April 05, 2011

2011 MLS Power Rankings: Week 3

1. COLORADO RAPIDS

Whether the Rapids are poised to be the Real Salt Lake of 2011 is too early to determine; however, the Rapids are well on pace. No other team in the league has amassed nearly as many goals as the Rapids have, already tallying eight altogether. And with the victories they have posted against the supposedly weaker MLS clubs, it should be thrilling to see if the thunderous offense can keep it up against Salt Lake in the coming weeks.

2. REAL SALT LAKE

RSL had a bye this weekend, which was probably scheduled to allow for additional rest in their Champions League semifinal. As the Royals prep for their second leg of the semifinals at Saprissa, we'll finally get to see how solid RSL can perform in clutch situations in a tournament far greater than the MLS Cup Playoffs.

3. LOS ANGELES GALAXY

Ever since 2006, the Supporters Shield winners have retained the Shield the subsequent year they first earned the regular season title. First it was D.C. United in '06 and '07. Next was Columbus Crew in '08 and '09. Los Angeles doing it in '10 and '11? Well, that won happen if they solely rely on Juninho to score a goal and bunker down. Their offense needs to step up if they want to retain what hardcore fans deem as the true league title.

4. RED BULL NEW YORK

New York may have the star power to stay high up in other Power Rankings. Given their situation against Columbus a week ago, missing several international players, Backe managed to place in several players inexperienced MLS players and gather a draw in Crew Stadium. Their draw at home against Houston was not worthy of maintaining a top three spot. Only bright spot was Dwayne De Rosario making an assist to Dane Richards on his debut.

5. PHILADELPHIA UNION

The Union played to a hard-fought loss at Home Depot Center, but it is nothing the Union fans should seriously worry about. Whether or not the sophomore franchise can keep their back line solid in more wide open or high scoring matches will be the real test. If so, then the Union will likely earn an MLS Cup playoff birth, and not by the virtue of a wildcard.

6. CHICAGO FIRE

Anyone who had been paying attention to MLS Winter Transfers, would have noted the immense amount of talent leaving the Windy City. Consequently, the Fire were an easy victim to be jeered to the bottom of pre-season power rankings. Who would have thought, the Fire would have posted a draw in Dallas, followed by a home win against Sporting? All before defeating the defending MLS Cup champs in the U.S. Open Cup play-in proper? I don't even believe Fire fans envisioned that.

7. SPORTING KANSAS CITY

Admit it. Just like you thought RSL would win in Mexico, you thought Sporting K.C. would romp the Whitecaps on their home turf. As the thought of a huge away win for Sporting raced in your mind, you envisioned the Wizards not only returning to the playoffs, but giving the Red Bulls a run for their money for the Eastern Conference crown. However, reality hit, and parity prevailed, flustering the MLS advocates, outraging the Sporting fans, and illuminating the 'Caps fans.

8. SAN JOSE EARTHQUAKES

San Jose's place in the Power Rankings was tricky, mostly because they have failed to give me any impression this year. Sure they had the well fought out draw to the Sounders, but the thing is, all their results thus far have been–well, expected. So as a result, the 'Quakes sit where the finished overall last season.

9. HOUSTON DYNAMO

Irony or parity? The revamped Dynamo sit at the bottom of the East, which many expected would be an easy run for the Orange Crush in playoff qualification in their road to recovery. But the fact they sit in last hardly shows anything as of yet. A draw to the Red Bulls in Harrison may be the spark the Dynamo need after an offseason of rebuilding.

10. VANCOUVER WHITECAPS FC

What could be the best comeback of 2011, the Whitecaps exhibited resiliency that has been unprecedented up to this point this season. For awhile, MLS fans across the country may had the same impression: the Eastern Conference title for New York is no longer safe, as well as the Whitecaps look like the quintessential example of an MLS newcomer. However, we learned the Whitecaps are a serious team looking for hardware in their debutant MLS campaign.

11. COLUMBUS CREW

Thus far this year, the Crew have not only remained unbeaten at home, but have not conceded a single goal. While they have finally broken through and posted their first win of the season, the question is if they can manage any points on the road, especially given their sloppy second half at United a few weeks back.

12. NEW ENGLAND REVOLUTION

Perhaps one of the largest surprises of 2011, other than Chicago has to be New England. Three weeks into the 2011 season, and the Revs have yet to lose a game. While their tie at the Galaxy may be impressive, a one-goal home win against the United and a tie at home vs. the Timbers are hardly impressive.

13. D.C. UNITED

One of the few positives in United's disastrous 2010 campaign, other than Andy Najar, was anytime they posted a rare win. Of their six wins, one of them was in Dick's Sporting Goods Park last fall, where the United managed to win 1-0. And for a minute, it seemed the United would nab a point in Denver yet again. Literally, a minute. Once Jamie Smith netted the goal to give the Rapids a 2-1 lead, it was the infamous United all over again. How they perform in tomorrow night's Open Cup play-in round vs. Philly will determine how they can rebound from an ugly loss.

14. SEATTLE SOUNDERS FC

Sounders fans would probably agree that the Sounders should have left the Bay Area with a full three points, and finally tally their first win of the season. However, the season's young, and the Sounders still have 30 more matches to prove whether or not they can truly contend for the Shield and Cup.

15. PORTLAND TIMBERS

The Timbers finally climb out of the cellar, both in league and power rankings with the build up of momentum. First, winning at home against Chivas USA to move on to the Second Round of U.S. Open Cup qualification, as well as earning a deserving home draw at New England.

16. FC DALLAS

While the Rapids may be the 2010 Real Salt Lake of 2011, Dallas may be on pace for a rather infamous label: the 2009 New York Red Bulls of 2011. As MLSSoccer.com pointed, Dallas did have a poor start last year, but their midfield has been questionable, and the wait to fill the gap for the departed Harris and McCarty looms on.

17. CHIVAS USA

While a tie at BMO Field may be an accomplishment for any MLS club, the state Toronto is in, might become the minimal expectation. Many questions for the Goats remain in their defense.

18. TORONTO FC

While some may argue the departure of long-time TFC captain, Dwayne De Rosario, was a step backwards for the club, I disagree. In ways, it could be a fresh change the Reds needed. If anything, the departure of De-Ro to the Big Apple may be the equivalency of Ljungberg leaving the Emerald City and packing his bags for the Windy City. If not, the TFC fans may taste another Wooden Spoon.

About the Author

Tyler Walter

Author & Editor

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