New England Soccer Today

MLS Rankings: Week 2

Every week, the New England Soccer Today crew will look beyond the standings to rank each of the 18 Major League Soccer (MLS) teams. This week Brian O’Connell, Sean Donahue, Carl Setterlund, and Julian Cardillo contributed rankings. Comments are followed by the ranker’s name and the rank they gave that team.

1. Real Salt Lake (4 first place votes) (2-0-0, 6 points) – Last week, I gave the benefit of the doubt to the defending champs. I have since learned the error of my ways. Salt Lake’s slaughter of the Galaxy puts Kyle Beckerman & Co. back where they belong: top of the table. (Brian – 1) … Quite an impressive win over the uber-talented Galaxy. Currently, RSL is the class of the league. (Carl – 1) …. A 4-1 spanking of LA raises many eyebrows.  They may not have gone crazy with transactions over the off-season, but Salt Lake is proving they can play soccer against the toughest of opponents. (Julian – 1) … I had them at number 1 last week and they’re not moving anywhere after a 4-1 thrashing of Los Angeles. (Sean – 1)

2. Colorado Rapids (2-0-0, 6 points) (+1)  – Still haven’t had a tough matchup, but can’t fault them for beating who is put in front of them. The defending champs are in fine form. (Sean – 2) … I’m not completely comfortable with this ranking, but who else can you put this high? The Rapids do just enough to win, but they seem comfortable in that role. Even though they were mostly without Cummings and Casey, I still would have liked to see a bigger win over lowly Chivas USA. (Carl – 2) … The defending champs outmaneuvered Chivas USA and have scored 4 goals in their opening two games.  The midfield and strikers have lots of power, but that defense might be the most underrated in the league. (Julian – 2) … Although they’ve gotten six points out of the gate, it isn’t a very convincing six points. One-nil over Chivas USA actually makes their start less impressive. (Brian – 3)

3. Philadelphia Union (2-0-0, 6 points) (+5) – El Pescadito’s back…and he’s still got it! The Carlos Ruiz show puts Philly over the Whitecaps, which is about as big a win as you can get on the road versus an expansion team during Week 2 of the season (Brian – 2) … Two games, two wins, two shutouts.  Phily has looked solid in defense and continues to impress.  Will it continue? (Julian – 3) … You’ve got to give Philly its due, this is a sufficiently well rounded team to finally compete. Everything sort of lined up in the Union’s favor against Vancouver, but six points is six points. (Carl – 5) … Another good showing on the road, but have yet to face a top team. (Sean – 5)

4. New York Red Bulls (1-0-1, 4 points) – They may have been missing some key players, but the Red Bulls can’t be happy with a draw against the struggling crew.  (Sean – 3) … Minus the star power, turns out the Red Bulls supporting cast isn’t at the point yet where they can scrape out wins against bottom-feeders (see: Columbus) on their own. (Carl – 4) … I get that Juan Agudelo was busy becoming the next Charlie Davies Saturday night, and that Tim Ream, Thierry Henry, and Rafa Marquez were with their national teams, but a lethargic 0-0 effort? To Columbus? I think Red Bull replaced their wings with ankle weights. (Brian – 4) … Did a good job keeping Columbus quiet, though you would have expected more goals.  Having key players out on international duty, however, has its effect. (Julian – 7)

5. Los Angeles Galaxy (1-1-1, 4 points) (-4) – Had to drop Los Angeles a smidge, but I’ll give them a pass because of the absence of key players like Landon Donovan and Omar Gonzalez. I bet they’d also love to have Donovan Ricketts back right about now. (Carl – 3) … Missing some key players, the Galaxy looked lost against the league’s top team. (Sean – 4) … Hey, I get that it’s still early and all, but after getting absolutely dismantled by Salt Lake, it’s clear the Galaxy are light years away from RSL. Watch out, Scarlett Johansson – the Galaxy may soon claim the title of “most overrated talent” in Tinseltown. (Brian – 6) … Finishing and defending.  Both are things LA has failed at in their last two games.  Too much lax defending and not enough bodies pouring into the box on attack.  Disappointing start to the season. (Julian – 8 )

T6. New England Revolution (1-0-1, 4 points) (+3) – Luck?  Yes.  But everyone has a stroke of luck sometimes.  Shalrie Joseph’s leadership is key, not to mention the fact that he’s probably the best holding midfielder in MLS.  And the defense?  See Colorado up above. (Julian – 5) … I think we’ve seen in their first two games that the Revs have quality depth on defense from goalie up through midfield and that should be the basis for another winning season.  (Carl – 6) …  The 4-3-2-1 is working, and with an expansion club in town this weekend, it looks like the Revs are ready to silence the doubters…(silence). (Brian – 7) … Call them lucky, but the Revs are finding ways to get points this season. (Sean – 7)

T6. Chicago Fire (1-0-1, 4 points) (+7) – Not the cleanest start to the season, but Chicago are finding goals.  Perhaps those off-season transfers are the real future of soccer in the Windy City. (Julian – 4) … Three goals from three players gives El Fuego the 3-2 victory over SKC’s tape-delayed defense. A win over Colorado in USOC competition makes Chicago a legit first-half champion contender. (Brian – 5) … I’m not sure I would characterize Chicago as a playoff level squad, but a nice 3-2 win over Sporting KC earns them this spot. They need a player like Marco Pappa to step up as a true star though. (Carl – 7) … Made it harder than it should’ve been with a man advantage, but came away with a big three points against Kansas City. (Sean – 9)

8. San Jose Earthquakes (1-1-0, 3 points) (+2) – Wondo is back!  Great brace against FCD.  He had the service.  Will he break out again and score lots and lots of goals? (Julian – 6) … Big 2-0 road victory over the defending Western Conference Champs gets this team back on track. (Sean – 6)  … I’ll do my best to avoid the Chris Wondolowski/magician/rabbit out of hat metaphor, so I’ll just say this: A brace by Wondo has San Jose fans chanting it’s a WONDO-ful world.  (Brian – 8 ) …  I called him out last week and, in direct response to what I said, Chris Wondolowski stepped it up with a brace. Good win for the Quakes. I might be starting to come around on them. (Carl – 11)

9. Sporting Kansas City (1-1-0, 3 points) (-3) – Everyone jump off the Omar Bravo bandwagon! Just kidding, I was actually impressed with how KC dealt with being down a man. Can’t say enough about Teal Bunbury. (Carl – 8 ) … Played strong, despite being down a man for much of the match against Chicago after a questionable red card. (Sean – 8 ).. Omar Bravo’s red card may have been a bit harsh, but goshdarn, any team that gives up three goals to Chicago can’t be that great. Drrropppppp. (Brian – 9) … After a great start to the season, a sloppy performance against the Chicago Fire. (Julian – 11)

10. Seattle Sounders FC (0-2-1, 1 points) – This team should be a lot better than they’re playing. Never good to start out the season underachieving like this. (Carl – 9) …  The skidding continues, but a point is better than 2 losses in a row.  Will the Sounders find their form at some point? (Julian – 9) … The Sounders went silent with zero goals in their first two matches, but finally found the net this weekend…against Houston. Not impressive. (Brian – 11) … Gave them the benefit of the doubt after losing to two of the top teams, but a 1-1 home loss to Houston doesn’t help their case. (Sean – 12)

11. D.C. United (1-1-0, 3 points) (-6) – After an impressive opener, D.C. got off to a slow start against the Revs and never recovered. (Sean – 10) … Everyone, including my housecat, was high on DC out of the gate. Well, after their loss to New England, Fluffy’s been brooding. As have I. (Brian – 10) … I wasn’t very impressed with what I saw from Ben Olsen’s squad against the Revolution. Davies’ goal was just a consolation, but United should be a threat offensively going forward. (Carl – 10) … If only Charlie Davies had gone the full 90…and Boldomero Toledo cleaned up his calls. (Julian – 12)

12. Vancouver Whitecaps (1-1-0, 3 points) – Didn’t have the same attacking flare against the Union that they had against TFC.  Rivalry games only happen twice a year… (Julian – 10) … Weren’t helped by a tough red card, but not much to be ashamed of in a close loss at Philadelphia. (Sean – 11) … Frustration in Philly after the ‘Caps 1-0 loss to the Union in a foul-filled affair. I could say something about the tenor of that match and the neighborhood surrounding PPL Park, but I digress. (Brian – 12) … Like I said, fortune wasn’t on Vancouver’s side against Philly, but the truth is that they weren’t able to lock things down and squeeze out the draw after Hassli was sent off. (Carl – 13)

13. FC Dallas (0-1-1, 1 point) (-6) – The Hoops should have started out stronger with the opening schedule they had (at home against Chicago and San Jose). (Carl – 12) … Suddenly, this week’s fixture at Columbus is a big game. Dallas is on the drop after struggling in their opening two matches. (Sean – 13) … The memories of last season’s unsinkable ship could be fading fast.  San Jose swept up Dallas over the weekend. (Julian – 14) … One – as in ONE – point out of a possible six after going to the MLS Cup final is no way to attract more fans to the Hut. (Brian – 16)

14. Toronto FC (1-1-0, 3 points) (+4) – A win, finally for TFC.  It came against the expansion side Timbers, but for TFC, it’s a step in the right direction. (Julian – 13) … Getting a win takes you out of the league cellar. At least it does this early along. I’m not ready to pass out any compliments yet though. (Carl – 14) … A Javier Martina brace was the only thing that kept the proceedings respectable for the Reds. Anything less to expansion Portland would’ve relegated them to NEST’s USL-PRO Weekly rankings. (Brian – 14) … Grabbing a win moves them up a bit, but still can’t see this team getting many points this season. (Sean – 16)

15. Columbus Crew (0-1-1, 1 point) (-1) – The Crew should be thanking the soccer gods for delivering them a weakened Red Bulls to Columbus. But a 0-0 result is a wasted opportunity. (Brian – 13) … Grabbed a point against a Red Bulls squad missing most of their fire power. (Sean – 14) … Chad Marshall ran a tight ship in the back and the Crew’s top players – notably, Eddie Gaven and Emmanuel Ekpo – had plenty of chances to find a winner and couldn’t. This just isn’t Columbus’ year.  (Carl – 15) … They couldn’t score on NY when they had a 3rd string keeper in.  Thank goodness NY wasn’t rocking their most robust lineup. (Julian – 16)

16. Houston Dynamo (0-1-1, 1 points) (-1) – A road point for the Dynamo should give them confidence going forward. (Sean – 15) … Houston has invested a lot on the rookies.  Still no real life out of Will Bruin.  So where will these goals come from? (Julian – 15) … Stealing a point at Seattle is no easy task. But, the Dynamo still have alot to work on before they can right the ship. (Brian – 15) … This team isn’t quite as bad as I first thought, although I’d like to see more than a point before putting them any higher. How much do they push Ching as they work him in? (Carl – 16)

17. Chivas USA (0-2-0, 0 points) (-1) – Nothing much for the Goats to feel good about these days. As I expected, the scoring dried up against a more formidable defense. (Carl – 17) … Defense sharped this week, allowing only a single goal to Colorado. The problem? It was the only goal of the game. D’OH! (Brian – 17) … Two home losses in a row and Chivas is in an early hole (Sean – 17)  … Disastrous start to 2011.  The defense needs to clean it up or get lost in the LA soccer shuffle. (Julian – 18)

18. Portland Timbers (0-2-0, 0 points) (-1) – Lineup change could be in order for Portland.  Kenny Cooper can’t always put on a one man show. (Julian – 17) …  Could losing to Toronto really give you a legitimate argument for last-place in these rankings? Do wood chucks chuck wood? (Brian – 18) … Not much positive for the Timbers yet and the injury list keeps getting longer. (Sean – 18) … Losing by two goals to lowly Toronto can make even an expansion squad feel discouraged. (Carl – 18)

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