MLS Power Rankings: Lionel Messi’s Inter Miami at No.2 as former Barcelona team-mate powers LA Galaxy’s fast start

The 2024 MLS season is under way, and the field is more open than ever. There’s no clear front-runner in the race for the MLS Supporters’ Shield, and no clear favorite to take home silverware at the end of the campaign.

Reigning MLS Cup champions Columbus Crew are flying, as are defending Supporters’ Shield victors FC Cincinnati. Inter Miami, meanwhile, look better than ever with Lionel Messi and Luis Suarez leading the way in a tight Eastern Conference. Then there are the wildcards: New York Red Bulls, Real Salt Lake and the Vancouver Whitecaps, all of whom have had blistering starts to the season.

With eight matchdays out of the way, which club leads the pack, and who is falling short of expectations? GOAL presents the latest MLS Power Rankings…

Jackson Yeuill San Jose Earthquakes 2024

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29San Jose Earthquakes

What can you say about the Earthquakes? Seven losses out of eight matches to begin the year, with just one win under their belts. A 3-0 pummeling by the Rapids at the weekend only added to the disappointment.

28New England Revolution

The Caleb Porter-era has not gotten off to as quick a start as either party would want — at 1-1-5 through seven matches, they’re bottom of the Eastern Conference after being blanked by NYCFC on the road at Yankee Stadium 2-0 in week eight.

27FC Dallas

Winless in seven-straight matches, FCD are nearing free fall. Not one player has scored more than one goal this season, and their latest 0-0 draw with the Sounders only adds to their shocking start to the season. Despite Dallas investing nearly $13m in Petar Musa, the Croatian has yet to find his feet, while U.S. international Jesus Ferreira hasn’t found his shooting boots, either.

26Nashville SC

A week eight bye brought a much-needed break, but Nashville are now nearing early-season panic mode under Gary Smith. Knocked out of the CONCACAF Champions Cup by Inter Miami, defeated 5-0 by LAFC and with only one win on the season, they have a long way to go.

Kevin Long Toronto FC 2024USA Today Images

25Toronto FC

Their third-straight defeat and fourth in their last five matches, a disappointing 3-2 loss to Charlotte FC haunted TFC in week eight. They’ve conceded 10 goals in three games, and are looking lifeless without an injured Lorenzo Insigne.

24Austin FC

Matchweek eight their two-game winning streak ended by a rough 1-0 loss on the road to St. Louis City SC. After an incredibly poor start to the campaign, they bounced back, but are still trailing behind the power curve.

23Portland Timbers

After a ridiculously composed performance against LAFC in a thrilling 2-2 draw, the Timbers are starting to come together under Phil Neville. Their biggest issue is consistency, with Jonathan Rodriguez, Felipe Mora and Antony struggling to start the season. However, with the form Evander is in, they may not need the rest of their attack.

22Seattle Sounders

Brian Schmetzer’s side are slowly starting to find their feet in 2024, with a 0-0 draw against FC Dallas the most recent result. A 5-0 thumping of FC MTL in week seven marked the first win of the season, making it two-straight weeks with a positive result. They don’t look anywhere near MLS’ elite at the moment, but they’re coming together, slowly but surely.

21New York City FC

After losing four out of their first five matches to begin the year, they’ve now gone unbeaten in three. A very, very young squad, NYCFC are slowly coming together, but they lack leadership. If they want to climb the Eastern Conference table, they’ll need someone to step up consistently, week-in and week-out.

20Orlando City

U.S. Olympic striker Duncan McGuire was the hero for the Lions in week eight, scoring a stoppage-time winner in a five-goal thriller against D.C. United. That victory marked their third-straight positive result after starting the season winless in four. Things are starting to look bright in Florida.

19CF Montreal

An impressive 2-1 win over FC Cincinnati in their home-opener saw CF MTL bounce back from their 5-0 thumping to the Sounders in week seven. After waiting eight weeks to play in front of their own fans, they rewarded them with a remarkable performance.

18Minnesota United

The Loons aren’t in limbo, but they’re not soaring either. Without superstar Emanuel Reynoso – who is AWOL in Argentina – they fell to the Houston Dynamo at home 2-1 in week eight. Winless in three-straight, things aren’t looking great, but there’s no reason for Eric Ramsay and Co. to worry – yet.

17D.C. United

Christian Benteke had a sensational start to 2024, and D.C. are letting him down. He scored his sixth goal of the season in a 3-2 loss to Orlando City, making it just one win in their last seven matches.

16Chicago Fire

The Fire had a 0-0 draw against the league-leaders New York Red Bulls on the road in week eight, meaning they have lost just one of their last five games. It was an impressive, resilient performance, but they’re still lacking goals. If they can get new DP Hugo Cuypers firing, they’ll be fine.

St. Louis CITY SC 2024USA Today Images

15St. Louis City SC

A brilliant 1-0 win over Austin FC in matchweek eight was the highlight of a string of form for City. However, with five draws already under their belt, they’re going to need to learn how to earn three points in those deadlocked matches if they want to find themselves among MLS’ elite again in 2024.

14Charlotte FC

An impressive home win over TFC in week eight, CLT came out on top 3-2 thanks to an 85th-minute winner from Patrick Agyemang. It’s been an impressive start to life under Dean Smith on the East Coast, but a lack of consistent scoring has been concerning. Though Agyemang winner was only his second goal of the season, he leads the team in scoring through eight weeks.

Cole Bassett Colorado Rapids 2024USA Today Images

13Colorado Rapids

They continue to surprise. A massive 3-0 victory over the San Jose Earthquakes marked their third win of the season, making it six big results. Chris Armas is doing a remarkable job in 2024, and the Rapids are officially a darkhorse team for MLS silverware.

12Sporting Kansas City

SKC saw more than 70,000 people come out to watch them against Inter Miami at the weekend, and they put forth a valiant performance despite a 3-2 loss. Looking like one of the best in the West again this season, SKC are right where they should be.

11Atlanta United

The Five Stripes pulled off an impressive 2-2 draw with the Philadelphia Union at the weekend, with U.S. Olympic hopeful Caleb Wiley scoring a belter of a goal. Their fifth result in six matches, the Eastern Conference side are in the chase for a playoff spot.

Mateusz Bogusz LAFC 2024USA Today Images

10Los Angeles FC

LAFC battled it out with the Timbers for a 2-2 draw in week eight, despite being up a man for the final 40-plus minutes of the match. It was a disappointing result to follow the brilliant 2-1 victory over the LA Galaxy in ‘El Trafico’ in week seven.

9FC Cincinnati

In what was expected to be a tough road match, FCC fell to CF MTL in week eight, 2-1. The Canadian club’s home-opener in near freezing temperatures with gusty winds, the match was never in FCC’s favor. Don’t read too much into the loss: Cincy are still one of the top teams across the league.

8Real Salt Lake

One of the most consistent teams across MLS over the past year, RSL drew reigning MLS Champions Columbus Crew 0-0. Unbeaten in four, Chicho Arango and Co. are flying in the West at 3-3-2 and in fourth place.

7Houston Dynamo

Ben Olsen’s squad continue to surpass expectations, with a brilliant road win over the Loons in week eight. The Dynamo are third in the West with four wins, and that is without Hector Herrera, Nelson Quinones, Franco Escobar and Carlos Ferreira. The best is yet to come from this team.

6Vancouver Whitecaps

A small hiccup after their flying start to the campaign, the Whitecaps conceded two late goals to fall 3-1 to the Galaxy in week eight. Still in second place in the West, Vanni Sartini’s side is among the most impressive in 2024.

Philadelphia Union 2024USA Today Images

5Philadelphia Union

The Union battled it out in Atlanta in week eight, pulling out a 2-2 draw on the road. Jim Curtin played the match perfectly, with super-sub Mikael Uhre scoring their opener. They even had a potential winner ruled back in controversial fashion due to a questionable offside call.

4Columbus Crew

A 0-0 draw against a really talented RSL side is never a bad result, especially after playing 120 minutes against Tirges in Mexico midweek. The Crew look like reigning champions, and are the MLS team looking most likely to earn the first trophy of 2024. No Cucho Hernandez or Christian Ramirez in week eight hurt them in the attack, but it’s nothing to read into; they’re still among the best in MLS.

3New York Red Bulls

For the Red Bulls, it was a disappointing draw in front of their fans in week eight as they ended things scoreless with the Fire. At 4-1-3 through eight matches, though, they’ve been must-watch. Sandro Schwarz is doing a remarkable job, with his team level on points with Inter Miami and only trailing via goal-differential.

Lionel Messi Inter MiamiGetty

2Inter Miami

The Herons, and a bit of Lionel Messi magic, pulled off a remarkable result in week eight in front of more than 70,000 fans vs Sporting KC at Arrowhead Stadium. The Argentine netted a goal and provided an assist to take three points on the road in a 3-2 thriller. A great response from Tata Martino’s side after their embarrassing CCC exit to CF Monterrey.

Riqui Puig Joseph Paintstil LA GalaxyUSA Today Images

1Los Angeles Galaxy

The Galaxy are back, baby. MLS’ most storied franchise, they look reinvented in 2024. Riqui Puig and Joseph Paintstil created genuine magic on the pitch in week eight, combining for two late goals over second-placed Whitecaps in a Western Conference showdown. The Spaniard is an early MVP favorite, while the Ghanaian winger is surely one for Newcomer of the Year.

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