1. Being an expansion team is not so hard
History suggests that being an expansion team isn't a bad gig in MLS. Chicago Fire won MLS Cup and US Open Cup in its debut season. Houston Dynamo wasn't technically an expansion team, just relocated, but it too won MLS Cup in its first year. Seattle Sounders won US Open Cup in their first year in MLS, and made the playoffs.
It is true that expansion teams often struggle in their first year in the league, and some struggle for a long time after that: Miami Fusion and Chivas USA no longer exist; Toronto FC is hoping this will be the year it finally makes the post-season; Real Salt Lake, Philadelphia Union, Montreal Impact, Portland Timber and Vancouver Whitecaps did not have spectacular inaugural campaigns in MLS.
So it is often the case that expansion teams start out slowly in MLS, but it is not inevitable. It is only the second week of the 2015 season, which is much too soon to be drawing any conclusions about any team, but so far both this year's newcomers - Orlando City and NYC FC - seem to be coping just fine. They tied each other in Week 1, and each posted a clean sheet and win in Week 2.
Orlando's win was the more impressive, because it was on the road against a Houston team that had bagged three points in its home opener. The Dynamo ended up looking inept: failing to get a single shot on target and losing courtesy of a goalkeeping blunder that left Tyler Deric to choose between scoring an own goal or being sent off. He opted for the former; Houston lost 1-0. OCSC has four points from two games despite clearly needing more games to develop the sort of fluidity one expects from a team with Kaka as its playmaker.
Over in Yankee Stadium, NYC FC got off to a perfect start in its imperfect home: a 2-0 win over last season's MLS Cup runner-up, New England Revolution, sparked by David Villa, the star the team is expecting to run its attack this year. There will be tougher tests than the lackluster Revs, who seem to be missing Jermaine Jones terribly, but NYC FC also looks like a team with much improving still to do. And it too has four points to show for its first two weeks in MLS.
The expansion teams are at the top of the Eastern Conference after Week 2. Neither is favorite to stay there, but neither has given reason to believe they'll be pushovers this season.
2. Chris Wondolowski's 100th MLS regular season goal is not far away
Wondo finished the 2014 season with a career total of 93 MLS regular season goals, so we already knew that 2015 would likely be the year he cracked 100 league goals. It's a notable achievement: only eight players have managed it to date. And by scoring twice this week, against the Sounders on the road no less, he issued a reminder that this should be his year to cement his place among MLS's elite all-time goalscorers.
He's now five goals short of the century, and the schedule provides San Jose four of its next six matches at home. Five goals in six games is quite a clip, but if Wondo is getting hot, he's one of the few strikers in the league who might reasonably be thought capable of doing it.
He should be expected to break 100 goals this season, since he's had double-digit returns every year since 2010. Now the question is whether he can do it by the end of April, in the Quakes' brand new stadium, and focus the rest of the year on seeing how much further up the all-time MLS scoring chart he can climb.
3. The 300 club will grow significantly in 2015
At the start of the 20th season MLS, 26 players have logged 300 or more career regular season appearances. By the end of it, that group may have grown to as many as 37.
Justin Mapp's elbow injury in Week 1 prevented him from joining the club this week, but he should expect to join MLS's 300 club as soon as he is fit again: he has 299 appearances to his name.
Jon Busch got a start in goal for Chicago Fire this week. His appearances are expected to be limited this season, since Sean Johnson is the Fire's clear number one 'keeper. But another injury problem or an international call up (say for this summer's Gold Cup) should provide Busch with the two appearances he needs to get to 300.
Edson Buddle just signed for LA Galaxy, but may struggle to get even the eight appearances he needs to join the club. As such, the favorite to be the next inductee to MLS's 300 club is D.C. United's Bobby Boswell, who is also just eight appearances short, currently fit, and looking likely to rack up regular starts for his team.
Also expect Nat Borchers (290 career regular season appearances to date) and Chad Marshall (286) to hit 300 fairly early in the season.
The longer shots are Drew Moor (18 appearances short, but still recovering from a serious injury that ended his 2014 season), Todd Dunivant (20 games away from 300, but no longer a starter for LA Galaxy), Jeff Larentowicz (26 games short, so hoping for an injury-free season), Mike Magee (also 26 games short, and still recovering from the surgery that shut down his 2014), and Chris Wingert (29 appearances below 300, so also hoping to stay fit and in form for most of the year).
As those players edge closer to 300 appearances in MLS, and a few more move toward hitting the mark in 2016, the 300 club will inevitably lose its luster.
The 350 club is the next horizon, currently comprising just five players (Kevin Hartman, Steve Ralston, Nick Rimando, Jeff Cunningham, and Kyle Beckerman), but with two more likely inductees this season (Brad Davis - 340 career appearances to date; Davy Arnaud - 329) and one longshot (Brian Carroll - 28 games short, but out of favor in Philadelphia at the moment).
4. FC Dallas and Columbus Crew are the teams to beat at the moment
It's a nonsense to be talking about form over two games, as demonstrated by this week's results. Still, let's talk some nonsense.
Last week, Seattle looked very impressive; this week the Sounders were rolled over at home as the Quakes found Brad Evans to be the weakest link in defense and exploited him again and again. LA knocked over Chicago without ever really getting out of first gear; the Galaxy needed a stoppage-time equalizer this week to squeak out of Portland with a point. Toronto FC also looked good in Week 1, coming back from a poor first half to beat Vancouver on the road; this week, still on the road, TFC was pushed aside by Columbus.
The early weeks of the season are particularly volatile in terms of assessments of which teams are good and which are not. All we can do for now is evaluate who looks best week-to-week, and right now it's all change at the top.
Discount unbeaten Orlando and NYC FC for the moment: they've played each other and benefited from an unusual goalkeeping howler and playing New England without Jermaine Jones. This site doesn't do Power Rankings, but if it did, this week's top two would be Columbus and FC Dallas.
FCD keeps getting lucky. A 92nd minute winner last week was followed by a go-ahead goal against Sporting Kansas City this week that was gifted by a colossal refereeing error. Half FCD's players lined up offside, but there was no flag, and Blas Perez got the goal that put the home team ahead.
So Dallas has won two out of two, but we haven't seen the team play on the road yet. If it can get a result in Philadelphia next week - a team that failed to win a home game it dominated in Week 1 and almost won one it didn't on the road in Week 2 - then maybe we can start to think of FCD as a legitimate threat to preseason assumption that Seattle or LA would run away with the Western Conference.
Over in the East, the Crew's win over Toronto looked a lot like its loss to Houston in Week 1 - and that is encouraging. The team seems to have a solid game plan, sufficient depth to execute even when key players are missing (Tony Tchani was suspended this week), and sufficient confidence in its preferred style and tactics to stick with it even when the ball isn't hitting the net (both goals this week came in the second half).
Columbus now has a week off before hosting the New York Red Bulls, which means there will be new favorites in the East by the time we see the Crew again since the early part of the season encourages quick shifts in opinion. But Gregg Berhalter's side looks ominously certain of its identity as a team and the role of each player within the squad.
It's only Week 2. Neither FCD nor Columbus may hold on to their respective crowns for very long (Toronto and Seattle, last week's anointed "best" lasted a week), but credit where it's due: they have laid down an early challenge to the teams in their conferences.
5. Sporting Kansas City is teetering on the edge of a serious problem in attack
No team should be panicking after two games, and KC can look back at the last two weeks and feel it has less to show for its efforts than it deserves. In Week 1, after being reduced to 10 men, Sporting bounced back and finished the game against RBNY looking most likely to score. Somehow, Dominic Dwyer contrived to put just one of five shots on target, and none past the 'keeper. He scored 22 goals last year, so fair to call that game an aberration: give him opportunities and he will score regularly.
This week, KC could once again count itself unlucky: it fell behind to a dreadful refereeing decision, but still had chance to salvage something. In the 79th minute, the team won a penalty. The score was 3-1 at the time, so a goal could have set up a frenzied chase for an equalizer. Dom Dwyer stepped up - and saw his kick saved. And he scuffed a chance in the 69th minute when the score was still 2-1.
Dwyer is not in form right now. At least, his finishing is off. The rest of his game seems to be in good shape: he's finding good positions and has yet to be called offside this season, suggesting he is timing his runs well and anticipating the passes headed his way.
A couple of games is no big deal in the greater scheme of things. If Dwyer shakes off the rust and finds the net next week, all will be forgotten. But if his drought persists, KC has a problem, because the team is set up to rely on Dwyer's scoring touch.
Last season, his form demanded attention. He scored 22 goals; the rest of the team combined scored 25. He was given a lot of chances: he took 113 shots; Benny Feilhaber attempted the second-most - 47.
This season, he is again leading the team in shots: he's tried eight, got three on target, scored none. But the other forwards on the roster look unlikely candidates to compensate for an extended Dwyer dry spell. Krisztian Nemeth hasn't been a high-volume goalscorer since he was a teenager, and his seven shots in the last two games have all been off-target. Jacob Peterson has scored 15 regular season goals in the last nine years. James Ansu-Rogers is a rookie.
The squad can score goals in other ways: Graham Zusi and Benny Feilhaber are attacking threats in their own right - but neither has had a double-digit scoring season in their MLS career to date.
Two games is too early to panic, and at least Dwyer is getting the ball and getting his chances, which is more than the similarly challenged New York Red Bulls managed to do for Bradley Wright-Phillips in his first outing of the season. But it is a problem KC needs to address. Its current squad was built around the assumption Dwyer would take his chances, and either that needs to start happening in the next three or four games, or an alternative needs to emerge. Because after that, KC hits a stretch of three out of four games on the road, and bad luck can quickly calcify into just plain bad if early season struggles become habit.