The first weekend of the Major League Soccer season provided plenty of entertainment, excitement and storylines for the future as new stars emerged and improved teams showed that they are ready to shake up the pecking order in MLS.
You had the New England Revolution playing without Taylor Twellman and still thrashing defending champion Houston. You had the Wizards outplaying the revamped D.C. United team that so many have pegged for greatness. Then you also had the Los Angeles Galaxy being ripped apart by a Colorado squad that looked like world-beaters against the Galaxy’s putrid defense.
Yes, it is only week one but the first round of games certainly told enough tales to let us know how things might go in the immediate future.
Here are the new SBI MLS power rankings as well as a closer look at all six of the weekend’s matches:
SBI MLS Power Rankings
- New England Revolution
- Kansas City Wizards
- Houston Dynamo
- D.C. United
- Chivas USA
- Columbus Crew
- Colorado Rapids
- Chicago Fire
- FC Dallas
- Real Salt Lake
- New York Red Bulls
- San Jose
- Toronto FC
- Los Angeles Galaxy
Here is a rundown of the weekend’s games:
Revolution 3, Dynamo 0
New England ran Houston off the field on Saturday night, showing off its young talent in a drubbing of the Dynamo. Taylor Twellman tweaked his knee before the match, but that didn’t seem to matter to the Revs, who rode impresses performances from Kenny Mansally, Adam Cristman and Sainey Nyassi (as well as the rest of New England’s midfield). I was particularly impressed with the work done by Jeff Larentowicz, who was instrumental in neutralizing Houston’s normally potent midfield. And yes, Cristman had a solid opener. I still think the Twellman-Mansally tandem winds up with the job but Cristman showed he’s ready to prove that his rookie year wasn’t a fluke.
As for the Dynamo? I wouldn’t worry too much. I don’t need to remind Houston fans how bad the team’s opening month was last year and we know how things turned out.
Wizards 2, D.C. United 0
That sound you hear is the Kansas City Wizards bandwagon filling up, and yes, I was on it before the season started. The Wizards toppled heavily-favored D.C. and while It is only one game but the skill, attacking quality and defensive discipline showed by KC in game one against a loaded D.C. team bodes well for the Wizards having the breakout year some think they can have. The Claudio Lopez-Ivan Trujillo forward tandem should make it easy for KC fans to forget Eddie Johnson and the revamped defense debuted in grand fashion with a shutout against a team many expected to set some scoring records this year.
As for D.C. United, you can argue that chances were created and the game was closer than the scoreline indicated. You can also make a case for this week’s Champions Cup action providing at least somewhat of a distraction. Either way, D.C. disappointed and KC looked great.
Rapids 4, Galaxy 0
With all due respect to Colorado, which looked amazing on Saturday, the Rapids drubbing of the Galaxy was much more of an indictment of just how bad the LA team, and defense in particular, is. Ruud Gullit would have been better off trotting out some traffic cones rather than the defense he put on the field as it became painfully obvious that Abel Xavier is past it and the Xavier-Vanney tandem is way too slow to survive in MLS.
As for the Rapids, there will be plenty of good feelings from this result but it should be remembered that Colorado won last year’s opener in impressive fashion as well. Christian Gomez looked good in his Rapids debut while Omar Cummings stated his case to be Colorado’s go-to goal-scorer.
Crew 2, Toronto FC 0
Toronto fans came to Columbus in bunches, a total of more than 2,300 actually, but that support meant little to a Columbus team that was tougher and more clinical when the chances came in Saturday’s win. The Crew didn’t look like a young team as much as a good team that just might be ready to go from team loaded with potential to team ready for a playoff run.
Toronto fans, particularly the ones who trekked to Ohio, aren’t going to be happy with TFC opening year two with a loss, and are even less happy with an attack that is clearly still lacking a playmaker. TFC insists that help is on the way but every week that passes will put Toronto deeper into a hole in the loaded Eastern Conference.
Chicago 1, Real Salt Lake 1
Cuauhtemoc Blanco did it again. SBI’s choice for league MVP got his candidacy off to a good start as he helped the Fire salvage a point against an RSL squad that showed some real attacking flair and quality. Salt Lake coach Jason Kreis has done a good job to integrate his new faces, though blowing a lead at home for a second straight home opener can’t sit well with RSL fans.
The Fire didn’t exactly look sharp, but salvaging a point on the road isn’t the worst way to start the Denis Hamlett era. That said, it would have been nice for a Chicago forward to step up and get off to a good start. Could scoring from the forwards still be a problem for the Fire. Chicago’s patchwork defense held its own (Bakary Soumare’s own goal aside) and you have to wonder whether Wilman Conde will ever get over his desire to join the Red Bulls and return to the all-star caliber form he showed for Chicago last year.
Chivas USA 1, FC Dallas 1
FC Dallas spent a decent amount of money and created a good amount of buzz surrounding its signing of Mexican defender Duilio Davino despite concerns about whether he was really worth it. His costly error in FC Dallas’ 1-1 tie vs. Chivas USA on Sunday leves that question as a "no" right now.
Davino’s turnover helped Maykel Galindo find an equalizer in a game FC Dallas took control of in the second half. The draw was probably a fair result but FCD fans won’t be happy seeing their high-priced defender giving away points. Chivas USA will gladly take a road point with forwards Ante Razov and Galindo still recovering from injuries.
What did you think of this weekend’s games? What stood out? Was it the great goals scored, the pitiful showing by the Galaxy? New England’s thrashing of Houston? Share your thoughts below