MLS has one of the craziest offseasons around. Teams that don’t improve usually fall behind, but beyond that, it’s the wild west in terms of what new additions will matter, which ones will take six months to get used to the league, which kind of expansion team will we get, etc.
And this year, we had the dog’s breakfast that was last season. How to make heads or tails of what was essentially a handful of games, then a tournament, then a run of games, then a playoff series? What? Not to mention the unbalanced schedule.
Frankly, this has been a year of chaos.
But when you get to 6 or so games in, patterns start to emerge, and you can also start applying systems to wash out schedule anomalies (too many games at home or on the road, number of games played, etc.) and that is where we find ourselves.
Also, we took a week off for real life reasons so there’s even more movement than normal.
1. Seattle Sounders (Previously – 2).
After all the reviewing and number crunching, they really are the only team at this level.
2. Sporting Kansas City (6).
A great example of a few early results coloring our view of a team that clearly is better than we had thought.
3. LA Galaxy (9).
This is a team, statistically, that looks great, but looking into who they played, where and when, makes us nervous, as does the losses to Seattle and Portland. But their other wins are better than the teams below them, so here they are.
4. New England Revolution (11).
Similar to the Galaxy, but more so as D.C. and Chicago are two of the worst teams in the league.
5. Orlando City (15).
Another team that feels like they haven’t done anything that jumps off the page – then again, their overall results regardless of who they have played are better than most.
6. Colorado Rapids (14).
Their home loss to Austin probably shocked the author more than it should have, hence the adjustment. The win over a good Houston team, as well as the road win over Vancouver and respectable game v LAFC on the road, is as good an example as any of the changes we needed to have made sooner.
7. Real Salt Lake (16).
Other than their loss to San Jose at home, RSL has been very solid.
8. Portland Timbers (7).
The win over Houston has proven a bigger victory than we initially thought. The loss to Vancouver is concerning, and the way they were manhandled when squad rotating by what has proven to be a bad Dallas side is another question, but the win over the Galaxy and San Jose on the road outweighs that.
9. Austin FC (20).
For a team that has only played road games, they have gotten wins or at least respectable results in every game. In fact, their Pace number is even. If they would have pulled off one or two more one-goal losses or ties, they would be higher.
10. Houston Dynamo (23).
What an example of our eye test being off. “In some ways, this feels too low but we keep looking for actual results to justify a move up and they don’t come.” A review of their results shows they are doing what they should at home and only the 3-1 loss at Colorado sticks out on the road.
11. Atlanta United (12).
One of the few teams we had a decent bead on, but make no mistake, from here on down, things are unsteady.
12. Los Angeles FC (3).
It isn’t just Vela, this team is not who we expected them to be. The fact that who they have played matters (Seattle twice, the Galaxy, Houston, and Colorado, as well as Austin) means they are higher than where they are in the standings.
13. Nashville SC (10).
Like Atlanta, this is a team we feel we had a good bead on – you play five of six at home and only get two wins? The missed opportunities will come back to haunt them.
14. San Jose Earthquakes (13).
This may seem like a team we were getting right, but we really weren’t, and they could be in for a precipitous drop. The only reason we don’t drop them now is their competitive game against Houston and their road win against RSL, but their home losses to clearly very good teams is still not a good sign.
15. Columbus Crew (1).
Our sense has been they had treaded water in MLS while in CONCACAF. Their only win of note is over NYCFC, and is that really a win of note? It was on the road, so there is that. They are better than where they are in the standings.
16. New York City FC (4).
“Yes folks, NYC is good. A road tie at Orlando confirms that this iteration is very solid.” Except reviewing who they played, where and when, makes us think we put too much into their wins over Cincinnati and Philadelphia.
17. Philadelphia Union (5).
They have beaten the Red Bulls at home and Chicago and D.C. on the road. Their home loss to Miami hurts, a lot.
18. Vancouver Whitecaps (19).
Their win over Portland is such an anomaly now.
19. New York Red Bulls (18).
“There may be a significant adjustment coming for this team as they beat Toronto rather soundly this past weekend. Now, that was a TFC tired from international play, but still.” Or not. Granted, both the loss to Philadelphia and New England were on the road, but clearly, this team is not on the rise.
Lots of Questions and/or Concerns
20. Minnesota United (22).
The wins over Vancouver and Dallas were so desperately needed, but this team has a long way to go before they move up significantly.
21. FC Dallas (17).
We gave Dallas credit as Colorado seemed good. Tying Houston and RSL at home is not awful as both are solid teams, but then again, the pattern is clear – what it takes for this team to win is not on the field right now.
22. CF Montreal (21).
Wins over Miami and Toronto are the only reason why they don’t drop precipitously after losing to Cincinnati.
23. Inter Miami (24).
The loss to Chicago is just not good. Road wins over Cincinnati and Philadelphia help, but only so much.
24. Toronto FC (8).
“We may have been wrong about Toronto…” We were very wrong about Toronto. Playing in the US doesn’t justify these results.
25. FC Cincinnati (27).
On one hand, we want to give them some credit for playing so many road games, but you can’t lose by those margins. Compare to Austin and the difference is clear. Question is, now that they got their first win, can they get on a run?
26. Chicago Fire (26).
Yay! They finally won! Okay, show us it wasn’t a fluke.
27. D.C. United (25).
So close, yet so far away. Losing their last two games at home, 1-0, is problematic.