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2011 MLS Power Rankings: Week 1

Jo-Ryan SalazarSenior Analyst IMarch 21, 2011

2011 MLS Power Rankings: Week 1

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    Bart Young/Getty Images

    With Week 1 of the 2011 Major League Soccer season officially in the books, there are movers, and there are shakers in this week's MLS Power Rankings.

    Above the madness in March lie the Colorado Rapids, who remain at the top, while the Portland Timbers stay stuck at the bottom.

    We have some teams that have slid, and some that have moved up the ladder. Let's get right to it.

18. Portland Timbers

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    Michael Martin/Getty Images

    At the bottom of this week's MLS Power Rankings are the Portland Timbers, who failed to impress in their inaugural match against the defending MLS Cup Champion Colorado Rapids, falling 3-1.

    Kenny Cooper scored the franchise's first-ever goal in the 80th minute, long after the outcome was decided.

    “It does not matter what sport you play in the top level, this is the top level of this sport in this country, if we make errors we are going to get punished and we did," said manager John Spencer. "We were a little surprised going down three-nothing.

    "We looked shell-shocked after the second one went in and started playing safe and then gave up a mistake and got punished from 30 yards out for the third goal. Omar Cummings and Conor Casey are two of the best in the league. If you are going to give them chances, they are going to kill you.”

    Portland's Eric Brunner was also displeased with the Timbers' initial outing.

    “It was definitely disappointing," Brunner said. "We worked hard in preseason and that was definitely not the way you want to start the first game of the season. We need to be better, and pick our heads up and play better next game.

    "It is a long season and we have a lot of games. You have to remember it is one game and we have a lot of games left. If we put the work in during the week and improve in areas, we will hopefully get a better result.”

    Up next for the Timbers is a match with Toronto FC on Saturday, March 26. Kickoff is scheduled for 11:00 a.m. PT/2:00 p.m. ET and will be televised by ROOT SPORTS, Fox Sports Northwest and TSN.

17. Toronto FC

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    Jeff Vinnick/Getty Images

    Whenever you lose to an expansion side, it's never a good thing. Add the fact that it came against your Canadian rival, and the pain is worse.

    Aron Winter learned that the hard way as he saw Toronto FC drop a 4-2 defeat to the Vancouver Whitecaps at Empire Fields.

    "We had made (Vancouver) stronger," Winter said. "With all respect to Vancouver, they were not much better than us but the chances we gave them, they scored. If you watch all the chances, what they had and what we had, they scored on theirs. We didn't play well and we lost the game. We woke up too late."

    Dwayne De Rosario scored for TFC in the 20th minute, while Maicon Santos added a goal in the 74th minute of play.

    “All the goals we conceded were individual lapses," said Toronto defender Dan Gargan. "There were instances where we didn’t track runners or there wasn’t enough communication, determination or grit in one-on-one defending. We’ve got 33 games left, but it’s going to be a process.

    "We knew coming into this game that we are not the finished product, but over time, we will get the system we are trying to play."

    Toronto has a chance to get right in a pillow fight with cellar dwellers Portland Timbers on March 26. Kickoff at BMO Field is scheduled for 11:00 a.m. PT/2:00 p.m. ET and will be televised by ROOT SPORTS, Fox Sports Northwest and TSN.

16. Seattle Sounders FC

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    It is apparent that removing Blaise N'Kufo from the long-term plans of Sigi Schmid's Seattle Sounders is backfiring. Or it's just the fact that they lost to a couple of league heavyweights by the tune of 1-0.

    In the league opener on March 15, they were held scoreless in their 1-0 shutout to the Los Angeles Galaxy.

    “A tie, I think probably would have been a fair result, but it is what it is,” Schmid said.  “I was proud of the effort, I thought the effort was good.  The soccer at times was good.  It still could get better, but that’s a coach talking.”

    “It was an even game, and I would even go as far as to say we had better chances, but we weren’t as clinical," said Sounders midfielder Steve Zakuani. "They leave with the three points, so fair play to them.  But there’s 33 games left and nothing is decided in March concerning the playoffs, so we’re still optimistic.  The most important thing is that we’re creating chances. 

    "If their keeper didn’t have to do any work, that’s one story.  But we had some good chances, so that’s optimistic.  The hardest thing to do in football is to score, so that’s our last phase and that’s what we are pushing toward.”

    It didn't get any better for Seattle, as a certain New York Red Bull by the name of Juan Agudelo saw them off by a 1-0 scoreline.

    “I thought New York had more of the game in the first half, the possession for sure,” Schmid said.  “We knew that was going to happen.  I thought we created some good chances of the counterattack during the first half, but at the end of the day we gave up a bad goal.  We’ve got to be better than that.

    “We have to move on. When we play two of the better teams in the league and show that we can play them pretty even…now we just have to make sure that we come out with the results.”

    Moving on might be a good idea for the Sounders, who seem all but vulnerable in the early going. Their next match is with the Houston Dynamo on March 25. Kickoff at Qwest Field is scheduled for 7:00 p.m. PT/10:00 p.m. ET and will be televised by Fox Soccer Channel.

15. Chivas USA

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    Victor Decolongon/Getty Images

    New manager, same old Chivas USA.

    In his first year with the club, Robin Fraser saw the Goats lose a wild scoring festival to Sporting Kansas City at the Home Depot Center by the tune of 3-2.

    Jimmy Conrad scored in the 56th minute for Chivas USA, while Ben Zemanski opened his scoring account in the 84th minute of play.

    “We’re still in the process of finding our identity and finding just who we are,” Fraser said. “It was one of those situations where we looked at what we were showing and said, ‘We’re better than what is on the scoreboard and we were able to play with some urgency, and I was proud of the response.'”

    “I thought that we could have done a little bit better and the goal for us defensively is to put out fires before they start, and we didn’t do a good enough job to do that,” Conrad said of the team's performance. “We’d like to be perfect and we’re trying to be, but we still need to improve.”

    “The way that our team is, we did a fair job of possessing into the attacking end and if we do that, we’ll find gaps and seams for players like Alejandro to get in behind defenses,” Fraser added. “But, I don’t see us having a 20-goal scorer. I see us having a number of eight-, nine-, seven-goal scorers.

    “But there is no clear-cut person like a Taylor Twellman on this team. It’s going to have be goals by committee.”

    In any case, somebody needs to step up, and fast, because look out: here come the Colorado Rapids knocking on this door this Saturday at Victoria Street.

    Kickoff is scheduled for Saturday, March 26 at 7:30 p.m. PT/10:30 p.m. ET and will be televised locally by KDOC.

14. Houston Dynamo

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    Bob Levey/Getty Images

    Dominick Kinnear's Houston Dynamo will need to learn not to give up leads early because they can be insurmountable, and fast.

    Case in point: Week 1 against the Philadelphia Union, which saw them go down 1-0 in the fifth minute, while failing to generate any offense for the majority of the contest.

    “It was a disappointing night," Kinnear said. "We gave up one chance and lost the game. We created a few chances, and we came out without anything.”

    Defender Bobby Boswell put the loss in perspective.

    "We have a new group of guys, and it’s a new season," Boswell said. "I think if we had gotten one, it opens up the game. It is a game of goals, and it wasn’t going in right, and we weren’t helping ourselves out by not putting it in the frame. We didn’t help ourselves out giving up one so early.”

    “It was an early mistake, so there is no sense in getting down," said defender Andrew Hainault. "There is a lot of time to turn it around. That is something that me, Tally [Hall], and Bobby [Boswell] have to sort out. We are not going to get down; we are going to make sure we keep the spirits up."

    Houston will have to, because they have a problem in the form of the Seattle Sounders, who are in search of their first points of the season, too.

    Kickoff at Qwest Field is scheduled for 9:00 p.m. CT/10:00 p.m. ET and will be televised by Fox Soccer Channel.

13. Columbus Crew

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    Ned Dishman/Getty Images

    Robert Warzycha's Columbus Crew got a rude awakening in the form of D.C. United's Charlie Davies, who helped the Crew open their 2011 season with a 3-1 defeat at RFK Stadium.

    “No team wants to go the first seven, eight games without a win,” midfielder Eddie Gaven said on the loss. “You don’t want to start the season in a big hole like that, but at the same time this league is about getting hot at the right time. If you can get hot at the end of the year, you have a good chance to win a championship.”

    Robbie Rogers scored the only goal for the Crew in the 79th minute, but by that point, Columbus were in a no-win situation.

    Columbus could find themselves in another no-win situation when they face the New York Red Bulls in their home opener on Saturday, March 26. Can they bounce back?

    Kickoff is scheduled for 4:00 p.m. ET and will be televised locally by ONN-TV.

12. San Jose Earthquakes

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    Ezra Shaw/Getty Images

    Frank Yallop's San Jose Earthquakes opened their 2011 MLS campaign against one of the most consistent teams in the league in Real Salt Lake...and got shut out by the tune of 1-0.

    “I feel really, really upset for the guys not to get something out of that game, because I thought we played great tonight,” Yallop said. “I was very happy with the performance, and obviously not the result.”

    On a wet night and a wet surface at Buck Shaw Stadium on the campus of Santa Clara (Calif.) University, Chris Wondolowski didn't look like the Golden Boot winner from last year, wasting chance after chance after chance.

    “That’s on me,” Wondolowski told MLSsoccer.com. “I had three sitters I should have scored nine out of 10, 10 out of 10 times, and I didn’t get one of them. It’s very frustrating for me.”

    “We should have at least tied that game, if not won that game,” Busch said Earthquakes goalkeeper Jon Busch. “We can all look at the tape. They got very lucky tonight. Nick’s a very good goalkeeper, but I’ve never seen so many balls go through a goalie’s legs and not go in.

    “You’ve got to keep in mind, it’s the first game of the season. There’s still 33 games left. It’s disappointing, because we feel like, the way we played, we should have got something out of it. But soccer sometimes is a cruel game. And tonight is a perfect example.”

    Next Saturday, San Jose hits the road for a date with FC Dallas at Pizza Hut Park. Kickoff at the Oven is scheduled for 6:00 p.m. ET/9:00 p.m. ET and will be televised by Fox Sports Southwest Plus.

11. New England Revolution

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    Victor Decolongon/Getty Images

    You have to give Steve Nicol's New England Revolution a lot of credit for their will and determination to build on their success against the Los Angeles Galaxy.

    They opened their season on the road on Sunday, March 20 and came away with a 1-1 draw that could have been a 2-1 victory had it not been for a shot from Shalrie Joseph that hit the post in the second half.

    “It feels good starting the first game of the season getting a point on the road against a huge team like LA," Joseph said. "Coming down here and getting a point is good for our confidence."

    Joseph, who scored in the sixth minute for the Revolution, admitted that their first game had Revs victory written all over it.

    “I should have definitely done better. It should have been 2-1," he said. "I think Zak [Boggs] hit a shot and I was just following him up. Being in the box, Stevie told me to push on a little bit.

    "Once it fell to me, I tried to keep it low and on the target. I should have done better and scored it to put us up 2-1 to help win the game.”

    “I think the manner in which we did it was a team effort," Nicol said after the match. "We were in good shape, we defended well, we picked good spots. We are unlucky not to score more than one goal.”

    “The conditions weren’t really conducive for good soccer," said goalkeeper Matt Reis "It was more of a great battle. Roll up your sleeves and put your galoshes on. That kind of suited us with getting a point.”

    New England will look to make it three when they take on high-flying D.C. United at Gillette Stadium in Foxborough, Mass. Kickoff is scheduled for Saturday, March 26 at 4:30 p.m. ET and will be televised by Comcast SportsNet.

10. Chicago Fire

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    Brandon Wade/Getty Images

    Carlos De Los Cobos's Chicago Fire were in a firefight with FC Dallas to open the campaign. In the end, a early goal exchange was all Chicago could muster, settling for a 1-1 draw in the first leg of the Brimstone Cup at Pizza Hut Park in Frisco, Texas.

    Uruguayan international Diego Cháves scored in the 17th minute for the Fire and could have earned his brace in the 49th minute, but was denied by the woodwork.

    “Diego had a very good performance,” de los Cobos said of Chaves's performance. “It’s very good for the team that our striker scored. It’ll give him confidence, and the rest of the team will definitely believe in him.”

    “I like playing with them,” said Cháves. “We played some nice soccer and we generated some good chances.”

    More of Chicago's players will need to crank the heat up as they open their home stand on Saturday, March 26, when they host Sporting Kansas City. Kickoff is scheduled for 3:00 p.m. ET and will be televised by Telefutura.

9. Philadelphia Union

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    Bob Levey/Getty Images

    Peter Nowak's Philadelphia Union were applying the lessons learned from their inaugural season and turning it into a 1-0 win over the Houston Dynamo at Robertson Stadium in Houston.

    Danny Califf scored the game's only goal, off a rebound from a miss by Sebastien Le Toux in the fifth minute of play.

    “For the whole team it was a great sequence,”  Nowak said. “We always wait for the first goal. Going into the first game, it’s always a question mark. Danny played a very good game today with Carlos Valdes in the middle.

    "They got a couple of good blocks from shots. It’s great for him and great for the team, and we are excited to go back to Philadelphia and play our first home game.”

    “It was a fight from the outset,” Califf added. “I don’t think there was a whole lot of pretty play. The Dynamo did a great job of disrupting our offensive momentum, getting us to make it so we couldn’t possess the ball that much tonight.

    "We matched their intensity and effort. Getting the early goal helped us out, and we were able to lock it down defensively and get some key blocks on some great shots, and that was the difference.”

    Next up for the Union is their home opener against the Vancouver Whitecaps at PPL Park in Chester, Pennsylvania. Kickoff is scheduled for Saturday, March 26 at 4:00 p.m. ET and will be televised locally by 6abc.

8. Vancouver Whitecaps FC

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    Jeff Vinnick/Getty Images

    One of the biggest jumpers this week is Teitur Thordarsson's Vancouver Whitecaps, who opened their inaugural campaign on Saturday against fellow Canadian side Toronto FC.

    Eric Hassli earned a brace to help lead the Caps to a historic 4-2 victory over Toronto before a capacity crowd at the Empire Fields in Vancouver, B.C.

    "We couldn't have asked for a better start to our life in MLS," Thordarsson said. "We scored four goals and created a lot of chances. We could have possibly scored some more goals, but to win 4-2 in our very first MLS game is a dream come true.

    "I'm extremely happy with the players and with the team. I think we kept a good shape all the time, were disciplined, and worked extremely hard."

    Hassli scored in the 15th and 72nd minutes of play. Terry Dunfield opened his scoring account in the 26th minute and Atiba Harris didn't miss much from his days with FC Dallas, scoring in the 64th minute.

    "This was the most electric and intense set of emotions I have ever felt," said Vancouver's Wes Knight. "I didn't imagine it was going to be quite like this, but to get a win on such a day was not only great for our team and our confidence, but also for the whole city of Vancouver.

    "People know now that we are a legitimate side in MLS. The Whitecaps are here, and are here to stay."

    Vancouver will look to build on their confidence when they take on the Philadelphia Union at PPL Park. Kickoff is scheduled for Saturday, March 26 at 1:00 p.m. PT/4:00 p.m. ET and will be televised locally by SNET ONE.

7. Sporting Kansas City

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    A new look, and a new day for soccer in Kansas City began as Peter Vermes's Sporting Kansas City won a 3-2 goal festival over Chivas USA on the road at the Home Depot Center.

    Newly-acquired designated player Omar Bravo lived up to the billing for Sporting, scoring goals in first half stoppage time and the 74th minute, with Kei Kamara playing a key role in the deliveries.

    However, it was C.J. Sapong who opened the proceedings in the second minute of play.

    “It was dreamlike,” Sapong said after the match. “At that moment, I was just floating. I couldn’t think of anything to do but just run around and scream.”

    “The guys fought. There wasn’t any lack of effort,” Vermes said. “There are a few things that we could have done better, but at the end of the day, we scored goals and we got the points we needed.”

    “I’m happy with my debut in MLS, happy because the team won, happy because, to a certain point, the crowd respected me and treated me well, and that leaves me pleased and relaxed,” Bravo said. “I came to add, not to take away. This start gives me hope, but we’ve got a tough calendar ahead of us.

    "It’s nine more games that we have to play on the road. We have to take it step by step and play just like [Saturday].”

    Up next for Sporting in their road tour to Livestrong is a match with the Chicago Fire. Kickoff at Toyota Park is scheduled for Saturday, March 26, at 3:00 p.m. CT/4:00 p.m. ET and will be televised by Telefutura.

6. D.C. United

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    Charlie Davies is, as Usher Raymond would put it, a "zombie gone back to life."

    "I don’t even know what just happened tonight," Davies said. "Literally, it was just like a whirlwind. The support from the fans was overwhelming tonight, and I feel so overcome with emotion."

    Just several months removed from life-threatening injuries, D.C. United's new swingman returned to the pitch with a vengeance, and his brace was instrumental in helping D.C. secure a 3-1 win over the Columbus Crew.

    "This has been like a storybook tonight," Davies said. I don’t think you could write this stuff. You can’t make this up, and once the whistle blew I was so relieved that we had won. I looked at the fans and that’s when the emotion hit me.

    "I thought to myself, look at the support, look at how much people wanted me to succeed. To score two goals on my debut after a year and a half out, it’s honestly amazing.

    "I knew I was ready, and I knew that I wanted the opportunity, but it feels great to seize the moment. To survive the [car] accident and still be able to play soccer, it seems like there is a reason why it happened and this goes to show that with faith and belief that you can achieve the impossible. Tonight it feels like I achieved the impossible."

    Josh Wolff opened the proceedings off the delivery from Jed Zayner in the 51st minute of play. In the 63rd minute, Davies converted a spot kick, and in the 77th minute, he put the game out of reach thanks to Marc Burch.

    Still, United manager Ben Olsen kept his feet on the ground in spite of the victory.

    "I’m pretty pessimistic, so I don’t envision things like this, but it was a good night," Olsen said. "I really enjoyed it and I’m happy for those guys, it’s kind of like a monkey off the back early and now we can move forward.

    "It takes a complete team effort and we have another [game], so we will enjoy it tonight and get back to work and try and get that next [win].”

    That chance comes against the New England Revolution at Gillette Stadium. Kickoff in Foxborough is scheduled for Saturday, March 26 at 4:30 p.m. ET and will be televised by Comcast SportsNet.

5. FC Dallas

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    Brandon Wade/Getty Images

    Schellas Hyndman's FC Dallas resorted to exchanging goals in their 1-1 draw with the Chicago Fire at Pizza Hut Park.

    Milton Rodriguez scored a chaleira of a goal in the 18th minute of play thanks to Zach Loyd.

    Dallas were down to 10 men in the 55th minute with Brek Shea given his marching orders by way of the DOGSO Rule.

    In the end, solid goalkeeping from the ageless Kevin Hartman preserved the draw.

    “I thought Kevin Hartman made some fantastic saves at the end,” said Hyndman. “That last one that (Marco) Pappa took, you might not have seen it, but it was a deflection, and whenever a ball is deflected, the goalie is usually moving already and then now he has to re-adjust. What a brilliant save by Kevin.”

    “I was able to come up with some saves that I was pretty excited about," Hartman added.

    More of the same from El Gato will be in order when FC Dallas goes on a couple of matches this week.

    First, they have a Wednesday friendly with Tigres de la UANL. Kickoff at the Estadio Universitario in San Nicolas, Nuevo Leon, Mexico is scheduled for 9:45 p.m. CT/10:45 p.m. ET on Wednesday, March 23.

    The Hoops will then host the San Jose Earthquakes on Saturday, March 26. Kickoff at the Oven is scheduled for 8:00 p.m. CT/9:00 p.m. ET and will be televised locally by Fox Sports Southwest Plus.

4. Red Bull New York

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    Hans Backe's New York Red Bulls have a power trio after all. There's Thierry Henry, there's Rafa Marquez...and there's Juan Agudelo.

    Yes, Juan Agudelo. The young prodigy known as Juan Agudelo. The "I scored in the 70th minute to shut the Seattle Sounders up at Red Bull Arena" Juan Agudelo. Yes, that Juan Agudelo.

    “I think maybe he surprised the defenders with how strong he is," teammate Jan Gunnar Solli said. “He uses his power, his strength.”

    “It was exactly what I was trying to do," said Agudelo of his goal. "I noticed that they had a high line and the defenders were biting a bit behind me when I was trending towards the ball, so I just cut and looked for the long ball. It was a perfect ball by Teemu, couldn’t have been played better.”

    “He surprised me today,” Backe said. “I was very happy with the decisions he made today. I don’t think he lost the ball much today–he played safe.”

    Of course, Agudelo will not be in action for the Red Bulls in their next match with the Columbus Crew on Saturday, March 26. He's slated to suit up for the States as they take on Lionel Messi and Argentina. And he could be seeing action on March 29 against Paraguay.

    “I don’t know how it’s going to work out,” Agudelo said of the United States roster for Saturday. “There’s some big names. Everyone knows that when a forward scores a goal, there’s some momentum going into the next game.”

    Kickoff for the Red Bulls' contest with the Crew is scheduled for 4:00 p.m. ET.

3. Los Angeles Galaxy

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    Victor Decolongon/Getty Images

    Bruce Arena's Los Angeles Galaxy had a hit-and-miss week to open their 2011 MLS campaign. They may have found their next Edson Buddle in a Brazilian by the name of Juninho.

    In the 58th minute, Juninho broke the hearts of Seattle Sounders fans around the world with a powerful blast past Kasey Keller to give the Galaxy a 1-0 victory.

    "When it was 1-0, the objective wasn't to get another goal as much as it was to keep the score 1-0," Arena said. "That's what we had to do. The conditions weren't easy and we were against a team playing in front of a crowd that's supportive.

    "Our backs had to be against the wall the last 10 or 15 minutes. You have to be experienced to get out of here with a win and that's what we did."

    Team captain Landon Donovan was quick to point one thing out. Actually, a few things.

    "There's not another team in our league that could go without two starting center backs, their starting goalie, and one of their forwards and win here," Donovan said. "We're proud of that, but it's just the beginning and it's early."

    One of those players was Juan Pablo Angel, who came in as a substitute in LA's home opener with the New England Revolution. A rainy surface led to sloppy plays and wasted finishing. Once again, the leg of Juninho in the 39th minute saved face for the Galaxy, who settled for a 1-1 draw.

    And for LA, it could have swung in their favor, but a number of would-be goals were called back for offsides, and this is something that will need to be addressed heading into their next match.

    “I think on the night, our team played very well," Arena said. "Obviously, conceding a goal in the opening minutes put our backs to the wall. I think we responded well and got a goal back and probably had another goal, although the referee doesn’t agree with that. I think we played well.

    "We could have scored a bunch of goals. We fell short there, but overall the passing of the ball, creating chances, defending was good. We just didn’t get that second goal. I thought we did a lot of good things tonight. Overall, it was a positive performance. Certainly, we are not happy with a point. This is a game we should win.”

    “It is enjoyable for us," said Donovan on the weather. "For everyone else it is difficult. I actually thought we did a good job considering the conditions and trying to play through it."

    “It was tougher tonight because obviously you had the wind, you had the rain," said midfielder David Beckham, who had a tough time with his set pieces on Sunday. "It was a constant heavy rain, not just a drizzle. I would say the conditions were difficult, but it is the same for both teams. It is difficult to play beautiful football in that kind of weather. I think at times we played well.

    "I think we deserved to win the game. We created enough chances and I think one of the goals should have definitely counted, the one that Reis dropped, but it happens. We are happy with the effort that the guys gave and the chances they created. Obviously, disappointed to not get the three points.”

    Los Angeles cannot rely on Juninho alone. Other players must step up, especially with their next game on March 26 against the team that ended their initial unbeaten run in 2010, Real Salt Lake.

    Kickoff at Rio Tinto Stadium in Sandy, Utah is scheduled for 6:00 p.m. PT/9:00 p.m. ET and will be televised by Fox Sports Prime Ticket on tape delay at 10:30 p.m. PT.

2. Real Salt Lake

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    Jason Kreis's Real Salt Lake, fresh off beating Deportivo Saprissa 2-0 in the first leg of their CONCACAF Champions League semifinal, brought more of the same as their opened up their MLS campaign against the San Jose Earthquakes.

    On a wet and rainy night at Buck Shaw Stadium, Kyle Beckerman scored in the 64th minute to give RSL a hard-fought 1-0 victory.

    “The result was huge," Kreis said. "We got the goal from Kyle and then just battled. It became a bit of a war of attrition there at the end. I’m glad that the clock ran out.”

    Beckerman noted that San Jose was pushing hard for an equalizer.

    “They brought a lot of energy," Beckerman said of the Quakes. "They have a new formation, and I think they have a bit of confidence from last season, so we knew it was going to be a tough game.”

    But in order to achieve a shutout you need solid goalkeeping, and Real Salt Lake goalkeeper Nick Rimando delivered, stopping shot after shot after shot with reckless abandon.

    ”When you have a veteran goalkeeper and great shot stopper like Nick, it gives the defense a lot more confidence," said defender Nat Borcers. "He was awesome tonight. We got the shutout and I attribute most of that to him.”

    Look for Rimando to play a key role in RSL's chances this Saturday, when they host the Los Angeles Galaxy on March 26 at Rio Tinto Stadium. Kickoff is scheduled for 7:00 p.m. MT/9:00 p.m. ET.

1. Colorado Rapids

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    At the top of our Power Rankings this week are Gary Smith's Colorado Rapids, who dusted off the Portland Timbers 3-1 at Dick's Sporting Goods Park in Commerce City, Colo.

    Jeff Larentowicz scored the club's first goal of the season, thanks to Omar Cummings in the eighth minute of play.

    Cummings himself scored in the 29th minute and Jamie Smith capitalized on the delivery from Conor Casey in the 30th minute of play to put the game out of reach early and often.

    "I think the group was pleased to get the first game under their belts and get some points on the board," Smith said after the match. "I think we always knew it would be a tough game and one or two of the goals in the first half were a little fortuitous.

    "The ball broke our way but we took nice advantage of it and of course Jamie’s goal was a wonderful strike. Second period was also competitive, to be expected.

    "Portland are a well-organized and well-equipped group, and I think as you see this season unfold, you’re going to see a very strong team.”

    So far, early indications show that Colorado haven't missed much from their 2010 MLS Cup-winning campaign, and they will look to keep the defense going when they take on Chivas USA at the Home Depot Center.

    Kickoff is scheduled for Saturday, March 26 at 8:30 p.m. MT/10:30 p.m. ET and will be televised locally by Altitude 2.

     

    Next MLS Power Rankings: Week 2, March 28, 2011

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