With three scoreless ties, six one-goal winners, and only one of the 22 teams scoring more than two goals, defense was on prime display in the first week of the MLS regular season.
Week one featured the showcase of a new stadium, the debuts of two expansion clubs, and six goals scored in the first game of the season. Yet many fans came away from Opening Weekend with a sense of wanting more.
Good thing too… this is just the start of a seven-month season.
Let’s take a look at the Week One Power Rankings:
1. FC Dallas
Week 1 result: Won 2-1 at LA
Dallas won at StubHub, which in the past was like being anointed as that season’s “chosen one.” LA is still in transition mode, so no jumping to major conclusions here, but with new pieces coming into Dallas in the off season, they seem to have transitioned seamlessly into 2017.
2. Toronto FC
Week 1 result: Tied 0-0 at Salt Lake
The Reds used the same lineup in this weekend’s opener that they did in the MLS Cup Final. And for the second straight game, they were held scoreless thanks to brilliant goalkeeping. Toronto will gladly take a road point, but are going to need more from their Designated Players, especially Michael Bradley in the midfield.
3. New York Red Bulls
Week 1 result: Won 2-1 at Atlanta
After being knocked out by Vancouver in the Champions League, an opening weekend win for the Red Bulls is a sigh of relief. The 4-2-2-2 formation Jesse Marsch used was odd to say the least, but he played to his strengths and it paid off. Bradley Wright-Phillips and Sacha Kljestan got it done when they needed to.
4. Seattle Sounders
Week 1 result: Lost 2-1 at Houston
No need to panic for the reigning MLS champs. Since entering the league in 2009, the Sounders are still win-less at Houston. The first half on Saturday was a nightmare for the Rave Green, but the second half gave some nice glimpses of the Dempsey-Lodeiro-Morris connection.
5. Colorado Rapids
Week 1 result: Won 1-0 vs. New England
The home success from 2016 has apparently carried into this season. The Rapids defense, which was tops in the league last year, once again proved they don’t need to score goals to win games. As evident by last years playoffs, that’ll only get you so far. But then of course… Tim Howard might say otherwise.
6. Sporting Kansas City
Week 1 result: Tied 0-0 at DC
SKC controlled this game from start to finish. How they didn’t find the back of the net is a mystery, yet the new front line clearly can do some damage. With Benny Feilhaber now linking up with a front three of DP Gerso Fernandes, Jimmy Medranda, and centerpiece Dom Dwyer, the goals should flow in time.
7. Portland Timbers
Week 1 result: Won 5-1 against Minnesota
Let’s not all jump the gun to crown Portland as best team in MLS. Minnesota was hardly a worthy adversary, but that doesn’t take away from a clear off season upgrade for the Timbers . The Sebastian Blanco and David Guzman additions may make this the most lethal attack in MLS… but let’s wait and see.
8. DC United
Week 1 result: Tied 0-0 vs. Kansas City
Bill Hamid was at it again to keep his team in the game. He only had to make five saves, but each were crucial in DC picking up a point. There’s still some questions about how successful the midfield can be going forward, but keep an eye on Patrick Mullins, who had several good opportunities against the solid SKC defense.
9. New York City FC
Week 1 result: Lost 1-0 at Orlando
Much like the Sounders, New York is another team with no need to panic just one game in. Between David Villa, Jack Harrison and newcomer Maximiliano Moralez, this team is going to score goals this season. Patrick Vieira took this team to the next level in 2016, and could take New York to an even higher one in 2017.
10. San Jose Earthquakes
Week 1 result: Won 1-0 vs. Montreal
Avaya Stadium could become one of the toughest places to play in the MLS in the near future, but even now, San Jose are beginning to develop a strong home field advantage. Anibal Godoy looked like one of the best players in the league this weekend, and the Quakes back four looked dominant.
11. LA Galaxy
Week 1 result: Lost 2-1 vs. Dallas
The Robbie Keane hangover has begun. LA controlled the ball well, but didn’t seem to be able to pick out chances to go at goal. Attribute that Dallas’ defense all you want, with the current roster, this Galaxy team is going to look and feel much different as the teams of year’s past. 2017 will sit squarely on Giovanni dos Santos shoulders for LA.
12. Montreal Impact
Week 1 result: Lost 1-0 at San Jose
The Impact looked flat from the get go. After giving up a goal 17 minutes in, Montreal lacked any sort of prowess throughout the game in the attacking third. They had just 5 shots (0 on goal) and a 36 passing percentage in the San Jose half. This team has a lot of firepower. But when it doesn’t click, things go south.
13. Real Salt Lake
Week 1 result: Tied 0-0 vs. Toronto
Much like Jeff Cassar’s turtleneck, the jury is still out on RSL this season. They managed 17 shots against Toronto, and new addition Albert Rusnak showed his potential as a future leader in Salt Lake’s attack. But this team still seems to have trouble moving as a unit. And if they can’t control the midfield, their inability to consistently get the ball to Joao Plata and Yura Movsisyan may prove to be their downfall.
14. Orlando City SC
Week 1 result: Won 1-0 vs. NYC
The celebration for Orlando didn’t stop with the opening of the new stadium (which is a GEM!) The Lions started off the year with a strong defensive performance against star-studded New York City. Kaka’s injury put a damper on the day, but golden boy Cyle Larin is up to his old tricks again, scoring the game winner.
15. Houston Dynamo
Week 1 result: Won 2-1 vs. Seattle
The Wilmer Cabrera Era starts is off to a positive start with a win over the defending champs. The remade Dynamo squad was in complete control for the first 45 minutes, but wilted as the game progressed into the second half. Finishing games is going to be crucial for this team if they want to get back to the playoffs.
16. Vancouver Whitecaps
Week 1 result: Tied 0-0 vs. Philly
A point at home always feels like a loss, but it was a solid result for a team playing its second game of the week. The Caps were out-possessed by the Union, but still had plenty of chances. 16-year-old Alfonso Davies is something special, and could be a nightmare for outside backs for years to come.
17. New England Revolution
Week 1 result: Lost 1-0 at Colorado
The Revs are full of attacking players who at one point or another were the talk of MLS. Yet the five pronged attack of Kei Kamara, Lee Nguyen, Juan Agudelo, Diego Fagundez and Kelyn Rowe had no answer to Colorado’s defense. Could this be another year of disappointment for New England?
18. Atlanta United FC
Week 1 result: Lost 2-1 vs. NYRB
It’s not the worst debut ever (Atlanta can thank Minnesota for that performance the night before) but Atlanta must feel hard done after striking first. A late own goal was the only thing between them and getting a point in their first game. It’ll take some time for Atlanta to get acquainted to the league, but with their talent and coaching, the newcomers may have a good shot to make the playoffs in their inaugural season.
19. Columbus Crew
Week 1 result: Tied 1-1 vs. Chicago
The Crew had to be feeling pretty good after taking the lead less than 20 minutes in, yet they couldn’t see things through and surrendered a goal in the final 20 minutes. Columbus hasn’t been the same since their loss to the Portland in the MLS Cup, and if 2017 follows suit, Gregg Berhalter’s seat could start getting warm.
20. Philadelphia Union
Week 1 result: Tied 0-0 at Vancouver
With how great Vancouver looked in their CONCACAF Champions League win over New York Red Bulls last week, Philly should be thankful they got out of BC Place with a point. Defensively, the Union looked great considering both center defensive mids as well as their two centerbacks made their team debut. However, the attack looks to be a remix of 2016, which isn’t a great sign for Union fans.
21. Chicago Fire
Week 1 result: Tied 1-1 at Columbus
Not losing their first game of the season is no doubt a step in the right direction for Chicago, no matter how small that step may be. The Fire are going to score more goals this year, with David Accam leading the way. If their young defensive players can adapt as time goes on, they’ll be alright.
22. Minnesota United
Week 1 result: Lost 5-1 at Portland
Sorry Minnesota… this ain’t the NASL. The Loons have some intriguing pieces, but this clearly is a “work in progress” for Adrian Heath and company.