Even though the MLS season is only three or four games old, depending on the team, the 2012 season looks closer than years past. After Sporting Kansas City in the East, New York, Columbus, Houston and New England are all tied for second with six points. In the West, the top four teams are separated by just a point, with Real Salt Lake, San Jose and Colorado at the top with nine. The other major storyline, the East vs. West battle, also took a turn last week, with Kansas City beating Chivas, New England beating Los Angeles and D.C. beating Dallas. This season is shaping up to be a battle.
Last week: 18. A Thierry Henry hat trick and Kenny Cooper brace in the same game puts Montreal squarely in last place this week. A matchup with RSL looms in midweek, which could provide a similar result. However, Montreal’s first real derby game is this weekend, nationally televised in Canada. A win there could at least jump Montreal over Toronto in the battle for Canadian soccer supremacy. This week: at RSL, Wednesday at 7 p.m. (CW 30/ESPN 700); vs. Toronto, Saturday at 10 a.m.
Last week: 19. Hey, the Union found a point against Vancouver last weekend. However, it doesn’t help the fact that a team with Philadelphia’s talent has one point out of four games against mid-level teams. The Union has two weeks off, and it doesn’t play a team in the top five of these rankings until Seattle on May 5 — hopefully it can sort out its problems by then. This week: No games.
Last week: 16. After knocking Los Angeles out of the CONCACAF Champions League, Toronto has faltered. However, with the way the Galaxy has played this season so far, perhaps even “old Toronto” could beat Los Angeles. Either way, it’s not helping Toronto out at all to look like it did last year. The only reason Toronto isn’t lower is because it’s been close in a couple of games. This week: at Montreal, Saturday at 10 a.m.
Last week: 13. At first, it may have been a way to beat Real Salt Lake at Rio Tinto. But Chivas’ negative tactics made an appearance again against Kansas City last weekend. However, credit to Chivas — the team and coach Robin Fraser know how to give themselves the best chance to win, regardless of how entertaining or dull it may be. This week: at Portland, Saturday at 8:30 p.m.
Last week: 17. After starting out looking sluggish, the Revolution has won two games in a row — both against good opponents. Beating Portland at home is one thing, but then to go into the Home Depot Center and knocking off the defending champions in style? If the trend continues, New England will be out of the basement of every ranking soon. This week: at Dallas, Thursday at 6:30 p.m.
Last week: 15. The story in D.C. heading into last weekend’s game was that the team had talent, but it couldn’t score. United answered that by pumping four goals past Kevin Hartman and FC Dallas on national television. Nick DeLeon looks good to challenge for Rookie of the Year honors, especially if he keeps scoring stunning goals. This week: vs. Seattle, Saturday at 5:30 p.m.
Last week: 14. Having played two of the weaker teams in the Eastern Conference, the real test starts this weekend for Columbus. The Crew also played Colorado in the first match of the year, and it didn’t end well. A positive result this weekend against the Red Bulls would go a long way to instilling some confidence in the team and announcing its presence as a possible contender in the East. This week: vs. New York, Saturday at 1 p.m. (Galavision).
Last week: 11. Darlington Nagbe will be a star in MLS. He scored two good goals against Salt Lake, and he looked composed on the ball. If anybody has questions about his touch, the way he set up both shots should answer them. If he and Kris Boyd can start clicking at the same time, Portland will be a difficult team to defend. This week: vs. Chivas, Saturday at 8:30 p.m.
Last week: 12. Chicago stifled the Rapids attack over and over again on Sunday, but new midfielder MartÍn Rivero still looked good. It was his long ball that initiated the attack that resulted in Colorado’s winning goal. If RSL wants to have success against the Rapids, it will have to shut down the Argentinian. This week: at RSL, Saturday at 7 p.m. (CW 30/ESPN 700).
Last week: 9. On the bright side, Vancouver hasn’t given up a goal this season, and 37-year-old goalkeeper Joe Cannon looks like he’s 18 again with the way he has been playing. If the Whitecaps can find a way to score some goals, the team will be dangerous. However, failing to score against Philadelphia is not good enough for a team with the talent the Whitecaps have. This week: at San Jose, Saturday at 5 p.m.
Last week: 8. The Fire has two weeks to think about its less-than-entertaining matchup in Colorado that ended up going the home team’s way. If it weren’t for goalkeeper Paolo Tornaghi, the score could have been much worse. On the other end of the field, Chicago never got much going, keeping only 39 percent possession. This week: No games.
Last week: 10. Seattle coach Sigi Schmid warned his team all week about Steven Lenhart, but come Saturday, Lenhart terrorized the Sounders back line. In a game about discipline, San Jose kept it, even in a rough environment. This week: vs. Vancouver, Saturday at 5 p.m.
Last week: 6. Going into D.C., Dallas could perhaps have been forgiven for being confident — but not for being sloppy. Daniel Hernandez’s red card will hurt his team, but the way Dallas defended against United will hurt it more if it continues. One thing is certain: Dallas has to bring its A-game for 90 minutes against a streaking New England. This week: vs. New England, Thursday at 6:30 p.m.
Last week: 4. Los Angeles is slipping slowly down everybody’s rankings. The team that was supposed to be the talk of the league is, well, still the talk of the league, but for the wrong reasons. It’s beginning to feel a lot like 2008 for the Galaxy, which has an important test on national television on Saturday. This week: at Kansas City, Saturday at 2 p.m. (ESPN).
Last week: 5. It only feels fair that the Dynamo stay in the same spot, having not played a game this week. The next time Houston takes the field will be on Tax Day. This week: No games.
Last week: 7. After a shaky start, New York has won two on the trot. Thierry Henry is starting to look like the Henry from his Arsenal days, and Kenny Cooper is proving to be the perfect partner for him. The duo leads MLS in goals — Henry in first, Cooper tied for second. Who needs Luke Rodgers? This week: at Columbus, Saturday at 1 p.m. (Galavision).
Last week: 1. The Northwest was rife with penalty-kick controversy last week, with RSL getting one in Portland and San Jose getting one at CenturyLink Field. Seattle battled well in the second half, but it could not come back. This week: at D.C., Saturday at 5:30 p.m.
Last week: 3. After the disappointment of losing at home to Chivas, RSL responded well with a win in Portland. Kyle Beckerman’s last-second heroics are up for MLS Goal of the Week. An exciting win is just what Salt Lake needed, heading into the first match of the Rocky Mountain Cup on Saturday. This week: vs. Montreal, Wednesday at 7 p.m. (CW 30/ESPN 700); vs. Colorado, Saturday at 7 p.m. (CW 30/ESPN 700).
Last week: 2. Not only does Kansas City sport a perfect record, it is winning in style. Its 4-3-3 and possession style of play is entertaining to watch. Sporting gutted out a 1-0 win on the road last weekend, which is something good teams routinely do. This week: vs. Los Angeles, Saturday at 2 p.m. MDT (ESPN).