Ranking MLS's most watchable teams (2024)

With 29 teams, and overlapping kickoffs on Saturday evenings, there are a lot of MLS games on at the same time this year. Beyond club (and player) loyalties, who do you pick? Hopefully this extremely scientific and super serious ranking helps you out.

I truly believe there’s at least some reason to watch any of the 29 teams — not every week for every team, and certainly not always appointment viewing, but you can talk yourself into all these teams in different doses.


Before we get there though, here’s a breakdown of the point system I used to rank the teams. Everyone has their own preferences and this committee (of one) is no different, particularly with these subjective categories. There are no ties, this committee (of one) will arbitrarily break ties as they arise.

Quality (10 points): A team doesn’t have to be great at soccer to be watchable, but it certainly helps.

Identity (10 points): Wilfried Nancy’s free-flowing, build-out-at-all-costs style draws me to their games more than, say, FC Dallas slowly passing the ball sideways for 85 minutes before urgency creeps in.

Non-soccer (10 points): Stadium, atmosphere, kits and whatever else that comes in the non-soccer aesthetics to a team. CITYPARK in St. Louis, for example, provides a more pleasant viewing experience than Yankee Stadium. Teams who wear their primary kit at home consistently are also rewarded.

Potential for spectacular moments (5 points): Likelihood to get a text out of nowhere like: “WOW THAT WAS AMAZING!!!!”

(Near-)fatal flaws (5 points): Likelihood to get a text out of nowhere like: “Lol they conceded three but still won 4-3”

Inadvertent humor (5 points): Lorenzo Insigne dialing up a rocket from 35 yards, Peter Vermes GIFability, Luis Suarez pleading with referees 73 times a game…anything and everything that prompts a laugh.

29. Chicago Fire

Total: 12.5 points

Quality: 1.5 | Identity: 2 | Non-soccer: 2 | Moments: 1 | Flaws: 4 | Humor: 2

Someone had to be last. With another hapless rebuild, underperforming, high-paid players and a painfully disjointed attack, well, the Chicago Fire feel right.

The Xherdan Shaqiri experience has been a big fat failure. Ditto for a large majority of key signings in recent times. They finessed enough room to take a big swing on a designated player this winter and spent $12 million on center forward Hugo Cuypers.


Good ambition! Except he doesn’t have anyone to create chances for him.

Watching a plodding, aimless team meander around a sad, empty Soldier Field generates apathy or sadness more than anything else. Hey, the red kits are gorgeous and the youth movement is real. Maybe this summer a DP (or two) will liven things up. But, right now, it’s the same as it ever was.

28. New England Revolution

Total: 15 points

Quality: 3 | Identity: 1 | Non-soccer: 1 | Moments: 3 | Flaws: 4 | Humor: 3

It is borderline incomprehensible a team with a special, joyous player like Carles Gil could be second-bottom in this space but welcome to your 2024 New England Revolution.

Second-bottom of the league. Fewest goals. Second-fewest expected goals. Tied for worst in goal difference. Worst expected goal difference. The numbers tell it all. Vibes are dangerously low under head coach Caleb Porter. Press conferences get tense quickly.

Flipping around MLS Season Pass to find a Revs home game in front of a few fans in an NFL stadium doesn’t help.

27. Nashville SC

Total: 17 points

Quality: 3.5 | Identity: 1.5 | Non-soccer: 7 | Moments: 3 | Flaws: 1 | Humor: 1

Bottom three in watchability is absolutely where Nashville has belonged to this point. One caveat now is that a lot of the rationale may change because Gary Smith has been fired and the club is amidst a coaching search.

There are some unknowns. Maybe the unknowns give hope. Whenever a new coach is named, the first few games will have added intrigue. Until then, going with the information we have, this is where Nashville belongs.

Around Hany Mukhtar there isn’t much a neutral fan would call “fun.”

Walker Zimmerman dunking on some poor soul then screaming to the corner flag to celebrate is fun. Tyler Boyd’s loyalty to #TeamTuck is fun if you’re into that kind of thing. GEODIS Park can be fun, but understand the fans aren’t entirely thrilled with the product right now.

Ranking MLS's most watchable teams (1)

Tyler Boyd is firmly #TeamTuck. (Photo: Eric Bolte-USA TODAY Sports)

26. FC Dallas

Total: 17.5 points

Quality: 4 | Identity: 2.5 | Non-soccer: 3.5 | Moments: 2.5 | Flaws: 2.5 | Humor: 2.5

FC Dallas had so much potential. A system predicated on purposeful possession with talented players like Aiser Illaramendi, Petar Musa, Jesus Ferreira and Alan Velasco, whenever he returns from injury this summer.


Except things rarely played out like that and it cost Nico Estevez his job. They’ve been hampered with injuries, but the goal of “purposeful possession” has been “aimless, slow sideways passing” and then also ceding possession for pragmatism to pick up a couple more draws.

Dallas is last in expected goals and in the bottom quarter in goals scored. Like with Nashville, a coaching search provides intrigue, but the committee (of one) is done giving them the benefit of the doubt.

25. Sporting KC

Total: 20 points

Quality: 3 | Identity: 3 | Non-soccer: 4 | Moments: 3 | Flaws: 3 | Humor: 4

Sporting KC has had some moments, but nothing consistent. There is nothing new about this team, from the coach to system to personnel. Alan Pulido isn’t playing as well as he was last year and that’s a key difference.

Other than that, it’s all the same and not in a good way right now.

Hey, at least Peter Vermes remains the patron saint of sideline GIFability.

24. Seattle Sounders

Total: 20.5 points

Quality: 4 | Identity: 3.5 | Non-soccer: 7 | Moments: 2 | Flaws: 2 | Humor: 2

We’ll get into the ethos of #MLSAFTERDARK in a more fun way later on down the list. The Seattle Sounders are the opposite of that vibe.

It’s a slow, old, plodding starting XI. With Pedro de la Vega mostly injured all season, there’s nothing new to discover about the team. It’s all the same, just a little bit worse than previous iterations. That’s all well and good if they surge up the table, but right now they have neither points nor fun.

The home atmosphere is tremendous, as always, and the kits may well be the best combo in all of MLS this season.

GO DEEPEROur thoughts on every new MLS kit for 2024

23. Charlotte FC

Total: 24 points

Quality: 4 | Identity: 5 | Non-soccer: 5.5 | Moments: 3 | Flaws: 2 | Humor: 4.5

Charlotte FC rated much higher on watchability last year, but they’ll easily take the trade of picking up actual points instead of style points. And, honestly, most of it comes from fixing the defense.

Being high on this list isn’t always a good thing. This year, they are much more structured and strong under Dean Smith. There is plenty of room to grow with expected big summer signings and Liel Abada getting a bigger run.

All of the Sir Minty content gave them a boost. He is our king.


— Alicia Lalone🟧 (@AliciaLalone) October 22, 2023

22. Austin FC

Total: 24 points

Quality: 3.5 | Identity: 4 | Non-soccer: 8.5 | Moments: 3 | Flaws: 2 | Humor: 3

Austin FC is a bit unlucky to be in 22nd, but the algorithm ran the numbers and here we are. There is a steep drop off from Austin/Charlotte to the bottom tier, at least.

Around the content of their play, Austin scored well. They have a beautiful stadium and a raucous crowd. They have recognizable (and lovely) green kits that they wear at home much more often than others. (Points for wearing home kits at home!!) I’m not necessarily a huge fan of the green strobe lights for goal celebrations, but it’s certainly unique and lets you know you’re watching an Austin game.


On the field, it’s a team in transition.

New key signings will arrive this summer to supplement Sebastian Driussi, starting with club-record signing Osman Bukari. The worry here is the underlying numbers (which are very bad) catching up with their actual point total (which is good) and the bottom falling out.

21. CF Montréal

Total: 24.5 points

Quality: 2.5 | Identity: 6.5 | Non-soccer: 4 | Moments: 3 | Flaws: 5 | Humor: 3.5

Taken a month ago, CF Montréal probably would have been higher. The last month was disastrous as the club spun out into a death spiral.

Suddenly, the aggressive “play out of the back under pressure no matter what” looks silly after a few awful mistakes leading to goals conceded. An attack, already fighting uphill with a talent deficiency, is without its best three forwards due to injury. The expected expansive style at home gave way to pragmatism with pressure building, evident by a recent 0-0 draw against Nashville.

Of any of the teams in the bottom segment, Montréal has the most upside from a watchability standpoint. They need to get healthier and let Laurent Courtois’ vision really take hold, like the free flowing 4-2 win over D.C. United. Courtois is an excellent addition to the list of managers with high fashion on the sidelines, too.

The committee (of one) considered special bonus points for Matias Coccoro’s mustache, for obvious reasons.

I simply cannot say enough how elite Matias Coccoro's mustache is. Just a delightful addition to the mustache squad this offseason pic.twitter.com/CHL0Vi60Xt

— Tom Bogert (@tombogert) March 3, 2024

20. Orlando City

Total: 25 points

Quality: 5.5 | Identity: 3 | Non-soccer: 5.5 | Moments: 3 | Flaws: 4.5 | Humor: 3.5

One of the league’s least pleasant surprises from preseason projections, Orlando City has struggled mightily this season.

Coming off their best-ever season, Orlando re-signed the core players and added Luis Muriel and Nico Lodeiro. It has not gone well. The Lions are in the bottom third in both goals and expected goals. The defense has had some wildly inexplicable individual mistakes.


Facundo Torres has had a smaller impact on games. Duncan McGuire had to win back playing time, and is the only player on this team that has more than two goals.

The purple kits are unique and recognizable, which is a boost on any given weekend as the games pile up. Robin Jannson’s utter disdain for when he perceives attackers are diving is delightful. He perceives attackers dive both when they actually dive and also when he absolutely clatters them. The Rodrigo Schlegel experience is unpredictable, for better or worse.

19. Houston Dynamo

Total: 25.5 points

Quality: 5 | Identity: 8.5 | Non-soccer: 5 | Moments: 3 | Flaws: 1.5 | Humor: 2.5

If only the Houston Dynamo had one star attacker to bring their fun, aesthetic playing style to life. Fans probably would love multiple, but hey, let’s just start with one.

From defense through the midfield led by Hector Herrera where everything flows, the Dynamo dare to play beautifully. It’s not high-octane, but every pass has a purpose. The issue is they don’t have their own Cucho Hernandez, Chicho Arango, Denis Bouanga or Giorgios Giakoumakis to take the next step. Maybe this summer.

Also the defense is very good (fourth-fewest goals conceded, fifth-fewest xGA), but that doesn’t help with watchability.

18. St. Louis City

Total: 26 points

Quality: 3 | Identity: 6.5 | Non-soccer: 8.5 | Moments: 2 | Flaws: 3 | Humor: 3

The underlying numbers say St. Louis is still playing like St. Louis: First in shots, first in attack speed, first in passes per defensive action, worst in xG conceded per shot. Oddly, it has led to a lot of draws.

That style is frenetic and should be fun, but not always. A little more attacking quality could push this team up. Maybe that fixes itself just by the return of Eduard Lowen, plus the summer signing of Cedric Teuchert. For now, it’s just been fine. Hence 18th here, but with upside.


CITYPARK is among the best atmospheres in the league. When they’re home, it jumps off the screen.

17. Vancouver Whitecaps

Total: 26 points

Quality: 6 | Identity: 5 | Non-soccer: 5 | Moments: 3 | Flaws: 2 | Humor: 5

For a team that is so comfortable in the open field, the underlying stylistic metrics tell an incongruent story. Vancouver is dead last in attack speed and passes per defensive action.

That is a team that sits back but does not counter with pace. Ryan Gauld absolutely shreds in transition and Pedro Vite picks through balls in space. They are still 10th in expected goals, so creating good chances hasn’t been an issue, at least.

They get a full five points for inadvertant humor almost exclusively for Vanni Sartini. He’s box office. Delightful kits, too.

16. Colorado Rapids

Total: 26.5 points

Quality: 5.5 | Identity: 7.5 | Non-soccer: 4 | Moments: 3 | Flaws: 4 | Humor: 2.5

The Colorado Rapids have produced a total of 60 goals — 29 scored, 31 conceded. That total number is fourth in MLS. At its simplistic core, you know you’re getting goals when you turn on a Rapids game.

Colorado plays a front-footed, high-energy style. It’s not quite a full-tilt, energy-drink high press but it has those principles. They get the ball and try to go forward, creating wide-open games.

Star power may not be high — Djordje Mihailovic or Zack Steffen are the most recognizable names — but that’s okay. The Rapids have a lot going for them on any given Saturday night.


Total: 26.5 points

Quality: 7.5 | Identity: 8.5 | Non-soccer: 1 | Moments: 3.5 | Flaws: 2 | Humor: 4

It’s always tough for NYCFC to recover from one point in the non-soccer category, but playing at Yankee Stadium will do that. Those are the rules around here.

On the field, it’s a fun team in fun kits. The combo of light blue primary and the black secondary with orange and blue trim is elite. They want to hold possession, but above all, NYCFC keeps the tempo high — passing with a purpose, then immediately trying to win the ball back.


The young talent in this group is abundant, most obviously in attack with a few good young signings, but it’s also all throughout the squad. Matt Freese has been one of the two best goalkeepers in the league this year, too.

Mounsef Bakrar wears his heart on his sleeve. It makes for some great reaction shots.

Ranking MLS's most watchable teams (3)

Bakrar reacts during a match against Orlando City in 2023. (Photo: John Jones-USA TODAY Sports)

14. San Jose

Total: 27 points

Quality: 4 | Identity: 6 | Non-soccer: 3.5 | Moments: 4 | Flaws: 5 | Humor: 4.5

The San Jose Earthquakes haven’t been good, per se, but certainly worth your time. Particularly after adding Hernan Lopez.

San Jose’s defense is shambolic. The games are open. The attack, especially since Lopez joined, is low-key fun. As long as they don’t drift too far away from the playoff line, they’re a great shout for any random evening of #MLSAFTERDARK. Their games have had a combined 63 goals, with 24 scored and 39 conceded. Goals, goals, goals.

Luchi Gonzalez’s wardrobe is deeper with the NorthCal climate rather than Dallas, too.

It doesn’t necessarily help for watchability from your couch, because halftime shows aren’t broadcasted, but they had a halftime show where three bros ate a hot dog then ran a 100 meter dash. Look at my guy with the mullet, he can scoot! Sign him up!

Not sure about that, but we do know this guy and his mullet would probably beat both of them.

🔥 🌭 https://t.co/YuQV91keVm pic.twitter.com/0YJFgcPomp

— San Jose Earthquakes (@SJEarthquakes) May 29, 2024

There had to be an extra point for this somewhere. Extra half on humor and extra half on non-soccer.

13. Philadelphia Union

Total: 28 points

Quality: 6.5 | Identity: 6.5 | Non-soccer: 6 | Moments: 3 | Flaws: 3 | Humor: 3

There isn’t much new about the Philadelphia Union in 2024 in terms of tactics or personnel. They’re the same ol’ machine that has churned through the East for the better part of six seasons, except the results aren’t the same as before.


Philly is conceding more goals. And dropping more points at home. Is it a blip or real? Home games at Subaru Park with the Commodore Barry Bridge in the skyline along the Delaware River is unique in MLS and charming.

Enjoy Julian Carranza and Jack McGlynn while you can before they leave for Europe.

Ranking MLS's most watchable teams (4)

The view from Subaru Park. (Photo: Kyle Ross-USA TODAY Sports)

12. Atlanta United

Total: 28.5 points

Quality: 7 | Identity: 2.5 | Non-soccer: 8 | Moments: 5 | Flaws: 4 | Humor: 2

It’s been a slog this season for Atlanta, particularly with availability/form from their best players. Giorgios Giakoumakis has played about half of the available minutes (and has probably played his last game for Atlanta), while Thiago Almada has only hit top form a few times (and will be gone later this summer for the Olympics).

This is a star-driven ranking, not a beautiful tactical masterpiece. And their propensity for wide-open games. Atlanta’s watchability is sapped when Almada and Giakoumakis aren’t available, more star dependent than any other team in that way of intrigue.

The atmosphere at Mercedes-Benz Stadium always boosts the points a bit.

11. Toronto FC

Total: 29 points

Quality: 6 | Identity: 6 | Non-soccer: 5 | Moments: 5 | Flaws: 3 | Humor: 4

Toronto FC is among the most pleasant surprises in MLS this year. Statistically they were one of the worst teams of all time in the final months of 2023, losing 17 of their last 18 games. Staring up at a big rebuild, with two seemingly wantaway stars, this project was supposed to take some time.

Or not!

Federico Bernardeschi and Lorenzo Insigne are reborn and bought in. John Herdman has the team playing a fun style. The front office did an excellent job of overturning the roster as best they could despite some bad long-term contracts they inherited.

I’m still deciding if Bernardeschi’s cornrows gives them a point boost or point deduction. I’m leaning toward point boost. He also leads the league in both yellow cards and red cards.

Ranking MLS's most watchable teams (5)

Federico Bernardeschi and his hair warm up before a match against Philadelphia. (Photo: Eric Hartline-USA TODAY Sports)

10. D.C. United

Total: 29.5 points

Quality: 5 | Identity: 7.5 | Non-soccer: 6 | Moments: 4 | Flaws: 4 | Humor: 3

This ranking is probably where the committee’s personal biases are most evident.

There’s something about a dominant target forward that scores so highly. Particularly so when Christian Benteke is historically dominant compared to his peers, winning nearly TRIPLE the aerial duals as anyone else in the league. He’s truly a joy to watch in a primitive way because of his physical skills, but also in his intelligence. Movement off the ball is great. Knowing when to use brute force or when to finesse.


Everyone knows floated balls are coming his way. They can’t stop it.

Another bias is high-pressing, transition soccer. D.C. concede possession for field tilt. They attack fast and counter-press faster. Troy Lesesne allows for some creativity rather than the robotic car crash soccer this style can lend to. It’s fun.

9. Minnesota United

Total: 30 points

Quality: 5 | Identity: 8.5 | Non-soccer: 8.5 | Moments: 2.5 | Flaws: 3 | Humor: 2.5

No Reynoso? No problem.

Minnesota United transformed from one of the most heliocentric teams to a high-energy, creative, “team-is-greater-than-individual” vibe in one offseason. Well, less than one offseason, really. Name recognition is low, especially with Teemu Pukki coming off the bench more, but entertainment is high. They’re direct and nonstop.

Robin Lod cooks in the absence of Reynoso. Ten different players have scored goals. Michael Boxall is an elite quote. Eric Ramsay often introduces tactical wrinkles and low-key GIFable reactions on the touchline.

They get extra points for Allianz Field, the crowd singing Wonderwall and THE DARTH LOON that I wish they’d also bring out after every win. Or before every game. Or just every night to fly over the Twin Cities.

Not gonna lie, I’ll be bummed if #MNUFC doesn’t make the Dethloon drone a thing at every match. pic.twitter.com/pUHxevbEEt

— Jeff Rueter (@jeffrueter) August 11, 2022

8. New York Red Bulls

Total: 30.5 points

Quality: 7.5 | Identity: 7 | Non-soccer: 7.5 | Moments: 2.5 | Flaws: 3 | Humor: 3

By this time last year, the New York Red Bulls were unwatchable.

The Energy Drink Soccer was dialed up to an 11 and there was zero room for nuance or two consecutive passes in a row. Vibes were down badly. The team figuratively ran into a wall and just ran into other players (literally).

RBNY still have their Gegenpressing core — as they always will, which is good — but head coach Sandro Schwarz turned the knob down a bit, infused some fun and allowed for creativity. In conjunction, ownership stepped up and spent money to bring Emil Forsberg in from Leipzig. It’s been a wonderful year-over-year evolution.


The team is still direct and wants to win duels up the field, but Forsberg is class among the chaos. Lewis Morgan has someone to play with and even Dante Vanzeir has picked up his form. Everything fellow Jersey boy John Tolkin does on the field adds fun.

Red Bull Arena is underrated. When fans fill that thing, it’s a great stadium.

7. Portland Timbers

Total: 31 points

Quality: 7 | Identity: 4 | Non-soccer: 7 | Moments: 5 | Flaws: 5 | Humor: 3

Only Inter Miami games have had more total goals than Portland Timbers games. The Timbers have scored 32 and conceded 32 in 18 matches.

They offer goals, incredible moments of attacking quality, hilarious moments of defensive mishaps, wide-open games, Evander’s tekkers (and identifiable hair), Diego Chara’s smile (right before and after he kicks someone) and cutaways to head coach Phil Neville on the sideline.

Timbers games are truly fun, even if the supporters could do with a handful fewer goals conceded. Portland went 10 games straight conceding two or more goals in each. They did just get their first clean sheet of the season.

6. Real Salt Lake

Total: 34 points

Quality: 8 | Identity: 8 | Non-soccer: 7.5 | Moments: 4 | Flaws: 2.5 | Humor: 4

To be in the elite watchability group — which RSL is —a few boxes need to be checked. The quality has to be top, the style needs to be attractive and at least one wildcard, whether it’s the atmosphere, a fatal flaw, young players, storyline, etc.

Real Salt Lake has the quality and a top star in Chicho Arango. He’s firmly in the MVP race. The attack is complementary around Arango, with Carlos Gomez, Diego Luna, Fidel Barajas and Matty Crooks all having moments. Their game model is aggressive and fun.

They have young players breaking through and some defensive frailties that keep games open, but most importantly, RSL games are never over.


Only Inter Miami has picked up more points from losing positions than RSL (11) and only Inter Miami has scored more goals after the 60th minute (17). No one has scored more goals after 75 minutes (11) and no one has scored more goals in stoppage time (5).

Also, Brayan Vera is liable to smash a shot off the crossbar from 30 yards, throw himself into a duel with reckless abandon or try to pick up an opposition player he thinks is faking an injury. You just never know what you’re going to get.

5. FC Cincinnati

Total: 35 points

Quality: 8.5 | Identity: 8 | Non-soccer: 9.5 | Moments: 5 | Flaws: 1 | Humor: 3

FC Cincinnati’s new identity is its stout defense, especially after the departures of forward Brandon Vazquez and midfielder Alvaro Barreal and the addition of center back Miles Robinson.

It’s not a boring, bunker defensive, though. Cincinnati’s wingbacks take more chances forward, and the formation gives an even better backbone for superstar Lucho Acosta. It also allows Robinson to hunt more than staying along the backline.

When the ball gets on Acosta’s foot, there are few things more exciting in the league. He had a stretch where he had a goal contribution in nine consecutive games, scoring or assisting 10 of the team’s 12 goals.

Acosta is the best non-Messi player in MLS. Cincy is overwhelmingly likely to add a DP forward this summer too and should only get more fun as the season goes on.

As for the little nuances, MLS needs to have a live feed of defender Matt Miazga on every attacking or defensive set piece. TQL is an elite stadium with a top atmosphere in the league.


Total: 37 points

Quality: 8.5 | Identity: 8 | Non-soccer: 9.5 | Moments: 5 | Flaws: 3.5 | Humor: 2.5

LAFC mostly beat teams on the counter last season en route to the finals of MLS Cup and CONCACAF Champions Cup. With winger Denis Bouanga, that strategy is successful and foolproof.


Bouanga is a one-man wrecking ball in transition. LAFC is second in MLS in expected goals and first in expected goal difference (by no small margin). This team is good and fun and will only get better when forward Olivier Giroud joins in July.

BMO Stadium also might be the best viewing experience on TV, from the fan-led atmosphere to the design.

3. LA Galaxy

Total: 37.5 points

Quality: 8 | Identity: 9.5 | Non-soccer: 8 | Moments: 5 | Flaws: 5 | Humor: 2

For the first time in a long time, the LA Galaxy’s best players complement each other and fit into the system the head coach wants to play. It sounds simple, but it’s not easy.

Head coach Greg Vanney wants to dominate possession and midfielder Riqui Puig is perfect for that. Puig leads MLS in touches and passes, by several hundred in each category. It’s even more fun now that he has wingers he trusts (and who make runs) like Joseph Paintsil, Gabriel Pec and Diego fa*gundez.

In addition to killing you in possession, the Galaxy shreds in transition with Paintsil and Pec ahead of Puig. To top it all off, Dejan Joveljic is the poacher they need. The combination makes so much sense.

The Galaxy have the highest expected goals in MLS. And the third-worst expected goals against in MLS. The defense always feels three passes away from catastrophe.

I do appreciate Puig’s loyalty to #TeamTuck for his jersey as well as wearing long sleeves every game despite playing in Los Angeles in the summer.

2. Columbus Crew

Total: 39 points

Quality: 10 | Identity: 10 | Non-soccer: 9.5 | Moments: 5 | Flaws: 2.5 | Humor: 2

Last year’s watchability winner slides to No. 2 through no fault of its own.

As long as Wilfried Nancy is the coach, the Columbus Crew will play a beautifully aggressive style of possession with purpose. They have a superstar in Cucho Hernández, one of the most successful and press-resistant midfielders in MLS history in Darlington Nagbe and about 14 other fun players who could be named here.


The yellow kits carry recognition and break up the black/white hegemony that is natural for a league with 29 teams. Nancy says things like “impossible is an opinion.” He has players ready to sprint through walls for him … or at least to be brave enough to dribble out of pressure at any moment.

This is one of the most purely aesthetic teams in MLS history. They’re a tsunami. It feels like they create overloads everywhere on the pitch as if they have 13 players.

Columbus Crew "in-possession" principles.

1. extreme short connections:3-2 base
2. wide overloads
3. cues to invite press
4. diagonal outlet – ball-far halfspace
5. lateral shifts – maintain wide connections

Fav MLS team ever. Wilfried Nancy absolutely top. More vids to come. pic.twitter.com/ErWukE37lo

— oli (@o_oconnell_) May 27, 2024

1. Inter Miami

Total: 42.5 points

Quality: 10 | Identity: 10 | Non-soccer: 10 | Moments: 5 | Flaws: 4 | Humor: 3.5

The most obvious No. 1 in my MLS Watchability Rankings, Inter Miami has plenty going for them.

Inter Miami has the GOAT out here doing stuff typical for him but unfathomable to any other human who has kicked a soccer ball. Just this season, Lionel Messi has set an MLS record for assists in a game (5), scored from distance, complained directly into the camera about a new rule AND flicked a ball over a poor defender lying on the ground mid-dribble — something I’ve never seen before.

Lionel Messi will dribble around you, through you, and even… over you 👀 pic.twitter.com/8fLlXpBkhA

— FOX Soccer (@FOXSoccer) February 22, 2024

With Messi, Luis Suarez, Jordi Alba and Sergio Busquets, quality is an easy 10. Ditto for identity because they want to play beautiful soccer under Tata Martino. From unique pink kits, celebrities like LeBron James in the crowd at Chase Stadium and the traveling circus when they take this show on the road, Miami’s off-field show is just as entertaining.

Even more fun, at least for those who hope to beat them and neutrals watching, their defense is extremely suspect. The teams who have conceded more goals than Miami are largely the worst in the league. Miami also deals with line-up rotation weekly due to injuries and international duty, so that keeps things fresh too. Miami has the most combined goals scored plus goals conceded in MLS, with 69 in 18 games.

Miami also gets bonus points for Messi’s bodyguard and the ever-present risk of a pitch invader.

(Top photo: Minas Panagiotakis/Getty Images)

Ranking MLS's most watchable teams (2024)


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But those hardships are self-imposted by the launch of the Leagues Cup and the expansion of the MLS Cup Playoff format. The former is a tournament that sees both Liga MX and MLS take a break for a month for a World Cup-style event that includes every team from both leagues.

Can MLS games end in a tie? ›

If a match is tied at the end of regulation, no extra time will be played, teams will participate in a penalty shootout to determine the winner. Following the four Round One Best-of-3 Series in each conference, four teams from each conference will advance to the Conference Semifinals.

Do MLS winners get rings? ›

Details. These rings are typically made of silver or white gold with diamonds. They usually include the team name, crest, and MLS Cup winning year. Normally the rings are manufactured by Jostens, a sports memorabilia company, although the 2017 rings were made by Baron Jewelry.

Has an MLS team ever made the Champions League? ›

Under the Champions Cup's updated format starting in 2008–09, the first MLS team to finish first in its group was Real Salt Lake in 2010. The first Champions Cup title won by an MLS side occurred in 2022, when Seattle Sounders FC defeated Mexico's UNAM 5–2 on aggregate in the final.

Does James Harden own a soccer team? ›

While he was still a member of the Rockets, Harden became a part owner of two soccer teams. In the men's league, Harden bought into the Dynamo. In the women's league, he joined the Dash's ownership group.

How good is Houston Dynamo? ›

The Houston Dynamo have won the MLS Cup twice, doing so during their first two seasons in 2006 and 2007. The club has also won the U.S. Open Cup twice, in 2018 and 2023. They have been MLS Cup runners-up twice, in 2011 and 2012, and Supporters' Shield runners-up once in 2008.

What teams does James Harden own? ›

Basketball superstar James Harden joined the ownership group of the Houston Dynamo, Houston Dash and Shell Energy Stadium on July 18, 2019. On the court, Harden was the 2018 NBA Most Valuable Player and has led the United States to gold medals at the 2012 Olympic Games and the 2014 FIBA World Cup.

Who has the highest salary in the MLS history? ›

Regarded as one of soccer's all-time greats, the 36-year-old Messi is in his first full season in the league. By a wide margin, Inter Miami superstar Lionel Messi remains the top-paid player in MLS history with overall annual compensation of $20.4 million, according to MLS Players Association data released Thursday.

What's the average salary for a MLS player? ›

The average MLS salary is $530,262 in 2023, up 3.5% from $512,287 in 2022. In 2021, that figure was $418,014.

Who is the highest paid soccer player in the world in 2024? ›

Leading soccer players worldwide 2024, by annual earnings

Cristiano Ronaldo was the highest earning soccer player in the world in 2024, being paid around 260 million U.S. dollars a year.

Who is the highest paid NFL player? ›

Click on each highlighted position for a breakdown of that position's highest paid players for the 2024 season. The Cincinnati Bengals' Joe Burrow is the highest paid player in the NFL. The San Francisco 49ers' Nick Bosa is the highest paid defensive player in the league.

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