This week is the beginning of the REAL power rankings here at Big D Soccer.
A quick note: I do not like to number teams and so I won't do it. While these weekly features are subjective, numbering teams is a slippery slope. Due to that the teams are placed in certain categories, with no numerical order within those categories. On we go!
The Cream of the Crop
Whoops! Sorry LA fans, guess the home opener didn’t quite pan out the way ours did huh? Trolling aside, can you really blame LA? By the 60th minute against Salt Lake they looked gassed and RSL had a chip on their shoulder over last year’s playoffs. Edson Buddle scored though, that’s a plus right? What isn't a plus is being eliminated from the CCL. Coming back on Toronto was pretty impressive in the first leg, but they never had a lead in the series and they didn't deserve to advance. Is this on Arena's personnel management? Like the Sounders below, LA gets a mulligan this week. We'll reserve judgement on how bad their back line be with Omar Gonzalez out until we see it consistently.
I won’t go into much here since this Daniel and Drew do most of the tactical analysis, but I’ll say this: It is damn nice to win a season opener, especially one in which Super Raton Blas Perez looked as good as he did. It remains to be seen if FCD can retain their top tier slot with Ferreira, Shea and Castillo gone. That's a lot of firepower to lose.
Salt Lake looked real good, a lot like 2010 RSL. Their young guns in Velaquez and Gil performed admirably, and Fabian Espindola looked in mid-season form as well. Not a bad start for RSL who last year couldn’t come from behind to save their lives.
Many people are picking this to be Freddy Montero's year. Once Seattle starts a few regular season games we'll be able to assess this better. We're going to give them a pass after they were humiliated on the CONCACAF stage last night by Santos Laguna 6-1. That sort of performance is rare out of the Sounders, whose defense looked uninterested in playing.
Giving up two goals after going up by two in the first leg sparks the old concerns about their defence (we’ll honor the Canadian spelling here). But Toronto did look different from last year’s squad, in a good way. They had a spritely attack, a spring in their step but sadly the same mess in the back. I originally had them picked to be in the Middle Class, but after last night's gutsy win over LA, they have shown MLS that they are serious this year. No one knows if it will pan out for TFC, but right now they are MLS' lone representative in the CCL. Good luck Toronto! Give Santos hell!
The Dynamo played a decent game against the Goats though their finishing was woeful (minus Hainault’s game-winner). Ching blew an amazing chance early on and it would set the tone for both sides, as Juan Pablo Angel also made a mess of several prime heading chances that quality strikers like him usually put away.
The final score is a fair result, stoppage-time goal or no. The Dynamo outplayed the Goats for long stretches of time in the first and second halves. The question remains: Where will the goals come from?
Much like last year, Sporting KC eked out a win via a last minute goal. Sporting looked a decent side and controlled play against a weak DC team, but not they did not look like SS winners despite some fans’ generous grading of their performance. They did post a pretty neat video on the MLS website showing their club erupting in cheers after they scored in stoppage.
The MLS Middle Class
New York’s defense was again suspect, while Dax McCarty and Teemu Tainio played a mediocre game in the midfield. Rookie GK Ryan Meara played a nice game though and Backe will feel a bit more comfortable with the keeper after his display. Funny how every article this week was about how bad the Red Bulls were, and not about how much FC Dallas dominated through 70 minutes.
The Rapids came out looking better than even their own fans expected and shut out the Crew for the zillionth time on their home turf. Congrats to Oscar Pareja for putting together a good-looking side in the last 4 months! My vote for goal of the week, by the way, goes to Quincy Amarikawa for putting together one hell of a strike.
The Crew looked iffy on their opener. Not scoring is bad enough but for the majority of the game they looked a bit lost out there. They put up a bit of a late fight but it wasn’t enough to stop the Rapids train from smashing through a second goal in the 89th minute.
Absolutely no one is surprised that the Quakes won against the Revs. Nice finishing by Chris Wondolowski is an encouraging (though not surprising) sign for this budding offense, as he will be crucial to their success. Wondo even has Okland A’s pitchers talking about him on twitter!
Timber Joey got to saw off three chunks of wood off for the happy Timbers who put away Philadelphia without much trouble in the second half. Is Kris Boyd going to score like that constantly? Scary what a bit of service can do.
DC looked completely disjointed the entire game. They didn’t link up well and there wasn’t a great deal of fluidity to their game. Hamid kept the score 1-0 due to his great play which is a big plus, but you'd think DC United would rather keep his work to a minimum.
Chivas USA’s bright spot in their loss comes from Dan Kennedy who put up a herculean, perhaps even titanic, effort in goal. If not for him, the Goats would have lost by well more than one.
The opening for the Impact didn’t go as planned, what with them falling 2-0 to Vancouver and all. Nonetheless the Impact made a few decent runs from Justin Braun and Sanna Nyassi. The work rate is something that Montreal will have to rely on since they’re a bit short on finishing. All in all, despite the loss, it didn’t look that awful for Montreal which is as much as you can ask for in your first-ever MLS match. Honestly, just putting in decent work and trying to understand each other is all you can really do in your first season.
The Union had a decent game plan in the first half which seemed to center around getting Lionard Pajoy service. This plan fell apart in the second half and the Union didn't really threaten much beside that. Much like Portland they struggled in the midfield, but unlike Portland they did not take advantage of the chances they were given. Zac McMath didn't have an awful game, but his one flub was costly and it will take some effort to shake that off and get back in the saddle.
Taxes and the Revs losing are the only things certain in life this season (watch me eat crow for saying this at some point in the year). I want them to win but it looks very unlikely.