By DAN KARELL
Toronto FC are finally living up to their fans’ expectations.
After the busy and high-spending offseason, TFC have won their first two games of the season, including a 1-0 victory last Saturday with all three Designated Players, Michael Bradley, Gilberto, and goal-scorer Jermain Defoe, playing key roles in the build-up to the goal. TFC’s early-season form has jumped them to the top spot of the SBI MLS Power Rankings.
Both Sporting Kansas City and the Seattle Sounders jumped up places in the top 10 but the biggest movers were the Columbus Crew, moving up to No. 7 following a gritty 2-1 win against the Philadelphia Union.
The Portland Timbers and Vancouver Whitecaps each dropped out of the top 10 as well, while the Montreal Impact and D.C. United remained in the bottom two places in this week’s SBI MLS Power Rankings.
Here are the SBI MLS Power Rankings for Week 3 (as voted on by SBI staff):
SBI MLS Power Rankings (Week 3)
1. (Last Week- 3) TORONTO FC (2-0)
OUTLOOK- It’s no fluke that Toronto FC are off to the best start in franchise history. With Michael Bradley bossing the midfield and Gilberto and Jermain Defoe striking terror into the hearts of the defense, TFC are proving to be one of, if not the, best team in MLS at this moment.
2. (2) HOUSTON DYNAMO (2-0)
OUTLOOK- The Dynamo remain in the No. 2 spot after a bye week, which they’ve used to help Tony Cascio and Ricardo Clark overcome some early injuries. The bye came at a bad time for Will Bruin, who scored three goals in the first two games of the year.
3. (1) REAL SALT LAKE (1-0-2)
OUTLOOK- Real Salt Lake are still searching for their top form but they’ll be content with a 1-1 draw with the LA Galaxy. The loss of Joao Plata for two to three weeks hurts in the short term.
4. (4) LOS ANGELES GALAXY (0-1-1)
OUTLOOK- The Galaxy rebounded from an early season defeat to Real Salt Lake and a midweek disaster against Club Tijuana with a defensively stout result at RSL. With the league now the main priority, Bruce Arena will be counting on Omar Gonzalez and Leonardo to hit stride quickly.
5. (6) SEATTLE SOUNDERS (2-1)
OUTLOOK- The Sounders couldn’t have asked for a better time to face the Impact than Sunday, where they won comprehensively, 2-0. Having Obafemi Martins back on the scoresheet is huge and they’ll take a bit more confidence back home to Seattle.
6. (7) SPORTING KANSAS CITY (1-1-1)
OUTLOOK- Sporting KC rebounded from their CONCACAF Champions League collapse midweek with their first league victory of the season against the San Jose Earthquakes. Even with Matt Besler on the bench, Ike Opara and Aurelien Collin held down the fort in defense to help the team to a clean sheet.
7. (12) COLUMBUS CREW (2-0)
OUTLOOK- The Crew continue to impress, topping their opening victory at D.C. United with a hard-fought three points at home against the much-improved Philadelphia Union. While Bernardo Anor scored both goals, Michael Parkhurst and Giancarlo Gonzalez have been terrific in central defense and Steve Clark has been strong in goal too.
8. (5) PHILADELPHIA UNION (1-1-1)
OUTLOOK- The Union are on the precipice of turning into one of the top teams in the Eastern Conference. The new-look midfield continues to impress but John Hackworth’s team have given up stoppage-time goals in the last two games.
9. (10) FC DALLAS (2-0-1)
OUTLOOK- FC Dallas put Chivas USA back in their place when they visited Toyota Stadium on Saturday. Mauro Diaz continues to be the heartbeat of the FC Dallas midfield and a healthy Michel only helps on set pieces.
10. (14) COLORADO RAPIDS (1-0-1)
OUTLOOK- Much like the Portland Timbers last year under a first-year MLS coach, the Rapids have continued to defy the odds, this time defeating 10-man Portland at home, 2-0. Moving Marvell Wynne to center back and having Shane O’Neill at right back could be a masterclass move by head coach Pablo Mastroeni.
11. (9) VANCOUVER WHITECAPS (1-0-2)
OUTLOOK- For the second week in a row, the Whitecaps struggled mightily to break down an opposing defense on the road. Recent results are starting to make their 4-1 thrashing of the Red Bulls look like a fluke. Losing Nigel Reo-Coker doesn’t help the team either, though Pedro Morales should return to the starting lineup.
12. (8) PORTLAND TIMBERS (0-1-2)
OUTLOOK- The Timbers have been the league’s most underachieving team so far this season as they still look for their first win of the year. Gaston Fernandez is still learning and the front three of Darlington Nagbe, Steve Zakuani, and Fernandez didn’t look particularly dangerous in Colorado. Caleb Porter is hoping that changes this Saturday in Dallas will make the difference.
13. (11) NEW YORK RED BULLS (0-1-2)
OUTLOOK- The Red Bulls are no strangers to slow starts but they could call themselves lucky to leave Toyota Park with a point. Tim Cahill is ill suited to play as a lone striker with Thierry Henry drifting in midfield to start the attack, and it affects the team across the park as Eric Alexander struggles to play alongside Dax McCarty in the center.
14. (15) SAN JOSE EARTHQUAKES (0-1-1)
OUTLOOK- The Earthquakes had a couple of chances to score against Sporting KC last Saturday but not many teams leave Sporting Park with points so it’s not indicative of their play. However, it remains to be seen if the Earthquakes have enough attacking talent to pick the team up and win some more games this season. A healthy Alan Gordon would help.
15. (13) CHIVAS USA (1-1-1)
OUTLOOK- Chivas USA followed up their impressive draw with a comprehensive defeat on the road. Eriq Zavaleta, making his first MLS start, and as a defender no less, struggled predictably alongside Carlos Bocanegra in the second half. Chivas just doesn’t have enough attacking talent to overcome their defensive deficiencies.
16. (17) CHICAGO FIRE (0-1-2)
OUTLOOK- An aging Fire team has done just enough to get results early on, but not enough to grab a game by the scruff of the neck. Mike Magee’s return from injury should help up top moving forward but the team still lacks goal-scoring depth through the squad.
17. (16) NEW ENGLAND REVOLUTION (0-2-1)
OUTLOOK- The Revolution followed up a poor showing at PPL Park with an even poorer match at home last Saturday against the Vancouver Whitecaps. Jose Goncalves returned to the squad which should give them a boost but Diego Fagundez, Kelyn Rowe, and Lee Nguyen have been misfiring early on.
18. (18) MONTREAL IMPACT (0-3)
OUTLOOK- Not much is looking up for the aging Impact, who can’t seem to win without Marco Di Vaio out on the field. Di Vaio returns this week but the Impact are in desperate need of some signings to improve their squad.
19. (19) D.C. UNITED (0-2)
OUTLOOK- For the second straight game, D.C. United struggled to muster up many chances offensively and only thanks to Bill Hamid did the game stay as close as it was. D.C. United have a huge opportunity this Saturday to prove that the first two games of the season were an anomaly and that the team is actually improving on the field.
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.