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So it was a full weekend of MLS action that saw the trend of week 1 of Western Conference superiority continue, as Houston is the only team from the East with wins over teams from the West, while 4 teams from the West notched wins over Eastern foes this weekend. Now I expect that this will balance out when more teams from the West have to start playing matches in the East but right now there are two teams that are 2-0 in the East and 5 teams that are 0-2 in the East. In the West there are 3 teams that are 2-0, and just one team that is 0-2.
Three road teams picked up wins in week 2, and one more got a draw, perhaps the most impressive run of the early season has been Houston, who has back to back road wins against teams from the West to start the season. Last year Houston had two wins on the road all year (2-6-9), and they are my top team in the Eastern Conference Rankings:
1 - Houston Dynamo - Another match with very solid defensive effort from Houston, and more questions about their offense as their lone goal against San Jose came from the PK spot. Which is exactly what most people expected, what keeps them at the top of the East for me is that fact that both of their wins have been on the road, so you have to remember that Houston won just twice away from home last year. They have 5 more straight road matches before they get to open their new stadium, I have little doubt that they will pick up a couple more results before then. We should know a lot more about Houston after Friday night as they head to Seattle to take on the Sounders, a real serious test.
2 - Sporting Kansas City - So first they struggle to get a goal in against DC United, and then they get 3 against New England, but that is with a man advantage for 76 minutes. That doesn't mean that they aren't a force to be reckoned with, I think they will likely end up the top team in the East this year, but at this point I have to keep them at the number two spot. SKC will play host to FC Dallas on Sunday afternoon, a very solid test for both teams.
you can check the rest of the rankings after the jump:
3 - Chicago Fire - So I moved the Fire up a lot as the result of both their 1-1 draw at Montreal, they faced a team and crowd with a ton of energy and determination, they also got a boost by the continued struggles of Eastern Conference teams as the season gets under way. Their next match will be their home opener on Saturday as they play host to Philadelphia Union.
4 - Toronto FC - So I am going to mark their 3-1 loss at Seattle last weekend as a case of Champions League hangover, but we just don't know yet with this TFC side. They will get to play their home opener against San Jose this weekend and that should shed a lot more light on exactly what kind of team Toronto might actually have.
5 - Columbus Crew - After a loss the first weekend of the season, the Crew had a bye last week, so they stay in the middle of the pack of the East. This is a Crew team that has made some huge changes again this off-season, and only time will tell us if this team can claw their way into the playoffs like they did last year, or if they will fall to the bottom tier of the East. This weekend they get to play host to the Montreal Impact, a match they should be able to win.
6 - New York Red Bulls - Two weeks, two away matches, two losses, and while it looks a bit like the wheels are coming off for Hans Backe, I have a feeling if they can get Rafa Marquez to focus, and get a healthy Wilman Conde, well then it might help them turn things around. I do think that they need to decide how they want to play and stick with it, adjusting as many things each week as they have these first couple weeks seems to be causing issues. Perhaps now with their home opener this weekend, they will find a way to get things on track, but the Colorado Rapids have won both of their first matches so it could be a interesting match.
7 - Montreal Impact - Oh they got a result, of course how could they not with almost 60K fans at Olympic Stadium, but even with that they only managed a 1-1 draw with the Chicago Fire. Still the team has talent, but getting it organized and making an impact for 90 minutes is still something they have to work on. They head back on the road Saturday and will land in Columbus for a match with the Crew.
8 - Philadelphia Union - This team made some huge moves this off season, and so far it looks as if these have been the wrong moves, back to back losses and some questionable roster moves have this team living under a microscope of the pundits. Another road match is looming as they will head to Chicago to try and deal with the Fire.
9 - D.C. United - You have to believe that coming off a opening day loss at home, and followed up by being eliminated from Champions league, that LA was going to treat DC United as a venting game to simply beat up on a side that has been struggling, and sure enough that is what happened. DC is still looking to find a way to get their defense and offense on the same sheet of music. Things may not get easier as DCU heads up the West coast to take on the Vancouver Whitecaps this weekend.
10 - New England Revolution - After a great pre-season it has been a downhill slides as the regular season has started, back to back losses have the Revolution at the bottom of the East. Now they get to play host to the Portland Timbers on Saturday as they look to get their season heading in the right way.
Then there is the Western Conference where a couple of top teams are shaking off the shock of CONCACAF Champions League losses that eliminated them from the tournament, both of them rebounded with dominating performances in MLS action. RSL picked up their second win of the season, as did the Colorado Rapids and Vancouver Whitecaps, so how does the West stack up in my power rankings:
1 - LA Galaxy - A quick rebound from the shock of being eliminated from Champions League as the Galaxy hit DC United for a 3-1 win, it showed what they are capable of and now they get their bye week as they w-ere clearly preparing more for the semifinals of the CCL than they were the quarterfinals. Still it is hard to move them out of the top spot yet, but with the week off either or both RSL and Seattle could move up with wins this weekend.
2 - Real Salt Lake - A win over the New York Red Bulls to open the season was a signal that RSL is ready for the season despite some continued issues with injuries, and younger guys continue to step up. This week it was Luis Gil who got the second goal to go with another one from Fabian Espindola, and the result was a 2-0 win, and they enter the ranks of just 4 other teams that have started 2-0 so far this year. Emotions could be high on Saturday as Chivas USA comes to town almost a year after their last visit that saw Javier Morales get injured and kept out of action for over 6 months.
3 - Seattle Sounders - Champions League is over, and in their first MLS match it was a strong 3-1 win over Toronto FC on the back of David Estrada's hat trick, this was just the type of match that Seattle needed to get their MLS season underway and it could be a sign of things to come from them. Next up is a national TV match on Friday night as they will play host to the 2-0 Houston Dynamo, should be an interesting match to watch.
4 - Colorado Rapids - Well going into PPL Park and coming away with a 2-0 win is a good way to deal with your first road match of the season. It was a solid effort by the Rapids who look to be a fairly decent team this year. The Rapids will stay on the East coast for this weekend's match against the New York Red Bulls, a solid start to the season with a new head coach is always a way to get players and fans excited about the possibilities.
5 - Vancouver Whitecaps - The Whitecaps headed to the Home Depot Center last weekend and left with a win, and for their first road win ever they did it late (68th minute) and with their captain, Jay DeMerit scoring the goal, and a 1-0 win was theirs, I think there are still a lot of question on the defensive side of the ball for Whitecaps but I don't know how much they will be tested this week as they will play host to DC United.
6 - Portland Timbers - Well the Timbers got off to a great start with their win over Philly, and then battled back for a 1-1 draw at Dallas, it was hard to rank the Timbers who look like a very solid team this low but with the power of the West it could be something we see all year long. Next up for the Timbers is a trip to the Boston area to take on the New England Revolution on Saturday.
7 - FC Dallas - who would think a team that is 1-0-1 would be only #7, but with such a strong start for some clubs it is hard for teams to move up in the west. I do think they will struggle a bit as they have a couple of guys who are with their national teams for Olympic qualifying, and a Sunday match against Sporting KC is going to probably be one of the matches of the weekend.
8 - San Jose Earthquakes - A questionable PK call early for the Houston Dynamo handed San Jose a 1-0 loss last weekend as they were unable to get an equalizer. I still think that San Jose is going to be a team like many in the West that will make a run at one of those lower playoff spots, and of the bottom 5 teams in the West it is San Jose who I think will claim a spot in the post season. The Quakes could benefit from their weekend match at Toronto FC as the Red's might have their eyes on their midweek CCL match against Santos.
9 - Chivas USA - There are two questions of Chivas USA, can they stay focused on defense for 90 minutes? After giving up a stoppage time goal in their first match, they gave up another late goal (68th minute) to lose their second straight match 1-0. The second question of course is where is the offense, with their 4-5-1 formation it will put a lot of pressure on Juan Pablo Angel or Casey Townsend to score goals. They won't get much of a break as Robin Fraser will lead his team to Salt Lake City to face RSL on Saturday afternoon.
So there you have my look at how I see the MLS power rankings after the second week of MLS action. I expect that this week will have some exciting matches as teams look to maintain or find some form as the season continues to move ahead.
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