The first week of the 2018 season is in the books. There were plenty of red cards, a few golazos, and we learned a little bit more about each team that took the field this weekend. Some teams were surprisingly dominant, like the Columbus Crew’s new collection of talent and the resurgent LA Galaxy. Other teams, like Atlanta United, had the wind taken out of their sails early.
So check out who climbed in our rankings, who dropped like a stone, who lived up to the preseason hype, and who still has work to do.
1. New York City FC (Last Week: 2)
NYCFC went into the Blue Hell and came out with a multi-goal victory over Sporting Kansas City. David Villa didn’t get on the scoreboard, but he was instrumental in drawing defenders to create space for Jesús Medina and Maxi Moralez. The Pigeons made a statement in week one.
2. Toronto FC (Last Week: 1)
A bad 2-0 loss at home to the Columbus Crew has the reigning champions starting off on the wrong foot. But it was TFC’s second match of the week after advancing in the CONCACAF Champions League on Wednesday and there’s no reason to raise alarms north of the border just yet. Expect them to prioritize their tie with Tigres UANL over league matches, too.
3. Houston Dynamo (Last Week: 7)
It was an orange crush on Saturday with a 4-0 walloping of Atlanta United, and you could even call that a flattering scoreline. We still need to see this Houston team perform consistently on the road to know if it’s for real, but the pieces are there to make another run to the Western Conference final. Kudos for former Lion Darwin Cerén for getting a goal.
4. Columbus Crew (Last Week: 12)
Gregg Berhalter went on the road and beat the hands-down favorite to win the league. Even without Ola Kamara and Justin Meram, this Crew team looks like it hasn’t lost a step. With all of the creativity in midfield, even Gyasi Zardes could be looking at a great season.
5. Seattle Sounders (Last Week: 5)
The Sounders decided to prioritize their CONCACAF Champions League (CCL) match against Chivas but still put Los Angeles FC on the retreat for most of the match. But a sublime pass from Carlos Vela and an excellent finish from Diego Rossi, combined with some great saves by LAFC and the crossbar, meant a disappointing home loss to start the year. It was a miracle Seattle didn’t score.
6. Sporting Kansas City (Last Week: 6)
SKC’s lack of a true finisher showed on Sunday night. Sporting created plenty of opportunities but only managed to put three on frame. The good news in Kansas City is that the trio of high-profile additions look like they are as advertised.
7. Portland Timbers (Last Week: 3)
Giovanni Savarese’s men struggled in the opening stages against the revived LA Galaxy. Two quick goals from Ola Kamara and Romain Alessandrini dug a hole Portland was never able to climb out of. Emmanuel Boateng ran circles around the Timbers’ defenders. Portland managed to make it close in the dying minutes, but couldn’t quite break through for a draw.
8. Chicago Fire (Last Week: 8)
Chicago’s season opener with Colorado was pushed back thanks to the Rapids’ “preseason preparation” with Toronto that also happened to be an official match.
9. New York Red Bulls (Last Week: 9)
The Red Bulls were off on opening week thanks to CCL and MLS fielding an odd number of teams this year. But New York didn’t stay quiet this weekend, bolstering its back line by bringing in Tim Parker.
10. Los Angeles Galaxy (Last Week: 14)
Are the Galaxy back? It’s a fair question to ask after they picked apart the reigning Western Conference-topping team in the Timbers. Sebastian Lletget is back on the pitch, adding quality depth to an already potent attack. Ola Kamara might be the answer LA was looking for. Perry Kitchen is back to being the stalwart he was in D.C. Things are looking up in Carson.
11. Orlando City (Last Week: 11)
Down a man for most of the match, Orlando dominated D.C. United at home even with five projected starters out. This team is going to be fun to watch once they get all of their pieces on the field and start rolling.
12. FC Dallas (Last Week: 13)
It looked like heroism from Nick Rimando was going to ruin Dallas’ home opener but some nice footwork from Maxi Urruti pinged a cross off an RSL defender and into the net to take a point. Besides the score line, Dallas looked like the better team.
13. Real Salt Lake (Last Week: 10)
Like he’s done for his entire career, Rimando bailed out Real Salt Lake’s back line and kept them in it. Big save after big save defined the night. Albert Rusnak and Joao Plata put on a show, but an unfortunate own goal meant taking only a point from Frisco.
14. Atlanta United (Last Week: 4)
Atlanta got absolutely shredded in Houston. A lot of teams have trouble in BBVA Compass Stadium, but questions need to be asked of the Five Stripes. Their defense was picked apart by simple passes, their central midfield was bypassed with ease, and they were dominated in the air. A hip injury to Leandro González Pírez just adds another problem to the list.
15. San Jose Earthquakes (Last Week: 15)
The Quakes showed off plenty of attacking talent in their victory over Minnesota United but they almost gave up two points late. All told, might have expected more out of San Jose against the Loons who traveled halfway across the country.
16. Los Angeles FC (Last Week: 21)
LAFC’s first MLS match was on the road in one of the league’s toughest places to play. Starting center back Walker Zimmerman was injured during warmups. But an early stunner from Diego Rossi was enough for the expansion side to walk out of Seattle with all three points. That along with some magic from Laurent Ciman:
17. Vancouver Whitecaps (Last Week: 17)
Goals from Kei Kamara and Alphonso Davies were enough for the Caps to see off their Canadian counterparts, Montreal. Former Lion José Aja made the 18 but didn’t see the field while Brek Shea came on as a substitute.
18. Philadelphia Union (Last Week: 19)
It wasn’t the prettiest performance by the Union, but they got the job done at home. Philadelphia — up a man for the majority of the match — overwhelmed the Revolution, who finished the match with both starting center backs sent off.
19. D.C. United (Last Week: 18)
United couldn’t hold off Orlando even with a man advantage for an hour, though you often couldn’t tell with how little they saw of the ball. D.C. looks like an improved side from last year, but to make the playoffs in the Eastern Conference you have to put those games to bed.
20. Montreal Impact (Last Week: 16)
It was a long road trip for the Impact, who looked inferior for long stretches of the match. Under new manager Remi Garde with quite a few new faces in key positions, Montreal looks like it will need some time to get things off the ground.
21. New England Revolution (Last Week: 20)
Like so many times last season, an early red card sunk the Revs’ chances on the road. For their plethora of attacking talent, there are still too many questions about New England’s back line. Missing both starting center backs Antonio Delamea and Claude Dielna next week won’t help answer those.
22. Colorado Rapids (Last Week: 22)
The Rapids got the weekend off after bowing out to TFC in the CCL.
23. Minnesota United (Last Week: 23)
Stop me if you’ve heard this before: A team coached by Adrian Heath makes a furious last-second comeback to make up for some poor defending. Unfortunately Kevin Molino’s brace in the final 10 minutes wasn’t enough for the Loons and they fell 3-2 to San Jose.