As with most weeks, some expectations are confirmed, some are not. Clearly, Seattle is the team to beat at this point in the 2015 campaign. At the bottom, a bit of a dead cat bounce gave a few teams some hope they might not be too terrible. But mostly, we saw that MLS is a very long season and some teams are more set up for the marathon than others.
I must admit, the lack of coverage of the New York Red Bull-FC Dallas dramatic battle – especially considering all of the hype given to the Red Bulls going into their “rivalry match” with NYCFC, then all the coverage FC Dallas received going into the game Friday – was very surprising, in large part because, of all the games this week, this was the most competitive match, between the best teams. (Granted, if the Sounders-Whitecaps match would have been more even, that would likely have been the better game. But it wasn’t.)
So let’s dive into all this. Remember, you have the ranking, last week’s ranking, as well as the points per game average along with the Pace number for each club. (The Pace is assuming teams should win at home, tie on the road.)
1 (1) Seattle Sounders (1.90, +2). Is there really any question? Beat the No. 2 team handily, in their house. Clint Dempsey and the emerald boys have had their down moments, to be sure, but much fewer than any other team, and their high points have been much stronger.
2 (3) New York Red Bulls (1.70, -3). What a game. Very few MLS teams play such a high line, especially on the road, especially against a team as dangerous on the break as FC Dallas. But the Red Bulls did just that, and got what they wanted. Few teams will be able to get a point out of Dallas in Frisco this year when they are even close to full strength, but New York did. Frankly, it was in-close knife-fighting from the first whistle to the last, and it was great theater.
3 (2) Vancouver Whitecaps (1.67, -6). They do not drop too far in the rankings, but drop a tier because you simply cannot be that weak at home, even against the best team in the league. Especially in a rivalry game. The Whitecaps are not going to be an easy out for most teams.
4 (4) FC Dallas (1.91, -4). For a young team (check the numbers – and be afraid – this team has the foundation to be good for a long time), that had shown they had some issues with handling big moments and competitive, physical games, they showed they were equal to the moment. A lack of a goal was surely disappointing, and this was not the result they wanted, but make no mistake, this team showed they are ready for the big stage.
5 (5) New England Revolution (1.73, -4). Toronto was wanting to show their loss to Houston the week before was an aberration, and that team has talent, so a home tie is not an awful result. But a lack of success below them is what keeps the Revolution steady for the week.
6 (6) D.C. United (1.91, -4). The home win over Orlando seemed to be a good start to the week, but a loss at Philadelphia is not good. Like New England, United are lucky the teams behind them did not have any success this week. Getting Espindola back is key.
7 (12) San Jose Earthquakes (1.55, -2). A significant jump for Kinnear’s men is deserved. The metrics support it, but more importantly, so does their play. Surely the red card helped, but overall, San Jose was the better team.
8 (7) Columbus Crew (1.40, -6). A win over Seattle is impressive, but consistency is also important. And San Jose simply has been more consistent.
9 (9) Sporting Kansas City (1.40, -6). Weather washed out their game against Colorado. We need more data before pushing them higher.
10 (8) Los Angeles Galaxy (1.17, -8). So that is what happens to a team built on DPs when they have no DPs to play. Ouch. Did they give Orlando confidence at just the right time? Either way, this group needs Keane back fast, and cannot afford to miss Gonzalez for too many games, either.
11 (10) Portland Timbers (1.18, -7). There is some real vulnerability here. The thought that Borchers had solidified their defense is probably accurate, but the addition Valeri was supposed to help them get the attack going. A loss on the road to Houston is not a good result, even if the Dynamo are on the upswing.
12 (13) Toronto FC (1.11, -1). A good response to an embarrassing loss at home to Houston, but the injury to Altidore has to be worrisome.
13 (11) Real Salt Lake (1.27, -7). We are not ready to drop them out of this tier, but one more result like that and we will have to. The talent on the roster should be playing better than the results this team is getting.
Good But Not Great
14 (15) Houston Dynamo (1.33, -10). For a team that recently lost in embarrassing fashion to its in-state rival, the Dynamo seem to have figured out a few things. A result or two more like this and they will be ready to move up a tier.
15 (14) Chicago Fire (1.11, -9). Tie on the road and you drop? Yeah, if you tie against NYCFC, especially when you were up a man and two goals in the first half. At times, the Fire look like they have something to contribute, but then they find a way to muck it up.
16 (17) Orlando City FC (1.09, -10). What a shellacking of the Los Angeles Galaxy, especially after having to play a mid-week game on the road, albeit just up the road in the nation’s capitol. One big win against an undermanned Galaxy side is not enough to vault them up significantly, but it definitely is something to build on.
17 (16) Colorado Rapids (1.00, -10). Their road match at Sporting was rescheduled, but they recently added one player and are expecting another soon that could possibly give them some real offense. With the defense and midfield they have, they really only need a goal scorer, so watch this space. The Rapids might not be awful for long.
The Ugly Stick
18 (20) Montreal Impact (0.83, -7). Quite the victory, but with so little to go on – and the fact that RSL has already dropped a poor result after having to travel to the Eastern Time Zone (remember that loss to New England?) – and we hesitate to make too much of it. But it does give credence to their CONCACAF Champions League run.
19 (19) Philadelphia Union (0.75, -15). That is showing a little spunk, scoring a late winner to beat D.C. United. But Montreal did it better, against a team that didn’t have to play mid-week. Time will tell if this was a one-off or something more important.
20 (18) NYCFC (0.64, -16). A little bit of props for recovering from an 0-2 deficit down a man, but the other teams in the gutter found ways to win.
The Original MLS Power Rankings began in 1996 as the author wrote first on a Dallas Burn listserve, and then for the groundbreaking website, 3rd Degree.net.