Photo by ISIPhotos.com
By DAN ITEL
It may have been a disappointing result for Real Salt Lake, considering they conceded a stoppage time goal that led to a 3-3 draw on the road against the San Jose Earthquakes, but a point at Buck Shaw Stadium is never anything to scoff at.
The thrilling finish, at a place where San Jose remain unbeaten in 21 straight matches, was enough to keep the defending MLS Cup runners up atop the Week 2 SBI MLS Power Rankings.
The Houston Dynamo made another jump after becoming the only MLS team to win their first two games. And they continued to impress in doing so, with another clean sheet and Will Bruin’s third goal of the season in a 1-0 win over the Montreal Impact.
Toronto FC’s 2014 debut saw them impress in a convincing road victory against Seattle, with Jermain Defoe’s first-half brace keying a 2-1 victory and serving notice that the big spending by TFC this winter was money well spent.
Here are the SBI Power Rankings, as voted on by the SBI editorial staff:
SBI MLS Power Rankings (Week 2)
1. (Last Week-1) REAL SALT LAKE (1-0-1)
OUTLOOK– RSL followed up an impressive 1-0 road victory against the LA Galaxy with a roller coaster 3-3 draw at San Jose. Kyle Beckerman’s goal vs. San Jose was pure class and Nick Rimando is in fine form, but the defense needs to tighten up, especially late in games.
2. (6) HOUSTON DYNAMO (2-0)
OUTLOOK– The Houston Dynamo were counting on continuity and improvement from last year heading into 2014 and two games into the season, they’re receiving better than expected results. Will Bruin scored for the second straight game and Ricardo Clark, Oscar Boniek Garcia, and Brad Davis have dominated the midfield.
3. (10) TORONTO FC (1-0)
OUTLOOK– Plenty of expectations are being heaped on the high-priced stars of Toronto FC early this season and in their first game, at Seattle, they most definitely lived up to the hype. Jermain Defoe scored two, goal-scorers goals, Michael Bradley bossed the midfield, and TFC looked the better team, even on the bad turf in Seattle.
4. (5) LOS ANGELES GALAXY (0-1)
OUTLOOK– The Galaxy had a bye in MLS Week 2 as they prepared for their CONCACAF Champions League return leg in Tijuana. Following a shaky defensive performance from Bruce Arena’s team, the LA Galaxy manager may shake up the lineup a bit in a rematch against Real Salt Lake.
5. (8) PHILADELPHIA UNION (1-0-1)
OUTLOOK– It’s obviously still very early in the season but the Union’s brand-new midfield are getting fans excited for this season. The acquisitions of Maurice Edu, Vincent Nogueira, and Cristian Maidana have played very well early on, but it was the fan favorite Sebastian Le Toux who put the finishing touch on the Union’s 1-0 victory last Saturday. The undefeated record so far is a good sign for the team’s future.
6. (6) SEATTLE SOUNDERS (1-1)
OUTLOOK– It’s a little bit worrying that the Sounders, with so much money invested in Designated Players Clint Dempsey and Obafemi Martins, have scored just two goals in two games, both at home. The Sounders defense on the other hand is aging, and Djimi Traore was absolutely helpless to try and stop Jermain Defoe in the first half last Saturday.
7. (4) SPORTING KANSAS CITY (0-1-1)
OUTLOOK– In the middle of a brutal five-games-in-15-days stretch, Sporting KC haven’t gotten off to the start they expected, though the final score isn’t indicative of the results. With key players being rested for CONCACAF Champions League games, Sporting has dropped points this year due to defensive errors off of set pieces. Once Peter Vermes has his regular back line all starting together, expect this team to rocket back up the power rankings.
8. (3) PORTLAND TIMBERS (0-0-2)
OUTLOOK– Two rainy home games, two come-from-behind draws. The Timbers and Caleb Porter have struggled to play their distinctive style against both the Philadelphia Union and the Chicago Fire, and only Gaston Fernandez has been there to save the Timbers from dropping even more points. Max Urruti is running out of time to make an impact up top, especially with other options available.
9. (7) VANCOUVER WHITECAPS (1-0-1)
OUTLOOK– Following a superb performance against the New York Red Bulls at home, the Whitecaps couldn’t find that same energy or rhythm at the StubHub Center last Sunday. Sure, it was unseasonably warm, but the Whitecaps looked lost in the heat against a ten-man Chivas USA team. Carl Robinson may want to start Kekuta Manneh from now on, though Darren Mattocks did show plenty of desire to win the ball and attack the goal in the game.
10. (12) FC DALLAS (1-0-1)
OUTLOOK– FC Dallas could have counted themselves lucky to face the Montreal Impact without Andres Romero, Nelson Rivas, and Marco Di Vaio in week one, but they put together a solid performance last Saturday at Sporting Kansas City. Matt Hedges, the goal scorer, continues to grow and should be counted on all year to be a big presence in the box at both ends of the field.
11. (9) NEW YORK RED BULLS (0-1-1)
OUTLOOK– The Red Bulls rebounded from their embarrassing defeat in Vancouver with a better performance at home against the Colorado Rapids, though it’s easy to see that the Red Bulls are far from match fit. Head coach Mike Petke made more changes in the midfield and it’s clear that the chemistry is just slightly off. Petke said that the team is working more this week on being more creative with the ball to open space for teammates.
12. (13) COLUMBUS CREW (1-0)
OUTLOOK– The Crew had a bye week in Week 2 and have had plenty of time to continue to practice and fully understand head coach Gregg Berhalter’s tactics. The Crew looked very strong at D.C. United in Week 1 and fans are expecting a similar performance in their home opener this Saturday vs. the Union.
13. (16) CHIVAS USA (1-0-1)
OUTLOOK– Chivas USA may be the butt of many league jokes but the club looks much more organized since Wilmer Cabrera has taken charge. Chivas USA looked the better team against Vancouver and should be happy to take a point off the Whitecaps.
14. (14) COLORADO RAPIDS (0-0-1)
OUTLOOK– The Rapids should be delighted to have come away with a point from Red Bull Arena, even if it was in controversial circumstances. John Berner was solid in his MLS and professional debut, though the Rapids need to work on finding a replacement for Hendry Thomas in defensive midfield. Marvell Wynne’s speed is a huge asset on recovery runs.
15. SAN JOSE EARTHQUAKES (0-0-1)
OUTLOOK– The Earthquakes showed tremendous fight and passion to score in the fifth minute in extra time against last year’s MLS Cup finalists. Victor Bernardez scored twice but his team also conceded three times. It’s a good sign though that Chris Wondolowski has started his season off with a goal.
16. (11) NEW ENGLAND REVOLUTION (0-2)
OUTLOOK– One of the most exciting teams from last season has put up a couple of goose eggs in their first two matches. Without Jose Goncalves, the defense is lacking their big, powerful presence. Diego Fagundez has started his season slow too, having a number of chances but failing to score.
17. (19) CHICAGO FIRE (0-1-1)
OUTLOOK– The Fire deserve credit for toughing out a draw in Portland but they haven’t looked up to the test so far this year. Patrick Nyarko’s red card after coming on as a substitute doesn’t help the team at all.
18. (17) MONTREAL IMPACT (0-2)
OUTLOOK– Still missing Marco Di Vaio, the Impact fell for the second week in a row against the Houston Dynamo. After making almost no changes during the offseason, Frank Klopas has a difficult task of squeezing anything more out of this aging squad.
19. (18) D.C. UNITED (0-1)
OUTLOOK– D.C. United are probably thankful for the off week after a poor performance in their home opener. Ben Olsen is also hoping that his new signings are melding together better than in Week 1.
What do you think of this week’s power rankings? Do you think any team is ranked too high? Any too low?
Share your thoughts below.