Two months have already flown by in the 2018 Major League Soccer season and a handful of teams have earned healthy leads on the pack. There’s a four-point gap between the teams above the red line in the Eastern Conference and the rest. And while there isn’t the same separation in the Western Conference, trends are beginning to emerge.
1. New York City FC (Last Week: 2)
NYCFC take back the top spot after dethroning unbeaten FC Dallas in Yankee Stadium. David Villa bagged a brace and Jesus Medina added another as the Pigeons rolled to a 3-1 victory and reclaimed their pole position in the Supporters’ Shield standings.
2. Atlanta United (Last Week: 3)
After an early Saphir Taïder goal and 50 minutes of failing to beat Evan Bush, it looked like Atlanta would be lucky to settle for a draw at home. But after a Chris Duvall handball opened the door, United busted it down. Kevin Kratz’s pair of free kicks stole the show as the Georgia side continues to keep pace with NYCFC.
3. Sporting Kansas City (Last Week: 1)
It was a rough way to drop points on the road with what looked to be an offside goal reversed in favor of the Revs. Johnny Russell was denied his fourth goal in two games when his second-half effort was cleared off the line and SKC had to travel home with no points to show for its efforts. Adding injury to insult, Felipe Gutierrez’s surgery is yet another setback.
4. Los Angeles FC (Last Week: 4)
It looked as though LAFC would have to settle for a point from the long-awaited opening of the Banc of California Stadium opening. But in the dying moments, Laurent Ciman’s free kick was bobbled by Stefan Frei into his own net and the expansion team walked away winners.
5. New York Red Bulls (Last Week: 5)
Bradley Wright-Phillips played the role of distributor, setting up both Daniel Royer and Florian Valot for the early 2-0 lead. A rough final half hour nearly saw the Red Bulls struggle to contain the Galaxy but a late penalty decision in their favor meant taking three points back to the East Coast.
6. Orlando City (Last Week: 7)
The Lions have now won five straight, three of which were in come-from-behind fashion. It was the same in Colorado, where Orlando went down in the first half hour before streaking back in the second stanza to claim all three points.
7. Columbus Crew (Last Week: 8)
The Crew consistently found good opportunities against San Jose with a slew of clever balls from Federico Higuain to put his teammates in dangerous spots. Mike Grella was the hero in his first appearance for the club and Columbus earned its first win since March 24.
8. Houston Dynamo (Last Week: 6)
Houston held the majority of possession on the road, took shot after shot from inside the penalty area, and Alberth Elis beat his marker to the back post to give the Dynamo an early lead in Minnesota. But Alejandro Fuenmayor was caught with a handball in the box and a skillful winner from Ibson meant nothing to show for Houston’s efforts in Minneapolis.
9. Toronto FC (Last Week: 10)
Toronto finally had the big guns back in league play after the Concacaf Champions League final. Sebastian Giovinco made an immediate impact, setting up Jonathan Osorio and scoring a volley within 11 minutes that was waved off. TFC looked like it was back to its usual ways as Alex Bono made several big saves, but a late charge by the Fire and a collapse by the Reds meant settling for just one point at home.
10. New England Revolution (Last Week: 12)
The Revolution at home are capable of beating anyone, and they did just that taking down Sporting KC 1-0. But the only goal came from an odd circumstance, where Teal Bunbury finished off a play from an offside position and when the Video Assistant Referee had the ref review it, David Gantar found that the ball was actually played back by Roger Espinoza — making Teal onside.
11. FC Dallas (Last Week: 9)
The Hoops battled back from an early hole in the first 10 minutes, but after that it was up to Jimmy Maurer just to keep Dallas in the match. The road team was overwhelmed by NYCFC and had its unbeaten run snapped by a superior side.
12. LA Galaxy (Last Week: 11)
The Galaxy charged back from a two-goal deficit with a sublime pass from Zlatan Ibrahimovic to set up Ola Kamara and some quick thinking from Giovani dos Santos to level the score. But a dubious penalty with just 10 minutes to play meant a wasted sterling second half as LA fell, 3-2.
13. Portland Timbers (Last Week: 13)
The Timbers had the weekend off.
14. Vancouver Whitecaps (Last Week: 17)
The Caps were all over RSL all match but were repeatedly stonewalled by the woodwork. Cristian Techera found the breakthrough with a penalty but inexplicably removed his shirt while already on a yellow and was sent off. But Vancouver saw the match through with Alphonso Davies working some magic to seal the win.
15. Chicago Fire (Last Week: 18)
Alan Gordon saved the day like he has so many times for his teams in the past with just 30 seconds to spare. After Bastian Schweinsteiger started the rally, a loose ball dropped to Gordon who smashed it into the top corner to salvage a draw on the road.
16. Seattle Sounders (Last Week: 14)
Seattle did all it could to spoil LAFC’s party. But after a Stefan Frei howler, the Sounders are left with just four points from the first two months of the 2018 season. While Concacaf Champions League has been an excuse for Toronto, the same can’t be said for the reigning Western Conference Champions.
17. Real Salt Lake (Last Week: 15)
Luck was on Real’s side for 74 minutes with Justen Glad making a heroic save and the posts doing the rest of the work. But a poor touch from Nick Besler forced him to clatter into Nicolás Mezquida and give up a penalty and RSL couldn’t come back. Salt Lake has now dropped three of its last five.
18. San Jose Earthquakes (Last Week: 16)
Another week on the road, another two goals allowed by the Earthquakes’ back line. While San Jose’s offense has been steady, the defense has consistently let the team down in key moments. This time, it was Mike Grella winning the battle at the near post to sink the Quakes further down the table.
19. Philadelphia Union (Last Week: 22)
The Union finally found their offense in Week 9, with Ilsinho, CJ Sapong, and Borek Dockal finding the back of the net. Philadelphia needed all of it as its defense again allowed two goals, this time to D.C. United.
20. Minnesota United (Last Week: 23)
The Loons’ skid stopped at four as Minnesota defeated Houston over the weekend. It didn’t start well, as Alberth Elis was left alone at the back post for a quick Dynamo lead, but United battled back thanks to Ibson’s cheeky back-heel winner and some great saves by Bobby Shuttleworth.
21. Colorado Rapids (Last Week: 20)
It was a physical affair at Dick’s Sporting Goods Park and Colorado couldn’t hold on to an early 1-0 lead in Commerce City. After throwing wave after wave of pressure at Orlando City for the first half hour, the Rapids seemed content to survive for the rest of the match; in the end, Dillon Serna gave up the penalty that sunk the ship.
22. Montreal Impact (Last Week: 19)
Montreal flew into Atlanta looking for a road point. The Impact forced United to break through the center of the park and for 70 minutes, they were successful at keeping a clean sheet. But after Miguel Almiron slotted home a penalty, the dam broke and Montreal succumbed to a 4-1 defeat. Remi Garde’s side has now lost four straight.
23. D.C. United (Last Week: 21)
Darren Mattocks thought he had found the equalizer in the 70th minute, but a few minutes later Philadelphia found the winner when the ball bobbled to Borek Dockal, who beat Steve Clark from a tight angle. United remain on five points through seven matches and the friendly confines of Audi Stadium are a long way off.