MLS Week Three had plenty of surprises and intrigue, as well as some truly impressive performances. With eight matches on the schedule, we saw a little bit of everything.
We saw Los Angeles and New England deliver thoroughly impressive performances, while surprising winners San Jose, Chivas USA and Philadelphia gave their fans reason to be optimistic.
We also saw plenty of bad soccer. D.C. United and Toronto FC suffered awful losses to plummet to the bottom of this week's SBI MLS Power Rankings, which see a new team on top, as well as a new team on the bottom.
Now, without further ado, here are this week's SBI MLS Power Rankings:
SBI MLS POWER RANKINGS (Week 3)
1 (2). LOS ANGELES GALAXY (3-0)
Last Week- Beat Houston Dynamo, 2-0, on Saturday.
Next Week- vs. Real Salt Lake on Saturday.
Outlook: Edson Buddle can't be stopped, and Sean Franklin looks poised for a big year.
2 (5). KANSAS CITY WIZARDS (2-0)
Next Week- at Seattle Sounders on Saturday.
Outlook: Another strong performance for the Wizards, but now KC must leave the friendly confines of home and show they can win on the road.
Last Week- Tied FC Dallas, 2-2, last Saturday.
Next Week- Bye Week
Outlook: The Crew defense actually played well vs. FC Dallas, but dropping two points on a last-second equalizer has to burn heading into Columbus' second bye week of the early season (who made this schedule?).
4 (9). NEW ENGLAND REVOLUTION (2-1)
Last Week- Beat Toronto FC, 4-1, last Saturday.
Next Week- at San Jose Earthquakes on Saturday.
Outlook: Zach Schilawski's coming-out party was a welcomed sight for a team in need of a reliable goal-scorer. More importantly for New England was the return of Shalrie Joseph, who remains as important as ever.
5 (3). NEW YORK RED BULLS (2-1)
Last Week- Lost to Chivas USA, 2-0, last Saturday.
Next Week- vs. FC Dallas on Saturday.
Outlook: A flat performance doomed New York, though it was more the team's lack of attacking energy than defensive shortcomings. The first goal came on a Bouna Coundoul blunder, and the second came on a long goal-kick that bounced behind the defense. A tougher test awaits the defense in the form of 2009 MLS scoring leader Jeff Cunningham and FC Dallas.
6 (7). SEATTLE SOUNDERS (1-1-1)
Next Week- vs. Kansas City Wizards on Saturday.
Outlook: The Sounders will hate giving up the late equalizer, but they have to feel good about taking a road point against a top Western Conference rival.
7 (4). HOUSTON DYNAMO (1-1-1)
Last Week- Lost to Los Angeles, 2-0, last Saturday.
Next Week- vs. Chivas USA on Saturday.
Outlook: Houston's offense continues to struggle to generate chances, struggles that are likely to continue while Brian Ching is sidelined. Will Dom Kinnear move Mr. Versatility, Geoff Cameron, up top to help try and generate more chances?
8 (6). REAL SALT LAKE (1-1-1)
Next Week- at Los Angeles Galaxy on Saturday.
Outlook: Late equalizer by Alvaro Saborio helped save RSL's blushes, but injury concern regarding Javier Morales
9 (8). COLORADO RAPIDS (1-1-1)
Last Week-Lost to Kansas City Wizards, 1-0, last Saturday.
Next Week- vs. Toronto FC on Sunday.
Outlook: Small field coupled with tough KC defense made things difficult for Rapids attack. Things should come more easily back at home against an awful TFC defense.
10 (13). CHIVAS USA (1-2)
Last Week- Beat New York Red Bulls, 2-0, last Saturday.
Next Week- at Houston Dynamo on Saturday.
Outlook: Jesus Padilla provided sorely-needed energy to the Rojiblancos attack. Can Chivas USA go on the road and show that same energy?
11 (15). SAN JOSE EARTHQUAKES (1-1)
Last Week- Beat Chicago Fire, 2-1, last Saturday.
Next Week- vs. New England Revolution on Saturday.
Outlook: Earthquakes defense delivered an impressive performance on the road, with Ike Opara flashing some Rookie of the Year talent.
12 (10). CHICAGO FIRE (0-2-1)
Last Week- Lost to San Jose Earthquakes, 2-1, last Saturday.
Next Week- at D.C. United on Saturday.
Outlook: The Fire didn't play terribly, but not enough finishing and some defensive blunders cost Chicago yet again. Anything short of a win against struggling D.C. United will lead to even more questions about the job Carlos De Los Cobos is doing.
13 (11). FC DALLAS (0-0-2)
Last Week- Tied Columbus Crew, 2-2, last Saturday.
Next Week- at New York Red Bulls on Saturday.
Outlook: Two home games to start the year and two draws. That's not good enough for a team with playoff aspirations. We will see how serious Dallas is about turning things around when it travels to Red Bull Arena.
14 (16). PHILADELPHIA UNION (1-1)
Last Week- Beat D.C. United, 3-2, last Saturday.
Next Week- at Toronto FC on Thursday.
Outlook: The defense still has its shaky moments, but it was an overall much stronger performance from the Union in its second match. Sebastien LeToux will look to keep it going against a terrible Toronto FC defense.
15 (14). TORONTO FC (0-2)
Last Week- Lost to New England Revolution, 4-1, last Saturday.
Next Week- vs. Philadelphia Union on Thursday, at Colorado Rapids on Sunday.
Outlook: Where do we begin? The defense just looks flat-out putrid and After being throttled by New England, TFC now gets a two-game week. The match vs. Philly doesn't look as much of a pushover now, but Toronto needs a win to avoid a truly nightmarish start to the season.
16 (12). D.C. UNITED (0-3)
Last Week- Lost to Philadelphia Union, 3-2, last Saturday.
Next Week- vs. Chicago Fire on Saturday.
Outlook: Zero points from three matches with a -7 goal difference has D.C. at rock bottom and facing as close to a must-win game as you can have in April against an equally-struggling Chicago Fire side.
Some thoughts on this week's rankings:
I flipped back and forth between Columbus and New England at No. 3. We could go either way, but we'll give the nod to the Crew. Why? That Champions League series vs. Toluca impressed me and while that isn't MLS play, it's still official competition and they did well considering it was still the MLS pre-season.
D.C. and Toronto could both sit in last place, but D.C. has three losses and just lost to an expansion team, looking awful in the process. I probably should have just tied them for last, but D.C. has done more to earn the cellar.
I dropped the Red Bulls two spots, but couldn't really justify dropping them more because the first two wins are still there, including the Seattle win and the Sounders rebounded with their own impressive road performance. In the end, New York played poorly and still had a chance to beat Chivas USA, if not for Bouna Coundoul's blunder. We'll see what New York can do with Jeff Cunningham and FC Dallas.
Is there a team I'm tempted to rank higher despite their record? Chicago fits that description. They haven't been bad in any of their three matches, but costly mistakes have led to dropped points. Conversely, a team like FC Dallas has not played the best soccer, but has managed to gain points against two good opponents.
It's still early in the season, so you'll see plenty of dramatic shifting from week to week, like New England jumping six spots with a win, but the rankings should begin to settle in mid-to-late May as we have a better sample size to measure from.
Once again, please realize that these rankings are completely subjective and opinions obviously will vary.
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