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Last Year’s MLS Championship Contenders Struggle Early On

Cincinnati goalkeeper Spencer Richey (18) makes a save during the MLS match between FC Cincinnati and Atlanta United FC on March 10th, 2019 at Mercedes Benz Stadium Fifth Third Bank Stadium in Atlanta, GA. (Photo by Rich von Biberstein/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

SALT LAKE CITY, Utah – The two teams that played in the championship game last have both struggled during the young 2019 season. The runner-up Portland was blown out in Week 2, and reigning MLS Cup champion Atlanta United has only earned one point.

It’s only the second week of Major League Soccer’s 2019 campaign, and several interesting storylines have already begun to emerge.

In an early matchup of Western Conference powerhouses, the Los Angeles Football Club easily defeated the Timbers 4-1 in California. The convincing loss dropped Portland 6 spots to number 15.

Expansion club FC Cincinnati picked up the franchise’s first-ever point in a 1-1 draw against Atlanta United FC at Mercedez-Benz Stadium. It was an impressive accomplishment against the 2018 Cup winners.

Speaking of the reigning champs, Atlanta has yet to win, and have only scored one point. Both of their games were played at home – not the way fans expected to see the season start.

Locally, Real Salt Lake picked up their first win with a 1-0 victory over Vancouver. It was enough to jump two spots in the KSL Sports Power Rankings.

Here are the rest of the rankings after Week 2:

1. LAFC (2-0-0, 6 Points)

Result: 4-1 win over Portland Timbers at home.

Recap: LAFC put a very talented Portland Timbers team away with a very promising 4-1 performance. Carlos Vela was untouchable as the hosts routed a Timbers outfit that should make it to the playoffs in 2019.

Previous Ranking: 4

Next Up: at NYCFC (0-0-2), Sunday at 1 p.m. on FS1.

2. Seattle Sounders FC (2-0-0, 6 Points)

Result: 2-0 win over Colorado Rapids at home.

Recap: The Sounders did all their damage within the first 8 minutes of the game – essentially ending the match before it even started. It was another promising performance from a historically very good western conference team.

Previous Ranking: 3

Next Up: at Chicago Fire (0-1-1), Saturday at 11 a.m.

3. Minnesota United FC (2-0-0, 6 Points)

Result: 3-0 win over San Jose Earthquakes on the road.

Recap: Minnesota’s dream start continuous after the 3-0 routing over the Earthquakes. A road victory in which United were the dominant team and were well deserving of the victory. Darwin Quintero and Miguel Ibarra were too much for the Earthquakes to handle.

Previous Ranking: 6

Next Up: at LA Galaxy (1-1-0), Saturday at 8:30 p.m.

4. D.C. United (1-0-1, 4 Points)

Result: 0-0 draw against NYCFC on the road.

Recap: Most 0-0 draws are boring with very little action, this one was not. DC United were unfortunate to not score away from home. Wayne Rooney and Luciano Acosta solidified why they are one of the more dangerous duos in MLS.

Previous Ranking: 1

Next Up: vs. Real Salt Lake (1-0-1), Saturday at 6 p.m.

5. Toronto FC (1-0-0, 3 Points)

Result: No games last week.

Recap: N/A

Previous Ranking: 2

Next Up: vs. New England Revolution (0-1-1), Sunday at 5:30 p.m.

6. Real Salt Lake (1-0-1, 4 Points)

Result: 1-0 win over Vancouver Whitecaps at home.

Recap: Albert Rusnak slotted the ball away from the spot after Corey Baird went down in the box during the 21st minute, and that was enough for RSL to pick up 3 points at home for the first time this season. RSL look very good, 2 weeks into their MLS campaign.

Previous Ranking: 8

Next Up: at D.C. United (1-0-1), Saturday at 6 p.m.

7. Columbus Crew (1-0-1, 4 Points)

Result: 2-0 win over New England Revolution on the road.

Recap: Gyasi Zardes scored a brace (2 goals) as the Crew picked up 3 points on the road. They were able to make the most of their opportunities. Columbus goalkeeper Gaston Sauro made a penalty kick save in the first half that helped his team in keeping a clean sheet.

Previous Ranking: 12

Next Up: vs. FC Dallas (1-0-1), Saturday at 12 p.m.

8. FC Dallas (1-0-1, 4 Points)

Result: 2-0 win over LA Galaxy at home.

Recap: A dominate performance at home against a Galaxy team that was without their star, Zlatan Ibrahimović. Domonique Badji should have put the hosts in front after he missed an open goal in the 35th minute. Regardless, a penalty in the 53rd minute and a stunning strike by Bryan Acosta in the 61st was enough to pick up 3 points.

Previous Ranking: 13

Next Up: at Columbus Crew (1-0-1), Saturday at 12 p.m.

9. Houston Dynamo (1-0-1, 4 Points)

Result: 2-1 win over Montreal Impact at home.
Lost to Tigres UANL 2-0 in the first leg of the CONCACAF Champions League quarterfinals.

Recap: Despite picking up a point in week 1 against RSL, the Dynamo did not look good. Thanks to a Mauro Manatos tap-in in the 85th minute, the hosts were able to pick up their first 3 points of the season. MLS goal of the week goes to Memo Rodriguez after he hit a pearler into the top right hand corner from 20 yards out.

Previous Ranking: 17

Next Up: CONCACAF Champions League quarterfinals on the road against Tigres UANL (down 2-0 on aggregate), Tuesday at 9 p.m. They will host the Vancouver Whitecaps (0-2-0), Saturday at 1 p.m.

10. Sporting Kansas City (1-1-0, 3 Points)

Result: 2-0 win over Philadelphia Union at home.
Lost to Independiente La Chorrera 2-1 in first leg of CONCACAF Champions League quarterfinals.

Recap: SKC were able to get back to their winning ways on the weekend. A game in which they dominated, SKC will be a force in the west this season, as they seem to be every year.

Previous Ranking: 18

Next Up: CONCACAF Champions League quarterfinal second leg at home (down 2-1 on aggregate) against Independiente La Chorrera on Thursday at 6 p.m. They will travel to the Colorado Rapids (0-1-1), Sunday at 7 p.m.

11. LA Galaxy (1-1-0, 3 Points)

Result: 2-0 loss to FC Dallas on the road.

Recap: Picking up points on the road in MLS is easier said than done and the LA Galaxy found that out the hard way against FC Dallas over the weekend. Despite The Galaxy being without stars Zlatan Ibrahimović and Romain Alessandrini, the away team had two very good chances to equalize.

Previous Ranking: 5

Next Up: vs. Minnesota United FC (2-0-0), Saturday at 8:30 p.m.

12. Montreal Impact (1-1-0, 3 Points)

Result: 2-1 loss to Houston Dynamo on the road.

Recap: Montreal were less than convincing over the weekend as they were only able to muster 1 shot on goal against the Houston Dynamo. Despite going 1-0 up, the Impact were unable to hold off the Dynamo as they scored the game winner in the 85th minute.

Previous Ranking: 7

Next Up: at Orlando City SC (0-0-2), Saturday at 2 p.m.

13. NYCFC (0-0-2, 2 Points)

Result: 0-0 draw against D.C. United at home.

Recap: At home against the dangerous attack of DC United, NYCFC did a good job keeping a clean sheet. Alexander Ring and Alexandru Mitrita had a few long shots that nearly found the back of the net, regardless a point against DC United is a positive result for NYCFC.

Previous Ranking: 10

Next Up: vs. LAFC (2-0-0), Sunday at 1 p.m. on FS1

14. Orlando City SC (0-0-2, 2 Points)

Result: 1-1 draw against Chicago Fire on the road.

Recap: Dom Dwyer made the most of a poor back pass and tapped the ball in the back of the net to open all scores. Unfortunately, a 95th minute header by C.J Sapong was enough to give the hosts a point. For Orlando they will be kicking themselves to allow a goal so late in the game.

Previous Ranking: 14

Next Up: vs. Montreal Impact (1-1-0), Saturday at 2 p.m.

15. Portland Timbers FC (0-1-1, 1 Point)

Result: 4-1 loss to LAFC on the road.

Recap: Portland were stunned by a very talented LAFC team. The Timbers only had 2 shots on target from 12 shots, shooting practice will clearly be a priority this week as they prepare for MLS newcomers FC Cincinnati.

Previous Ranking: 9

Next Up: at FC Cincinnati (0-1-1), Sunday at 3 p.m. on FS1.

16. New York Red Bulls (0-0-1, 1 Point)

Result: 2-0 loss to Santos Laguna in first leg of CONCACAF Champions League quarterfinals.

Recap: No MLS action for the NYRB in week 2.

Previous Ranking: 11

Next Up: CONCACAF Champions League quarterfinal second leg (down 2-0 on aggregate), Tuesday 7 p.m. They will host the San Jose Earthquakes (0-2-0), Saturday at 1:30 p.m.

17. Atlanta United FC (0-1-1, 1 Point)

Result: 1-1 draw against FC Cincinnati at home.
Lost to Monterrey 3-0 in first leg of CONCACAF Champions League quarterfinals.

Recap: Another disappointing result for the reigning MLS champs as they drew at home to the MLS newcomers FC Cincinnati. The loss of Miguel Almiron seems to be causing real problems for United.

Previous Ranking: 19

Next Up: CONCACAF Champions League quarterfinal second leg on the road against Monterrey on Wednesday at 6 p.m. They will host the Philadelphia Union (0-2-0), Sunday at 5 p.m.

18. New England Revolution (0-1-1, 1 Point)

Result: 2-0 loss to Columbus Crew at home.

Recap: After midfielder Diego Fagundez missed a penalty kick in the second half, the energy and momentum for the Revolution deteriorated quickly. Losing at home is never ideal, especially after only picking up a point in week 1. Going to Toronto next week will be a monumental test.

Previous Ranking: 15

Next Up: at Toronto FC (1-0-0), Saturday at 5:30 p.m.

19. Colorado Rapids (0-1-1, 1 Point)

Result: 2-0 loss to Seattle Sounders on the road.

Recap: The Rapids conceded the only two goals of the match inside the first 8 minutes against the Sounders. They ended the match with only 3 shots on target. A horrible start to the 2019 season for the Rapids continuous.

Previous Ranking: 16

Next Up: vs. Sporting Kansas City (1-1-0), Sunday at 7 p.m.

20. Chicago Fire (0-1-1, 1 Point)

Result: 1-1 draw against Orlando City SC at home.

Recap: A last minute header from C.J Sapong gave the Fire a point against Orlando City. A game in which they dominated 60% of possession, the Fire were unable to capitalize on their opportunities until the 95th minute.

Previous Ranking: 20

Next Up: vs. Seattle Sounders FC (2-0-0), Saturday at 11 a.m.


21. FC Cincinnati (0-1-1, 1 Point)

Result: 1-1 draw against Atlanta United FC on the road.

Recap: A very impressive point on the road against the reigning champs. An 85th minute equalizer from midfielder Roland Lamah gave the visitors a point as they look towards their home opener against Portland next week.

Previous Ranking: 23

Next Up: vs. Portland Timbers (0-1-1), Sunday at 3 p.m. on FS1.

22. Vancouver Whitecaps (0-2-0, 0 Points)

Result: 1-0 loss to Real Salt Lake on the road.

Recap: Vancouver had moments throughout the game against RSL in which they could have capitalized on. However, the lack of class up front proved too much of a task for the visitors as they lost their second consecutive game of the season.

Previous Ranking: 22

Next Up: at Houston Dynamo (1-0-1), Saturday at 1 p.m.

23. Philadelphia Union (0-2-0, 0 Points)

Result: 2-0 loss to Sporting Kansas City on the road.

Recap: Philadelphia only had 35% possession during the 2-0 loss to SKC. So many headaches and problems for the Union. They have conceded 5 goals through 2 weeks and only scored once.

Previous Ranking: 24

Next Up: at Atlanta United FC (0-1-1), Sunday at 5 p.m.

24. San Jose Earthquakes (0-2-0, 0 Points)

Result: 3-0 loss to Minnesota United FC at home.

Recap: A 3-0 loss at home is certainly not ideal for the Earthquakes. They were outclassed and outplayed over the course of the 90 minutes. The headache continues for newly appointed Earthquake manager, Matias Almeyda.

Previous Ranking: 21

Next Up: at New York Red Bulls (0-0-1), Saturday at 1:30 p.m.