The 2017 Major League Soccer season is upon us, so it’s time to take a look at my updated ranking of all active MLS franchises. Fans of Atlanta United FC and Minnesota United will have to wait until next year to see your team’s debut ranking. Likewise, I do not include defunct franchises in this list but you can see how they stack up historically on the interactive Tableau page.
The categories and point values are as follows:
- 25 points for an MLS Cup win, 15 points for a loss.
- 10 points for a Supporters’ Shield (best regular season record).
- 5 points for a conference title (division title for the 2000-01 seasons).
- 3 points for a postseason berth.
- 2 points for a playoff round win (not including knockout games).
- Finally, I apply a unique multiplier to a team’s average seasonal goal differential, rewarding franchises that have a higher number.
Feel free to share your thoughts on my rankings in the comments below. Clicking on the graph will take you to my Tableau page were you can look at other sports ranking infographics and play with the parameters. Each team’s previous ranking is in parentheses.
The Best (1-6)
#1. Los Angeles Galaxy (#1) — 19.38 avg.
#2. D.C. United (#3) — 12.68 avg.
#3. Houston Dynamo (#2) — 12.61 avg.
#4. Seattle Sounders FC (#7) — 11.55 avg.
#5. Sporting Kansas City (#5) — 8.29 avg.
#6. Chicago Fire (#6) — 7.87 avg.
The big movement here of course is league champion Seattle breaking into the top tier of franchises after winning their first MLS Cup.
Middle of the Road (7-12)
#7. Portland Timbers (#4) — 7.28 avg.
#8. Columbus Crew (#8) — 6.81 avg.
#9. Real Salt Lake (#9) — 6.66 avg.
#10. New England Revolution (#10) — 6.57 avg.
#11. San Jose Earthquakes (#11) — 6.43 avg.
#12. New York Red Bulls (#12) — 6.18 avg.
Just one year after winning their first MLS Cup, Portland tumbled into the second tier of teams. This is likely to happen with younger franchises as one bad or good season has a much bigger impact on their point average.
Bringing Up the Rear (13-20)
#13. FC Dallas (#13) — 4.75 avg.
#14. Colorado Rapids (#14) — 4.10 avg.
#15. Montreal Impact (#16) — 2.10 avg.
#16. New York City FC (#18) — 1.30 avg.
#17. Vancouver Whitecaps (#15) — 1.27 avg.
#18. Toronto FC (#19) — 0.66 avg.
#19. Philadelphia Union (#17) — -0.17 avg.
#20. Orlando City SC (#20) — -1.75 avg.
Only two teams still have a lifetime negative point average (down from four last year), which you could argue indicates an overall improvement in league play. Both Toronto FC and New York City FC were the beneficiaries of good regular seasons and playoff berths.
Team of the Decade (So Far)
It’s a right race as we enter the 2017 season. The Galaxy are still the class of the league to date, but Sounders FC and the Red Bulls are in tight pursuit. Not far behind them are FC Dallas, Real Salt Lake, and Sporting Kansas City.