders opened with a last-gasp 2-1 win over Chicago! Pretty good, Champions League notwithstanding.


Previous ranking: 2

Next MLS match: March 8, vs. Philadelphia Union, 10:30 p.m. ET

Carlos Vela is back on his nonsense, which is to say he scored another incredible goal to help his team win a soccer game. Backing up Thursday's CCL triumph over Club Leon with a win in the season opener, 1-0 over Inter Miami, only reinforces what we were pretty sure we already knew: LAFC is a really good team engaged in some serious trophy hunting.

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3. Columbus Crew

Previous ranking: 8

Next MLS match: March 7, at Seattle Sounders, 10 p.m. ET, ESPN+

Lucas Zelarayan is a mouthful for some of us, but we better get used to saying his name. The Crew are big-timers now and Zelerayan is the Mannie Fresh of this new Ohio party. Week 1 or not, Columbus laid down a marker on its Eastern Conference intentions with Sunday's 1-0 win over NYCFC.

4. FC Dallas

Previous ranking: 11

Next MLS match: March 7, vs. Montreal Impact, 3 p.m. ET, ESPN+

Every group of youngsters needs a grizzled older mentor with a name like "Gator" or "Dragon." FC Dallas' grizzled older mentor, Zdenek Ondrasek, is named "Cobra," and sometimes he chips in with really good goals to help push his team of kids to a 2-0 victory over Philly in the opening weekend of the season.

5. Atlanta United

Previous ranking: 3

Next MLS match: March 7, vs. FC Cincinnati, 7 p.m. ET, ESPN+

There's nothing that could be written here that would better convey the feelings around Atlanta United after Josef Martinez tore an ACL in the first game of the season -- a win at debutants Nashville, no less -- than a long series of frowny face emojis. You'll just have to imagine them because ESPN is too classy for emojis.


Martinez suffers injury in Atlanta's win

Josef Martinez was stretchered off after suffering a leg injury in Atlanta's 2-1 win over Nashville. Watch MLS on ESPN+.

6. Minnesota United

Previous ranking: 13

Next MLS match: March 7, at San Jose Earthquakes, 8 p.m. ET

THE LOONS DEMAND RESPECT. Last season brought a three-year plan to fruition with a playoff berth. This year, Minnesota is looking to become established as a leading club in the Western Conference. Walking into Providence Park and silencing the Timbers Army in a 3-1 win is a good first step.

7. Colorado Rapids

Previous ranking: 17

Next MLS match: March 7, vs. Orlando City, 9 p.m. ET, ESPN+

The Rapids deployed some tactical wrinkles and picked up an ugly 2-1 win in DC. The Rapids might not be as "new look" as some of the other new-look teams around the league, but that doesn't make them less interesting. Robin Fraser's reputation preceded him: The Rapids could be on to something out West.

8. New York Red Bulls

Previous ranking: 14

Next MLS match: March 7, at Real Salt Lake, 2 p.m. ET, ESPN+

The Red Bulls took care of business 3-2 on opening day against Cincy, but it's still a stunning reality that the club can't draw enough fans to fill up their beautiful stadium on the banks of the Passaic. Maybe the year when everyone is slightly down on RBNY is the year they finally win a title?

9. Toronto FC

Previous ranking: 4

Next MLS match: March 7, vs. New York City FC, 5 p.m. ET, ESPN+

Week 1 on the road against a team as intense as San Jose probably isn't a fair judgment of how Toronto will do with a Michael Bradley-sized hole in the lineup, but would TFC have dropped two points from a winning position if he were available? Stay tuned for plenty more of this narrative!

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10. New York City FC

Previous ranking: 5

Next MLS match: March 7, at Toronto FC, 5 p.m. ET, ESPN+

Ronny Deila's debut was spoiled by an early red card to Maxime Chanot, meaning we'll have to put off a full examination of NYCFC under the new head coach for at least another week. For now, NYCFC is a puzzle wrapped in an enigma, led by a Norwegian.

11. Montreal Impact

Previous ranking: 19

Next MLS match: March 7, at FC Dallas, 3 p.m. ET, ESPN+

Thierry Watch 2020 moved to MLS with Saturday's opener, and it definitely seems like Maxi Urruti was trying to impress his boss by scoring an Henry-esque goal to lift the Impact to an opening day 2-1 win over New England. There's an old saying: "Never go in against a French soccer legend when death is on the line."

12. Sporting Kansas City

Previous ranking: 15

Next MLS match: March 7, vs. Houston Dynamo, 8:30 p.m. ET, ESPN+

The new kids in Kansas City made their presence felt in the first game of the year. Both Alan Pulido and Gadi Kinda both scored in the 3-1 road win in Vancouver, which definitely means that they're going to score bucketloads of goals this year and Sporting is going to dominate the Western Conference.

13. Houston Dynamo

Previous ranking: 18

Next MLS match: March 7, at Sporting Kansas City, 8:30 p.m. ET

Tab's boys took the game to Chicharito and the Galaxy, the first sign of what the style will be like in H-Town in 2020. Better yet, the Dynamo grabbed a big point in front of a sellout crowd at BBVA Compass Stadium. Wouldn't it be great if that place was filled up for every Houston home game?

- Marshall: Chicharito will be a hit for LA, but give him time

14. LA Galaxy

Previous ranking: 6

Next MLS match: March 7, vs. Vancouver Whitecaps, 10 p.m. ET, ESPN+

The star of the Galaxy show in Houston wasn't Javier Hernandez but Cristian Pavon. Let's not be too hard on Chicharito: The Mexican superstar wouldn't be the first leading man on a massive salary in Tinseltown to be upstaged by a member of the supporting cast.


Chicharito's Galaxy draw at Dynamo in season opener

LA Galaxy's defense couldn't hold on as Houston force a 1-1 draw. Watch MLS on ESPN+.

15. New England Revolution

Previous ranking: 7

Next MLS match: March 7, vs. Chicago Fire, 1:30 p.m. ET, ESPN+

As Bruce Arena would say, sometimes things go against you. Sometimes you lose. Sometimes the post and incredible chipped goals go against you and you leave Quebec with nothing to show for the trip except the memory of the incredible food you ate while you were there.

16. Philadelphia Union

Previous ranking: 9

Next MLS match: March 8, at LAFC, 10:30 p.m. ET

No one's margins are all that big on the road, so let's not come down too hard on the Union for dropping the season opener in Frisco. FC Dallas's kids were just a bit better at creating goals than Philadelphia's kids, but Philly's kids won't be kept down long.

17. San Jose Earthquakes

Previous ranking: 20

Next MLS match: March 7, vs. Minnesota United, 8 p.m. ET, ESPN+

No one is going out-passion the 2020 San Jose Earthquakes, who already lead the league in fist pumps and group hugs. The Quakes are a reflection of their manager, a man who doesn't have an understated bone in his body. That Oswaldo Alanis goal in injury time to secure a point was sweet, too.

18. D.C. United

Previous ranking: 10

Next MLS match: March 7, vs. Inter Miami, 3:30 p.m. ET

Everything about DC's opener was ugly: Their play, the field (shout-out to the DC Defenders, though, second place in the XFL's Eastern Conference!) and Colorado's winner. We're checking on the rumor that United is lobbying Congress to ban soccer in February based on Saturday's results.

19. Portland Timbers

Previous ranking: 12

Next MLS match: March 8, vs. Nashville SC, 7 p.m. ET, ESPN/ESPN Deportes

The Timbers flailed their way to an opening day loss to Minnesota United on Sunday. Portland couldn't spell "cohesion," much less find it, and the Loons victimized the hosts on the counter. Portland is a great place to figure out who you are... unless you're a soccer team that can't afford to take too long doing it.

20. Real Salt Lake

Previous ranking: 16

Next MLS match: March 7, vs. New York Red Bulls, 2 p.m. ET, ESPN+

A road draw with no goals and a head coach who is clearly experimenting marked the beginning of RSL's campaign. We're rooting for Freddy Juarez, but his position might be among the most tenuous in Major League Soccer. No one expected him to be leading the way into 2020.

21. Orlando City

Previous ranking: 21

Next MLS match: March 7, at Colorado Rapids, 9 p.m. ET, ESPN+

Starting a new season short-handed is never fun. Orlando's zero goals against RSL didn't make a great first impression, but hey, there's a point on the board and Oscar Pareja's team will get Nani and Dom Dwyer back soon. Lions need teeth to ... score goals and win games.

22. Vancouver Whitecaps

Previous ranking: 22

Next MLS match: March 7, at LA Galaxy, 10 p.m. ET, ESPN+

The Caps put out a wildly attacking lineup under Marc Dos Santos, then proceeded to sit very deep and invite Sporting's pressure. If the idea was to kill them on the counter, it didn't work! Vancouver was a mystery coming into the year and they remain a mystery.

23. Chicago Fire

Previous ranking: 23

Next MLS match: March 7, at New England Revolution, 1:30 p.m. ET, ESPN+

The Fire reinstalled all the software and the drivers and ran through all the diagnostics. Now they just have to wait for the system to boot up. Robert Beric looks ready to go, but the rest of the process could take a while.

24. Nashville SC

Previous ranking: 24

Next MLS match: March 8, at Portland Timbers, 7 p.m. ET, ESPN/ESPN Deportes

We here at the Power Rankings would like to welcome Nashville to the ranks of MLS teams that talk a lot about how they "should have done better" and how the referees "are really terrible and should be fired into the sun." Gary Smith is going to be writing maudlin country songs by the time the year is out.


Vela's chip the difference in LAFC's win vs. Inter Miami

Carlos Vela nets his first goal of the season in style as LAFC defeat David Beckham's Inter Miami. Watch MLS on ESPN+.

25. Inter Miami CF

Previous ranking: 25

Next MLS match: March 7, at DC United, 3:30 p.m. ET

LAFC made David Beckham sad, which is on the books as a criminal act in at least six countries. The general consensus is that Inter "looked the part," which is a fancy way of saying they "didn't totally suck." That means they'll probably win at least one soccer game this year.

26. FC Cincinnati

Previous ranking: 26

Next MLS match: March 7, at Atlanta United, 7 p.m. ET, ESPN+

Cincy's rough start to life in MLS is now at 12 months and counting. Jurgen Locadia scored a goal and FCC made it interesting, but it's going to be hard to believe in the second-year team until they prove they've put out all of their many raging fires.