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SBI MLS Power Rankings: Week One

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The same team that finished the 2012 season on top of Major League Soccer looks very much like a team that intends to stay on top of the league.

The Los Angeles Galaxy’s 4-0 humbling of the Chicago Fire sent a very clear message that the defending MLS Cup champions aren’t about to suddenly revert to mediocrity after the departure of David Beckham, and amid the absence of Landon Donovan. Mike Magee was the star for LA on Sunday, but there were plenty of good performances to go around and plenty of reason to believe the Galaxy remain the best team in MLS.

The Houston Dynamo lost to the Galaxy in December’s MLS Cup Final and they look like a team equipped to take the next step and win a title after an opening week that saw them  handily beat D.C. United before posting a very impressive 1-0 victory against Santos Laguna on Tuesday night in CONCACAF Champions League action.

The SBI MLS Power Rankings are led by the MLS Cup finalists, while there was plenty of shaking up after Week One’s results. The big gainer after the opening weekend was the Montreal Impact, which scored a valuable road win against the Seattle Sounders, a victory that helped them climb six spots from the pre-season power rankings.

Here are the SBI MLS Power Rankings after Week One:

SBI MLS Power Rankings

1. (Previous rank- 1)  LOS ANGELES GALAXY (1-0)


LAST WEEK– Beat Chicago Fire, 4-0, last Sunday.

THIS WEEK– at Herediano on Thursday (CONCACAF Champions League).

OUTLOOK– Mike Magee’s hat-trick stole the show, but Leonardo’s solid performance at centerback might have been the most encouraging sign for the Galaxy.


2. (4)  HOUSTON DYNAMO (1-0)


LAST WEEK– Beat D.C. United, 2-0, last Saturday. Beat Santos Laguna, 1-0, last Tuesday (CONCACAF).


OUTLOOK– Ricardo Clark is looking like a man on a mission to start the season, turning in two stellar performances for the Dynamo, who head to Torreon for their second leg against Santos Laguna riding a wave of confidence after Brad Davis’ last-minute game-winner on Tuesday.




LAST WEEK– Beat Philadelphia Union, 3-1, last Saturday.

THIS WEEK– at Toronto FC on Saturday.

OUTLOOK– Overcame a terrible start to their game against Philadelphia, with Graham Zusi really stepping it up and taking over. Both Oriol Rosell and Claudio Bieler turned in quality outings, making the departures of Roger Espinoza and Kei Kamara earlier in the winter less of an issue.


4. (8) REAL SALT LAKE (1-0)


LAST WEEK– Beat San Jose Earthquakes, 2-0, last Saturday.

THIS WEEK– at D.C. United on Saturday.

OUTLOOK– Alvaro Saborio looked sharp in scoring both goals, and burning San Jose standout defender Victor Bernardez in the process, but it was the contribution of Joao Plata off the bench that really impressed. The centerback tandem of Chris Schuler and Kwame-Watson Siriboe also looked solid, and the early signs are that RSL’s ‘rebuilding year’ might not be one after all.




LAST WEEK– Lost to Montreal Impact, 1-0, last Saturday.

THIS WEEK– at UANL Tigres on Wednesday (CONCACAF).

OUTLOOK– The Sounders created chances, but just couldn’t finish them against Montreal. A loss at home is tough to take in the opener, but ultimately the defense allowed just one beautiful Davy Arnaud goal, and the Sounders attack created chances.


6. (6) NEW YORK RED BULLS (0-0-1)


LAST WEEK– Tied Portland, 3-3, last Sunday.

THIS WEEK– at San Jose on Sunday.

OUTLOOK– Looked very good early on, but a poor second half cost them a two-goal lead and raised some questions about them defensively. Fabian Espindola looks inspired, and Jamison Olave showed stretches of dominant play (even if he was beaten for a goal and gave up an own goal).


7. (11) COLUMBUS CREW (1-0)


LAST WEEK– Beat Chivas USA, 3-0, last Saturday.

THIS WEEK– at Vancouver on Saturday.

OUTLOOK– The scoreline was a bit flattering considering the Crew didn’t break through until Federico Higuain’s second-half blast. It’s still three points on the road, and a confidence booster for the Crew defense.




LAST WEEK– Lost to Real Salt Lake last Saturday.

THIS WEEK– vs. New York Red Bulls on Sunday.

OUTLOOK– Missing Steven Lenhart and Alan Gordon was clearly a detriment and something the Earthquakes attack couldn’t overcome. Frank Yallop will be more troubled with the defense, particularly Victor Bernardez, who was abused on both RSL goals.


9. (15) MONTREAL IMPACT (1-0)

Logo Impact MLS

LAST WEEK– Beat Seattle Sounders, 1-0, last Saturday.

THIS WEEK– at Portland Timbers on Saturday.

OUTLOOK– The Impact didn’t have a ton of chances but the story of the night in their win in Seattle was the play of their defense, which was organized and stingy. Alessandro Nesta and Matteo Ferrari helped up very well against Seattle’s dangerous attack, and Davy Arnaud looks poised to have a big year for the Impact.


10. (10) PORTLAND TIMBERS (0-0-1)


LAST WEEK– Tied New York Red Bulls, 3-3, last Sunday.

THIS WEEK– vs. Montreal Impact on Saturday.

OUTLOOK– The first 30 minutes of Sunday’s tie vs. the New York Red Bulls was forgettable, but the next 60 minutes were very impressive and encouraging for the Caleb Porter era. Diego Valeri looks like the real deal and Will Johnson showed why the Timbers traded for him and made him captain. The key for Portland will be getting Mikael Silvestre to play more like he did in the second half, and much less like he struggled in the first half.




LAST WEEK– Beat Toronto FC, 1-0, last Saturday.

THIS WEEK– at Columbus Crew on Saturday.

OUTLOOK– Losing Jay DeMerit to a torn Achilles is a gut punch, but Brad Rusin stepped in and looked very good. Rookie Kekuta Manneh showed flashes, but the Whitecaps attack should have been able to put more goals on the board against a weak TFC side. Nigel Reo-Coker looks like he’ll be a force.


12. (7) CHICAGO FIRE (0-1)


LAST WEEK– Lost to Los Angeles Galaxy, 4-0, last Sunday.

THIS WEEK– vs. New England Revolution on Saturday.

OUTLOOK– Just one of those days the Fire will want to forget quickly. Sean Johnson let in four goals, but actually made a bunch of quality saves. The Fire need Arne Friedrich back badly.


13. (9) D.C. UNITED (0-1)


LAST WEEK– Lost to Houston Dynamo, 2-0, last Saturday.

THIS WEEK– vs. Real Salt Lake on Saturday.

OUTLOOK– There were questions about their attack heading into the season, and the D.C. offense looked very anemic vs. Houston, though to be fair, the Dynamo can make most teams look bad.


14. (14) FC DALLAS (1-0)


LAST WEEK– Beat Colorado Rapids, 1-0, on Saturday.

THIS WEEK– at Chivas USA on Sunday.

OUTLOOK– You can argue that Colorado were the better side, but the fact is FC Dallas played well defensively, pounced on a big blunder, and took home a big opening win. The Hoops will have to play much better to take points off better teams though.


15. (13) COLORADO RAPIDS (0-1)


LAST WEEK– lost to FC Dallas, 1-0, last Saturday.

THIS WEEK– vs. Philadelphia Union on Saturday.

OUTLOOK– Stewart Ceus’ blunder aside, the Rapids created chances and pushed Dallas to the brink. Rookies Dillon Powers and Deshorn Brown looked good in their pro debuts, but you have to wonder how the return of Edson Buddle and arrival of Danny Mwanga will affect the Rapids attack.


16. (16)  PHILADELPHIA UNION (0-1)


LAST WEEK– Lost to Sporting Kansas City, 3-1, last Saturday.

THIS WEEK– at Colorado Rapids on Saturday.

OUTLOOK– Showed great promise in the first 30-35 minutes vs. Sporting Kansas City, but then promptly fell apart. The elements are there for the Union to play good soccer, but their inexperiences shines through despite the arrival of some veterans. We could be seeing more and more games like this as the Union grow up.





THIS WEEK– at Chicago Fire on Saturday.

OUTLOOK– An extra week to get Saer Sene closer to playing isn’t a bad thing, and it will be interesting to see just what midfield combination Jay Heaps turns to.


18. (18) CHIVAS USA (0-1)


LAST WEEK– Lost to Columbus Crew, 3-0, last Saturday.

THIS WEEK– vs. FC Dallas on Sunday.

OUTLOOK– The 3-0 score is a bit misleading consider two goals came very late, but what was lost amid all the complaints about Chivas USA’s embarrassing attendance totals is the fact that the Goats didn’t play all that terribly for about 70-75 minutes. No easy task considering the patchwork defense ‘El Chelis’ threw on the field.


19. (19) TORONTO FC (0-1)


LAST WEEK– lost to Vancouver Whitecaps, 1-0 last Saturday.

THIS WEEK– vs. Sporting Kansas City on Saturday.

OUTLOOK– It was an accomplishment to keep the game close, but aside from Kyle Bekker showing some promise, there wasn’t a ton to be overly excited about from TFC in the opener.



  1. The Crew vault up four spots based on their highly predictable win over lowly Chivas, with a 3-0 scoreline that wouldn’t have surprised anyone, meanwhile Vancouver knocks off cellar-dweller Toronto by an equally predictable 1-goal margin, but move up only one spot? I’m not so much quibbling about Vancouver’s ranking as I am about the Crew’s.

  2. The Quake D is a concern. I thought Hernandez was more at fault for the first goal though. Both CBs are swung to the right with Bernardez stepping up to try to close Plata, Hernandez should have had the middle coverage, but he never checks his blind side. Really poor breakdown in a tight game. Bernardez clearly took a nap on the second goal. Quakes will continue to drop unless they take a more defensive posture. It will be boring as hell but necessary to stay in games. They can’t play an open game without a true target forward, or try to compensate by pushing extra players forward to help the attack, only to expose the thin back line to counters.

  3. NY and Seattle being in front of Portland is ridiculous.

    New York were outclassed by Portland for the last hour of the game. 3, egregious defensive errors by back line that included a player that joined the team two days earlier are all that kept the Redbulls from getting properly blown out.

    And Seattle lost, at home, to Montreal.

    These rankings are a joke.


    about to read the rest

    but all the other power rankings i’ve seen have DC in the top ten

    which is absurd

    (yes, i’m a fan of United)

    finally someone with sense

      • ah, i dont really check espn

        btw ives: “what was lost amid all the complaints about Chivas USA’s embarrassing attendance totals is the fact that the Goats didn’t play all that terribly for about 70-75 minutes.”

        very true as well

  5. My personal opinion is that Houston should be behind Sporting.

    1. This is MLS Power Rankings why would beating Santa Laguna matter?

    2. Their first win was a home game.

    3. Sporting won FROM BEHIND (was only team to do so this week) 3-1

    4. Sporting won an away game.

    Part of me feels there is a little biased for Houston left over from last season. No bueno.

    • some of your points are valid

      but sporting were outplayed for a good portion of the match and could have lost if philly werent such wasteful finishers

      the closest dc came to threatening houston was hitting the bar on a free kick. they put up zero shots on goal in 90 minutes. houston wasnt tested at all

    • this isn’t the power rankings, which expressly state mls action-only, I think Ives can use non-MLS action to decide his power rankings if he wants.

      you left out the most important factor, the opponent.

      team X beat eastern conference runners-up 2-0 at home

      team Y beat 2nd worst eastern conference team 3-1 away.

      which would you choose to have more power?

    • I Don’t think you’ve grasped the fact that the current Dynamo are the team that looked really tough after opening their stadium and adding Oscar Boniek Garcia. You can’t just look at the full record from 2012 and measure a team in the new year based solely on that. The Dynamo are much more the team that looked so tough in the second half and playoffs than the team that struggled in the first half.

      As for Sporting KC, they lost to Houston in the playoffs and they lost two key players from that team. Why exactly should KC be ranked ahead of Houston? What do you base that on? I can see arguments one way or another, but the idea that it’s crazy to rank Houston ahead of Sporting doesn’t really jibe with reality. Houston beat a better team in more convincing fashion in week one, so that’s why they jumped KC.

  6. New York at #6, above San Jose (who are the defending shiled winners) and Columbus, is a joke. Silvestre did his best to lose the game for Portland in the first half, and they still couldn’t stumble through the finish line. At the moment, NY don’t deserve to be ranked anywhere but just before Portland.

    • I have to say that I respectfully disagree that Columbus is a joke. First it was shortly into the second (9 minutes or so) when Hiquain blasted a shot that no Keeper would have saved, they have made some shrewd moves on both sides of the ball and can attack from anywhere on the pitch. I agree not much of a contest when you play Chivas and there were a lot of shut outs this week because it was week one. So anointing any team or calling a team crap after one game, win or lose is really not fair. IMO you Crew haters will be surprised this year, they missed the playoffs by 2 points last year. I say they make it easily this year. Blast me if you want, but at this point I am not prepared to call any team crap after week one. So why don’t we keep an open mind and after 15 games lets see where everybody stands, I think the conversations will be a lot different than some of the thoughtless downgrading some of you are doing so early in the season. If I am wrong about Columbus after 15 matches I will post saying so. Let’s be fair. I saw a lot of good new talent this past weekend and look forward to seeing their impact on the league.

  7. Think you are being way too generous with Red Bulls. Basically 3 defensive howlers gifted them that draw. Two of which were comically bad. Other than one TH14 shot in 2nd half name something positive they did going forward?

    I think lack of team speed is going to plague them all year.

      • personally I think of Vancouver as tougher than Columbus so a 1-0 against Vancouver is more impressive than a 3-0 to Columbus but that might just be me.

      • Agree. That Vancouver lineup was fairly offensive. Keeping them to 1 goal was an accomplishment for TFC, especially in light of the leaky D last year. Much respect for Nelsen and Califf for the effort.

      • I think their defense was very good, they controlled the center of the field and pushed the play outside. I would say it was a better defensive game than offensive. It is game one but I think they will need more offense to be highly competitive, but that needs time to mesh. I think any team that puts up 3 or more goals against any other professional MLS team is doing something right, don’t discount Columbus. I say that because I also think any team that holds a team to a clean sheet in the MLS is also doing something right, and I agree a better defense usually trumps a good offense. Also consider that it is week one, lots of new great additions to a lot of teams and offense seems to take longer to mesh with players you are not used to, I doubt we see the number of clean sheets moving forward as offenses start to click as we saw this past week. Just my opinion.

      • The 3-0 was a bit misleading with relation to the actual game. It was scoreless till the 88th minute, and the final goal was a gimme after Chivas USA threw everything forward late.

        I don’t agree about Vancouver beating tougher than Columbus so I suppose that’s where we differ. It really could go either way for me, but are we really devoting energy to arguing 18-19? Let’s give it a few weeks. I’m sure we’ll see just who is the absolute worst team in the league.

      • Sounds good. Arguing over nothing. I’m just biased towards TFC in light of having a buddy on the roster. Great work, as always, Ives.

      • Defense will keep you in more games than offense, just my opinion. Morgan, O’Dea, Califf and Eckersley are known quantities. But you’re right it is week one.

  8. Must say I just recently started following MLS again and the quality of play is really quite impressive considering salary cap restrictions and what not. Especially that first goal by Portland was pure class

    • The heat of summer really drags the quality down. I was really impressed with the soccer this opening weekend and agree with Portland looking good. Since I don’t have a true home team to follow I think I’ll keep an eye on them.

      • We know this yes. But some people who poo poo the quality of play in MLS don’t realize that we are now getting Diego Valeri’s and Andrew Driver’s in their prime.

  9. Funny thing is if the Union kept up their play they might be top 10 right now… but they’re right where they belong. Torres, Adu, Soumare and Jack Mac in for Carroll, Garfan, Lahoud, and Daniel and they might have a chance

    • It does seem like a bit of hubris from the organization and the coaching. No clue why you would have someone of the talent of Adu on your roster and not use him due to pure spite, unless he is a complete locker room cancer. Is soccer the sport that displays the greatest amount of stubbornness and pettiness out of coaches when it comes to lineup decisions?

      • He’s back home in Maryland with his mom while receiving his 600k salary. The U definitely could have handled his situation better, but in their defense he has turned down moves to The Championship, The Ukrainian Premiere and the K League. All of those leagues are rated equal to, or more often higher than, MLS. He is a cancer. Do people still wonder why he’s played for so many clubs?

      • Geez Adu, Adu, Adu…. More like A don’t, a won’t and a can’t. When will you all realize he is not the second coming. He is more like a plague. He doesn’t belong on the pitch, He hurts every team he’s played for (good point SoB) although I must say the MLS has not reached the Champion League level by a long shot. Man they lost 3-1 to a very good KC team, Zusi went off, but it is only one game with a lot of new moving pieces, give them a chance to mesh and please quit thinking Adu would have made any difference. He is a spoiled brat, brought up too early and thinks the world owes him something. What he needs to do is put in the work, keep his mouth shut and learn from the real pro’s. He would be better off in the K league and put in some hard work instead of being passed around the MLS. Keep the faith better days are coming for Philly, the just hit a buzz saw week one.

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