MLS Power Rankings: Week 1
Already, Major League Soccer teams have called preseason predictions into question, and we're only most of the way through every team making its debut. A couple teams at the top lost, while a couple at the bottom got off to fast starts.
The league-instilled parity means any team can win any game, so the results of just one match shouldn't cause too much euphoria or panic, but a few teams, such as the Vancouver Whitecaps, showed immense potential. Others, including the New England Revolution, will be happy it was only the first game of 34.
Here's how the league shapes up after one round of games:
MLS Power Rankings — Week 1
1. Real Salt Lake (1-0-0)
Last week: 2
RSL's win at the L.A. Galaxy was one of the most impressive results of the first round, even though it wasn't by as large a margin as some teams won. Salt Lake lost both games at StubHub Center last year (once in the regular season and once in the playoffs), making Jeff Cassar's first win as head coach more impressive.
2. Sporting Kansas City (0-1-0)
Last week: 1
A last-gasp opening-day loss to Seattle stings, especially since the Sounders have scored five goals on Kansas City in stoppage time in MLS play. However, Sporting was without key players in Chance Myers, Seth Sinovic and Paulo Nagamura, and it was a narrow loss, so it shouldn't hurt the team too much in the long run.
3. Portland Timbers (0-0-1)
Last week: 3
Speaking of last-gasp goals, the Timbers needed one to avoid losing to the Philadelphia Union. Bright spots for Portland included new signing Gastón Fernández, who scored the goal, but Caleb Porter will be upset his team couldn't do better at home. It was the same story as last year, when the Timbers came back to tie the Red Bulls, 3-3, in their first game.
4. Seattle Sounders (1-0-0)
Last week: 7
A sloppy game on wet turf plays right into Seattle's strengths as a direct team. Chad Barrett took advantage of a goal-area scramble to score the winning goal in dramatic fashion, giving head coach Sigi Schmid the start he needed to avoid even more pressure after the way last season ended.
5. New York Red Bulls (0-1-0)
Last week: 4
New York shouldn't be too panicked about a 4-1 loss to the Vancouver Whitecaps on Saturday. With Thierry Henry and Jámison Olave in the lineup, the game probably plays out much differently. The Red Bulls have just one more regular-season game on a turf field, when they play the Revolution on June 8.
6. Houston Dynamo (1-0-0)
Last week: 8
Despite a lack of offseason player movement, Houston looked pretty good in its first game, as Will Bruin scored two good goals. The question moving forward will be whether Bruin can maintain that form after a frustrating 2013 that saw him miss a host of solid chances in his sophomore campaign.
7. L.A. Galaxy (0-1-0)
Last week: 5
A few inches' difference on two Robbie Keane shots, and the story could be much different for the Galaxy. Keane smacked the post on a close-range shot and saw his late penalty kick saved by spot-kick maestro Nick Rimando. Landon Donovan also had a good chance denied, which would have been his league-record 135th goal.
8. Philadelphia Union (0-0-1)
Last week: 10
Getting a point at Providence Park often feels like a win, and the Union can be happy with climbing out of that gauntlet with a draw on Saturday; however, they led until late in the game and probably will feel as though they should have won. The sloppy conditions gave Philadelphia a chance it couldn't take.
9. New England Revolution (0-1-0)
Last week: 6
Getting lit up for four goals is never a good thing, but New England hardly mustered any sort of response when Houston took an early two-goal lead. The Revs took 18 shots but only found the target once. They have a lot of potential and young talent, but Saturday was a rude awakening to the growing they still have to do.
10. FC Dallas (1-0-0)
Last week: 11
Óscar Pareja's return to Texas was victorious, albeit by a one-goal margin against a weak Montreal Impact. Blas Pérez had a solid showing, as did Mauro Díaz in central midfield. Díaz's dive to earn a penalty was all that separated the teams in the end, but winning in MLS is often about a moment of fortune.
11. Colorado Rapids (0-0-0)
Last week: 9
Colorado was idle in Week 1, but the Rapids finally announced Pablo Mastroeni as their new head coach after Pareja's offseason departure. He's been in a technical role with the club for a couple months, so they shouldn't have missed much in terms of leadership.
12. Vancouver Whitecaps (1-0-0)
Last week: 15
Vancouver had the most surprising and intriguing performance of the first weekend. Kenny Miller, finally healthy, put away two goals, and South American midfielders Sebastián Fernández and Pedro Morales made good debuts for their new team.
13. Columbus Crew (1-0-0)
Last week: 17
Gregg Berhalter's men showed some promise in a 3-0 win at D.C. United. Their first goal in particular showed a style the team hasn't seen in a long time, with the ball swinging around the back before a wall pass put Josh Williams in behind, and he slotted it in for a one-touch finish by Jairo Arrieta.
14. San Jose Earthquakes (0-0-0)
Last week: 13
San Jose did not play in the first week, as it prepares for a mid-week CONCACAF Champions League clash with Liga MX's Toluca on Tuesday. The Earthquakes stay at home for a weekend game against Real Salt Lake, so there should be no excuse for tired legs on Saturday despite playing two games in a week.
15. Toronto FC (0-0-0)
Last week: 14
Toronto needed a week off to get its players healthy for the first game of the season. It will be a race to see if Michael Bradley can be healthy enough to participate. Jermain Defoe said on Monday that he's ready, and goalkeeper Júlio César should be recovered from playing for Brazil in South Africa.
16. Chivas USA (1-0-0)
Last week: 19
The only rookie to score in the first week of MLS play was Chivas forward Thomas McNamara. Beyond him, Mauro Rosales looked energized after a stagnant 2013 with the Seattle Sounders — even playing a full 90 minutes — and Erick Torres picked up where he left off last year, scoring the first goal of a promising 3-2 win over Chicago.
17. Chicago Fire (0-1-0)
Last week: 12
Chicago showed signs of life after going down two goals to Chivas USA. Benji Joya made an instant impact on his debut as a substitute, and fighting back to 2-2 in the second half was a positive reaction. Perhaps Chivas is tougher than it looks this year, but until we know for sure, this looks like a very bad loss.
18. Montreal Impact (0-1-0)
Last week: 16
Sanna Nyassi scored in the 10th minute to give the Impact a great start on the road, but the team turned as cold as the Dallas downpour after that. Three consecutive goals for Dallas put the game to bed, even after Andrew Wenger's goal with 25 minutes left to play and seven Impact corner kicks in the second half.
19. D.C. United (0-1-0)
Last week: 18