MLS Power Rankings: Messi’s Miami stay top, Timbers struggle

It’s Monday and another week of MLS action is in the books, which means it’s time for ESPN’s Power Rankings.

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Our Power Rankings are derived from a combination of key season statistics (points per game, goal differential, expected goal differential), recent performance, the Opta computer ratings and the observations of our writers.

Who’s climbing the table? Who’s in free fall? We’ve ranked all 29 clubs in the league after Matchday 12. Let’s dive in.

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Previous ranking: 1

Inter fell behind 2-0 before roaring back to win in Montréal. It wasn’t Lionel Messi leading the way either. Matías Rojas was the man with the magical left foot, scoring a sublime free kick and feeding Benjamin Cremaschi for the winner as the Paraguayan made sure Miami left Canada with three points.

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Previous ranking: 3

In FCC’s biggest game of the young season, they had the best player and that made all the difference. Lucho Acosta was sensational against Columbus, setting up the first goal and scoring the second to paint Ohio blue and orange.

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Previous ranking: 2

RSL will be disappointed to have conceded a stoppage time equalizer to the Galaxy, but it’s not like they have much to complain about. They were the inferior team in L.A. and still walked away with a point, even with Zac MacMath having a rough one in goal. Take it and get back to Utah.

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Previous ranking: 4

The Red Bulls really needed to bounce back after getting smacked by Miami last week, and they did just that with a 4-2 win over New England.

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Previous ranking: 7

Cristian Olivera scored twice as LAFC trounced the Whitecaps 3-0. The Uruguayan has scored five goals in his past three matches across all competitions, and the Black and Gold are doing a better job turning their possessions into chances. This is the growth LAFC needed to show as this season has gone on, which is why they are moving closer to the league’s top teams.

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Previous ranking: 5

Nobody is going to question this Crew team that has rolled into the Concacaf Champions Cup final, but losing to Cincy at home is going to sting anyway. The Crew have been treading water while they focus on continental competition all season, but treading water is about to get a lot more difficult as they embark on a five-match road trip.

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Previous ranking: 6

The Caps got smoked by LAFC 3-0 despite some fine saves from Yohei Takaoka. Burn the tape and forget it ever happened.

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Previous ranking: 9

While every other team was working hard, and some even doubly so with U.S. Open Cup play midweek, the Loons were kicking it on a bye week.

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Previous ranking: 10

Miguel Berry scoring a stoppage time equalizer? The Galaxy’s 2-2 draw with RSL might seem a little flukey because of the tying goal, but they were the better team for long stretches of this one. A point was the least they deserved.

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Previous ranking: 8

The unthinkable happened when Dan Gazdag missed a penalty for the first time in his MLS career. And to make matters worse, it would have been an equalizer on a night in which the Union celebrated him becoming their all-time leading goal scorer. Instead, Philly lost to Orlando 3-2.

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Previous ranking: 14

It was Christian Benteke vs. Atlanta United and Christian Benteke won 3-2.

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Previous ranking: 13

The Pigeons beat Toronto 3-2 for their first away win of 2024, then they got into a postgame skirmish with the Reds. It was a bizarre scene and one that might cost Sean Johnson a game or two.

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Previous ranking: 11

The Five Stripes have not won a game since March and, for some of that stretch, they have been able to say, “We were the better team tonight, the ball just didn’t bounce our way.” That wasn’t the case against D.C., as they were soundly beaten at home, turning up the heat on manager Gonzalo Pineda’s seat to scorching.

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Previous ranking: 16

The Crown have spent a lot of time trying to find a striker since they entered the league and they might have their answer in 23-year-old former first round pick Patrick Agyemang. He has been really good and added the lone goal in Charlotte’s 1-0 win over Nashville to his resume. If he keeps it up, he’s going to be the man in Charlotte for a long time.

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Previous ranking: 17

With the way Seattle’s season has gone, it wouldn’t have been shocking to see the team fold once it gave up an early goal to Portland. Brian Schmetzer teams don’t make a habit of folding, though, and Seattle stormed back for a win. Don’t look now, but the Sounders are starting to rack up points.

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Previous ranking: 12

Just when you want to believe in the Rapids, they blow a 2-0 lead and lose. At home. To the Earthquakes. Yikes.

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Previous ranking: 15

TFC lost to NYCFC, but you can’t say that these Reds team don’t fight. They worked their socks off all the way down to the end, scored a late goal to keep their hopes alive and then got into a literal postgame fight with the Pigeons.

Houston Dynamo logo

Previous ranking: 18

Héctor Herrera brings a lot to the Dynamo, but 20-yard blasts into the top corner? That’s not usually on their captain’s to-do list, but the Dynamo were happy to have it Saturday, and happy to have three points in Kansas City.

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Previous ranking: 20

Were you wondering when Luis Muriel would finally break out in Orlando? Well, he did Saturday night, scoring twice as the Lions picked up an impressive 3-2 win in Philadelphia.

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Previous ranking: 19

It has been a rocky start to the season for St. Louis, but City Park hasn’t let the team down. St. Louis rolled past Chicago 3-1 to remain undefeated at home.

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Previous ranking: 21

Sporting lost at home. Again. After conceding late. Again. This time Houston got the best of them and it led to Peter Vermes questioning some of his players’ “mentality” after the game. Of course, it’s Vermes who chose these players with the supposed flawed mentality. He also chose the players who struggle to keep up with the pace of the league. And who have been losing a lot for three years running now.

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Previous ranking: 22

Nashville didn’t score, barely threatened and spent most of the match in its own half. Unfortunately, the 1-0 loss to Charlotte looked like too many of its other games.

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Previous ranking: 24

Getting beat by Miami? It happens. But losing to Inter after going ahead by two goals and with Messi mostly taking a back seat hurts.

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Previous ranking: 25

The Quakes erased a two-goal deficit to win in Colorado 3-2 and they’ve now scored three goals five times this season. It’s astonishing that a team with that output has only 10 points.

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Previous ranking: 27

Dallas has been struggling to find any sort of workable formula this season, but it might have found it in a 2-1 win over Austin. Petar Musa and Jesús Ferreira each scored, with Musa feeding Ferreira for the second goal, and the two of them could very well provide the team that dangerous one-two punch up top to build around. Now, the two of them just need to stay healthy.

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Previous ranking: 23

When you play your opponent in on goal for a fourth-minute tally, it’s probably a sign that it’s not your night. Things didn’t get a ton better for Austin from that point on in a 2-1 loss to Dallas. Now, it has a quick turnaround with Houston up next on Wednesday. Austin doesn’t want to go 0-for-Texas in five days.

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Previous ranking: 26

It’s hard times in Portland when you lose to Seattle. It’s even harder when that drops you into last place in the West.

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Previous ranking: 28

The Fire conceded after two minutes and things never got much better from there in a 3-1 loss to St. Louis. They are now winless in their past five and have still yet to win away from home in 2024.

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Previous ranking: 29

As if losing to the Red Bulls weren’t bad enough, Dylan Borrero suffered what appeared to be a serious injury. Poor Borrero, and poor Revs.