Soccer America Power Rankings

[MLS: Week 1] On a weekend marked by some spectacular goals and impressive debuts, goalie Nick Rimando, a 15-year veteran, landed Real Salt Lake in the No. 1 spot in the Soccer America Power Rankings.

WEEK 1: Results
Sunday, March 9 (Report)
Chivas USA 3 Chicago 2.
Saturday, March 8 (Report)
LA Galaxy 0 Real Salt Lake 1.
Portland 1 Philadelphia 1.
Houston 4 New England 0.
FC Dallas 3 Montreal 2
D.C. United 0 Columbus 3.
Vancouver 4 New York 1.
Seattle 1 Sporting KC 0.

For the first few weeks of the season, the Power Rankings will be partially affected by a team’s performance last year. They are based only on league results. (The Concacaf Champions League quarterfinals that start this week, for example, have no bearing on the rankings.)

1.  REAL SALT LAKE (1-0-0). Handed an imposing debut as head coach at StubHub Center against the Galaxy, Jeff Cassar directed his troops to a 1-0 victory. Nick Rimando’s prowess on penalty kicks failed to prevail in MLS Cup three months ago, but by stoning Robbie Keane from the spot in stoppage time for his ninth save of the game he restored the natural order. RSL lost a seemingly good goal by Luke Mulholland when the flag went up, but then Alvaro Saborio dummied Kyle Beckerman’s pass so Joao Plata could score. Replays indicated Plata was not offside.

2.  SEATTLE (1-0-0). The subs did the business late in a 1-0 defeat of the defending champion; Homegrown product Sean Okoli swung over a cross in stoppage time that Clint Dempsey headed off the crossbar and Chad Barrett headed into the net. A franchise-record 25 fouls suffered shows how rough and choppy a match it was.

3. HOUSTON (1-0-0). The only teams the Dynamo beat by four goals last year were doormats Chivas USA and D.C. United, so routing New England, 4-0, definitely indicates an upgrade. Oscar Boniek Garcia enjoyed playing in the middle and smashed home a goal but the night belonged to Will Bruin, who by scoring twice and earning an assist set everyone on notice that last year’s slow start is long gone.

4. VANCOUVER (1-0-0). No doubt the Whitecaps stunned everyone, including themselves, by battering the Red Bulls, 4-1. Vancouver owned the middle of the park as Kenny Miller scored twice, Sebastian Fernandez -- wearing ex-Cap Camilo’s No. 7 -- nailed a rocket from distance, and substitute Pedro Morales capped off a fruitful 25 minutes by scoring the fourth goal after setting up a goal for Miller. Nice debuts for Fernandez and Morales and head coach Carl Robinson, eh?

5.  PORTLAND (0-0-1). The defending Western Conference champion christened newly named Providence Park rather shakily, needing a stoppage-time equalizer from newcomer Gaston Fernandez and some sweet saves by Donovan Ricketts to tie Philadelphia, 1-1. Another debutant, defender Norberto Paparatto, cleared a ball off the Timbers’ goal line, which wasn’t a bad way to establish his cred as linchpin of the back line.

6.  SPORTING KC (0-1-0). Several starters were rested for the Concacaf Champions League match Wednesday against Cruz Azul – a couple are nursing minor injuries -- yet if Dom Dwyer’s finishing had been sharper SKC could have taken all three points. Instead, it surrendered a goal in the 90th minute or later for the sixth time against Seattle.

7.  LA GALAXY (0-1-0). Recent acquisition Samuel started up top with Robbie Keane and looked pretty useful as Gyasi Zardes (right) and Landon Donovan (left) ran the wings. Rimando’s save on Keane’s PK was the biggest of several misses for the Galaxy, and for biting on Saborio’s dummy defender Omar Gonzalez opened the door for RSL to score. Galaxy jumps right back into the high-stakes arena with a border clasico against Tijuana Wednesday.

8. NEW YORK (0-1-0). WTF? Head coach Mike Petke took the blame for the 4-1 debacle, but he didn’t stumble over a pass or miss a tackle or fluff a scoring chance. The Red Bulls looked completely disjointed as Vancouver dismantled them. Thierry Henry and Jamison Olave took the day off rather than playing on turf; a few teammates did the same while on the field.

9. COLORADO (0-0-0). Head coach Pablo Mastroeni (that juxtaposition will take some getting used to) sets off on his new career Monday at Red Bull Arena, where the home team will be snorting mad from being pasted in Vancouver. Welcome to the big time.

10. SAN JOSE (0-0-0). The Quakes and RSL have played several early-season games at Buck Shaw Stadium in their history, but for the first time ever both Frank Yallop and Jason Kreis won’t be there. This rivalry doesn’t get much publicity, but it’s a good one. In two of the past three seasons, an RSL victory has spoiled the Quakes home opener.

11. FC DALLAS (1-0-0). Oscar Pareja’s return didn’t fill up the stadium, yet a crowd of 18,011 (capacity: 20,500) watched a good show as FCD dumped Montreal, 3-2. Orchestrator Mauro Diaz scored a wonderful goal to cap off a comeback from falling behind, 1-0, with Fabian Castillo and Blas Perez already on the board. The new centerback pairing of Matt Hedges and Moises Hernandez teetered a few times but FCD nursed its lead to the final whistle.

12. PHILADELPHIA (0-0-1). Two Eastern time-zone teams played on the West Coast in Week 1 and Philly fared a lot better than New York by posting a 1-1 tie in Portland that should have been a win. One of the offseason additions, Cristian Maidana, earned a corner with a fierce shot that was saved, then from the flag curled a ball that another newbie, Maurice Edu, flicked on and Jack McInerney banged into the net. In stoppage time, Philly conceded from a corner to leave with a point.

13. NEW ENGLAND (0-1-0). The Revs, stunned by a goal after one minute and another 12 minutes later, tried to battle back in Houston. A.J. Soares shot against the post, Jerry Bengston blazed over the bar from six yards out and in the final minutes with the result inevitable, Diego Fagundez hit the crossbar. If not for some good work by keeper Bobby Shuttleworth, the margin would have been larger.

14. COLUMBUS (1-0-0). The Crew ruthlessly exposed United’s flaws in a 3-0 romp. Federico Higuain ran the show while netting two fine goals, Michael Parkhurst anchored a solid defensive performance, and the entire team maintained energy and focus for long periods, facets that were lacking last year. Handed a relatively easy test in his MLS head coaching debut, Gregg Berhalter aced it.

15.  MONTREAL (0-1-0). Staked to a 1-0 lead in Dallas on Sanna Nyassi’s early goal, the Impact crumbled and conceded three before Andrew Wenger scored to cut the margin to 3-2. Though the goals came from accurate crosses by Justin Mapp and Felipe, respectively, the ease by which FCD coasted into threatening positions rekindled memories of last year’s collapse.

16. CHIVAS USA (1-0-0). A dismal crowd -- announced as 8,320 -- didn’t deter a flowing, pleasing display that forged a 2-0 lead and then a late winner by Bobby Burling that produced a 3-2 defeat of Chicago. Erick Torres rifled home a penalty kick awarded from a hotly disputed foul and rookie Thomas McNamara tucked home a cross at the near post to mark a spirited showing. It’s a long way back for this franchise, and new head coach Wilmer Cabrera is off on the right foot.

17. TORONTO FC (0-0-0). Everyone knows TFC will be a tough team this year but the rankings are based on league play, not promises or perceptions or rosy predictions or seven-figure salaries. The 17th-best team on points last year will move up soon enough yet opening on the road in Seattle is about as tough as it gets.

18. CHICAGO (0-1-0). Benji Joya and Quincy Amarikwa, whom Yallop had drafted during his stint in San Jose, came off the bench to score goals that wiped out a 2-0 deficit inflicted during a poor start to the second half. The ending wasn’t so good either, as Burling ran free to head home a corner kick. The new coach will need some time to work in the new pieces, yet some of the returnees – including keeper Sean Johnson, caught badly off-balance on the second goal – need shoring up as well.

19. D.C. UNITED (0-1-0). Seven newcomers started without much production. Eddie Johnson was limited to one shot, and was a step slow to control a few balls that could have been exploited. The league winless streak, dating back to last season, is 13 games.
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