MLS Cup holders Colorado start the season on top after thumping Portland to open its title defense.1. Colorado – In these rankings, the MLS Cup holders usually earn the benefit of the doubt in the initial pecking order. The Rapids ensured their place at the top by swamping Portland from the start and coasting to an easy 3-1 victory.
2. Real Salt Lake – For long stretches, RSL was not the better team at San Jose. At the final whistle, Kyle Beckerman's goal and Nick Rimando's brilliant performance made the Claret-and-Cobalt winners nonetheless.
3. New York – Salou Ibrahim's departure probably won't hurt the Red Bulls on the field, but Thierry Henry's lingering hamstring issues suggest Hans Backe's desire for another striker isn't unfounded.
4. Los Angeles – Six points earned, four points actually gained.
5. FC Dallas – Consider Saturday's 1-1 draw with Chicago as part of the collection of evidence Brek Shea will use to push his case for a spot higher up the field.
6. Sporting Kansas City – If Omar Bravo can sustain this sort of form, he'll score an awful lot of goals in this league.
7. D.C. United – Charlie Davies and the gang just guaranteed hope has finally returned to the District with the morale-building 3-1 victory over Columbus.
8. Philadelphia – Lots of positive points from that 1-0 victory in Houston – Carlos Ruiz's hotly-debated elbow not among them, of course – but the shutout looms as the most important building block going forward.
9. Vancouver – No matter how this season eventually pans out for the Whitecaps, they will always cherish Saturday's 4-2 win over Toronto FC as a bright spot.
10. San Jose – “With the chances we had, we have to score at least one goal,” Earthquakes coach Frank Yallop said. “I thought we dominated play most of the game. We felt on top of the game. I was very happy with the performance, but obviously not the result.”
11. Chicago – “I think it is a little bit disappointing that we were up a man for about 30 minutes and didn’t win, but we need to keep it in perspective,” Fire captain Logan Pause told MLSsoccer.com. “Coming here and getting a point is fantastic. The guys showed a level of commitment that I’m proud of and excited to be a part of. I think we're on the right track.”
12. Houston – That's one heck of a miss, Dominic Oduro.
13. New England – Credit the Revs' resolve – and a hefty dose of luck – for their point at Los Angeles, but they will need more than just commitment to pick up points in future matches.
14. Chivas USA – It may require some time and it may take some more attacking additions, but there are threads to build on here for the Red-and-White.
15. Columbus – “That is going to be our worst game of the season because I don't think we can play any worse,” Crew coach Robert Warzycha told the Columbus Dispatch after the disaster in D.C.
16. Seattle – Two games, no goals. It's not time to hit the panic button, but the scrutiny will undoubtedly increase in Sounders-land this week.
17. Portland – A tough opening fixture in Commerce City set the Timbers up for failure, but it isn't a promising sign when John Spencer has to pull two of his starters off the field after a dismal first half.
18. Toronto FC – Suffice it to say that there is plenty of work ahead for Aron Winter.
Kyle McCarthy writes the Monday MLS Breakdown and frequently writes opinion pieces during the week for Goal.com. He also covers the New England Revolution for the Boston Herald and MLSsoccer.com. Contact him with your questions or comments at firstname.lastname@example.org and follow him on Twitter by clicking here.