MLS Power Rankings, Week 1: Real Salt Lake Surges To Top

March 10, 2012; Carson, CA, USA; Real Salt Lake defender Chris Wingert (17) reacts to the third goal of the game during the second half against the Los Angeles Galaxy at The Home Depot Center. The Real Salt Lake won 3-1. Mandatory Credit: Jayne Kamin-Oncea-US PRESSWIRE

After beating the Galaxy on the road, our voters were convinced that Real Salt Lake is the best team in MLS.

Well, that didn't take long. One week after the LA Galaxy were considered the near unanimous pick as the top team in SB Nation's MLS Power Rankings, Real Salt Lake took over the top spot.

That shouldn't be all that surprising, as RSL did hand the Galaxy a 3-1 loss at home. That snapped the Galaxy's 24-match all-competitions unbeaten streak at Home Depot Center and was enough for five of our 22 voters to move them out of the top spot.

The other element of note in this week's poll was how voters treated the teams that were inactive during First Kick. The Seattle Sounders stayed about where they were, while the Chicago Fire and Toronto FC both managed to move up a spot.

(Editor's note: We're trying something out this week where we link videos to songs that relate to how we think of each tier of teams. Recommendations welcome.)

Yeah 3x

1. Real Salt Lake (average ranking: 1.45): You just can't argue with putting RSL at top. They went to Home Depot Center and did something very few teams have ever done, win 3-1. Sure, the Galaxy were maybe playing on tired legs, but take nothing away from RSL. They took advantage of their opportunities. Curiously enough, there were three voters who kept them ranked No. 3, and all three voters kept the Galaxy at No. 1. Last week: 3 (3.05)

2. LA Galaxy (2.18): It would appear that at least a few of our voters take a longer view of the power rankings than one match. Bully for them. The rest of our voters saw fit to dock the Galaxy at least one spot in the rankings. One voters dropped them all the way to No. 4. Rankings aside, there were some holes in this team that have been exposed, namely their central defense. Last week: 1 (1.16)

3. Seattle Sounders (2.82): They didn't play a MLS match, but they certainly played a game this week. Beating a Mexican team as good as Santos Laguna drew far less reaction in our polls than you might imagine, though. One voter moved them up to No. 1, while another dropped the Sounders to No. 5. For the most part, they stayed right were they were: either Nos. 2 or 3. Last week: 2 (2.42)

The Edge of Glory

4. FC Dallas (4.32): There was a lot to like about that win over the Red Bulls. Blaz Perez looks to be a player that can compete in this league, their defense didn't miss a beat even without George John and the midfield was fine without David Ferreira. This team could get a lot better. Our voters clearly want to see more, though, as their overall ranking didn't really change. Last week: 4 (4.68)

5. Sporting Kansas City (4.68): The win over D.C. United was not really that impressive as the winner came off CJ Sapong's head in stoppage time. It was the result many expected and that was reflected in their unchanged spot in the rankings. Last week: 5. (4.89)

I know It's Going To Happen Someday

6. Houston Dynamo (6.18): Beating Chivas USA isn't usually considered to be a big deal, but the Dynamo were really quite bad on the road last year. Any win away from home is notable and this is clearly a positive start. Last week: 6 (6.52)

7. Colorado Rapids (7.82): Perhaps no team looked more impressive, at least in relation to expectations, than the Rapids in their win over the Crew. Oscar Pareja seems to have effectively changed the playing style and it was clearly evident on Saturday. Last week: 8 (9.73)

8. Portland Timbers (8.41): There's simply no denying that they absolutely dismantled the Union on Monday. How much of that was due to their improvement and how much was due to the Union's regression will become apparent in the coming weeks and months. Last week: 9 (10.05)

I'm not a Loser

9. Chicago Fire (10.32): Not playing might have been the best thing they could do as they probably look pretty good in comparison to their Eastern Conference compatriots, who were roundly dominated by their Western Conference counterparts. Last week: 12 (11.05)

10. New York Red Bulls (10.59): Their defense was supposed to be improved over a year ago, but it didn't look very good against FC Dallas. But they were also playing without centerback Wilman Conde and central midfielder Rafael Marquez. Last week: 7 (8.84)

11. Toronto FC (11.45): This is a team that played the Galaxy even for 90 minutes, but our voters don't really seem to care. Some of our voters still see them as one of the league's worst teams. Their ranking is clearly more of a reflection of last year and the fact that they have yet to play a real MLS game this year. Last week: 13 (11.74)

12. Vancouver Whitecaps (12.45): Absolutely dominating the team most people think is going to be the league's worst didn't convince many of their doubters. But they showed they have an explosive offense and, at the very least, should be more fun to watch this year. Of course, they also dominated one of the league's worst teams in their season opener last year... Last week: 15 (14.37)

13. Columbus Crew (12.73): Ugh. Just ugh. This team looked pitiful against the Rapids during First Kick. Robert Warzycha promised his team would do better and apparently most of our voters were willing to give him some benefit of the doubt as their votes were all over the map. Last week: 10 (10.68)

14. Philadelphia Union (13.27): Many of the Union's critics predicted this would be a tough season as Peter Nowak inexplicably dismantled what was a pretty promising team a year ago. Most of the new guys failed to assert themselves and Zac MacMath didn't do himself any favors in goal. Inexplicably one voter has them ranked No. 5. Last week: 11 (11.05)

15. D.C. United (13.55): Another team most of our voters weren't quite sure what to do with, but that might be more a product of the jumbled mess that is the middle of our rankings. The loss at home to Sporting KC clearly did not earn them any favors among voters. Last week: 14 (12.16)

16. San Jose Earthquakes (14.64): Winning at home over the Revolution didn't really change anyone's mind about this team. Until they get a better test, our voters are likely to remain skeptical. Last week: 17 (15.84)

The End

17. Chivas USA (16.64): There were definitely some folks out there that foresaw this as a dark horse team this year. They outplayed the Dynamo for stretches of their First Kick match and were unlucky not to get a goal, but that loss didn't help their cause. Last week: 16 (15.26)

18. New England Revolution (18.18): No one thought much of the Revs before the lost to the Earthquakes. They still don't. Last week: 18 (17.95)

19. Montreal Impact (18.23): Looked absolutely dreadful at times against the Whitecaps in their inaugural game. The good news is that there's plenty of time to improve. The bad news is that they've got a lot of improving to do. Last week: 19 (18.21)

Who participated: Jeremiah Oshan (SB Nation, soccer); Aaron Campeau (SB Nation, soccer); Ryan Rosenblatt (SB Nation, soccer); Drew Epperley (SB Nation, soccer); Martin Shatzer (Black and Red United); Scott Kessler (Brotherly Game); Denzel Eslinger (RSL Soapbox); Robert Jonas (Quake, Rattle and Goal); Daniel Robertson (Big D Soccer); Dave Clark (Sounder at Heart); Duncan Fletcher (Waking the Red), Steve Stoehr (The Bent Musket); Ben Schneider (Once a Metro); Alicia Ratterree (The Goat Parade); Brenton Walters (The Vancouver Whitecaps Offside); Geoff Gibson (Stumptown Footy); Sofiane Benzaza (Mount Royal Soccer); Alen Englen (The Daily Wiz).

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