This was written about three days ago and I'm just getting around to it now. This doesn't include Friday night's MLS game which is good since I have no idea who played or what the result is. And everyone should watch/DVR the USA-Argentina game tonight to watch after/with all the March Madness (I'll have more on that later, saw the two games yesterday in Newark, NJ - East Regional in person. Ohio State-Kentucky was worth the price of admission alone.)
Anyway, on to the first batch of rankings for 2011! Leave some feedback at the bottom if you'd like.
1. Colorado Rapids (1W-0D-0L, 3 pts / W vs. POR 3-1) - The defending MLS Cup Champions did exactly what they’re supposed to do, beat a weaker side at home. And yes, this is the first time that someone other than the LA Galaxy has been a top my power rankings. And for those that followed last year until the World Cup break, I assure you that someone would have dethroned the Galaxy.
2. Real Salt Lake (1-0-0, 3 pts / W vs. SJ 1-0) – Kyle Beckerman’s blast was able to give RSL all three points against a San Jose. In a sloppy game with few chances, I like that RSL can find a way to win, but I still have questions about their depth.
3. New York Red Bulls (1-0-0, 3 pts / W vs. SEA 1-0) – With the exception of Charlie Davis, I can’t think of a better start to the season than NY’s Juan Agudelo. The young striker showed great poise when he scored the game winner and may have erased some doubts as to whether he can replace Juan Pablo Angel.
4. LA Galaxy (1-0-0, 3 pts / W @ SEA 1-0, D vs. NE 1-1) – Yes, the Galaxy aren’t number one for the first time ever, but I only did the rankings for half the year in 2010. Juninho is providing all the scoring for this team at the moment, and Landon Donovan will be playing for USA tonight vs. Argentina.
5. Vancouver Whitecaps (1-0-0, 3 pts / W 4-2 vs. TOR) – Really impressive first win for the expansion side. They also get 17-year old phenom Omar Salgado on the roster as FIFA granted him a waiver to play due to some under-18 age restriction. They won’t get him until after he leaves the USA U-20 camp though.
6. Sporting Kansas City (1-0-0, 3 pts / W @ CHV 3-2) – Terrible name change aside, KC is still pretty good. They scored two timely goals in the first half and then cruised a little too much in the second at Chivas. Still, in a weak Eastern conference, they’re going to be hanging around the top three all year I think.
7. DC United (1-0-0, 3 pts / W vs. CREW 3-1) - Charlie Davies’ long awaited return to top level soccer began with a double, the first off a penalty and the second beating a keeper one-on-one. For a team that struggled mightily last season, I don’t think they could have had a better start.
8. Philadelphia Union (1-0-0, 3 pts /) W @ HOU 1-0 - Last year’s expansion side, the Zolos begin this year with a rarity from 2010, a road win. And I loved the way the Union won the game, scoring off a scramble from a corner and playing scrappy D. I don’t know if they’re a playoff team, but they certainly should be a thorn in a lot of teams sides this year.
9. New England Revs (0-1-0, 1 pt / 6E; D @ LA 1-1) – The Revs got off to a fast start as captain Shalrie Joseph scored in the opening minutes. A poor clearance led by rookie D AJ Soares led to LA’s goal but Matt Reis six saves helped secure a solid road point for Steve Nicol’s team in LA.
10. Chicago Fire (0-1-0, 1 pt / 5E; D @ DAL 1-1) – They get a point on the road, but I don’t like giving up an equalizer two minutes after the opening goal. Chicago might have wasted an early opportunity here as they dominated the offensive chances throughout the game with Dallas only having 10-men.
11. Dallas FC (0-1-0, 1 pt / 5W; D vs. CHI 1-1) – After Brek Shea’s red card in the 56’ minute Dallas are probably lucky to escape with a point at home. FCD’s Jair Benitez missed the game due to suspension stemming from an incident in a preseason game.
12. San Jose Quakes – (0-0-1, 0 pts / 7W; L vs. RSL 0-1) – I’m putting the Quakes at the top of the one-loss teams for the following reasons: They lost to a solid team in terrible weather and actually generated more chances and probably deserved a point. Remember, this was a playoff team last year that ousted New York.
13. Chivas USA (0-0-1, 0 pts / 6W; L vs. KC 2-3) – The Goats fell behind in the second minute and went down 2-0 right before the half. They did dominate the second half and I think they were also unlucky to not get a point here. Erase the early or late first half goal and Chivas didn’t do all that poorly in their opener.
14. Houston Dynamo (0-0-1, 0 pts / 7E; L vs. PHI 0-1) – Another side that fell behind early and didn’t recover. The difference between them and Chivas – Houston dropped three points at home to a team that won two games on the road in 2010. So much for the Dynamo taking advantage of a weaker Eastern Conference.
15. Portland Timbers (0-0-1, 0 pts / 8W; L @ COL 1-3) – I don’t want to start piling on the expansion Timbers, but giving up three goals in a half hour in your first match isn’t good. Kenny Cooper finding the net on a late free kick gave the Timbers a moral victory in the second half.
16. Columbus Crew (0-0-1, 0 pts / 9E; L @ DC 1-3) – Only a late Robbie Rogers penalty made the scoreline respectable, but make no mistake, I don’t think this Crew team will be all that great this year. Coach Robert Warzycha has basically started over and many faces from past (and successful) years are gone.
17. Toronto FC (0-0-1, 0 pts / 8E; L @ VAN 2-4) – TFC allowed Vancouver to shoot at will, as 10 of the 18 Whitecaps shots were on net. They responded early to level the score at one, but their second goal just a minute after Vancouver’s fourth was way too late. The BMO boys will need to sure up their defense, because if they can’t stop Portland and Chivas in their next two games, it will be a long season.
18. Seattle Sounders (0-0-2, 0 pts / 9W; L vs. LA 0-1, L @ NY 0-1) – We’ll it’s only two games in, but Seattle has a serious problem. They can’t finish. And what’s worse is that they had opportunities to beat LA in the opener. Kasey Keller won’t be able to rescue the Sounders every week and he saved a weak Thierry Henry penalty in the first ten minutes against New York.