MLS Rankings: Week 1

After First Kick we have seen the majority of the teams play and we can start our weekly rankings.  Though, it is important to consider what we know after one game: nothing really.  Some teams were more prepared than others and it showed.  However, there are nine months to sort out who’s who and truly determine the best teams.  With that in mind here is my list:

  1. Real Salt Lake opened the MLS 2012 season against the LA Galaxy with a 3-1 victory.  The match met the anticipated hype. RSL Demonstrated consistency completing almost 83% of passes using youth and depth.  Alvaro Saborio and Javier Morales came on in the 66th minute and completely changed the game.  Though LA scored first, RSL played the better ball through possession and dominated the last twenty minutes.  Next week they host the New York Red Bulls and will look to improve their record.
  2. Seattle Sounders did not play this opening weekend but did have a midweek CCL matchup against Santos Laguna.  In the victory David Estrada and Brad Evans came away with goals. All-around Seattle played solid and showed why they are certain early contenders.  Seattle has the second leg of the CCL midweek and will play their first MLS season match hosting Toronto FC on Saturday.
  3. FC Dallas opened the 2012 campaign with a victory against the New York Red Bulls. Dallas largely controlled the game and created the better chances. Blas Perez and newly signed Luis Perea ad excitement up front and puts a nice finish ahead of a strong midfield. Playmakers Brek Shea and Fabian Castillo will be absent due to international commitments for the next couple of matches.  The performances during this time could prove their depth and how big of a contender they are.  FC Dallas hosts the frenzied attack of the Portland Timbers on Saturday.
  4. LA Galaxy has received a lot of forgiveness for their loss to Real Salt Lake. This is a team game and there will be several instances through the years where it is necessary to play three games a week.  The LA roster is coached by Bruce Arena and the combination is used to win games. The “fatigued” excuse isn’t a reason to lose as depth is necessary to succeed. LA probably has the best counter-attack in the league and this alone will win several games. However, the Galaxy’s bank line is a big question mark for me and could prevent them from making another run.  They also have a midweek CCL match with Toronto at home, then at home again on Sunday hosting D.C. United.
  5. Sporting Kansas City won its first match away against D.C. United with a stoppage time goal by CJ Sapong. SKC returned to attacking form testing D.C. United’s keeper Bill Hamid throughout the match. SKC created plenty of opportunities and this little insight shows they may be the team of the East to beat. A home match with New England Revolution this weekend may prove to be another boost in confidence.
  6. Colorado Rapids defeated the Columbus Crew at home by two goals. The Rapids looked promising under new coach, Oscar Pareja. If this match is an indicator, Colorado will be off to a strong start this season. They travel to Philadelphia this weekend and I expect a similar result.
  7. Portland Timbers defeated the Philadelphia Union in their opening match. Portland has an explosive counter-attack that seems to have relentless dangerous crosses. Possession and pass completion need some work and could make them a complete team. I expect Portland to be much more competitive this season. Portland travels to Dallas for what could be one of the more exciting matches of the weekend.  
  8. Houston Dynamo traveled to the Home Depot center to face Chivas USA and came away with a late winner. Houston controlled the ball well and created a lot of nice through-balls. Though, these opportunities were not finished they will be in the future. Though an away win holds merit and meaning. It should be noted that Chivas USA had many opportunities and the score line could have easily gone the other way. The Dynamo travel to Buck Shaw Stadium to face the San Jose Earthquakes.
  9. San Jose Earthquakes won their opener against the New England Revolution with a Chris Wondolowski goal. Though it started as a gift from Soares, the finish from a proven striker counts. San Jose got a lot of help from center back Victor Bernandez. Heading storylines, he may be the foundation of a better defense for San Jose.  The Quakes host the Dynamo this weekend.  
  10. Vancouver Whitecaps defeated expansion team Montreal Impact. An early goal in the first half from Sebastien Le Toux and an early goal in the second half from Camilo gave Vancouver some comfort space. Vancouver is in a difficult conference and will need to be a little more aggressive going forward in order to compete.  They travel south to the Home Depot Center on Saturday to face Chivas USA.
  11. New York Red Bulls had a tough opening match against FC Dallas. There seemed to be some real inconsistency and poor communication through the midfield, particularly Dax McCarty who seemed to give away a lot of passes. Hopefully this will serve as an eye-opener for the club and they can turn it around. Kenny Cooper showed hunger and gives hope to their attack and hopefully can inspire those around him. However, they will be shorthanded traveling to Salt Lake which may be a more difficult matchup than Dallas. Bright spot – Rookie Ryan Meara had a strong performance and may give them stability in goal.
  12. Toronto FC did not play opening weekend but did draw 2-2 with LA Galaxy in the CCL competition. Toronto demonstrated resilience e although they gave up a two goal lead.  Despite drawing with powerhouse LA, they still have many questions to answer.  Two matches this week to two very tough opponents: the second leg of the CCL at Home Depot Center against the LA Galaxy and then traveling to Seattle to face the Sounders.  Could be a difficult stretch. 
  13. Chicago Fire have yet to play a true match this season. Based on changes in the roster and past performance, I expect them to be competing in the top half of the East.
  14. Columbus Crew suffered a disappointing loss in Colorado. Hopes and expectations had them performing much better and it was not to be. Early difficulties may be growing pains but their next opponent is Montreal at home and anything less than a win should be a failure.
  15. Chivas USA hosted the Houston Dynamo for first kick. They had a few struggles in the midfield but despite no goals there was promise in the final third.  Juan Pablo Angel had a few near goals, including one off the post. However the defense seems to have holes and improvements are needed to compete in the West. Chivas USA host Vancouver this weekend and could come away with a better result.
  16. D.C. United suffered a loss to Sporting Kansas City over the weekend. Things will not get easier as they travel to LA on Sunday. Ben Olsen’s team will need to find answers quickly.
  17. Philadelphia Union traveled cross-country to Portland and lost. The Union had significant struggles connecting a string of passes and attacking play was nearly non-existent. New keeper Zac MacMath had some struggles but I think Union fans should be positive about him. Bigger question is how to reduce the shots on goal.
  18. New England Revolution also traveled across the country to Buck Shaw Stadium to face the San Jose Earthquakes. The loss was frustrating following a promising preseason. Jay Heaps’ team travels to Sporting Kansas City which will be a tougher match than San Jose.
  19. Montreal Impact is struggling as most expansion clubs will. The team is very new and will continue to work together to build chemistry and cohesion. They seemingly have many of the right pieces in place. Be patient Impact fans, the wins will come.  A short trip to Chicago could be the first.