It is not clear how much of the current run is roster changes, coaching changes, or the reintegration of internationals, but there seem to be a number of teams shifting right now. It will be important to watch teams like Dallas to see if their current form is taking advantage of eddies in the flow of other teams or a true change. Same for Atlanta.
One thing is true – there is not a Top Dog or two or three like there usually is right now. Seattle was there, but they have lost that pace and we can’t say that the other teams in that top group really are there either. The Sounders definitely had that, and Sporting have shown flashes, so we could see that come back, but not right now. Top Shelf is the top tier, but it’s not the same domination we usually see from a team or two each year.
Maybe the league has reached critical mass in that it’s harder for teams to get in a groove as easily since there are so many teams and styles and players?
1. Sporting Kansas City (Previously 2).
Two road games and two solid results. LAFC surely isn’t their old selves, but a 4-1 win away from home is impressive and a road tie at the Rapids is no easy feat.
2. New England Revolution (1).
This is a very good team, although we will be watching the impact of the injury to Gil as he was kind of important to them. There is no shame in dropping down slightly because of a home tie to a good Nashville side. How much further they fall will depend on how much they let the absence of Gil hurt them.
3. Seattle Sounders (3).
Letting Dallas steal a point at the death probably stings more than it is an indication that Seattle is in a bad way as they did most of what they needed for so much of the game. We still have questions, and the beginning of League Cup play against Tigres probably complicates their efforts to get back to being who they were earlier this season, so continue to watch this space. The good news? They play good enough teams we will know from the results how they are handling things.
4. Colorado Rapids (4).
“We don’t get the sense they are about to jump to the next tier, but they sure are at the top of this one.” A home tie to Sporting KC confirms that.
5. New York City FC (5).
The opponents weren’t great, but tying on the road is getting the job done, especially in a short week.
6. Nashville SC (6).
“Watch out. This seems to be a team that has built a foundation and has since developed the tools to win games now.” And then they lose at home to Miami… Considering they had tied New England on the road and other teams behind them did not fare much better, we aren’t moving them down but that is not a good look.
7. Minnesota United (9).
“Here we go. This is the Loons we expected to see this season. We need more consistency to move them up much faster, but yes, this is what we thought they would be.” Add a 2-0 win over Houston – this team is definitely back to being strong and dangerous.
8. Orlando City (8).
“Some of the results are surprising both good and bad.” Add a home tie to Miami and a road tie to Cincinnati to that list.
9. LA Galaxy (10).
Have they turned the corner? Very possibly. Prior to now, they were up and down, beating bad teams, losing to good ones, and almost always relying on Chicharito. Now? Not so much.
10. Portland Timbers (11).
A home tie to San Jose is not awful, considering the Earthquakes’ recent form, and they beat RSL. Stability? Maybe.
11. Columbus Crew (7).
“After lots of progress, Porter et al took a punch to the face in New York. It is likely not the end of their growth, but it probably will sting for a few weeks. Knowing Caleb (from a distance, not personally) he will put that sting to good use.” Or, maybe not. Two home losses to teams below them in the standings is not the response we expected.
12. D.C. United (15).
Definitely take a closer look at D.C. as they seem to be eliminating their “WTH” games and the big win over Columbus may be a sign of things to come.
Middle of the Road
13. Philadelphia Union (12).
“The results are ok until you look at who they played. It’s hard to move them up when they beat D.C. and Miami.” Beat Toronto at home, lose to New England on the road. Third verse, same as the first, right?
14. Real Salt Lake (13).
“Salt Lake is definitely solid, but does not seem to have the ability to consistently win against better teams.” This week, it was losses to the Galaxy and Timbers, but each by a goal and both on the road.
15. FC Dallas (18).
“Have they figured things out?” Uhm, yes. “Of course, they are still young, and very old at the back, so not a Behemoth, but very very dangerous.” Also yes. And there is a chance some of their success was because other teams didn’t take them seriously, but then again, with the young talent in attacking positions especially on the wings and at forward, this is a version of the team the league hasn’t really seen much.
16. San Jose Earthquakes (19).
A road tie at Portland and a home win over LAFC is not a bad set of results.
17. Los Angeles FC (14).
This seems like a team in trouble, at least relative to who they have been most of their history.
18. New York Red Bulls (16).
“I have a very bad feeling about this.”
19. Austin FC (20).
Give them credit for getting the win against a bad Houston team, but they just didn’t have anything left against a better Dallas team.
Lots of Questions and/or Concerns
20. Vancouver Whitecaps (22).
“Nice little turnaround… Still concerns though.” A road tie against the Galaxy is another step forward. Its going to take more to really move up a lot, but a road tie is solid.
21. Houston Dynamo (17).
In retrospect, when we did that big revision about a third of the way through the season, we overcorrected on the Dynamo. Granted, we did have them too low, but instead of a reasonable adjustment, we moved things up way too much. Now we know better.
22. Atlanta United (24).
Do we have our turnaround? Maybe. A road tie against Montreal and a road win against Columbus are not bad results, although the Crew do seem to be in a free fall right now.
23. CF Montreal (21).
Falling back down with a home tie to Atlanta and a road loss to D.C.
24. FC Cincinnati (23).
Tied at the Red Bulls and against Orlando at home. Their big run seems to be over and they are settling into being mediocre, which is better than most of their history.
25. Chicago Fire (25).
A home tie to NYC is not good, and beating the Red Bulls is not much of a statement right now.
26. Inter Miami (27).
“Could this be a turnaround? Yes. But it also could be what in Wall Street is called a Dead Cat Bounce.” A road tie against Orlando and a home win over Nashville is very solid. That it is not a DCB.
27. Toronto FC (26).
What is happening with this team? A 3-0 pasting at Philadelphia and a home tie to NYC is not good. Not good at all.