We are just two games (or less) into the MLS season, but it's not too early to pick who's the best in MLS. We also highlight USL Pro's Sacramento Republic FC as our No. 20 team of the week.
It’s hard to deny that Houston is the team that's most in form so far this season. Two emphatic wins behind the talents of Will Bruin have sparked a fire under Houston, making it the top team in the league with six points. Though their play is brutish and sloppy, the Dynamo are finding ways to win early on.
Toronto FC is one of the clubs to watch this season after signing United States men’s national team midfielder Michael Bradley and English international Jermain Defoe, among other stellar players like Brazil’s goalkeeper Julio Cesar. Things kicked off on the right foot for TFC as the Reds took a 2-1 decision over Seattle behind a pair of Defoe goals. This team may prove to be the real deal.
RSL is finally coming home after securing four points on the road against rivals in the Galaxy and the Quakes. The last 25 minutes of the first half in Santa Clara were a joy to watch as all six of Real's strikers and midfielders look like they could score at any minute. RSL's tough early season schedule continues as it hosts the Galaxy and Toronto FC in the coming weeks.
After smashing the Red Bulls 4-1 in the season opener, the 'Caps took a step back, drawing against a 10-man Chivas USA squad. Jamaican striker Darren Mattocks has looked very dangerous this season and has already picked up two assists.
Philadelphia is right below Houston in the Eastern Conference, and the team’s play has been stellar so far. A 1-0 win over New England this weekend behind a Sebastian Le Toux goal — and beautiful work from Leonardo Fernandes — has put this team in a great position. Philly was one of the top teams to watch after making many offseason moves. So far, things seem to be paying off.
Though the Columbus Crew didn’t play in the second week of games, their first win was powerful enough to elevate them in the rankings. The Crew beat a refueled and rebuilt DC United side behind goals by Jairo Arrieta and Federico Higuain, showing this Crew side is in form and ready to make a stamp in the Eastern Conference.
Sporting KC hasn’t shown exactly what it's capable of in MLS play yet, seeing as many players were resting for the CONCACAF Champions League game this week. Still, managing to secure a draw with FC Dallas after beating Cruz Azul earlier in the week shows SKC has the depth to keep it consistently in the mix.
Similar to SKC, RBNY has yet to get into the form that led it to success in 2013. An opening day loss to Vancouver was nearly erased with a well-played match with the Colorado Rapids. Had it not been for a controversial penalty call, RBNY might have escaped with a victory against the Rapids. Right now, it is still a lot slower than last season and is still working out the kinks, but once the season gets going, New York should continue to climb the standings.
The Goats have been a surprise. They shouldn't be any good. They were in disarray last season and are playing a lame-duck season this year with new ownership and a rebrand of the team identity coming next. Despite all that, and unjustly going down to 10 men early in the first half, Chivas held on to a draw with Vancouver and has earned four points out of six.
That was about as Quakey as an Earthquakes game could be. Chris Wondolowski scored an early goal (sorry, the flag should have gone up) followed by a late rally as San Jose sent in 89 (give or take) balls into the penalty box. What does this all mean? Expect San Jose to give MLS teams heartburn all season.
Seattle is the only team in MLS to have both a win and a loss in this young season. That seems right for a club that we expect to be up and down this year. Fans of the USMNT have to be encouraged by Clint Dempsey's strong play (1 goal and 1 assist) after floundering in his first season back in America.
Chicago has quietly put on some good performances this season, even if its star striker and last season’s MVP Mike Magee has been out with an injury. A 3-2 loss to Chivas USA, followed by a 1-1 draw with 2013’s best Western Conference team, the Portland Timbers, offers us a view of the potential of this Chicago side. Once Magee is back, watch out for the Fire to blaze through MLS.
The Timbers are starting the season in lackluster fashion — not unlike former RSL player Wil Johnson's miss on an empty net. Portland now heads to Colorado after getting just two points out of six in two home matches.
Los Angeles will arrive in Salt Lake in a foul mood. The Galaxy will not only be trying to avenge a 1-0 home lost to RSL, they are also coming off a heartbreaking 4-2 loss at Club Tijuana in the CONCACAF Champions League quarterfinals.
The Hoops (or not) have had some good results — a 3-2 win vs. Montreal and a 1-1 draw with Sporting KC. We'll learn a lot on Saturday vs. the Goats.
Montreal has yet to make any real impact on the league, seeing as star striker Marco Di Vaio is still out on suspension after antics last season. So far the Impact’s trip to Texas has yielded a 3-2 loss to FC Dallas and a 1-0 loss to Houston. They’ve shown potential at points, but that won’t be matched until Di Vaio comes back and starts bagging goals again.
After finally announcing the hiring of a head coach (Pablo Mastroeni) two weeks ago, the Rapids earned a point against the New York Red Bulls on the road. It was a pretty hollow draw because Colorado's only goal came after a soft penalty called on Jamison Olave.
It’s hard to give DC United too hard of a time since it faced a fiery Columbus Crew side to open up the season, losing 3-0 in that game. But given the offseason moves United made, including the addition of USMNT striker Eddie Johnson, DC United seems to be slipping back into old habits. United’s next match should shed more light on what this team will be like this season.
New England is just a poor soccer team right now. A 4-0 loss to Houston in the opening week and a 1-0 loss to Philadelphia in week two shows this team isn’t fully prepared for the 2014 season. Play has been sloppy and few bright sparks have been shown. If they don’t find help soon, the Revs might become basement dwellers for the entire 2014 campaign.
Our 20th team this week won't play a game until March 29, but Sacramento's USL Pro (two tiers below MLS) franchise has already made big news this winter. Not only did the first-year club sign Salt Lake City native Justin Braun, the Republic, which is being coached by former USMNT standout Preki has also secured a stadium location.