Part of the beauty of MLS is that for all the offseason predictions, once the matches begin, anything can happen.
Just ask the Houston Dynamo and Seattle Sounders. The reigning MLS Cup champions had their thrones rocked by a team that finished next-to-last in 2016, as the Dynamo captured a 2-1 victory thanks to Erick ‘Cubo’ Torres beautiful free kick and a debut goal from Romell Quioto.
Or you can ask the Montreal Impact, who found themselves on the losing end of a battle against a seemingly resurgent San Jose Earthquakes team determined to rebound from an unsuccessful 2016. Not only was the win a crucial one for the Quakes to begin their year in a positive fashion, it was their first ever victory over the Impact at all.
Some results went as expected of course. The Portland Timbers dismantled Minnesota FC, the New York Red Bulls came back to beat Atlanta United, and FC Dallas managed to capture three points on the road against the LA Galaxy. But week one should serve as a wake up call, you can never count anyone out.
Here is a closer look at this week’s SBI MLS Power Rankings:
SBI MLS Preseason Power Rankings
1. FC DALLAS (1-0-0)
LAST WEEK: Beat the LA Galaxy, 2-1, on Saturday.
THIS WEEK: at Sporting Kansas City on Saturday.
OUTLOOK: The Supporters’ Shield winners took care of business on Saturday, defeating the new look Galaxy behind goals from Maximiliano Urruti and the red-hot Kellyn Acosta. Giovani dos Santos scored for the hosts, but it wasn’t enough to hold their ground against the early Western Conference favorites, who now travel to Kansas City.
2. TORONTO FC (0-0-1)
LAST WEEK: Tied Real Salt Lake, 0-0, on Saturday.
THIS WEEK: at the Philadelphia Union on Saturday.
OUTLOOK: The reigning Eastern Conference champions did not perform as hoped on Saturday, as Toronto FC was held scoreless by Real Salt Lake in no small part thanks to Nick Rimando’s save on a Giovinco penalty. Toronto found themselves largely under siege as RSL fired off 17 shots, more than doubling the visitor’s total, a number they’ll need to bring down when they face the Union this weekend.
3. SEATTLE SOUNDERS (2016 Record: 0-1-0)
LAST WEEK: Lost to the Houston Dynamo, 2-1, on Saturday.
THIS WEEK: at the Montreal Impact on Saturday.
OUTLOOK: Speaking of not taking care of business, the defending MLS Cup champs couldn’t have envisioned starting their title defense with a loss to the Dynamo, yet here they are. Cubo Torres’ free kick was a thing of beauty, and the second goal from Quioto was too much to overcome for the Sounders. Still, it wasn’t all bad news, as Clint Dempsey returned without missing a beat, scoring his first of the season in the second half.
4. NEW YORK RED BULLS (1-0-0)
LAST WEEK: Beat Atlanta United, 2-1, on Sunday.
THIS WEEK: vs. the Colorado Rapids on Saturday.
OUTLOOK: While perhaps the match didn’t play out as expected, the result certainly did, with the Red Bulls coming from behind to secure a 2-1 victory. Things seemed shaky after Yamil Asad scored the first ever goal in Atlanta United history, but two late goals, one from Daniel Royer and the other an own goal, pulled things back in line with expectations. The Red Bulls face another difficult challenge this weekend at home against the stout Rapids defense.
5. PORTLAND TIMBERS (1-0-0)
LAST WEEK: Beat Minnesota United, 5-1, on Friday.
THIS WEEK: at the LA Galaxy on Sunday.
OUTLOOK: The general expectation was that the Portland Timbers would bounce back stronger from missing the playoffs in 2016, but very few expected them to do so quite this quickly. The Timbers didn’t just beat Minnesota United, they welcomed them into MLS with a 5-1 obliteration. A pair of goals from both Diego Valeri and Fanendo Adi capped off an opener from Lawrence Olum to start the season off on the right foot. They’ll likely face a stiffer challenge against the LA Galaxy on Sunday.
6. COLORADO RAPIDS (1-0-0)
LAST WEEK: Beat the New England Revolution, 1-0, on Saturday.
THIS WEEK: at the New York Red Bulls on Saturday.
OUTLOOK: No shock here. The Colorado Rapids began 2017 the exact way 2016 operated, with a stout defense and a 1-0 victory over the Revs. The team that let up just 32 goals all last season has started off in that direction again, with Zac MacMath coming up big in Tim Howard’s absence. A goal from Dominique Badji was enough from the young Rapids attack. They’ll hope to follow the same formula next weekend at Red Bull Arena.
7. NEW YORK CITY FC (0-1-0)
LAST WEEK: Lost to Orlando City, 1-0, on Sunday.
THIS WEEK: vs. D.C. United on Sunday.
OUTLOOK: Not necessarily a shocking result, but a shocking manner in which it occurred. With a huge wealth of attacking talent, and dominating the run of play with double the shots and 70% of possession, NYCFC were shut out completely by Joe Bendik and Orlando City. Cyle Larin’s early goal was enough to propel the Kaka-less Lions above their expansion rivals. A scoring drought spells disaster for NYCFC, so they’ll hope to get themselves going in their home opener next weekend against D.C. United.
8. HOUSTON DYNAMO (1-0-0)
LAST WEEK: Beat the Seattle Sounders, 2-1, on Saturday.
THIS WEEK: vs. the Columbus Crew on Saturday.
OUTLOOK: The shocking winners of the weekend, the Dynamo dispatched the defending MLS Cup champions with a solid 2-1 victory at home to open their 2017 campaign. Cubo Torres looks back and better than ever with a beautiful free kick goal, and a Clint Dempsey goal wasn’t enough for the visitors as Romell Quioto’s debut goal made the difference. The Dynamo look to build on their success against the Crew at home this weekend.
9. PHILADELPHIA UNION (0-0-1)
LAST WEEK: Tied the Vancouver Whitecaps, 0-0, on Sunday.
THIS WEEK: vs. Toronto FC on Saturday.
OUTLOOK: Despite 19 combined shots, and five on target for the Union themselves, the last match of the weekend ended without a goal to show for both team’s efforts. A draw on the road against the Whitecaps, who looked good mid-week against the Red Bulls, isn’t a bad result, but the Union would love to repeat their defensive performance on Saturday against Toronto while hopefully adding some punch to their attack.
10. LA GALAXY (0-1-0)
LAST WEEK: Lost to FC Dallas, 2-1, on Saturday.
THIS WEEK: vs. the Portland Timbers on Sunday.
OUTLOOK: There was bound to be an adjustment period for the Galaxy’s drastically altered line-up, and a loss to FC Dallas isn’t a terribly difficult one to swallow. The bright side for the Galaxy was the performance of new DP Romain Alessandrini, who played well, as well as seeing Giovani dos Santos start 2017 with an early goal. They’ll face another difficult challenge on Sunday, as the Timbers come to town fresh off a 5-1 victory.
11. SAN JOSE EARTHQUAKES (1-0-0)
LAST WEEK: Beat the Montreal Impact, 1-0, on Saturday.
THIS WEEK: vs. the Vancouver Whitecaps on Saturday.
OUTLOOK: Another surprise winner over the weekend, the San Jose Earthquakes played a stout defensive game against the Impact, stifling superstar Ignacio Piatti, while notching a winner behind Anibal Godoy. They’ll welcome another opponent to Avaya Stadium this weekend, as they seek to make it two-for-two against Canadian teams to start the year.
12. SPORTING KANSAS CITY (0-0-1)
LAST WEEK: Tied D.C. United, 0-0, on Saturday.
THIS WEEK: vs. FC Dallas on Saturday.
OUTLOOK: Another match with no goals to show despite opportunities on both ends, Sporting KC will be kicking themselves for not taking three points on the road here. 12 shots total, 5 on target, and 60% possession usually add up to a win, but SKC wasn’t able to convert as Bill Hamid showed excellent form in goal for DCU to keep things level. It gets tougher this weekend, with FC Dallas coming to town.
13. MONTREAL IMPACT (0-1-0)
LAST WEEK: Lost to the San Jose Earthquakes, 1-0, on Saturday.
THIS WEEK: vs. the Seattle Sounders on Saturday.
OUTLOOK: The Impact found themselves victim to a surprising San Jose Earthquakes effort in week one. The Impact were out-shot, out-possessed, and didn’t manage to land a shot on target all match. An Anibal Godoy chip over Evan Bush was enough to seal the Impact’s fate, as star winger Ignacio Piatti was totally shut down, only getting a single shot off in response. It doesn’t get easier for the Impact, as they face the Sounders on a potential bounce back after their own disappointing loss last weekend.
14. ATLANTA UNITED (0-1-0)
LAST WEEK: Lost to the New York Red Bulls, 2-1, on Sunday.
THIS WEEK: at Minnesota United on Sunday.
OUTLOOK: While an opening-day loss isn’t unusual for expansion teams, this one will particularly sting for Atlanta United. After Yamil Asad knocked in the first goal in team history, things seemed secure heading into the latter part of the match. But several missed chances later, the Red Bulls struck back in short order, with Daniel Royer’s 76th minute goal followed-up by an own goal just six minutes later. But Atlanta showed a good effort against a difficult opponent, and now seek to turn that into points on the road against expansion siblings Minnesota United.
15. D.C. UNITED (0-0-1)
LAST WEEK: Tied Sporting Kansas City, 0-0, on Saturday.
THIS WEEK: at New York City FC on Sunday.
OUTLOOK: While Sporting KC were likely disappointed not to have earned a win, D.C. United will likewise be unhappy with a draw at home. Much like their opponents opportunities were there with six shots on target, but three missed chances and some solid play in goal from Tim Melia sealed the result. They’ll hope to fare better in attack when they visit NYCFC this weekend.
16. ORLANDO CITY (1-0-0)
LAST WEEK: Beat New York City FC, 1-0, on Sunday.
THIS WEEK: at the New England Revolution on Saturday.
OUTLOOK: Orlando City, despite being largely out-played on Sunday, managed to open their new stadium in proper fashion, securing a 1-0 victory thanks to budding superstar Cyle Larin. The win came at a cost, however, as star midfielder Kaka went down with a hamstring injury early and may miss up to six weeks of action. They’ll hope to overcome the unfortunate loss this weekend, as they visit the Revs in Foxboro.
17. COLUMBUS CREW (0-0-1)
LAST WEEK: Tied the Chicago Fire, 1-1, on Saturday.
THIS WEEK: at the Houston Dynamo on Saturday.
OUTLOOK: With an early goal from Ethan Finlay, the Crew’s chances of securing a home-opening win grew as the minutes ticked by, but a 73rd minute defensive lapse and a nice finish from David Accam cut down those hopes. Still, the Crew played well on opening weekend. While they’ll lament missed chances, they’ll suddenly be faced with a surprisingly difficult task in visiting BBVA Compass Stadium and the Dynamo this weekend.
18. VANCOUVER WHITECAPS (0-0-1)
LAST WEEK: Tied the Philadelphia Union, 0-0, on Sunday.
THIS WEEK: at the San Jose Earthquakes on Saturday.
OUTLOOK: Perhaps due to their mid-week Champions League victory over the Red Bulls, the Whitecaps attack lacked sharpness against the Union over the weekend. The Whitecaps managed just a shot on target despite 12 total, and their inaccuracy ultimately would up leaving them on level pegging with the Union to close the weekend. They’ll face the surprisingly victorious Quakes on Saturday down south in San Jose.
19. NEW ENGLAND REVOLUTION (0-1-0)
LAST WEEK: Lost to the Colorado Rapids, 1-0, on Saturday.
THIS WEEK: vs. Orlando City on Saturday.
OUTLOOK: To be honest, the Revs did a fair job generating opportunities against the Rapids, getting off 10 shots with three on target and a solid handful of corners, but the Rapids defense proved too much to overcome. Zac MacMath shut down any possible chances, and a goal from Dominique Badji proved the difference. The Revs will hope to improve their finishing against a Kaka-less Orlando City, as they seek their first points of 2017.
20. REAL SALT LAKE (0-0-1)
LAST WEEK: Tied Toronto FC, 0-0, on Saturday.
THIS WEEK: at the Chicago Fire on Saturday.
OUTLOOK: Against one of the best teams in the East, Real Salt Lake did a decent job on Saturday. While both sides missed opportunities, Toronto had the best chance of the match with a Giovinco penalty. Thankfully for RSL, Nick Rimando is as good as he ever was at saving penalties, extending his MLS record to 29 penalty saves, keeping the match even. RSL goes on the road to Chicago this weekend, where they’ll hope to do a bit better with their own attack.
21. CHICAGO FIRE (0-0-1)
LAST WEEK: Tied the Columbus Crew, 1-1, on Saturday.
THIS WEEK: vs. Real Salt Lake on Saturday.
OUTLOOK: The new-look Fire appeared to be no different than the old-look Fire after Ethan Finlay struck to give the Crew an early lead on Saturday. But persistence showed their improvement as David Accam took advantage of a defensive lapse to slot home an equalizer and snatch a point for the Fire on the road to open the season. They’ll hope to continue their development in their home opener as Real Salt Lake come to town.
22. MINNESOTA UNITED (0-1-0)
LAST WEEK: Lost to the Portland Timbers, 5-1, on Friday.
THIS WEEK: vs. Atlanta United on Sunday.
OUTLOOK: Unsurprisingly, the bottom-ranked team in the power rankings suffered the worst defeat of the weekend, as Minnesota United were ‘welcomed’ into MLS by the Portland Timbers with a 5-1 loss. The lone bright spot came from NASL-holdover Christian Ramirez, who scored a late consolation goal in the 79th minute. They’ll have a chance to correct this weekend as they take on their expansion rivals in their home-opener.