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MLS Power Rankings — Week 1: Expansion sides humbled in debut

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It was a wild opening weekend around Major League Soccer, which saw both expansion sides fall in their debuts and the reigning league champions lose down in Texas.

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Meanwhile, regular season conference winners from a year ago each started out with victories on the road.

[ MORE: Looking ahead to Week 2 around MLS ]

Without further ado, let’s take a look at PST’s first installment of the 2017 MLS Power Rankings.


TEAM RANKING (Last Wk)

22 (NR)

 

21 (NR)

 

20 (NR)

Minnesota United: The former NASL boys received their rude welcoming on opening night, and while it wasn’t unexpected, it could surely be a sign of things to come in 2017 as Adrian Heath’s group learns to connect with one another.

New England Revolution: On paper the Revolution still boast a very strong attack, but defensively there are many uncertainties for Jay Heap’s squad.

Atlanta United: For 75 minutes, Atlanta looked like the better side. Tata Martino has to groom his men for the remaining 15 minutes to avoid another meltdown.

19 (NR) Columbus Crew: After going from an MLS Cup appearance in 2015 to missing the postseason altogether last year, the Crew will be relying a lot more on Ola Kamara up top.
18 (NR) Chicago Fire: Veljko Paunovic certainly strengthened his side this offseason with the likes of Dax McCarty and Nemanja Nikolic, but it’s time for the team to produce consistently after missing the postseason six of the last seven seasons.
17 (NR) Montreal Impact: With no more Didier Drogba at the helm, it’s Ignacio Piatti’s attack to orchestrate.
16 (NR) San Jose Earthquakes: Dominic Kinnear and co. got off to a strong start, but can the club sustain its Week 1 success?
15 (NR) Philadelphia Union: The Union attack had its moment in Vancouver, but will Jay Simpson be the answer up front? 
14 (NR) Real Salt Lake: RSL did well to contain Toronto’s dangerous attack, but there are still some questions up front.
13 (NR) Sporting Kansas City: Keeper Tim Melia proved himself with a strong PK save in the opener, but his side’s attack will have to be sharper in the final third.
12 (NR) Houston Dynamo: This club has a long way to go before their will be shouts of playoffs but hey, they did beat the reigning champions.
11 (NR) D.C. United: Luciano Acosta’s status over the first few weeks is uncertain but it’s time for Patrick Mullins to put together a full season up front after getting paid this offseason.
10 (NR) Los Angeles Galaxy: It’s a new era in LA without Bruce Arena and Robbie Keane. Time will tell as to how the club copes with those losses. At least Zlatan could be months away from making his debut?
9 (NR) New York City FC: Patrick Vieira vowed to bring in a younger core this offseason, and he backed it up. Who fills the goalscoring void left by Frank Lampard, though?
8 (NR)
Orlando City: It’ll be intriguing to watch how the Lions handle Kaka’s extended layoff due to injury. The good news… Jason Kreis’ backline looks significantly more sound than a season ago.
7 (NR) Vancouver Whitecaps: The Western Conference side couldn’t back up their Champions League progression with an opening weekend victory, but this club has exciting written all over it.
6 (NR) Seattle Sounders: Can’t take too much stock in one game because the champions boast a ton of talent. Clint Dempsey‘s goal was a great sign for both club and country, though.
5 (NR) Colorado Rapids: Pablo Mastroeni seemed mostly content with his squad during the offseason, and the Rapids backed it up on opening day with stellar defensive play.
4 (NR) Toronto FC: A healthy Giovinco and Jozy Altidore presents a nightmare of a challenge for opposing defenses.
3 (NR) New York Red Bulls: After a rocky offseason, the Eastern Conference champions proved their resiliency down at a hostile Bobby Dodd Stadium.
2 (NR) Portland Timbers: Caleb Porter has to pleased with squad, particularly his attack. Although Minnesota was certainly lacking, the Timbers could have the best front six in MLS.
1 (NR) FC Dallas: Barring catastrophe, this is a playoff team; again. The only question is: will Dallas take the next step in 2017?

At long last, Butland returns to full training with Stoke

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Stoke City’s long-coming goalkeeping dilemma will come to a head soon, as Jack Butland is back in training.

A year ago today, the Potters confirmed that star backstop Butland would miss EURO 2016 with a broken ankle. He’d need multiple surgeries as recovery dragged on and on.

[ MORE: Complete Panama-USMNT preview ]

That was more palatable thanks to the play of Lee Grant, who arrived on loan from Derby County but became a permanent Potter in January. Grant has been a key part of Stoke’s season.

Butland is contracted to Stoke through 2021, and he’ll ascend to the starting gig sooner rather than later. But Grant is in the catbird seat for now, and at least will have made himself attractive to other clubs seeking a keeper.

Report: Everton linked with $4 million swoop for Canada’s Larin

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The Sun only hits on a few of the many transfer rumors it tosses around, but this one bears a second look for fans of Everton, MLS, and Canada.

Everton is already eyeing replacements for Romelu Lukaku, according to the report, and is hunting for a bargain in Canadian national teamer Cyle Larin.

Larin, 21, was the first overall pick in the 2015 MLS SuperDraft by Orlando City SC after an electric career at UConn.

[ MORE: Complete Panama-USMNT preview ]

He’s since scored 35 goals in 63 matches for the Lions, picking up three in his first two matches of the 2017 season. The 6-foot-1 Ontario native has five goals for Canada in 19 caps.

The Sun says Larin would cost close to $4 million, a fraction of what the Toffees will get if they sell Lukaku.

Fan dies after falling off football stadium in Brazil

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SAO PAULO (AP) A Brazilian football fan has died after falling 25 meters from the top of Morumbi Stadium in Sao Paulo onto a parking lot.

The height is equivalent to an eight-story building.

Bruno Pereira da Silva, aged 23, suffered head injuries and died upon arrival at a local hospital on Sunday.

[ MORE: Complete Panama-USMNT preview ]

He and other fans were attempting to jump to a section of the stadium where they could get a better view of the Sao Paulo state championship match between Sao Paulo and archrival Corinthians. The game ended 1-1.

Friends of da Silva told Brazilian media Silva was attending his first football match.

CONCACAF World Cup qualifiers: CRC, Honduras get off the mat

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The two traditional CONCACAF powers are riding high following Friday’s round of World Cup qualifiers, while the two other sides to qualify for Brazil 2014 are licking their wounds.

Honduras and Costa Rica both found themselves on the wrong side of shutout losses to the United States and Mexico, while Trinidad and Tobago injected itself into the discussion with a home win over Panama.

[ WATCH: CONCACAF qualifiers on Telemundo ]

What’s cooking for Tuesday? Read on:

Honduras vs. Costa Rica — 5 p.m. EDT Tuesday

Two sides which love to play physical, on-the-edge soccer meet on the heels of Friday losses. Expect Jorge Luis Pinto’s Catrachos to adapt after a 6-0 beatdown at the hands of the U.S., but they’ll have to do much, much better at home.

The dates at Estadio Morazan have to be the key for Honduras to climb into the Top Three, and it’ll be buoyed by memories of its 3-1 win over T&T two rounds ago. As for Costa Rica, Los Ticos aim to respond from conceding their first two goals of the Hex.

Trinidad and Tobago vs. Mexico — 7 p.m. EDT Tuesday

Kevin Molino’s strike gave T&T its first three points of qualifying, but its odds of getting a result against visiting Mexico aren’t nearly as good. The Soca Warriors desperation will be easy to see, as June’s qualifiers include trips to the U.S. and Costa Rica.

El Tri now has wins in two of its trickier Hex matches after adding Friday’s 2-0 win over Costa Rica to its upset of the Yanks in Columbus. Ten points through four matches would be exemplary; A draw or loss leaves the door open for Costa Rica to summit the Hex table.

United States vs. Panama — 10:05 p.m. EDT Tuesday

Read our extensive preview here, but the upshot is this: The United States can rise into the Top Three by beating Panama, while Los Canaleros will be happy to scoop a draw to stem any bleeding cause by Molino and T&T.