After a season-opening victory, Real Salt Lake maintained its spot atop the MLS Power Rankings, and RSL faces a huge game this weekend against the number 3 ranked LA Galaxy, who will be without Landon Donovan, Alvaro Saborio because of international duty.
MLS Power Rankings Week 1
1. REAL SALT LAKE (1-0-0)
Last week: Beat San Jose, 1-0, on Saturday.
This week: vs. Los Angeles Galaxy, Saturday, 9 p.m.
Outlook: Lose the defender of the year with a hamstring strain? No problem. Second-year center back Chris Schuler stepped in for the injured Jamison Olave and, after some early-game jitters, helped lead RSL to a 1-0 road win over the Quakes in a monsoon at Buck Shaw Stadium.
2. LOS ANGELES GALAXY (1-0-1)
Last week: Beat Seattle, 1-0, last Tuesday; Tied New England, 1-1, on Sunday.
This week: at Real Salt Lake, Saturday, 9 p.m.
Outlook: Despite injuries to three key players, the Galaxy earned four points from its first two matches. Juninho will have to keep his hot streak going as the Galaxy will be without Landon Donovan for an early-season test at Rio Tinto Stadium.
3. NEW YORK RED BULLS (1-0-0)
Last week: Beat Seattle, 1-0, on Saturday.
This week: at Columbus, Saturday, 4 p.m.
Outlook: The Red Bulls will be severely short-handed for Saturday’s match, with Juan Agudelo, Tim Ream, Rafael Marquez, Dane Richards and Bouna Coundoul among those on international duty. The team still has to like its chances to score road points after seeing how the Crew fared at D.C.
4. COLORADO RAPIDS (1-0-0)
Last week: Beat Portland, 3-1, on Saturday.
This week: at Chivas USA, Saturday, 10:30 p.m.
Outlook: First they came for the doubters and left with an MLS Cup. Now they’ve come for the haters, and they put on a clinical, beautiful attacking display against Portland. The Rapids took more offseason grief than any Cup winner since the ’05 Galaxy, but there wasn’t an ounce of negative football to be found in Commerce City.
5. D.C. UNITED (1-0-0)
Last week: Beat Columbus, 3-1, on Saturday.
This week: at New England, Saturday, 4:30 p.m.
Outlook: What a difference a season makes. Between Josh Wolff’s presence up top, Charlie Davies’ two-goal outburst, Dax McCarty’s work in central midfield and Perry Kitchen’s ability in central defense, all of D.C.’s newcomers are on the right track. Kitchen will be on U-20 duty this weekend, though.
6. PHILADELPHIA UNION (1-0-0)
Last week: Beat Houston, 1-0, on Saturday.
This week: vs. Vancouver, Saturday, 4 p.m.
Outlook: The Union’s resolve to win on the road must have been a breath of fresh air for the team and the Sons of Ben, who welcome expansion Vancouver to PPL Park for the home opener. Faryd Mondragon’s presence in goal was paramount to the victory, and he’ll need to be at his best to stop DP striker Eric Hassli.
7. SPORTING KANSAS CITY (1-0-0)
Last week: Beat Chivas USA, 3-2, on Saturday
This week: at Chicago, Saturday, 4 p.m., Telefutura.
Outlook: The offense was convincing in the Home Depot Center on Saturday night, but the defense left much to be desired. Part of that is the aggressive nature of Peter Vermes’ 4-3-3, but partially it looked like a lack of communication from Matt Besler and Júlio César. They’ll need more time to jell.
8. (FC DALLAS (0-0-1)
Last week: Tied Chicago, 1-1, on Saturday.
This week: vs. San Jose, Saturday, 9 p.m.
Outlook: FCD fought hard for its point after Brek Shea’s red card left the team short-handed, and he’ll miss the match against the Earthquakes. Zach Loyd and Milton Rodriguez stood tall in the team’s Week 1 draw.
9. SAN JOSE EARTHQUAKES (0-1-0)
Last week: Lost to Real Salt Lake, 1-0, on Saturday.
This week: at FC Dallas, Saturday, 9 p.m.
Outlook: Chris Wondolowski and the rest of the Earthquakes had plenty of chances, but they couldn’t find a way to beat Rimando. It won’t get much easier going against a stout FCD defensive unit and goalkeeper Kevin Hartman on the road.
10. NEW ENGLAND REVOLUTION (0-0-1)
Last week: Tied Los Angeles, 1-1, on Sunday.
This week: vs. D.C. United, Saturday, 4:30 p.m.
Outlook: The Revs allowed insane amounts of space for Landon Donovan to work on the flanks and somehow weren’t punished for it. They got the result, and Shalrie Joseph’s performance had to delight N.E. fans.
11. VANCOUVER WHITECAPS (1-0-0)
Last week: Beat Toronto FC, 4-2, on Saturday
This week: at Philadelphia, Saturday, 4 p.m.
Outlook: Hassli’s two-goal performance and the Whitecaps’ offensive prowess were perhaps the biggest surprises to emerge from the season’s opening week. Can they replicate that output on the road against an improved Philadelphia side?
12. CHICAGO FIRE (0-0-1)
Last week: Tied FC Dallas, 1-1, on Saturday
This week: vs. Sporting Kansas City, 4 p.m., Telefutura.
Outlook: The early returns on Diego Chaves and the rebuilt defense are solid after the Fire hauled in a hard-fought point against FC Dallas. Rookies Jalil Anibaba and C.J. Sapong, who both had strong debuts, will go head-to-head in this matchup of midwestern clubs.
13. SEATTLE SOUNDERS (0-2-0)
Last week: Lost to Los Angeles, 1-0, last Tuesday; Lost at New York, 1-0, on Saturday.
This week: vs. Houston, Friday, 10 p.m., Fox Soccer Channel.
Outlook:It’s entirely possible that Seattle start the season in a funk, then turn it on around mid-May or so. Last year Sigi Schmid had to bench Fredy Montero to get him started, after all, and with the upheaval of Blaise Nkufo’s dismissal and Steve Zakuani’s injury, it hasn’t been the smoothest March.
14. HOUSTON DYNAMO (0-1-0)
Last week: Lost to Philadelphia, 1-0, on Saturday.
This week: at Seattle, Friday, 10 p.m., Fox Soccer Channel.
Outlook: Despite out-playing the Union for the majority of their match, the Dynamo couldn’t find an equalizer, with Dominic Oduro’s finishing problems rising to the surface again. In order to get into the W column, the Dynamo will look to take advantage of a fragile Seattle side, but winning at Qwest won’t be easy.
15. CHIVAS USA (0-1-0)
Last week: Lost to Sporting Kansas City, 3-2, on Saturday.
This week: vs. Colorado, Saturday, 10:30 p.m.
Outlook: The much ballyhooed defense failed to live up to its billing in yielding a goal right off the bat to Sapong and two more to Bravo, the former Chivas de Guadalajara standout. The Goats catch a break with Cummings on international duty, but Robin Fraser needs a better defensive effort from his squad.
16. COLUMBUS CREW (0-1-0)
Last week: Lost at D.C., 3-1, on Saturday
This week: vs. New York, Saturday, 4 p.m.
Outlook: A dismal showing in D.C. is followed up by welcoming the Eastern Conference’s true power to Crew Stadium. Fortunately for Columbus, the Red Bulls will be shorthanded. Robbie Rogers didn’t get the start in the season opener, which is a head-scratcher considering the expectations for him this season.
17. PORTLAND TIMBERS (0-1-0)
Last week: Lost at Colorado, 3-1, on Saturday.
This week: at Toronto FC, Saturday, 2 p.m.
Outlook: Portland had one of the more disappointing efforts on opening day, but facing the defending champions in Colorado was no easy task. We’ll know more about this team’s true attacking prowess after it has a chance to go up against Toronto’s unit that yielded four goals to Vancouver.
18. TORONTO FC (0-1-0)
Last week: Lost at Vancouver, 4-2, on Saturday
This week: vs. Portland, Saturday, 2 p.m.
Outlook: Give Aron Winter credit: He promised good, attacking soccer, and that’s what the Reds delivered going forward. Unfortunately they also delivered it to the Whitecaps, who repeatedly carved up the TFC defense. Expect back line reinforcements sooner rather than later. And if none come, expect TFC to reside in this spot permanently.