Check this out: Not one Western Conference team won in Week 2. For at least the last four years, the Western Conference was clearly the dominant side in Major League Soccer standings, but the gap is closing quick and may indeed be about even with their Eastern Conference counterparts.
1. Vancouver Whitecaps (Tied Chivas USA 1-1) After their four-goal outburst during the opening week against the New York Red Bulls, Vancouver had to settle for a deadlock against the marginally improved Chivas USA. We expected Vancouver to be tougher last year and they missed the playoffs. Their offseason wasn't the greatest, but Vancouver will be one of the tougher matches in the Western Conference this year.
2. Seattle Sounders (Lost to Toronto FC 2-1) We still think Seattle should be tops in the Western Conference this year, but the newly star-studded Toronto FC snowed Seattle with the Jermaine Defoe Show early in the first half and staved off the Sounders the rest of the way. Clint Dempsey still got heaps of plaudits for scoring a goal, but shouldn't that be expected?
3. FC Dallas (Tied Sporting Kansas City 1-1) Oscar Pareja's team couldn't muster a shot on goal all game until a 90th minute set piece. And whaddaya know? Dallas scored in the hostile confines of Sporting Park to get a much-needed early result. FC Dallas isn't setting the world on fire, but two weeks in they've got four points out of six.
4. Real Salt Lake (Tied San Jose Earthquakes 3-3) RSL and the Quakes squared off in a matchup of two of the league's most eminently unlikable teams and of course, no one emerged a winner. But the Quakes get to feel better knowing they battled back from a 3-1 deficit and thwarted Nick Rimando for a pair of second half goals.
5. San Jose Earthquakes (Tied Real Salt Lake 3-3) Yeah, yeah, the Quakes love to score improbable stoppage time goals, et cetra, et cetra. But the question remains: Does MLS need another team sporting a red jersey? (Or blue, for that matter? - Ed)
6. Portland Timbers (Tied Chicago Fire 1-1) MLS schedulers hooked up Portland and Seattle with back-to-back home games to get their respective seasons off to roaring starts. But neither team has made the most of the advantage. For two weeks, Portland fell behind early only to exact a tie late each time. The fact they both came to middling Eastern Conference squads (Seattle had two tough outs at CenturyLink) is a matter of concern.
7. Colorado Rapids (Tied New York Red Bulls 1-1) Pablo Mastroeni's team looked like a hot mess for the opening 15 minutes but settled down and outplayed the Energy Drinks for most of the rest of the way. The Rapids looked unsettled in the midfield much of the way with needless turnovers and the offense looked a tad lost, but congratulations to a solid defensive effort.
8. Los Angeles Galaxy (Idle) It's hard to get excited about this year's Galaxy team. We might be wrong by assigning them this low of a ranking, but we'll enjoy it while it lasts.
9. Chivas USA (Tied Vancouver Whitecaps 1-1) We're not gonna sing tunes of praise for the Goats unless they're picking up results from solid teams by week 5. This lineup is better than last year's patchwork affair, but not enough to warrant striking much fear in the hearts of opponents later on this year.
1. Houston Dynamo (Defeated Montreal Impact 1-0) Will Bruin has three of the Dynamo's five goals on the season. Houston has yet to surrender a goal, as well. It's all further proof that you can never count these guys out.
2. Sporting Kansas City (Tied FC Dallas 1-1) It was a playground fight at Sporting Park last weekend. SKC coach Peter Vermes said of his team twice squandering late goals: "That's not who we are." But that's been a common pattern of SKC for the last couple of years.
3. Toronto FC (Defeated Seattle Sounders 2-1) Michael Bradley got all the hype going into the tilt in Seattle, but Jermaine Defoe was the show-stopper with two early goals that put matters out of reach for an ordinarily dangerous Sounders squad. We weren't, and still aren't, sold on this Toronto team. But you can't ask for a better start than a road win in Seattle.
4. Philadelphia Union (Defeated New England Revolution 1-0) We like the way Philadelphia's midfield is shaping up. And while we've been critical of Zach MacMath's goalkeeping, he held the Revs at bay for a nice victory over an admittedly weak New England side. This team may hang around long enough this season to get a top four finish in the conference.
5. Columbus Crew (Idle) Even though they didn't do anything last week, we like the prospects of a much-improved Crew side this year. Of all the teams in the East playing this week, we're probably the most intrigued by the Crew's game at home against the Union in Week 3.
6. New York Red Bulls (Tied Colorado Rapids 1-1) This can't be the way Mike Petke wanted to start the 2014 campaign. After getting throttled by Vancouver in the opening week, the Red Bulls seemed on their way to charming the home crowd by having the Rapids by their throat early in Saturday's game. And then they backed off and looked pretty weak the rest of the way, save for a savvy Theirry Henry goal in the second half.
7. Chicago Fire (Tied Portland Timbers 1-1) Portland didn't drop many results at home last year, so kudos to a Fire squad that faces its difficulties for getting a point from Rose City. We have to admit to missing Jeff Larentowicz's sublime penalty-kick talents when we watched him put another one in the net from the spot last week.
8. Montreal Impact (Lost to Houston Dynamo 1-0) While the Eastern Conference has improved since last year, from Montreal on down is where the conference looks pretty slim. Montreal is the weak link among MLS's Canadian set, and reaching the playoffs for another knife fight like last year seems unlikely for the Impact.
9. D.C. United (Idle) Congrats, D.C., you moved up by the dint of your Week 2 inactivity.
10. New England Revolution (Lost 1-0 to Philadelphia Union) What a tragic start for the Revs. We thought maybe they had spruced up their offensive offering with Teal Bunbury, but so far nobody's home for the Revs.
Vancouver at New England - Vancouver victory
Los Angeles at Real Salt Lake - Draw
Seattle at Montreal - Seattle victory
D.C. United at Toronto - Toronto victory
Philadelphia at Columbus - Columbus victory
Portland at Colorado - Colorado victory
San Jose and Kansas City - Draw
Chivas USA at Dallas - Dallas victory