With the first week of MLS action in the books, let's take a look back and organize a whirlwind weekend of soccer action. All aboard the "Don't Look Now But Toronto Might Be The Favorite to Win It All" Bandwagon in this week's inaugural Mane Land MLS Power Rankings. Let's get to it.
1. LA Galaxy (2-0 W vs. Chicago)
So you're the defending MLS Cup champions and your team captain and reigning MVP did this after scoring the second goal in your 2-0 demolition of the Chicago Fire? That will always be good for the first overall spot in these power rankings. If a goal-scoring, fiery Irishman is entertaining, then a goal-scoring, fiery Irishman dropping f-bombs on Spanish language television is even more entertaining.
The Galaxy out-shot the Fire 13-8 overall and won the possession battle throughout, forcing Chicago into 33 clearances on opening night. If the champs can keep up that level of play even before acquiring Steven Gerrard this summer, than it might be a tall task to dethrone them.
2. Seattle Sounders (3-0 W vs. New England)
The reigning Supporters' Shield and U.S. Open Cup winners were dominant on the score sheet in their 3-0 win over MLS Cup runners-up New England Revolution on Sunday night, but the action on the field would suggest that these two teams weren't so far apart. The Revs actually had more shots than the rave green victors, and even forced Brad Evans and Chad Marshall into more than a few clearances to keep the clean sheet. But when you have the offensive firepower to score goals like this one, it's hard to beat you.
Can the Sounders keep up the scoring to overcome their defensive deficiencies? We'll see. For now, they'll stay second.
3. Toronto FC (3-1 W at Vancouver)
Am I drinking the TFC Kool-Aid for the second straight year? You betcha. Last year's "bloody big deal" turned into a "bloody big mess" after Jermain Defoe took his ball and went home in response to Roy Hodgson leaving him off of the England World Cup squad, but this year's team feels different. Jozy Altidore has got to be hungry for goals after getting comfortable on the Sunderland bench the last two seasons and Michael Bradley has taken the captain's armband. They haven't forgotten how the wheels fell off last year, and with Bradley taking over as skipper, something tells me they won't be allowed to forget it either. The big question I have for this team is whether record DP signing Sebastian Giovinco will produce at the levels his wage demands. If you want proof that this team can take off, just check out this goal.
Can Giovinco produce more balls like that one to give Altidore the kind of service he was so very often without in England? Can the Reds survive their brutal seven-game season opening road stretch while BMO field is still undergoing renovation? The coming weeks will tell. For now, I'll take a refill on this delicious Kool-Aid and hop on the bandwagon before it picks up too much speed.
4. Houston Dynamo (1-0 W vs. Columbus)
Is this a little high? Definitely. But it gives me an excuse to talk about Houston goalkeeper Tyler Deric and post this gif.
After seeing Deric do Tim Howard-esque things this weekend against a strong Columbus Crew SC side, I began to understand why the Dynamo were so willing to part ways Tally Hall in the off-season.
To be frank, Columbus totally outplayed Houston. The Crew held a 60-40 advantage in possession, had 10 more shots than the Dynamo, including doubling their output of shots on frame, and if it weren't for a moment of brilliance from Kofi Sarkodie they could well have left BBVA Compass Stadium with a road point in their season opener. But that's soccer. Sometimes you can dominate the game and lose on the road. All it takes is a heroic effort from the opposing goalkeeper and one well-taken chance.
5. D.C. United (1-0 W vs. Montreal)
What's that? D.C. United got a new play-by-play announcer this year? You mean that whenever the Black and Red score we won't be hearing "It's in the net! It's in the net! D.C. United!"? Wait, this new guy got REALLY excited when Jairo Arrieta scored in the 56th minute of the opener? Ok, I'm in. Announcers with overzealous use of their vocal chords are always a good thing. Give me all of the D.C. United stock.
6. FC Dallas (1-0 W vs. San Jose)
While San Jose isn't exactly the 1927 Yankees (Self-five for the Big Dog on the cross sport reference there) the Quakes do still have Chris Wondolowski who, no matter how you feel about him post-Brazil, is as prolific a goal scorer as there is in the league. FC Dallas had multiple chances in the game, including a good chance for Blas Perez before halftime, but took until stoppage time to put in a winner. Even with last year's Rookie of the Year, Tesho Akindele, and Perez, I'm reserving judgement of Dallas until further notice. They land here in the rankings simply because they won.
7. New York Red Bulls (1-1 T at SKC)
8. Sporting Kansas City (1-1 T vs. NYRB)
Both of these teams have been in the better half of the league for a few years now, with some silverware between them. However, with the Red Bulls losing Thierry Henry and SKC trying to overcome the sale of Oriol Rosell, they're both in a transitional period as well. Peter Vermes has proven himself as a coach, and SKC's game plan worked nearly to perfection on Sunday, limiting the Red Bulls' ability to work the ball through the midfield to get service in for last year's golden boot winner Bradley Wright-Phillips. That is, until Lloyd Sam got loose.
With Dom Dwyer wasting more good chances than me on prom night, and Matt Beslar recklessly earning a red card late on, this game could have turned out much differently. As it was, I'll give NYRB the advantage for taking a road point.
9. New York City FC (1-1 T at Orlando City)
10. Orlando City SC (1-1 T vs. NYCFC)
Ok, so I know you're gonna knock me for putting Man City Jr. ahead of the Lions, but follow me here.
The fact about these two teams is that we know nothing about either of them. They played each other to a 1-1 draw in the preseason and then proceeded to do the same in the season opener, which doesn't exactly set a precedent for either. What do we know about these teams? Mix Diskerud has beautiful hair, Aurelien Collin likes the color red, and Kaká is gonna bring it in MLS. Other than that, the unknowns outweigh the facts. NYCFC goes ahead of Orlando this week because Jason Kreis is proven MLS head coach, and the "Soccer Yankees" took a point on the road. Look for some movement from these two in next week's edition of the rankings.
If there's one thing that will not earn you any points in these power rankings, it's 0-0 draws (I'm looking at you Salt Lake, Portland, Philly and Colorado.) Salt Lake and Portland figure to be a good bet to crack the top 10 at some point this season, but the same cannot be said for the Rapids and Union. For now though, here's how the bottom 10 shakes out.
11. Real Salt Lake (0-0 T at Portland Timbers)
12. Colorado (0-0 T at Philadelphia Union)
13. Portland Timbers (0-0 T vs. Real Salt Lake)
14. New England Revolution (0-3 L at Seattle Sounders)
New England was without arguably their two best players in Jermaine Jones and Lee Nguyen. Will their return affect these rankings? 100%, yes, take it to the bank. For now though, the Revs find their place here.
15. Columbus Crew SC (0-1 L at Houston Dynamo)
16. Vancouver Whitecaps (1-3 L vs. Toronto FC)
17. Philadelphia Union (0-0 T vs. Colorado Rapids)
18. Montreal Impact (0-1 L at D.C. United)
19. Chicago Fire (0-2 L at LA Galaxy)
20. San Jose Earthquakes (0-1 L at FC Dallas)
Do you like how these rankings turned out? Me neither. Let's get back together next week and see if we can do better.