MLS Power Rankings: Week 3
It's less than a month into the Major League Soccer season, and every week already provides some entertaining story lines.
Star-studded Toronto FC won its second straight game and its home opener, squeaking by a defiant Bill Hamid and D.C. United. The Seattle Sounders waited an extra day because of snow in Montreal to defeat the Impact at Olympic Stadium. The Colorado Rapids benefitted from two major goalkeeping errors to take down the Portland Timbers at home. Under Oscar Pareja, FC Dallas provisionally has the most points in the league, netting seven through three games following a comfortable win over Chivas USA.
After those results and the rest of the league weekend slate, here are the MLS Power Rankings after three weeks of the 2014 season:
MLS Power Rankings — Week 3
1. Houston Dynamo (2-0-0)
Last week: 1
Despite having a week off, Houston stays on top of the power rankings because none of the teams just below it could pull out a victory last weekend. The Dynamo make the trip across the border to play a struggling Vancouver side in Week 4.
2. Sporting Kansas City (1-1-1)
Last week: 4
After an early chance cleared off the line and Ike Opara's shocking miss while basically hugging the post, it was obviously going to be a fight for Kansas City to defeat San Jose. Sporting pressed all game and was eventually rewarded with a penalty. The team showed it is one of the few in the league that can physically hang with the Earthquakes, fending off their usual late onslaught well.
3. Philadelphia Union (1-1-1)
Last week: 2
The Union got much stronger in central midfield over the offseason, but the lines in front of and behind the middle continue to be a problem. Several strong performances in midfield again kept the game against Columbus close, even after going down 2-0, but the likes of Maurice Edu and Vincent Nogueira got little help from those around them.
4. Real Salt Lake (1-0-2)
Last week: 3
Robbie Keane's goal killed all of RSL's early momentum on Saturday. Joao Plata's injury didn't help, as he was the main attacking spark, and he gave Omar González trouble while he was in the game. RSL needs to close out home games, especially contentious ones against Western Conference rivals.
5. Toronto FC (2-0-0)
Last week: 11
Toronto is 2-0 for the first time in franchise history thanks to all three Designated Players combining on the only goal against D.C. United. Gilberto had a solid debut, and Jermain Defoe scored again, but Michael Bradley is undoubtedly the team's most important player. His intensity and competitiveness will carry the team as far as it goes this year.
6. Seattle Sounders (2-1-0)
Last week: 7
Seattle played better in a 4-3-3 without Clint Dempsey than they played in Week 2 with him, winning pretty comfortably against the Montreal Impact. The opponent wasn't as good this week, though, and Impact goalkeeper Troy Perkins helped Seattle with his unfortunate own goal to open the scoring. In Dempsey's absence, Obafemi Martins had a strong showing.
7. L.A. Galaxy (0-1-1)
Last week: 8
Keane showed his worth again and displayed the skill that earned him a new Designated Player contract in the offseason at age 33 when he scored a difficult goal at RSL on Saturday. After the Galaxy's comeback at Tijuana in the Champions League fell short, they should be happy with a point after falling behind at Rio Tinto.
8. FC Dallas (2-0-1)
Last week: 9
Dallas had plenty of scoring chances against Chivas but struggled to convert until the second half. Fabián Castillo made a good run from deep on a free kick to give his team the lead, and two more goals followed as Dallas turned a close game into a comfortable result. Óscar Pareja's team is already clicking better than last year.
9. Colorado Rapids (1-0-1)
Last week: 10
Donovan Ricketts and Andrew Weber bailed the Rapids out after a mediocre home performance, giving away a penalty each to give Colorado a 2-0 win. It was a shaky game for the home team, but Dillon Powers and Deshorn Brown combined dangerously a couple times, including on the through ball that led to the Rapids' first penalty.
10. Columbus Crew (2-0-0)
Last week: 13
Gregg Berhalter's team is 2-for-2 after an impressive and efficient performance against Philadelphia. Bernardo Añor scored both goals, including a 30-yard, left-footed blast just before the halftime whistle that sealed the result. Philadelphia kept it close, though, and the Crew had to be sharp in the back to keep their one-goal lead intact.
11. Portland Timbers (0-1-2)
Last week: 5
Even on the road and in snowy conditions, Portland should have expected more out of itself. As in the first two weeks, the winning goal could have been coming, but then two goalkeeping errors handed the game to Colorado. Portland is yet to win in three, but the Timbers started slowly last year, too.
12. New York Red Bulls (0-1-2)
Last week: 6
Goalkeeper Luis Robles saved a point for the Red Bulls after they went behind early, conceding on a corner kick. New York pulled one back from a corner of their own and then finished out a tough performance on the road to earn a point, but considering how the Chicago Fire have struggled this year, perhaps they could have expected more.
13. Chivas USA (1-1-1)
Last week: 12
Goalkeeper Dan Kennedy had several good interventions in a game in which Chivas was dominated on the road. His efforts weren't enough to fend off the constant attack for 90 minutes, but goal machine Cubo Torres scored again for the Goats to earn a consolation goal in a 3-1 loss.
14. Vancouver Whitecaps (1-0-2)
Last week: 14
After another subpar performance, the first-week stunner against the New York Red Bulls is starting to look like a fluke. On the other hand, the Whitecaps won at home and drew both games on the road, which is an accepted formula for success in any league. Another home game next week against the undefeated Houston Dynamo will be telling.
15. New England Revolution (0-2-1)
Last week: 15
For a third successive game, New England had little attacking threat, despite forcing David Ousted into a Save of the Week candidate. The Revolution have not scored a goal yet this season, and talented attacking players Kelyn Rowe and Diego Fagundez have had frustrating starts.
16. Chicago Fire (0-1-2)
Last week: 17
Chicago could have won if it weren't for Robles' heroics in the Red Bulls' goal. Quincy Amarikwa came close to a Goal of the Year candidate when he just missed a diving header as well. A different result either of Robles' saves or on Amarikwa's effort could have given the Fire an important home win.
17. San Jose Earthquakes (0-1-1)
Last week: 16
The Earthquakes left it late again, but this time, their comeback could not be completed against Kansas City. They withstood Sporting's attacks for most of the game and tried to let their physicality take over, but Peter Vermes' team is built to win those battles. Without a Plan B, San Jose lost a frustrating game.
18. D.C. United (0-2-0)
Last week: 19
The 1-0 loss against Toronto was much better than the heavy defeat to Columbus two weeks ago, but the result was the same. Goalkeeper Bill Hamid was the difference for most of the game, as he robbed Jermain Defoe a couple of times. On the other end, D.C. managed well over half the possession but were still doubled in shots by Toronto.
19. Montreal Impact (0-3-0)
Last week: 18 It's just not looking good right now for Montreal. Being at less than full strength in every game so far hasn't helped, but the Impact can't lean on that crutch and expect things to magically turn around when Marco di Vaio returns. He needs a capable team around him to get him the ball.