Well MLS First Kick is in the record books and let the discussions and debates about what week 1 means in the long term begin. Now I need to be clear with this up front, my weekly power rankings are just than each week based on a teams performance I rank them where I think they are right now in the season, not where I think they will end up but rather where they are. I use the larger SB Nation Power Rankings which is a tier based system to predict where I think teams will end up.
I tend to give more credit for a loss to a playoff team than a non playoff team, I give more credit for a road win than a win at home, and I even give credit for those rivalry games. I will also offer a little insight to why a team is ranked where they are. OK all that is out of the way are we ready?
18. Toronto FC - Yes they lost on the road and yes it was a rivalry match but they also lost to an expansion team that many picked to end up at the bottom of table this year. Their defense was awful and the only bright spots were De Ro getting the 8,000th goal in MLS history, and Santos firing a blistering goal from distance. They failed to get the ball to Dwayne on a regular basis and as a result they got beat bad by Vancouver 4-2. Up next is Portland at home, where TFC usually is a much better team
17. Houston Dynamo - It may be a question of is Houston this bad or were the Union that good? That is a question in a lot of first week matches, but a loss at home to a non playoff team isn't the best way to start your season but with a number of weaker teams in the Eastern Conference it may not be too bad for Houston as the season progresses, but the 1-0 loss at home drops them like a rocket in my rankings. Now they will head to Seattle for the first of FSC's Friday night footy broadcasts.
more after the jump:
16. Chivas USA - Another team that lost at home to a non playoff team, this one is much less of a surprise for me as I expect the rebuilding journey of Robin Fraser to see Chivas towards the bottom all season long. They did show some offensive flash by getting two goals but giving up a 2nd minute goal to C.J. Sapong (the fastest ever for a rookie) and then two more to Omar Bravo did them in as they lost 3-2. They get to stay in Southern California as they will play host next weekend to defending MLS Cup Champions Colorado.
15. Columbus Crew - Like Houston the Crew's 3-1 loss at DC United leaves me wondering are they this bad or is DC United that good? Well you would think the advantage of playing two quality Champions League matches would have provided them an edge in match fitness and sharpness but neither were on display as the Crew simply got out played in every aspect of the game by DC United. It simply may be that loss of 12,000 minutes of 2010 experience that are no longer with the team was too much for the team to overcome. Next up for the Crew is a tough test as they will play host to the New York Red Bulls.
14. Portland Timbers - It can't be easy starting your MLS journey by going on the road and facing the defending MLS Cup Champions, and that task was too tough as they lost 3-1 after giving up all 3 goals in the first 30 minutes of the match. They were able to get one back as Kenny Cooper found the back of the net in the 80th minute, clearly this again is proof that doing well in the preseason is nice but it means nothing once the real matches begin. Now they get to head to the place with some of the most hostile fans in MLS as they will head to Toronto for a early Saturday match.
13. Chicago Fire - This match had two goals scored in two minutes as the Fire took a lead on a great shot by Diego Chaves but it was answered right back on a goal by Milton Rodriquez and the match stayed that way despite a total of 23 shots by the two teams and Chicago was unable to take advantage of the red card shown to Brek Shea in the 55th minute, on the night there would be 6 yellows to go with that. We should know a lot more about the Fire after they play host to Sporting KC on Saturday.
12. Vancouver Whitecaps - Perhaps the biggest question of the weekend was are the Whitecaps really going to be this good or did they simply ride the emotion of their first ever MLS home match and the fact that Toronto FC may just be that bad? The 4-2 win was an impressive way to start their MLS adventure, and newly signed DP Eric Hassli provided two of their 4 goals (Atiba Harris and Terry Dunfield provided the others). We could get a lot more answers about the Whitecaps as they will head to Philly for a Saturday afternoon match.
11. New England Revolution - Most people had written off the Revolution before the season started, but many may be questioning that decision after they were able to get a ugly 1-1 draw on Sunday night against the LA Galaxy as the normal sunny and warm Southern California was chilly, windy and wet. An early goal by Sharlie Joseph was answered by a blistering goal by LA's Juninho and then both teams simply looked desperate to deal with the conditions and each other. New England did benefit from a couple close calls that it appears that the officials got them right. Next up they will get to play host to DC United.
10. San Jose Earthquakes - The curse of not scoring on opening day continues for the Quakes but this time they can probably blame it on two things, the horrible conditions and the incredible saves RSL's Nick Rimando made. If the Quakes can find a way to play an entire match the way they did the last 25 minutes of this match, they will be a team that is very dangerous. They will get a chance to show what they can do next weekend as they head to FC Dallas for a Saturday showdown.
9. D.C. United - Well despite my better judgement I am putting DC in my top 10, but like some others the question is are they this good or did they just play a very bad Columbus Crew team? The 3-1 win was great for them as Charlie Davies found the back of the net twice, once from the PK spot and a second time from the run of play. I did like the way they played as they benefited from several of their new players, as the other goal was scored by Josh Wolff and I thought Dax McCarty played very well. We probably won't get too many answers next week as the black and red will head up the coast to face the Revolution on Saturday.
8. Seattle Sounders - I guess I have a soft spot for the Sounders, first they lose their DP striker Blaise Nkufo just hours before their match against the LA Galaxy on Tuesday night and they drop a close 1-0 decision to the LA Galaxy who simply appear to have their number. Then they have to travel all the way to New York to face off against the Red Bulls, and again despite a decent match they drop a 1-0 decision. They are a better team than what they have shown but they will need to find someone to fill the shoes left by Nkufo's departure. Up next are the Houston Dynamo but at least this time they get to play at home at Qwest field on Friday night.
7. Philadelphia Union - Like SKC the Union were able to get a win on First Kick weekend despite being on the road, as they picked up a 1-0 win over the Houston Dynamo. It was a quick goal by defender Danny Califf in the 5th minute that was the only scoring of the match, neither team played particularly well but it is only the opening weekend. The Union will get a big test as they will face the Vancouver Whitecaps at PPL Park next weekend.
6. Sporting KC - Only 3 teams this weekend were able to go on the road and get wins and Sporting was one of those teams thanks to the fastest goal ever by a rookie as C.J. Sapong scored just 2 minutes into his first every MLS match. That combined with a 2 goal debut by Omar Bravo and it was simply too much for Chivas USA to withstand as SKC got the 3-2 to start their 10 match road trip. Next they will head to Chicago to face the Fire on Saturday.
5. FC Dallas - One of the best teams in 2010 started the season with one of the best crowds they have seen in a long time, they face their Brimstone Cup rivals the Chicago Fire and they were able to end up with the 1-1 draw. There were a lot of questions coming into the season for FCD, having lost a number of starters and coming out of that match there were still a lot of questions. They were able to hold on for the tie despite being down a man for 35 minutes, you have to remember that nobody had more ties than the 14 that Dallas had in 2010 and so them starting out with a draw is no surprise. Next up they get to stay at PHP as San Jose will come to town.
4. Colorado Rapids - A great way to open the season after winning MLS Cup, a convincing home win 3-1 over expansion side Portland. They started early with a 8th minute goal by Jeff "Big Red" Larentowicz, and then added a 29th minute goal by Omar Cummings, and then Jamie Smith found the back of the net a minute later. They surely looked like the defending champions and next week they will head to LA to face Chivas USA.
3. Los Angeles Galaxy - They seemed to have the number one spot locked up with their Tuesday win over Seattle, but then on Sunday they failed to take advantage of their home opener against the New England Revolution and had to settle for a 1-1 draw. Listen they still have one of the best teams but with a lot of offensive power but they failed to dictate the match as I would expect them to. Now they are still overcoming some key injuries and had to battle some awful conditions on Sunday. Next up for LA is a early season test as they head to Salt Lake City.
2. New York Red Bulls - While it wasn't as impressive as I expected from them, they were able to get a quality home win over a playoff team. I think this team is still trying to figure some things out as they have added several players who will need to adjust to their new teammates and to the style of play in MLS. New York will now head to Columbus to face the Crew on Saturday
1. Real Salt Lake - Despite the horrible conditions they went on the road and faced a playoff caliber team and found a way to get a win. Despite what San Jose's coach had to say RSL controlled the first half and the first 20 minutes of the second half. I did think RSL were a bit surprised at how San Jose responded after Beckerman's goal but Nick Rimando and the rest of the boys were able to withstand one of the most impressive attacking series I have seen since the final 15 minutes of their CCL match at Cruz Azul. A huge test for RSL next weekend as they will have their home opener against the LA Galaxy.
I know my rankings will offend some (DC United fans) but we have to remember that week 1 represents just 3% of the MLS season, so it is far too soon for anyone to be upset by anything. I expect that the first 4-6 weeks will see huge swings as teams start to show their real colors.
OFF MY SOAPBOX