A scheduling wrinkle meant that Colorado Rapids fans missed out on the hype of opening week for Major League Soccer. Nonetheless, it was a pretty compelling opening week.
For each Thursday's edition of the Daily Wave, we plan to post conference rankings that reflect the recent form and overall quality of each side relative to their conference foes. Also, we'll drop in some predictions of the upcoming weekend games in case you're hanging out in a Las Vegas sports book and have some money to burn on MLS action.
1. Seattle Sounders (Defeated Sporting Kansas City 1-0) The Sounders opened up at home against the defending MLS champs Sporting Kansas City, a game in which play was mostly deadlocked around midfield. SKC coughed the ball up late and Seattle punished them for it. New keeper Steve Frei looked a bit shaky, but from top to bottom, Seattle looks to be the Western Conference pacesetter.
2. Vancouver Whitecaps (Defeated New York Red Bulls 4-1) The most surprising result of the weekend was Vancouver's offensive onslaught on the defending Supporters Shield winners. Many people wondered where the 'Caps would get their goals since Camilo Sanvezzo absconded from the club, but Vancouver may be the sleeper team of the west.
3. Real Salt Lake (Defeated Los Angeles Galaxy 1-0) Every offseason seems like a shaky one for the Rapids' Rocky Mountain rivals, but workmanlike RSL seems to keep plowing ahead with results. Nick Rimando should get free lunches for weeks from his teammates for the way he preserved a victory over the Galaxy.
4. Portland Timbers (Tied Philadelphia Union 1-1) A lackluster performance over an average Union squad isn't much cause for concern for the Timbers. They'll scales the conference standings soon enough.
5. San Jose Earthquakes (Idle) Mark Watson didn't make friends in Colorado last year when he jawed on the sidelines with then-Rapids coach Oscar Pareja. But he did a fine job rescuing the flotsam that was the early-season Quakes last year, which figure to be a tough out in the west this year.
6. FC Dallas (Defeated Montreal Impact 3-2) Pareja got a nice win in his Dallas coaching debut over a weak Montreal team. Hendry Thomas, the Rapids defensive midfielder who followed Pareja to Texas, had a poor showing for the Hoops.
7. Los Angeles Galaxy (Lost to RSL 1-0) We hate to put L.A. this far down in the rankings, but is this the year we finally see a punchless Galaxy squad?
8. Colorado Rapids (Idle) The Rapids on paper did little to bolster their squad in the offseason. But if Dillon Serna, Charles Eloudou and Jose Mari step up and prove to be suitable replacements to the dearly departed like Thomas and Martin Rivero, the Rapids should make the playoffs.
9. Chivas USA (Defeated Chicago Fire 3-2) A nice win for the Goats, but let's not get too excited that the league's weakest link will be much of a threat. The Fire aren't that good, and Chivas has make it a bit of a habit of starting strong and quickly fading.
1. Houston Dynamo (Defeated New England Revolution 4-0) The Dynamo furiously dispatched the New England Revolution, a team that entered the MLS season with some measure of hype with a collection of offseason moves. Behind Will Bruin's brace, the normally defensive-minded Dynamo put on a goalscoring show.
2. Sporting Kansas City (Lost to Seattle Sounders 1-0) New keeper Eric Kronberg had a few nice saves against Seattle but got washed out in the messy exchange that led to Seattle's last minute game-winner. But the question for SKC still persists: Who will score the goals?
3. Columbus Crew (Defeated D.C. United 3-0) The Crew could be the Eastern Conference's surprise team this year. We liked the moves they made in the offseason and Federico Higuain may prove to be the league's biggest offensive threat.
4. New York Red Bulls (Lost to Vancouver Whitecaps 4-1) It was a rough opening week for all of last year's trophy winners, but none worse than the beating sustained by the Red Bulls in western Canada. They already have a big game at home this weekend against the Rapids to see what kind of team this is.
5. Toronto FC (Idle) The big spenders of 2014 got to sleep on their piles of cash during opening week. Still unknown is whether MLS sides can build effective squads with just a few big signings. The rest of the lineup still has holes.
6. Philadelphia Union (Tied Portland Timbers 1-1) The Union got a nice hardscrabble result in hostile territory against the Timbers. But Zach MacMath is still a slipshod keeper and may continue to be a liability to this squad.
7. Montreal Impact (Lost to FC Dallas 3-2) The Impact deserve all the bad luck they get for the disgraceful way they exited the playoffs last year.
8. Chicago Fire (Lost to Chivas USA 3-2) The Fire's weaknesses from last year were disguised by the virtuoso performance by Mike McGee, but this is still a mediocre squad that will probably get eaten up in a much-improved Eastern Conference.
9. New England Revolution (Lost to Houston Dynamo 4-0) The Revs came out brutally flat against Houston. Too bad, because they made a bunch of smart offseason moves and have nothing to show for it so far.
10. D.C. United (Lost to Columbus Crew 3-0) Good luck keeping your job this year, Ben Olsen.
Philadelphia at New England - Philadelphia victory
Colorado at New York - Draw
Toronto at Seattle - Seattle victory
Dallas at Sporting KC - Sporting KC victory
Montreal at Houston - Houston victory
RSL at San Jose - Draw
Chicago at Portland - Portland victory
Vancouver at Chivas USA - Vancouver victory