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MLS 2018 Power Rankings, Week 1: Columbus starts the year on top

The Crew is off to a hot start in MLS 2018.

MLS: Columbus Crew at Toronto FC Dan Hamilton-USA TODAY Sports

The first week of a new season is perhaps the ideal setting for a Power Ranking. This list is a snap judgement at the best of times, and a one-week sample size doesn’t allow opportunity for anything more than a quick decision.

1. Columbus Crew

  • 3 points; 1st in Eastern Conference
  • 2nd in Supporters’ Shield standings
  • Last result: Toronto FC 0-2 Columbus

TFC was the best team in MLS in 2017 by a very comfortable margin, winning the Shield by 12 points and outlasting the field in the playoffs to claim MLS Cup. Not a lot has changed in the TFC squad for 2018, which gives rise to the expectation that the reigning MLS League and Cup champion will once again be a title contender.

Columbus, by contrast, is facing an uncertain future, off-loaded a number of its higher-profile players in the off-season, and might yet watch its 2018 implode as the team’s ownership pushes forward with its desire to move the Crew to Texas.

But those seemingly divergent fortunes counted for nothing on Opening Day. Columbus went to Toronto and took three points away from the MLS champion on its own turf.

2. Houston Dynamo

  • 3 points; 1st in Western Conference
  • 1st in Shield standings
  • Last result: Houston 4-0 Atlanta

No team scored more than the Dynamo in Week 1 of MLS 2018. Houston was very good at home last season, and maybe this opening round result was mostly a function of home advantage and Atlanta not quite working out how to cover some of its weaknesses on the field. But no need to quibble over these things in the first Power Ranking of the season.

3. NYCFC

  • 3 points; 2nd in East
  • 3rd in Shield standings
  • Last result: Sporting KC 0-2 NYCFC

It is no small thing to go to KC and beat Sporting (RBNY couldn’t do it in two attempts last year), and NYCFC has cause to feel aggrieved at only being regarded as the third-hottest team in MLS by this Ranking after its opening-day away win.

4. LAFC

  • 3 points; 5th in West
  • 6th in Shield standings
  • Last result: Seattle 0-1 LAFC

MLS’ newest team has stumbled into 2018 with a roster that looks like someone forgot what they set out to do halfway through putting it together. But that didn’t stop head coach Bob Bradley marching his team into Seattle for its inaugural league game and marching out with three points.

5. San Jose Earthquakes

  • 3 points; 2nd in West
  • 5th in Shield standings
  • Last result: San Jose 3-2 Minnesota

Wobbled a little toward the end of a game they appeared to be winning comfortably, but the Quakes did enough to draw positive attention to themselves in Week 1.

6. Vancouver Whitecaps

  • 3 points; 4th in West
  • 7th in Shield standings
  • Last result: VWFC 2-1 Montreal

Solid start to the year for the Caps.

7. LA Galaxy

  • 3 points; 3rd in West
  • 6th in Shield standings
  • Last result: Galaxy 2-1 Portland

LA is perhaps deserving of a higher ranking after beating the team that topped the Western Conference in 2017 in Week 1 of 2018.

8. Philadelphia Union

  • 3 points; 3rd in East
  • 4th in Shield standings
  • Last result: Philadelphia 2-0 New England

The Revs made such a hash of the game that the Union is maybe not getting as much credit as it should for a comfortable opening-day home win.

9. Orlando City

  • 1 point; 5th in East
  • 11th in Shield standings
  • Last result: Orlando 1-1 DCU

Down a goal and a man at half-time, it would have been understandable if OCSC accepted it was having an off day and allowed DC to leave Orlando with three points. But a stoppage-time equalizer was deserved reward for a team that didn’t quit on itself.

10. Real Salt Lake

  • 1 point; 7th in West
  • 12th in Shield standings
  • Last result: FCD 1-1 RSL

Almost pulled off a smash-and-grab in Dallas.

11. FC Dallas

  • 1 point; 6th in West
  • 10th in Shield standings
  • Last result: FCD 1-1 RSL

Left it a little late to avoid an opening-day home loss.

12. D.C. United

  • 1 point; 4th in East
  • 9th in Shield standings
  • Last result: Orlando 1-1 DCU

Let an away win slip away at the last minute.

13. Portland Timbers

  • 0 points; 10th in West
  • 18th in Shield standings
  • Last result: LA Galaxy 2-1 Portland

The Power Rankings are guessing the Timbers were merely first to discover the Galaxy is a little better this year than it was last season.

14. Seattle Sounders

  • 0 points; 11th in West
  • 19th in Shield standings
  • Last result: Seattle 0-1 LAFC

The Sounders made a bit of a mess of what had seemed like a golden opportunity to start the season with three points - hosting expansion side LAFC in Week 1 - but perhaps they were more focused on their ongoing, and so far successful, run in CONCACAF Champions League.

15. Montreal Impact

  • 0 points; 8th in East
  • 17th in Shield standings
  • Last result: VWFC 2-1 Montreal

Seems L’Impact needs a little more time to find its best form.

16. Minnesota United

  • 0 points; 9th in West
  • 16th in Shield standings
  • Last result: SJ 3-2 Minnesota United

If the Minnesota that threatened to get a point from this game in the last 10 minutes shows up for the rest of the season, MNUFC won’t do badly at all in 2018. But the team that shipped three goals in the opening hour of the game looks like one that will struggle to keep up with the rest of the league.

17. Toronto FC

  • 0 points; 10th in East
  • 22nd in Shield standings
  • Last result: TFC 0-2 Columbus

TFC will surely take a surprise loss or two in MLS if it can keep finding surprise wins in CCL.

18. Sporting Kansas City

  • 0 points; 12th in West
  • 21st in Shield standings
  • Last result: KC 0-2 NYCFC

Not a great start to the year for KC.

19. Atlanta United

  • 0 points; 11th in East
  • 23rd in Shield standings
  • Last result: Houston 4-0 Atlanta

There are high expectations for Atlanta this season, and the team will hope to get back on the path to fulfilling them in Week 2.

20. New England Revolution

  • 0 points; 9th in East
  • 20th in Shield race
  • Last result: Philadelphia 2-0 New England

A routine road loss in Week 1 is not so bad, but finishing the game with nine men after two red cards suggests the Revs’ opening-day issues might follow them to Week 2.

T21. New York Red Bulls; Colorado Rapids; Chicago Fire

None of these teams played MLS in Week 1, and therefore none showed any power that registers on these Rankings. Joint 21st on the list for RBNY, Colorado, and Chicago.