Week Three brings us more data, although the results do not necessarily clear up a lot, other than at the top. Clearly, whatever arguments might have been made against Dallas being No. 1 are out the window with a perfect 3-0-0 record. After that, though, there was a lot of draws, if not a lot of goals.
We generally like to look at the previous four games and the upcoming two for each team to get a gauge on how they are playing and whether we have them slotted correctly. Clearly, we still have at least three more weeks to go, but we are starting to see some separation and some patterns.
1 (1) – FC Dallas. The good news for average MLS teams? The Union showed that Dallas can be put on the back foot. The bad news? Only until they make a mid-game adjustment or two, and you suffer the same fate as everyone else. In fact, it is not entirely clear that the result would have been significantly different had Pfeffer not gotten a high elbow into Diaz’s jaw for a red card – the danger had been neutralized and Castillo was still tearing the right side of the opposition defense to shreds, which seems to be the precursor to Dallas scoring the winning goal so far this year. It is a long season, and Dallas will be tested with a thin roster this weekend, but this team is running at a much higher operational tempo than the rest of the league right now. Question is – how much longer can they continue.
2 (2) – Los Angeles Galaxy. A home tie against a developing Houston side is not the kind of result that screams “We’re the best around!” For an early season squad, the signs are clearly there that this group will be one of the best, but simply not in the same class as FC Dallas right now.
3 (4) – Seattle Sounders. Using beloved transitive properties, you look at San Jose and Dallas and see that while the loss to the Earthquakes was no picnic, it was to the only team that has given the Texas club a game to date. The matchup this weekend will be worth your time.
4 (5) – New York City FC. This feels high for a team that is both an expansion side and has had some issues at times this year, but so few teams really look good right now, and they are getting the right results.
5 (7) – Real Salt Lake. With no game played this weekend, this team is getting some credit due to its roster and history. The results for this team so far have been similar to Los Angeles’ – the quality is there.
6 (13) – Vancouver Whitecaps. The opponents were not fantastic, but who is this early in the season? On the other hand, Vancouver is getting results – on the road – and without other serious candidates, that moves the Whitecaps up. Is it premature? Maybe, but again, not a lot of other candidates.
7 (8) – Portland Timbers. After going toe to toe with the Galaxy, Portland made its way to Kansas City to play Sporting and found a way to get the road tie. This is not last year’s Timbers.
8 (11) – San Jose Earthquakes. While it may not have been the dominating 90 minutes some might expect from a club that beat Seattle with 10 men against a struggling Chicago team, it was strong enough in the current state of the league to continue to move up.
9 (9) – Columbus Crew SC. With no game on the schedule, Berhalter’s men hold serve.
10 (15) – New York Red Bulls. A decisive victory against a rival is what you are supposed to do. At a time when most MLS teams are not doing that, you have to give Dax McCarty’s lads credit.
Good But Not Great
11 (10) – Sporting Kansas City. This team is most likely not this bad over the course of the season, but right now, they are not getting the results they need. Their schedule has not been kind to them. Can they keep their confidence up as they play through it?
12 (6) – Orlando City. Luck and hustle are the difference between this team having points and not. Starting to have doubts that this team is ready for MLS at this point, but there is danger on this roster. Maybe it is just a matter of it coming together?
13 (16) – Houston Dynamo. Finding a way to gum up the works and steal a point against the Galaxy is not entirely easy, but it also is not the sign of a top tier team. Houston might get there – especially once Torres returns – but for now, they have to show more to move out of this bracket.
14 (3) – DC United. Simply outclassed by the Red Bulls on the day. Missing Espindola will continue to hurt this group. An opening day win looks very thin at this point considering United’s two results.
15 (12) – Toronto FC. The FIFA Window is not going to be kind to TFC especially as they have to face RSL on the road.
16 (14) – Philadelphia Union. Jim Curtin’s men started smartly, but eventually were figured out. Even before Pfeffer’s red card happened, was this game destined to be a Dallas victory?
17 (19) – Colorado Rapids. NYCFC has enough talent to beat a bad team and the Rapids kept that from happening.
The Ugly Stick
18 (18) – Chicago Fire. They showed a little spark, finding a way to pull one back in San Jose’s inaugural game at their new house. We’re not ready to say this team is coming together, but it is showing small signs of progress.
19 (17) – New England Revolution. This team is really struggling without Jones. Is one player that important to this team? Although missing Gonclaves for the red card suspension probably didn’t help.
20 (20) – Montreal Impact. The injuries are probably going to kill whatever momentum this team might have gotten out of the Champions League success they were seeing.