Another week in the books, and another set of data. But what does it all mean? Well, following last week’s trends, you have a lot of bad teams showing that maybe they were not as bad as their results indicated – or they were figuring out things they needed to figure out to be better – and the good teams were showing that maybe they were not as good as they seemed.
A few things are for sure – Seattle is still the class of the league, but even they are not infallible. Another team, D.C. United, is showing itself to be pretty good and made a strong move, and Sporting Kansas City is finally showing the quality we expected from them earlier in the year.
Well, that and NYCFC is just bad. So bad that they now reside as the only team in the bottom grouping.
As always, the first two numbers are the current ranking with last week in parenthses. The numbers after the team are the team’s points per game average and then their Pace number (against a general guide of win at home, tie on the road.)
1 (1) Seattle Sounders (1.82, Even). They were tied at home by arguably one of the hottest teams in the league. But for a midwest team to have to play midweek then travel to play on the West Coast, Seattle should have found the goal to win the game.
2 (6) D.C. United (1.83, -4). In some ways, a 2-2 draw with New England, especially with the Revolution down two players, is not something to write home about, let alone move a team up four spots. But the results just keep reinforcing the metrics for this team, that they are this good. Adjustment made.
3 (2) New York Red Bulls (1.55, -6). Definitely not the result the team wanted. At home, against a Union side that had really struggle until they beat D.C. last week? Most of the teams 2-7 are vulnerable to dropping, and the Red Bulls are not free from that danger.
4 (3) Vancouver Whitecaps (1.54, -7). Are we seeing that the Whitecaps really were just a good team making things happen rather than a really good team doing what they do? We think so. The other results around them do not justify a significant drop, but watch this space as we think that is likely.
5 (4) FC Dallas (1.75, -5). And now the road games will start piling on, and we will see what this team is made of. The game against Montreal was just the first of five and we saw a lot of what we will likely see – Hack-A-Mauro, protect the flanks from Castillo, steal goals where you can. This is where Oscar Pareja is correct in calling out his right midfielders – without real danger there, this team will not be able to break down teams that play that way. Oh, and a hot Sporting Kansas City is next on the road trip. Nice.
6 (9) Sporting Kansas City (1.50, -6). This is the team we thought we would see coming into the season. Last year’s team was crippled by international absences and match congestion. This year looked to be more settled, but SKC did not start strong. They are now. Watch out – this team can hurt you.
7 (5) New England Revolution (1.54, -7). This team is in trouble. The talent is there, to be sure, but they have been wildly inconsistent and right now, not playing well at all. Welcome to the MLS regular season, Mr. Jones. Ain’t it frustrating?
8 (7) San Jose Earthquakes (1.50, -4). This team is playing above expectations, and maybe that is where some of the variability is coming from. But do not sleep on Kinnear’s boys – they are good. Just ask Seattle.
9 (10) Los Angeles Galaxy (1.31, -8). Slowly working their way back into things. Boy, the return of Keane and Gonzalez make a difference, don’t they? This is not the first time a Bruce Arena-led team has started slow, only to get hot going into the playoffs. (I remember people calling for Arena to be fired in the first half of 1996…. Look up how that season turned out.) This is not his first rodeo, boys and girls.
10 (12) Toronto FC (1.30, -1). Showing once again that they are better than the bottom, this remains an enigma. And things will get wild again soon for them with the Gold Cup looming.
11 (13) Real Salt Lake (1.42, -7). Nothing like a home game against NYCFC to right the ship a little, even if it is against your best coach in team history.
Good But Not Great
12 (8) Columbus Crew (1.36, -8). This team is showing signs that it is not as good as some would want them to be, and a late tie given up to a poor but improving Chicago Fire side is Exhibit A. Getting up to beat Seattle is one thing, but you have to get other results too. The Crew have yet to show they can keep pace with the teams in the grouping ahead of them.
13 (11) Portland Timbers (1.08, -8). Another tough loss. The schedule has not been super kind to them, and a cross country trip is never easy for anyone. But if the Timbers want to make the playoffs, they have to turn some of the road losses into road ties. So far, it is not happening often enough.
14 (14) Houston Dynamo (1.23, -11). The loss to LA is a difficult pill to swallow, and it showed a lot about Houston – they are good enough to play with better teams at times, and this team is digging itself out of the pit it was in after the Dynamo was embarrassed at home by FC Dallas. But the truth is, the West is tough and they have to get better to make the playoffs.
15 (15) Chicago Fire (1.10, -9). Showed some real guts getting back into the game against Columbus. Like Houston, this team is finding its form a bit.
16 (16) Orlando City (1.08, -10). Another show of improvement with the tie at San Jose. It’s interesting to see that the expansion team some thought early in the season was the one behind the curve is now showing itself to be the more effective one as teams pass the ten-game mark.
17 (17) Colorado Rapids (1.18, -10). Now with some offensive firepower coming into the lineup watch this team closely. Their defense is solid and they have been creating chances. Start finishing them and they can probably hang in the West.
18 (18) Montreal Impact (1.14, -7). With the win over Dallas, the Impact get a big boost of confidence that their CONCACAF Champions League results really might translate over to MLS. The team does have the potential to start moving up quickly if they can manage the fixture congestion that they will have to deal with because of their Champions League run, but right now, they are in too deep a hole to catch the teams in front of them so soon.
19 (19) Philadelphia Union (0.92, -13). Now we are starting to see something of substance from Jim Curtin’s squad, but like Montreal, their hole is way too deep to let even two straight quality wins move them out of the bottom, especially with so much of the bottom of the league righting their respective ships.
The Ugly Stick
20 (20) NYCFC (0.58, -17). More negative Pace points than games played is never a good thing, and NYC is way beyond that, with no real sign of getting out of this rut quickly. With the success of the teams in front of them, though, now they are the lone tenants in this group.