Power Rankings -- Kansas City takes top spot

By Ridge Mahoney

Fans got a hefty dose of parity in Week 3 of the MLS season, with five teams getting their first wins of the season and five others tasting defeat for the first time. Yet only one of nine games ended in a tie.

The much-maligned Red Bulls got into the win column by hammering Colorado, 4-1, which ended the Rapids' unblemished status. Losses for Houston and Real Salt Lake opened up slots for Vancouver and Seattle to slide into the spots just below new No. 1 Sporting Kansas City, which rallied to beat previously unbeaten FC Dallas, 2-1.

Four teams remain winless and they comprise the bottom quartet of this week’s Power Rankings:

1. SPORTING KANSAS CITY (3-0-0). Last year, SKC posted only one win (out of 14) after conceding the first goal. On Sunday it replied to a 1-0 deficit against FC Dallas with goals by Aurelien Collin and Kei Kamara, who had earlier failed to put away a penalty kick, to post a 2-1 win and maintain its perfect start to the season. Last week: 3.

2. VANCOUVER (2-1-0). A beefed-up attack drew most of the preseason attention, but a few outlets – like this one – noted the acquisition of Argentine centerback Martin Bonjour as a vital change. The pairing of he and captain Jay DeMerit is one reason the ‘Caps are unscored upon in 2012 after tying D.C. United, 0-0, and sit atop the Western Conference. Last week: 6.

3. SEATTLE (2-0-0). David Estrada took over the scoring lead with his fourth goal in two games, and Brad Evans converted a penalty kick as the Sounders knocked Houston from the unbeaten ranks. Coach Sigi Schmid credited the work of right back Zach Scott and midfielder Roger Levesque for containing catalyst Brad Davis and blunting Houston’s attack. Last week: 9.

4. HOUSTON (2-1-0). The Dynamo generated only two shots on goal, both by Will Bruin, and both were saved in a 2-0 loss at Seattle. Geoff Cameron deflected a shot that might have been going wide past keeper Tally Hall, and his foul on Pat Ianni yielded the second goal via the penalty spot. Last week: 2.

5. LOS ANGELES (1-1-0).  The Galaxy is in the midst of a 13-day break after playing two league games and two Concacaf Champions League quarterfinals in a 12-day span. It gets back in action Saturday against New England with a squad that should be much fresher. Last week: 5.

6. REAL SALT LAKE (2-1-0). A bobble by goalkeeper Nick Rimando gave Chivas USA the opening with which it scored the only goal it needed for a stunning 1-0 win at Rio Tinto Stadium. Javier Morales and Alvaro Saborio came on as subs; the strategy worked two weeks ago in a 3-1 defeat of the Galaxy, but this time RSL couldn’t find the net. A Saborio chip hit the crossbar with five minutes left. Last week: 1.

7. FC DALLAS (1-1-1). FCD took a 1-0 lead at Kansas City with a Ricardo Villar free kick that ended SKC’s unscored-upon status, then conceded an equalizer when a Daniel Hernandez foul resulted in a set-play header by Collin. Kevin Hartman repelled a Kamara penalty kick but couldn’t stop his 88th-minute shot that yielded a 2-1 defeat. Last week: 7.

8. COLORADO (2-1-0). A wonderful goal by Omar Cummings set up by Jaime Castrillon’s picking of Rafael Marquez’s pocket was about all the Rapids’ midfield could produce in a 4-1 shellacking at Red Bull Arena. The absence of Pablo Mastroeni and Jeff Larentowicz exposed the Rapids’ back line; a giveaway by replacement Ross LeBeaux opened the door for Thierry Henry to score in the third minute. It went downhill rapidly from that point. Last week: 4.

9. CHICAGO (1-0-1). In its home opener, the Fire took command early against Philly to win, 1-0. It outshot the Union, 9-2, in the first half and scored after 28 minutes when Marco Pappa shimmied up the right sideline to set up Dominic Oduro for a powerful header. Paolo Tornaghi is doing his best to create a goalkeeping controversy in the absence of Sean Johnson; his calm, confident handling has helped stabilize a defense awaiting the debut of Arne Friedrich. Last week: 10.

10. SAN JOSE (2-1-0). The Quakes stormed TFC at BMO Field, and thumped out a 3-0 win with two goals by Chris Wondolowski and a colossal display by Sam Cronin. He earned assists on two of the goals yet also throttled TFC’s midfield with strong tackles and confident interceptions. Shea Salinas scored his first Quakes goal since returning to the team he left after the 2009 season. Last week: 11.

11. PORTLAND (1-1-1). The Timbers went down a goal just 28 seconds into their game at New England and never caught up despite amassing an impressive array of chances. Kris Boyd failed to convert any of his three opportunities. In his league debut, Franck Songo’o got off two shots in 30 minutes and also caught Kevin Alston in the face with a bicycle kick. In the same vein, Hayner Mosquera departed early with a facial injury. Last week: 8.

12. NEW YORK (1-2-0). The Red Bulls took no sympathy on the Rapids for their decimated midfield and scored twice in the first six minutes en route to a 4-1 rout. Henry and Kenny Cooper each tallied twice, with Henry setting up Cooper for one of his goals, a low laser inside the far post. Last week: 14.

13. COLUMBUS (1-1-0). Two of head coach Robert Warzycha’s offseason acquisitions got the goals in a 2-0 defeat of Montreal, which played a man down from the 19th minute because of a red card. Milovan Mirosevic converted a penalty kick in the 30th minute and Olman Vargas, starting for the first time, drove home a header from a textbook Shaun Francis cross midway through the second half. Last week: 15.

14. CHIVAS USA (1-2-0). Rookie Casey Townsend’s opportunistic finish and a spirited defensive performance lifted Chivas USA off the floor in a 1-0 victory at Real Salt Lake. He challenged Rimando for Ante Jazic’s cross and when the keeper fumbled it, Townsend guided it into the net. Keeper Dan Kennedy needed to make just three saves, one of them a stoppage-time stoning of Fabian Espindola. Last week: 19.

15. NEW ENGLAND (1-2-0). French striker Saer Sene scored his first MLS goal after 28 seconds and the Revs stubbornly held onto that lead to down Portland, 1-0, to give head coach Jay Heaps his first victory. Sene headed home a Chris Tierney cross off the underside of the bar and though the Timbers found openings they put only three shots on target. Last week: 18.

16. D.C. UNITED (0-2-1). A 0-0 tie in Vancouver gave United its first point of the season. It nearly stole a win midway through the second half with a Hamdi Salihi header that forced a sensational save. Designated Player Branko Boskovic showed off his left foot with several hard-hit but poorly placed blasts from distance. Last week: 15.

17. MONTREAL (0-2-1). The Impact went down a man at Columbus in the 19th minute when defender Jeb Brovsky elbowed an opponent in the back of the head and lost, 2-0. It battled as well as it could; Justin Mapp hit the crossbar and Justin Braun forced a good save. One Crew goal came from the penalty spot after a foul by Felipe in the 30th minute. Last week: 12.

18. TORONTO FC (0-2-0). A lot of the fans that showed up to BMO Field left early, so appalled were they by TFC’s performance in a dismal 3-0 loss to San Jose. Goalkeeper Stefan Frei suffered a broken leg practicing the day before the game, which further weakened a team already missing Torsten Frings through injury and awaiting the return to health of Adrian Cann. Ex-Quake Ryan Johnson gave an honest effort but a flat team got what it deserved. Last week: 13.

19. PHILADELPHIA (0-3-0). Missing three players to U.S. Olympic team duty and captain Danny Califf because of a leg injury, the Union fell behind at Chicago and despite a few decent chances could not equalize. Defender Chris Albright kept the deficit at 1-0 with a sliding block late in the first half, and in the final minutes Gabriel Gomez tested the keeper twice but failed to score. Last week: 17.

1 comment about "Power Rankings -- Kansas City takes top spot".
  1. j leary, March 27, 2012 at 10:29 a.m.

    philadelphia's case is a perfect argument for setting up for relegation in the MLS.
    Pulling the rug out from under an up and coming team is reason enough to punish Nowak, and punishing the season ticket holders who are actually expecting an improved product this year just puts the idea over the top.

    Let's give a few USL teams a chance in the USA top league? It would certainly light a fire under somebody's arse...maybe Philadelphia would play to win, instead of just showing up to "rebuild".

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