March roared to a close with plenty of golazos, red cards, and new players making their marks across the league. The Seattle Sounders continued to slide into an early season hole while their Eastern Conference counterparts, Toronto FC, managed its first points of the year.
Debuts for Zlatan Ibrahimovic and Dom Dwyer meant plenty of goals scored on Saturday, while the week wrapped up with plenty of sending-offs, both controversial and deserved. The first month is in the books and there is plenty of excitement going into April.
Which teams were exposed in Week 5 and which teams proved they were the real deal? Find out in our MLS Power Rankings:
1. New York City FC (Last Week: 1)
Once again without David Villa, NYCFC managed to take all three points, this time across the country in San Jose. The Cityzens have opened up a deserved lead on the rest of the league and Anton Tinnerholm looks to be a revelation at right back.
2. Toronto FC (Last Week: 3)
Toronto cruised to its first points of the year, blasting Real Salt Lake away and looking more like the Toronto that broke all kinds of records last season. Gregory van der Wiel didn’t look out of place at center back, giving Greg Vanney yet another tool in his tactical arsenal.
3. LA Galaxy (Last Week: 8)
Zlatan Ibrahimovic will dominate the headlines from this one, but it was a team effort to score four late goals and claim victory in the first cross-city derby. Sebastian Lletget scored his first MLS goal since July of 2016 and Chris Pontius got in on the action to set up Zlatan to be the hero in his first MLS match. And because it would be a crime not to show it again:
4. Columbus Crew (Last Week: 2)
Gyasi Zardes and the Crew jumped out to an early lead but it was all for naught in the end. Columbus couldn’t direct its chances on goal and even though the home side dominated possession and had more opportunities, the Crew suffered a frustrating loss at home.
5. Sporting Kansas City (Last Week: 9)
Even though the only goal on the night was a deflected shot from Felipe Gutierrez, Sporting’s offense was clicking, even if the scoreboard doesn’t show it. Kansas City tested David Ousted repeatedly and was unlucky not to net two or three more. The clean sheet is also a nice bonus, getting back to the suffocating defense the team is used to.
6. New York Red Bulls (Last Week: 5)
The Red Bulls scored three clinical goals against Orlando City over the weekend. But it didn’t help when their defense allowed four. They were picked apart by Sacha Kljestan and Justin Meram, caught napping by Dom Dwyer, and had an unlucky deflection to drop a spot in our rankings.
7. Vancouver Whitecaps (Last Week: 13)
After a dull first half, the Whitecaps woke up on the road in the second. Brek Shea pounced on a loose ball to equalize early on. It looked like Alphonso Davies had burned by four Crew defenders and rounded Zack Steffen to seal the win, but it was called back for a hand ball on the Canadian phenom. Kei Kamara’s header in the 78th did count, however, and the Caps earned a tough road win.
8. Los Angeles FC (Last Week: 7)
Carlos Vela continued his scintillating form with another world class goal to start off the inaugural El Trafico. And it looked like the expansion side was going to cruise to a victory after taking a three-goal lead, but in one of the most epic collapses in MLS history LAFC let the Galaxy claw back in and take all three points. The announcement of the Andre Horta signing helps take some of the sting out, but there’s still work to be done for Bob Bradley.
9. Atlanta United (Last Week: 6)
Atlanta did not deserve to win against Minnesota United, but did anyway. The Five Stripes could barely stay on the ball, Leandro Gonazlez Pirez was given a deserved second yellow in the first half, and the only goal of the match came from a lucky bounce off Francisco Calvo for an own goal. But points are points in the end.
10. Montreal Impact (Last Week: 12)
Jeisson Vargas was the hero in Seattle as the Impact took advantage of the shorthanded Sounders. Individual bits of skill from Designated Players Saphir Taider and Ignacio Piatti weaved through Seattle’s defense to create the best chance for the Impact all evening — and the only one that mattered when the whistle blew.
11. Houston Dynamo (Last Week: 4)
Known for blitzing teams at home, the Dynamo have now lost their last two matches at BBVA Compass Stadium. DaMarcus Beasley was sent off trying to keep up with Cristian Penilla and it went from bad to worse for Houston. For a team that rode its home form into the playoffs, there has to be some concern.
12. FC Dallas (Last Week: 10)
Dallas was off this weekend thanks to the odd number of teams.
13. New England Revolution (Last Week: 18)
Cristian Penilla was electric once again. Not very many teams go into Houston and walk out with three points and the Revolution have been remarkably bad on the road, but New England flipped the script. The Revs make the most of their limited possession and, so far, it’s working.
14. Seattle Sounders (Last Week: 11)
Kelvin Leerdam slapped Daniel Lovitz and was promptly sent off after video review, sinking the Sounders deeper into last place in the West. The two-time reigning Western Conference Champions find themselves pointless, goalless, and aimless after one month of league play.
15. San Jose Earthquakes (Last Week: 15)
The Earthquakes have plenty of attacking pieces to play with, but their defense has been shambolic. San Jose has allowed at least two goals in each of its first three matches and were lucky not to concede more against NYCFC, which created clear chances all afternoon.
16. Orlando City (Last Week: 19)
Dom Dwyer made his 2018 debut in style with two well-deserved goals. The Orlando City offense took a huge step forward with the return of its talisman center forward, creating chance after chance. The defense couldn’t contain the Red Bulls, but the offense bailed the Lions out to seal their first win of the year.
17. Real Salt Lake (Last Week: 17)
Real Salt Lake has had an up-and-down March. Gritty points taken from FC Dallas and the New York Red Bulls have alternated with blowouts against LAFC and Toronto. Mike Petke has plenty at his disposal to get this team into the playoffs, but he’ll need to find some consistency.
18. Portland Timbers (Last Week: 20)
Sebastian Blanco was the star as the Timbers snatched their second point of the season in Chicago. His heads-up play to find Diego Valeri meant jumping out to a lead in just the sixth minute and the underside of the crossbar was the only thing denying Blanco and Portland a quick second. It was Sebastian again in the second half, nodding home another goal for a brace. But Portland allowed the Fire to claw back twice and could only come away with a point.
19. Chicago Fire (Last Week: 14)
The Fire were saved from defeat by Bastian Schweinsteiger and Brandon Vincent, who combined on both goals in some fashion to earn the Fire’s first point of 2018. But the Chicago defense was slashed apart by Sebastian Blanco and Diego Valeri repeatedly. Head Coach Velko Paunovic was not exactly positive after the match. Things aren’t looking great in the Windy City.
20. Colorado Rapids (Last Week: 23)
Dominique Badji made headlines as the first Rapids player to bag a hat trick since 2011. The Senegalese striker was clinical whenever he was in the final third and propelled Colorado to the first win of the Anthony Hudson era.
21. Philadelphia Union (Last Week: 16)
The Union have been orchestrating an admirable youth movement so far this season. Jim Curtin rolled out the youngest back line in MLS history on Saturday, which was promptly demolished by Dominique Badji, who is not exactly a top MLS striker. Maybe mix in some veterans next week, Jim.
22. Minnesota United (Last Week: 21)
A ricochet off Francisco Calvo was the difference as the Loons dropped a home match to Atlanta in the freezing cold. But signs were positive with the club’s first Designated Player Darwin Quintero in the building and a dominating performance on the pitch. But Minnesota’s flurry of chances even up a man meant nothing.
23. D.C. United (Last Week: 22)
D.C. was never really in this game. United created just one chance that was actually threatening, resorting to pot shots from well outside the penalty area more often than not. The score line was flattering for the Black and Red, who were inches away from conceding more on several occasions.