We are about a month into the MLS season, but it's not too early to pick who's the best in MLS. We also highlight the Orlando City "Manatees" as our No. 20 team of the week.
Near the end of RSL's 3-0 dismantling of Toronto FC, chants of "overrated" sounded out through Rio Tinto Stadium. However, the crushing defeat had more to do with how great Real Salt Lake played. A team of stars was well-beaten by the "team is the star." Despite a tough schedule, RSL is still undefeated (2-2-0) and playing at the top of its game, which sets up nicely for this Saturday's showdown against ...
It hasn’t been the best start for Sporting Kansas City this season, but the team’s 3-2 win over Colorado this past weekend shows the team is on the climb and ready to return to the top of the mountain in MLS. With some players heading out tonight for the U.S. men’s national team’s friendly against Mexico, it’s likely they’ll get some time off this weekend to rest up, which could prove beneficial for SKC.
What a turnaround for the Columbus Crew. The season is early, but so far Columbus has stepped up and proven to be a dynamic force to reckon with. Everything is clicking for the Crew, especially Federico Higuain, the dynamic goal-scorer who not only assisted on a goal this past weekend, but scored one as well. The Crew would be at the top of the league, but they barely got by Seattle Sounders with a late goal in stoppage time. But otherwise, the team has been one of the best this season.
The Hoops have the early lead in the race for the Supporters' Shield, having taken 10 of 12 points. But there are concerns to be had: FC Dallas has failed to get a clean sheet while giving up five goals. The Hoops' schedule has been soft and will continue to be after this week's Rivalry Week showdown with Houston.
The Houston Dynamo have been playing much of the same way it finished 2013. It hasn’t been pretty, it’s been sloppy, piled with errant passes. But the Dynamo are gaining results and staying close to the top of the Eastern Conference. A loss to Vancouver dropped the team down a few pegs, but Houston certainly is going to remain in contention for the rest of the season.
As with many teams in this early part of MLS season — a season filled with a lot of quality teams — it's hard to get a complete picture of how good a team is. The Whitecaps are one of those teams, but they are doing all they need to do. Two wins at BC Place against strong teams, two draws away against mediocre teams. We'll learn a lot in April as the 'caps face the Rapids, RSL and the Galaxy (twice).
Toronto was a shadow of its former self against Real Salt Lake this past weekend. Jermain Defoe, who was nursing an injury as it was later discovered, was virtually nonexistent for when he did play, having been subbed off around the 60th minute. And USMNT general Michael Bradley failed to make any impact, save for a lucky shot that bounced off the post. Bradley was bested by RSL’s Kyle Beckerman, who also competes for the USMNT and has often been seen as second best to Bradley.
No middle ground for the Sounders, as they won two and lost two, none more heartbreaking than last week's loss at home to the Crew. A red card and a late goal undid what Lamar Neagle called "one of the better halves that we have put together as a team." The Sounders travel to Portland on Saturday, and despite the struggles of both teams, the game figures to be a can't-miss match.
Despite all the talent the Union brought in during the offseason, the start to the season has been rough for Philadelphia. A 1-1 draw with Montreal got the Union a point, but the Impact are one of the worst teams this season, so it’s hard for Philly fans to exactly by celebrating about that result.
New England pulled a San Jose against San Jose this past week, scoring late and barely surviving a night with the Earthquakes. The Revolution haven’t played greatly over the last few weeks, barely being able to score or put together any semblance of an offensive rhythm. This win could inspire the team, though, to make a push for better results.
The Goats (1-2-1) take on their more glamorous bigger brother Galaxy on Saturday, and I think they have better than a puncher's chance of beating them based on what goalkeeper Dan Kennedy told MLS.com: "For me this is such a new team, new coaching staff, new ownership. I don’t even know how that record is relevant. It’s all about us this season, it’s all about what we’re doing today, what we’re doing tomorrow. It’s not about what happened last year, we’re moving forward."
Cruelly beaten in the final minutes at home against Sporting, the Rapids do have two things going for them: Vicente Sanchez' four goals (three off of penalties) and this wonderfully funny/disturbing April Fools' joke of wearing throwback jerseys with fringe(!), inspired by the Colorado Caribous of the 1978 NASL.
It's been a rough start for the Timbers (0-2-2), who were one of the best teams in all of Major League Soccer last year. Head coach Caleb Porter is frustrated — especially with the referees. But his team has deeper concerns in new central defender Norbetto Paparatto, who hasn't played well in Portland's first four games.
The Chicago Fire have basically met expectations for this season, in the mix for a playoff spot but not convincing enough to be a favorite. But the team is just getting going, and with Mike Magee still trying to regain form after injury, the 2-2 draw against DC United should be the first step in a line of positive results for the team.
Red Bull New York, a team that did extremely well in 2013 by winning the Supporters’ Shield, has seen better days. The team has faced trouble so far this year, and that was only continued this past weekend when the Red Bulls tied the typically horrendous Chivas USA.
The MLS schedulers have seem to have punked the Galaxy. In their last four MLS games, counting back to last season's playoffs, they have played RSL all four times. Sandwiched in between this season's home-and-away with Salt Lake was a two-game 4-3 Champions League loss to Tijuana. After this week's game vs. Chivas, L.A. plays two in a row against Vancouver followed by a four-game road trip.
The cardiac kids take a week off after New England's Lee Nguyen kept the Quakes with just one point (a home draw against RSL) in three games.
Marco Di Vaio has done magnificent for the Montreal Impact since his return to the league after serving a suspension. Still, the team lacks true form and the right players to back up Di Vaio. Maybe as Di Vaio gets more accustomed he can will the team forward, but it doesn’t look great for Montreal thus far, especially since this is likely Di Vaio’s last season with the Impact. His heart may not be in it anymore.
Congrats to DC United for earning a positive result this week. After all the offseason moves and hype for DC United this season, a good result has come their way and should keep them confident for their next affair. It’s unknown if this is a one-off, or if DC United will find its form and get better results from this point out. But a draw with Chicago is a good way to start.
The soon-to-be MLS club is still looking for its first victory in the third-tier USL Pro league, but the Yordany Alvarez-led club made two big announcements this week. The first one was a renewal of the I-4 Derby with the second-tier Tampa Bay Roundies and the second one was the second-best April Fools' soccer prank of the day — a new logo featuring a Manatee to replace its three Lions on its crest. #GoSeaCows.