SBI MLS Power Rankings (Week 2)

GibbsCooke (ISIphotos.com) 

                                                                        Photo by ISIphotos.com

We are just two weeks into the new season but you can almost feel the sense that there is a changing of the guard in Major League Soccer this season.

You have the expansion Seattle Sounders off to a torrid start, then you have Toronto FC starting the year off with four points from two road games. You have last year's MLS Cup finalists, Columbus and New York, combining for just three points from a combined four matches, then you have the former MLS Cup champion Houston Dynamo sitting at 0-1-1 after two weeks.

Not everything has been shaken up. The Chicago Fire keep recording points despite missing several key players from the starting lineup. New England continues to hover among the contenders despite playing rookies and new faces.

Yes, it's just two weeks into the season, but there are certainly some interesting developments early in the season.

Here is how the SBI MLS Power Rankings shook out after Week Two of the MLS season:


SBI MLS Power Rankings (Week 2)

1. Chicago Fire (1-0-1)

2008_013_2

Last Week: tied D.C. United, 1-1, on Saturday.

This Week: vs. New York Red Bulls on Sunday (3pm, Telefutura)

Outlook: No Soumare and no Segares? No problem for the Fire, who battled a game D.C. squad for a road point. Patrick Nyarko has looked sharp through two weeks of the season. The real question is when will Cuauhtemoc Blanco and Chris Rolfe actually start a game?

2. Seattle Sounders (2-0)

SeattleSoundersLogo    

Last Week: Beat Real Salt Lake, 2-0, on Saturday.

This Week: at Toronto FC on Saturday (4pm, Fox Soccer Channel)

Outlook: Tenacious defense and dynamic offense on display again as the Sounders proved too much for a RSL squad playing its first game. Seattle gets its toughest test to date on Saturday, with a road trip to Toronto in what will be a can't-miss match.

3. Toronto FC (1-0-1)

2008_026

Last Week: tied Columbus Crew, 1-1, Saturday.

This Week: vs. Seattle Sounders on Saturday (4pm, Telefutura).

Outlook: Managed a road point vs. Columbus despite missing Amado Guevara and Carl Robinson. Offense struggled a bit vs. the Crew, but returning to BMO Field should provide a boost to the TFC attack.

4. New England Revolution (1-0-1)

2008_022

Last Week: tied New York Red Bulls, 1-1, on Saturday.

This Week: vs. FC Dallas on Saturday (7:30pm, Direct Kick)

Outlook: Steve Nicol is weaving his magic again. The Revs have four points after two road games, and have earned those points without Taylor Twellman and Steve Ralston. Two weeks into the season Fredy Montero will get most MVP votes, but Shalrie Joseph is just as deserving.

5. Chivas USA (2-0)

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Last Week: Beat FC Dallas, 2-0, on Sunday.

This Week: vs. Columbus Crew on Sunday (8pm, Direct Kick)

Outlook: Newcomers make a big impact for the Goats as new signings Eduardo Lillingston and Bojan Stepanovic deliver goals in another win. First tough test of the season awaits in the defending champion Crew, which will be coming in off a Thursday night game.

6.  Columbus Crew (0-0-2)

2008_016_2

Last Week: tied Toronto FC, 1-1, on Saturday.

This Week: at Real Salt Lake on Thursday (ESPN, 9pm), at Chivas USA on Sunday (Direct Kick).

Outlook: After scoring late equalizer in week one, the Crew give one up vs. TFC and suddenly the champions have just two points from two matches with a two-game road swing to the West Coast this week.

7. Real Salt Lake (0-1)

2008_024

Last Week: Lost to Seattle, 2-0, on Saturday.

This Week: vs. Columbus Crew on Thursday (9pm, ESPN2).

Outlook: Real Salt Lake has never been good on the road, so losing at Seattle wasn't that surprising. RSL will get their chance to prove they are for real this year when they play host to Columbus.

8. San Jose Earthquakes (1-1)

2008_025_2

Last Week: beat Houston Dynamo, 3-2, on Saturday.

This Week: at Kansas City Wizards on Sunday (3pm, Direct Kick).

Outlook: So much for that trouble finishing. The Earthquakes overwhelmed Houston's suddenly suspect defense, scoring three first-half goals. Can they do it again vs. a struggling KC team that has given up six five goals in two games?

9. Colorado Rapids (1-1)

2008_015_3 

Last Week: Beat Kansas City, 2-1, on Saturday.

This Week: at Los Angeles Galaxy on Saturday (10:30pm, Direct Kick)

Outlook: Rapids look more like the team that had so much success at home last season. Can they find a way to win on the road? Conor Casey and Omar Cummings have to be loving the match-up vs. LA.

10. Houston Dynamo (0-1-1)

2008_019_2 

Last Week: Lost to San Jose Earthquakes, 3-2, on Saturday.

This Week: at D.C. United on Saturday (7:30pm, Direct Kick).

Outlook: Houston still doesn't know what hit it in that first half vs. San Jose, when the Earthquakes rattled off three goals. The Dynamo defense looks vulnerable and Dom Kinnear better sort things out ahead of a trip to D.C. against a United squad still capable of scoring goals in bunches.

11. D.C. United (0-0-2)

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Last Week: Tied the Chicago Fire, 1-1, on Saturday.

This Week: vs. Houston on Saturday (7:30pm, Direct Kick).

Outlook: D.C. hasn't played badly in its first two games, but have yet to record a win. Could Luciano Emilio get going after scoring on Saturday?

12. Los Angeles Galaxy (0-0-1)

2008_021_2

Last Week: Bye Week

This Week: vs. Colorado Rapids (10:30pm, Direct Kick)

Outlook: A week to work out the kinks and train the rookies can't hurt LA, who can't afford to drop points at home for a second straight match.

13. New York Red Bulls (0-1-1)

Red_bulls_logo

Last Week: tied New England, 1-1, on Saturday.

This Week: at Chicago Fire on Sunday (3pm, Telefutura).

Outlook: Red Bulls played much better in week two than week one, but that last-minute equalizer they gave up makes the tie vs. New England feel like a loss. Help is on the way, but it may not come in time to help for their trip to Chicago, where they were mauled 5-1 in their last regular season game of 2008.

14. Kansas City Wizards (0-2)

Kc_wizards_logo

Last Week: Lost to the Colorado Rapids, 2-1, on Saturday.

This Week: vs. San Jose Earthquakes on Sunday (3pm, Direct Kick)

Outlook: The Kansas City offense is looking like its old, toothless self again. Will Santiago Hirsig make an impact? Somebody needs to step up to spark the attack because last place in the East could become a lonely place.

15. FC Dallas (0-2)

2008_018

Last Week: Lost to Chivas USA, 2-0, on Sunday.

This Week: at New England Revolution on Saturday (7:30pm, Direct Kick).

Outlook: The bad news is that FCD lost to Chivas, the worse news is that barely anyone was there to see it. Hoops have just one goal in two games, Kenny Cooper's Hail Mary vs. Chicago. Don't look for that first win to come at Gillette Stadium.

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Some notes for everybody:

Yes, Seattle has been great, but until they do something on the road I can't give them the top spot.

Columbus fans will wonder why the Crew slipped to sixth. Two points from two games makes it tough to put them higher.

Chivas USA is 2-0 but the competition in those matches is why I don't have the Goats higher.

Houston fans will feel slighted with the Dynamo in 10th but losing to San Jose and having one point from two matches is why. That and the shaky look of Houston's defense.

That's all for now. What do you think of this week's rankings? Share your thoughts below.

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45 Responses to SBI MLS Power Rankings (Week 2)

  1. Nick from Big Soccer says:

    Dare I say it but DC United looks much better than your currently listing. DC looked to comfortably win both the LA and Chicago games.

    The phantom handball and double knockout of players in the LA and 10 minute period of poor play with a gaff by a backup keeper against Chicago were all that stood between DC having 6 points.

    You should also note that DC has 5 starters hurt and has been playing with a lot of rookies and very young players. For the first time in a while, DC may have some serious quality depth.

  2. Jared Montz says:

    Great point Ives about waiting to see how Seattle will do on the road. I was going to add to that about Seattle having a big advantage playing on Turf at home and other teams not being use to it, but both NY and RSL should know how to play on bad turf!

  3. hokieunited says:

    You could treat the first United win as a should – be – a – win, but in the Chicago game, they were completely outclassed in the second half. Dominated in fact.

    And you can’t but the blame solely on Wicks. Jakovic (starting defender) did not defend well in the second half — including on the goal — and also gifted possession to Chicago deep in his own half several times in the second half.

    Maybe United could be a spot or so higher, but I have no problem with where they are now.

  4. Army of Dad says:

    I would love to give you a spirited agrument about how FCD should be higher, but the Hoops haven’t given me any ammunition to work with.

    Man, it is looking like it will be an even longer season at PHP than I thought.

    :(

  5. Joe says:

    @Nick from Big Soccer

    We didnt have our best defenders on Saturday and we still arent playing our best lineup and we should have scored atleast 3 more goals on your crap keeper. We are the best team in the league and should have won that game easily. Just wait until Blanco and Rolfe are starting and the team will be bagging 3 goals a game.

  6. Dave Clark says:

    “both NY and RSL should know how to play on bad turf”

    Maybe that was their problem…Seattle doesn’t have bad turf, at least according to anyone who has ever touched it, played on it or even looked at it.

    But the stereotype will persist.

  7. Mel says:

    Really looking forward to Saturday in Toronto. The Boys are FIANNNLLY back home. The crowd will no doubt be insane!

    COME ON YOU REDS!

    (game over for the the Sounders)

  8. Northzax says:

    Joe: and we were missing five starters. Yes, DC was outclassed in the second half, but to be honest, dominated midfield in the first. Could the Fire have scored a few more? Sure, but you’ll note they didn’t. One could just as easily point out that potentially the most feared offense in the league came in and managed one goal on a team starting a backline that had never played together before (including a centerback making his first start in that position and second overall) a keeper unwanted by the Galaxy, and two rookie wingers. By all rights, dcu should be hemmoragging goals.

    And heck, but for a great jon busch save (and a similar one cancelled out by Wicks) and Pontius missing a sitter from six, those three points could have gone either way.

    United is young and injured, they’re only going to get better as the real midfield comes back, allowing the 442 we are built for to emerge. This is the time to take easy points out of rfk.

  9. KCB says:

    “…a struggling KC team that has given up six goals in two games”

    Are you counting DeRo’s missed PK?

    Biggest issue with this club is without Davy Arnaud on the pitch (Sat in Colo) this team is next to nothing.

  10. Northzax says:

    What I meant by all that is that last year, this team folds under the pressure and concedes three points. The fact that they didn’t should concern some mid-table eastern conference teams.

  11. CelicaCrazed says:

    We’re number 3!! Soon number 1!! ^_^

    I am shaking with anticipation right now for Saturday’s match. Sounders fans better enjoy the rest of the week cause a reality check is coming on the weekend. My diagnosis?? A severe case of depression resulting from an embarrassing beat-down, Toronto style!! :P

  12. beckster says:

    I think Chicago should have dropped given that they only could manage a tie with DC and DC has half of their starters not playing. No Fred, Santino, Janaki, McTavish and Crayton – 2 rookies starting etc. Chicago should have done a heck of a lot better.

  13. kanu says:

    Ives, glad you mentioned FC Dallas’s poor attendance. Fewer than 6,000 fans at the home opener? I appreciate that the team is not very good right now, but at least it’s cooler than 100 degrees outside, which won’t be the case in Dallas in a few months. Surely, the new stadium was built for a reason. Why didn’t anyone show up?

  14. Hey, Ives, suggestion for you. I’d like to see each team’s previous ranking listed so we can see how a team is moving week to week.

  15. Thomas513 says:

    I refuse to lower my expectations until the league forces me to do so. Sounders 2-0 over TFC. Can’t miss is right. Should be a cracker.

  16. CSD says:

    Ives,
    Good work this week on the power rankings.

    Something to think about with Seattle. They arguably have the best keeper, best striker and best coach in the league. Not to bad for an expansion team.

  17. Tom says:

    I love your power ratings. One problem, strength of schedule. How can a team that only gets 4 points from two games against the worst and fifth worse team be considered #1.

  18. MVK says:

    KC was screwed out of a PK Saturday, but thats typical in the MLS, the officals are horrible

  19. Joe says:

    Sunday wasn’t FCD’s home opener. Their home opener was the week before against the Fire. The Chivas game wasn’t included in either of the shorter season ticket packages. That being said, the attendance still sucked, as does the front office.

  20. zoran says:

    @ Thomas513

    Well you should expect to see your team sit back and play for a tie. That was a very common theme at BMO last year and Zigi was 2 for 2.

  21. S says:

    TFC will not go down in a home opener @ BMO to Seattle.

  22. soccerroo says:

    Kanu,

    Actually that was the second home game. 15,000 showed for the opener and the team did not perform. Then less than 6,000 and the team does not come out in the second half. If Ives could rank them in the USL i think Dallas may not be in the top half. It is just a bad start for the Hoops.

  23. Ives says:

    Tom, this isn’t the BCS. Chicago has four points from two road games and the tie came without four All-Stars in the starting lineup (Segars, Soumare, Blanco and Rolfe).

    Records are not the sole factor in these rankings. Do people honestly think Colorado is better than Columbus? Not really, but the records through two weeks suggests it.

    Again, it’s all subjective. For me, watching Chicago show off its depth early in the season to grab four road points is impressive. They’re the deepest and strongest team in the league and until they get knocked off they’re going to stay there (well, if Seattle smokes Toronto I’ll have to think about it.

  24. Homey Boehme says:

    FC Dallas look to be in serious trouble this season. Cooper should have gotten out of there when he could.

  25. brant says:

    For this week, 6th is about where Columbus should be. But it’s not where you start, it’s where you finish :)

    Go Crew!

  26. jim b says:

    TFC should be docked points for destruction of property. Classless hoodlums.

  27. jim b says:

    I’m only kinda kidding

  28. Oog says:

    I wouldn’t discount Seattle so quickly. They have a crushing/swarming defense. They seem to double team just the right people. They have a very creative offense too. I hate to admit that because I hate the team, but Sigi is a great coach and I think they will definetly give TFC a run for their money at home.

  29. Chris says:

    Whatever. Wake me up when September ends…and the tables look nearly identical to last year and the year before. Maybe two or three teams will move up a couple of spots, but all we have to do is remember Houston’s atrocious run at the beginning of last season, as well as how New England was near-unbeatable, to know two weeks in is hardly an indicator of a sea change.

    Still, rankings like this are good for a little mid-morning fun.

  30. Jimmie says:

    Agreed. It isn’t where you start, it isn’t the middle, it is the end that matters.

    Lets see TFC knock off SSFC, then see if SSFC can rebound. I’ll be curious to see if SSFC can take the pressure when it is there against them.

    I see a Crew-RSL tie this week.

  31. Travers says:

    DC should be higher, not much though. Once they can put together a full 90 then things will be dandy. And for the post that chicago dominated in the 2nd half…..well dc dominated in the 1st. Chicago by process of elimination is a top team, no one else besides seattle looks to be tops right now.

  32. Travers says:

    Also in the Chicago game, the injuries and absences for both teams cancel eachother out.

  33. John R. says:

    At this point, I think you have FCD too high. Philly, Vancouver, Portland, and Puerto Rico should be above them.

  34. jleppig says:

    I think Chicago should have dropped given that they only could manage a tie with DC and DC has half of their starters not playing. No Fred, Santino, Janaki, McTavish and Crayton – 2 rookies starting etc. Chicago should have done a heck of a lot better.

    Posted by: beckster | March 31, 2009 at 10:53 AM

    “Chicago should have done a heck of a lot better.”

    But they didn’t. They got one goal off of a couple rookies and a “backup” keeper. Chicago had two defenders missing, DCU had 5 starters missing.

  35. JesseMT says:

    Ives’ average ranking for Eastern Conference teams is 7.4. His average ranking for Western Conference teams is 8.5. Just thought this was interesting – it could indicate that the gap between the quality of the conferences is not that big this year.

  36. Josh T. says:

    From just watching the highlights I didn’t think KC’s attack was the issue against CO. They had plenty of good shots on target. Their D was VERY leaky and goalkeeping was suspect.

  37. Luis says:

    I am a bit concerned about my Sounders this weekend – we have two nice results to date, but possession isn’t our strong suit yet and at some point it’s going to bite us. I don’t know if this is the weekend, but at some point, we’re going to give up goals in bunches. I just hope we keep scoring in bunches.

  38. Tim says:

    The only problem I have is that you still have RSL ranked too highly. They have played a game now, and they lost badly. They should be just below Houston. Why? Goal Differential.

  39. Nick from Big Soccer says:

    I was at the game and I don’t see where this fiction of Chicago “dominated” the second half.

    Absolutely true that Chicago came out and DC was asleep for about the first 10 to 15 minutes of the second half but after that United took control.

    In terms of serious chances DC had them throughout the match, while Chicago’s few and less dangerous chances were concentrated during the early part of the 2nd.

    Frankly, I can think of Wicks making one good save in the second half, but other than the goal he wasn’t tested tested. Yes Chicago pressured the defense in that early stretch but it didn’t translate in dangerous shots or opportunities.

    DC on the other hand throughout the game had excellent chances that should have been put away.

  40. jleppig says:

    @Nick from Big Soccer

    I was at the same game you were…don’t know what everyone else saw, but I too failed to see any Chicago “dominance”.

  41. Chris May says:

    Fire STH here.

    We are not number 1, but thanks for the flattery.

  42. Matt says:

    Chicago’s first for tying DC while missing two starters? I don’t think DC is lighting it up, but we were missing Fred, Quaranta, Crayton, Janicki, McTavish…that’s a few more than the two Chicago were without. Not many teams win games missing 5 starters. It’s virtually unheard of in MLS.

  43. art says:

    No one ever seems to respect Chivas. Why is this? Because their fans don’t post on internet message board as much? Because of the name of the club? They’re as good as side as any in MLS right now.

  44. brett says:

    matt- Fire were missing 4 starters

    Blanco and Rolfe count b/c they are still recovering and see very limited minutes…. Sega and Baky were also gone….

    our back line consisted of:

    Tim Ward- a kid who has seen little to no PT in the past 2 yrs

    CJ/Dasan- spent all of last year injured with very very very little PT

    Conde- no need to describe, all is aware

    Woolard- a 2nd year defender who saw some 6 games last season and spent a good chunk injured…

    Pappa and Nyarko are coming off of seasons where they also saw very limited PT last season…

    i am not making excuses, but we also played with a young, inexperienced squad… and we did it on the road and still managed 4 points on two road games… that is why we maintain the 1st spot…

  45. Aaron says:

    @ Luis:

    I think once our Sounders start seeing more of Ljungberg, we will likely see an improvement in posession. No guarantees, but I liked what I saw when he came in for the last 1/2 hour of that game.