MLS Power Rankings — Week 5

I dare not try to apply reason and logic to the MLS in all but a few cases. Otherwise the league is far too wild to try and feel confident about… well, just about anything. Lots of good games this weekend and a good number of surprises. Let’s get to the ratings.

Biggest climber: FC Dallas. Biggest loser: Atlanta FC.

The Leaders

1. Los Angeles FC

Change: +2 — Form: WWDWW
Carlos Vela nabs a hat trick and I feel even more comfortable in my league predictions for the team to win it all.

2. DC United

Change: ‑1 — Form: WWDW
The 2 – 1 win over the floundering Orlando wasn’t impressive, but it was a win. They lose their throne purely to the sheer audacious force that is LA.

3. Toronto FC

Change: +1 — Form: WWW
This pains me, the Sounder fan that I am, to admit that Toronto keeps winning and it sure feels like they could keep doing it.

4. Seattle Sounders FC

Change: ‑2 — Form: DWWW
I hate to say I knew it, but I sure felt like Nostro-fucking-damus as I watched Seattle struggle against a deep seated Vancouver. They will have to figure out how to score against those opponents.


The Pack

5. Sporting KC

Change: +3 — Form: WDWL
KC demolished a mid-tier Montréal in a way that the league doesn’t frequently see. They head to Mexico for the CCL and the league can all agree we want them to do as well as possible.

6. Columbus Crew

Change: +1 — Form: WLWWD
Caleb Porter outplayed Atlanta. They took a lot of shots, but most of them were bad ones. And more importantly, none of them went in. Columbus sit atop the east and looking strong.

7. LA Galaxy

Change: +3 — Form: WWLW
LA, put simply, are good and should be better. We all look at Zlatan and hold our breath waiting to be wowed and yet he is only above average… except when he is amazing.

8. Houston Dynamo

Change: +1 — Form: WWWD
Houston are performing well, 10 points tied with Seattle and FC Dallas.

9. FC Dallas

Change: +5 — Form: WWLWD
Dallas are doing what Atlanta should be. A new coach. New players. And they are putting points on the board, with one of the youngest squads in the league. Impressive stuff.

10. New York Red Bulls

Change: ‑5 — Form: LLWD
Two losses in a row is a tough pill to swallow for Red Bulls fans. What would normally be good news for New York is that their next opponent is Minnesota. And yet… this is a mad mad mad mad mad world.

11. Minnesota United

Change: +0 — Form: LLWW
Minnesota started so good and now they’re not doing so good. Losing to New England is pretty rough.

12. NYCFC

Change: +0 — Form: LDDD
A loss on the road is not uncommon in the league, but a team that is failing to get W’s means losses are even more painful.

13. FC Cincinnati

Change: +0 — Form: LWWDL
Cincinnati learned what a home loss in the MLS feels like, which I did not expect against Philly.

14. Philadelphia Union

Change: +4 — Form: WWDLL
Philly sits at 4th in the East and they seem to finally have their system working. An impressive win in Cincinnati but next comes a trip to Dallas, can they keep their winning ways?


The Chase

15. Atlanta United

Change: ‑9 — Form: LDDL
Frank de Boer is at the helm of a broken ship. Atlanta hasn’t synced and they are sitting at the bottom of the east.

16. Chicago Fire

Change: +3 — Form: WWLDL
So Chicago got a win over the struggling Red Bulls, off of an own goal. I am not convinced Chicago is the real threat that these last two wins. Their next game is at Toronto, a win there would be a statement.

17. Montréal Impact

Change: ‑2 — Form: LWLW
I really like Piatti. But I just don’t see a top class team around him, which is a shame.

18. Colorado Rapids

Change: ‑2 — Form: LLDLD
Colorado has not had an easy start to the season and the next few weeks are a mixed bag between Orlando, Seattle, DC and Chicago. Colorado need to find the rhythm to stabilize before they sink further.

19. Real Salt Lake

Change: ‑2 — Form: LLLWD
The RSL balloon is deflating as they sink lower and lower in the power rankings. I am rooting for them purely out of respect for Nick Rimando, he deserves to retire after a winning season.

20. Vancouver Whitecaps

Change: +2 — Form: DLLL
The first point for the Whitecaps comes from a well defended match against Seattle. Dos Santos made a plan and his team delivered, well, except for making any goals.

21. New England Revolution

Change: +2 — Form: WLLLD
Friedel’s team got a win? This must be a dream


The Basement

22. Orlando City

Change: ‑2 — Form: LWLDD
Orlando looked impotent this week. Dwyer tried his best but they couldn’t find the win at home. Orlando needs help, but I fear it won’t arrive until the middle of the season.

23. Portland Timbers

Change: ‑2 — Form: LLLD
The Seattle Schadenfraude is real and it is delicious. At least, for now it is. Seeing them lose another one after giving up not one, but two PKs. Gio had to be apoplectic.

24. San Jose Earthquakes

Change: +0 — Form: LLLL
Another week, the same as the last.

My 2019 MLS Predictions

Trying to predict the future is a loser’s game.

Ken Liu

You know the beauty of playing a loser’s game? One that’s rigged and no one expects you to get right? Like, predicting the end of an MLS season? 

If I’m wrong, well, of course I was. But… if I end up being right, then I look like a genius. It’s why TV talking heads love to make predictions. But, unlike them, I’m just a random fan not some professional analyst. So, I’ve got nothing to lose. Let’s do it!

MLS Cup Winner

LAFC — They joined the league last year and ended up getting to 3rd in the West. Based on the start of this season, how Carlos Vela looks, I think they are going to win it all — even over my Seattle Sounders.

Supporter’s Shield

Seattle Sounders FC — Look. I might just be swallowed up in the hope and excitement of an undefeated start to our season, but the Sounders look truly scary offensively and once the defense solidifies in the post Ozzie era, the team could set a new league record for points.

US Open Cup

DC United — Wayne Rooney and Luciano Acosta are something to behold this year and I have a feeling DC United will find themselves sitting atop the Lamar Hunt Open Cup.

Cascadia Cup

Seattle Sounders FC — I mean… look at the league standings. I might feel different next week after Seattle heads up to Vancouver, but for now, this seems obvious.

MVP

Carlos Vela — I have always been a Carlos Vela fan. His arrival in the MLS has been very exciting and what I have seen thus far this season he is the key to LAFC this season. If he continues to excel, so shall the team. But I worry if he fails, so will the team. And that has the makings of an MVP season.

Comeback Player

Jordan Morris — 3 goals already this season, looking fast and threatening on the wing. He had a disappointing sophomore slump and then a year long recovery from an injury which has ended countless careers. Let’s see how the season ends, but I don’t think this is a hard sell. 

Golden Boot

Wayne Rooney — Rumors float of Acosta being highly wanted in Europe, if he leaves then DC United will lean on Rooney even more. The Manchester United legend has shown his class and his ability, I won’t be shocked if he makes his mark this season.

Defender of the Year

Graham Zusi — This one is tough and honestly of all of these wild guesses, I feel least confident about this one. But Aaron Long won it last year. Chad has won it three times and if the Sounders are as dominant in awards as I think they will be this year, I think Chad might be overlooked again unless he is truly dominant.

Keeper of the Year

Stefan Frei - Zack Steffen won it last year despite Frei deserving it in nearly every category of statistics for goalkeeping, sure he had a good season but… Frei was better. The league screwed up and Frei has reached the point where he just doesn’t care about the award anymore. And that’s bad news for the league because he is going to stand on his head this season purely for himself and for the team.

Coach of the Year

Alan Koch — Cincinnati have come out and competed better than I think anyone expected. At this point, so long as they finish upper middle table or better, I think Koch gets this.

Tweet of the Year

I think this goes to the one and only Clint Dempsey with his early entry to the competition:

MLS Power Rankings — Week 4

Week 4 had only a handful of games but there were still some surprises. Cincinnati taking a win on the road. Orlando going into the Red Bulls home and getting the win. LAFC snatching victory after a golazo from Zimmerman. Next week the league is back in full swing! 

The Leaders

1. DC United

Change: +0 — Form: WDW
No game this week as they lost Paul Arriola to International duty. They are rested and ready to travel down to Orlando for their next game. Though they have to take notice of Orlando’s win last weekend.

2. Seattle Sounders FC

Change: +1 — Form: WWW
The week off, but several players went off to play for their national team. Lodeiro nabbed an assist in Uruguay’s match against Uzbekistan. Svensson got some time for Sweden. Jorstian Mordan got some time for the US. And now they come back together to travel north to Vancouver for their first Cascadia Cup match of the season.

3. Los Angeles FC

Change: +1 — Form: WDWW
The win was not convincing but it was a win none-the-less. Walker Zimmerman nails a banger from outside the box that leaves Rimando frozen in position.

4. Toronto FC

Change: +1 — Form: WW
The week off but they get the bump by the Red Bulls stumble.


The Pack

5. New York Red Bulls

Change: ‑3 — Form: LLWD
Losing to Orlando? At home!? Come on Red Bulls, you’re way better than that. They head on the road to play against Toronto. Fitting that Toronto overtook them in the power rankings due to this week’s loss.

6. Atlanta United

Change: +1 — Form: DDL
Off for the week with a few players off at international duty. They benefit in the rankings after Columbus’s result in Philadelphia.

7. Columbus Crew

Change: ‑1 — Form: LWWD
Losses on the road happen, but Philadelphia has not looked strong thus far this season and then they put together a 3 – 0 victory against Caleb Porter’s Crew.

8. Sporting KC

Change: +0 — Form: DWL
No action. No news. But now they welcome Montréal to their home.

9. Houston Dynamo

Change: +0 — Form: WWD
No action. No news. Houston takes their current form and head to Colorado.

10. LA Galaxy

Change: +0 — Form: WLW
No action this week but I am left wondering what is the status of Zlatan? Will he return to the Galaxy as Portland comes to town?

11. Minnesota United

Change: +0 — Form: LWW
They have had the break off, while a handful of players played for the home countries. Minnesota are on the road, heading to New England. Can they take a point away from the trip?

12. NYCFC

Change: +0 — Form: DDD
NYCFC head to Toronto. Can the team with only draws finally get a win, on the road no less?

13. FC Cincinnati

Change: +1 — Form: WWDL
Two wins in a row, including one on the road. Sure it was over the floundering Revolution, but a road win is always an accomplishment in this league. Can they keep their home a fortress by getting another solid win over Philadelphia?

14. FC Dallas

Change: +1 — Form: WLWD
They got the win, 2 – 1 over the struggling Colorado. Now they get to travel to Rio Tinto and face the struggling Real Salt Lake side.


The Chase

15. Montréal Impact

Change: ‑1 — Form: WLW
Off for the break and now heading to Kansas City. It will be a hard test for Montréal.

16. Colorado Rapids

Change: +0 — Form: LDLD
Colorado lost against Dallas, now they welcome Houston into their home. Could this be their opportunity for their first win of the season?

17. Real Salt Lake

Change: +0 — Form: LLWD
Three red cards in two weeks. Two losses. Real Salt Lake need Petke to put a firm hand on the wheel to steer this ship. At least this week they are at home.

18. Philadelphia Union

Change: +1 — Form: WDLL
Drawing against Atlanta, and then winning 3 – 0 over Columbus. Could Philadelphia finally be finding their form?

19. Chicago Fire

Change: ‑1 — Form: LDL
Chicago had the week off, a chance to recover from Seattle’s win at their home. Now things don’t get any easier as they hostthe Red Bulls this week.

20. Orlando City

Change: +2 — Form: WLDD
A ray of sunshine falls on Orlando after a player meeting that Nani led. Pulling off a stunning 1 – 0 win during their visit to New York, or New Jersey more properly. Now they are back home to welcome DC United.

21. Portland Timbers

Change: ‑1 — Form: LLD
The week off, a chance for Savarese to try and stop the tumbling Timbers; help them before they travel to LA to face the Galaxy.


The Basement

22. Vancouver Whitecaps

Change: +0 — Form: LLL
It is a rebuilding year for Vancouver as they try to find their new way forward under Dos Santos. Unfortunately their road does not get easy as now they welcome the rolling Sounders to their home.

23. New England Revolution

Change: ‑1 — Form: LLLD
No action this week before setting up and hosting Minnesota. Will Friedel’s side be able to earn points?

24. San Jose Earthquakes

Change: +0 — Form: LLL
Almeyda needs to find which way is up and which way is down with San Jose. The good news is they’ve hit rock bottom, so the only way to go is up. Can they manage some upward motion with a visit from LAFC? Unlikely, but it’s MLS so who knows what will happen.

Watch These — Week of Mar. 25

The International break winds down with a few more early week matches before players return to their clubs and the leagues resume action next weekend. MLS had a fun weekend with the few games which played.

My Top 3

The tail end of this International break leading back into a lot of fantastic league action. Tough to pick just three matches, but here are mine:

  • France vs. Iceland (ESPN+ — Monday, 12:45pm Pacific)
  • Ajax vs. PSV (ESPN+ — Sunday, 7:45am Pacific)
  • Liverpool vs. Tottenham (NBC Sports — Sunday, 8:30am Pacific)

Monday, Mar. 25

  • France vs. Iceland (UEFA Euro Qualifiers) — World Cup champions against the Cinderella story of the last Euros.

Tuesday, Mar. 26

  • United States vs. Chile (Friendly) — Sixto Vizuente, the Ecuadorian national coach, said this was the best US Men’s team he had faced. And though they won only 1 – 0 thanks to a flukey lofting goal from Zardes, there is no doubt that Berhalter’s era is underway and the US Men’s team looks dynamic as they settle into the new form.

Wednesday, Mar. 27

  • Paris Saint-Germain vs. Chelsea (UEFA Women’s Champions League) — A rare treat for us Americans. The opportunity to see two top female clubs battle in the European championship. Chelsea lead 2 – 0 coming into the second leg of this quarterfinal. Can PSG pull back to win?

Friday, Mar. 29

  • Toronto FC vs. New York Red Bulls (MLS) — New York just suffered an embarrassing loss at home, can they bounce back against Toronto? Or will Toronto prove to us all that the loss of Gio is something they are unaffected by?
  • Hoffenheim vs. Bayer Leverkusen (Bundesliga) — Leverkusen are clinging to their sixth position quite precariously and a loss here could be what causes them to fall out of Europa competition for next year. Conversely, if Hoffenheim can claim a win, they are now in striking distance to climb into the top six. An important match for both teams.

Saturday, Mar. 30

  • Vancouver Whitecaps vs Seattle Sounders FC (MLS) - Vancouver is a team in crisis. Seattle is a team riding high. Can Vancouver take advantage of being at home to stop the offensive powerhouse of Seattle?
  • Borussia Dortmund vs. Wolfsburg (Bundesliga) - Dortmund is tied with Bayern on points, but they sit in second of the league due to goal difference. Can Dortmund get a win here and hopefully regain the advantage on Bayern?

Sunday, Mar. 24

  • Ajax vs. PSV (Eredivisie) — It is the top two teams in the Netherlands facing off. Ajax are still alive in the Champions League and they look incredibly good.
  • Liverpool vs. Tottenham (EPL) — Liverpool are being pursued by a hungry Manchester City, they can’t afford any more missteps if they want to hold on to the lead. Tottenham are in their own race against their rivals, Arsenal. Both teams need to win this game, who will?
  • Roma vs. Napoli & Inter vs. Lazio (Serie A)  — We’ve got two games between teams in the top six of Italy’s top league. Should be lots of fun.
  • North Carolina FC vs. Charleston Battery (USL) — Two of the top teams in USL face off for their next match of the season.

Can the Sounders go 10 – 0?

The Sounders are 3 – 0 and Schmetzer wants to go 10 – 0 to start the season, is it possible? Let’s talk about it.

1998 LA Galaxy team photo. Featuring Cobi Jones and Greg Vanney to name a few.

In terms of MLS history, the record winning streak is 15 by the LA Galaxy in 1998. Now, you can’t really take that as a comparable achievement to modern day MLS. Because in 1998 there were no draws in MLS. Every game ended in a win or a loss thanks to the shootout rules they used to employ. In “modern day” the record holder is… well this is awkward, the Seattle Sounders right now, with 8 consecutive wins since September 29, 2018.

Starting this season 10 – 0 would put us at 15 consecutive wins which would be an unheard of feat in the MLS (though, not elsewhere in the world.) It would be a record likely to stand for years to come. Can the Sounders invent doing it in the modern MLS era?

Cincinnati, Colorado and Chicago down. 3 – 0 so far this season. Let’s look at the schedule coming up.

March 30 — At Vancouver

Historically the Sounders lead the series in Vancouver. The Whitecaps have only won when Seattle comes to town 3 times. The last time being back in 2017 when they won 2 – 1 (I was at that game, sadly.) Vancouver does not look good right now, they have to figure out their team. They, along with the Sounders, have next week off to try and right the ship. Can they be prepared for the Sounders offense? I don’t think so. 4 – 0.

April 6 — Vs. Real Salt Lake

RSL just got thrashed 5 – 0 by DC United after having two players sent off. Mike Petke is at the helm of a struggling club and he has to figure out how to turn them around. Historically, Seattle does very well vs. RSL at home. They lead the series 8 – 2‑3, though the last time RSL came to visit Saucedo gave them their win on a beautiful volley. This loss was in the midst of our dark period of last season when everyone, including Will Bruin, was out injured. Regardless, in current forms, I am confident that Seattle will win this. 5 – 0.

April 10 — At Colorado

A midweek game on the road. Colorado will be looking for revenge after they lost to us in Seattle. Winning on the road is hard in MLS so every away game is going to be tough, but I just don’t see Tim Howard and the Colorado defense being able to withstand the Sounders offense again. And don’t forget the confidence the team will be playing with if they have begun the season 5 – 0, they are going to be hungry for goals. I think this is a win, and puts us up to 6 – 0.

April 13 — Vs. Toronto FC

Third game in 8 days, with a jaunt to Colorado in the middle. The team is going to be tired. They are going to have to stand up to their arch rivals, the zombified corpse of the greatest MLS team ever. It’s honestly the first game of the season I am truly concerned about. Toronto are undefeated in MLS games and Toronto loves beating Seattle, and Toronto won’t have had a midweek game. So, we’ll see, but this is where I think our streak comes to an end. 6 – 1.

April 21 — At LAFC

Thankfully the team has a week off to rest and recover, otherwise this game could be ugly. LAFC scare me. Carlos Vela scares me. Bob Bradley is one of the keenest tactical minds in US soccer, he scares me. I will be thrilled to leave this game with a draw. 6 – 1‑1.

April 24 — Vs. San Jose

Almeyda is trying to fix a broken club but we are on short rest and depending how brutal the game in LAFC is we might rest starters and give San Jose a window of opportunity against us. That said, as long as two of our four attackers play, and the defense stays intact, I predict Seattle wins. 7 – 1‑1.

April 28 — Vs. LAFC

As if facing them as part of a 3‑game week wasn’t enough, we get to face them twice in a week and they don’t have a third game in the middle. This one could be rough, but I trust the home field advantage to carry us through. 8 – 1‑1.


So, that’s it. The schedule just doesn’t play in our favor to make the 10 – 0 dream a real possibility. Should we try for it? Absolutely. If we try for 10 – 0 and fail, but doing so starts us even close to it, getting 25 of 30 points, that will be truly remarkable and put us on track to win the Supporter’s Shield this season.

But who knows, maybe we can get to 10 – 0.

World Record for Win Streaks

As a brief digression, I went looking for club win streak records. I was curious how would our theoretical 15 game win streak compare to other leagues in the world?

Turns out the longest winning streak ever is held by the Czech team, AC Sparta Prague. From 1920 – 1923 they won 51 games in a row. 51 games in a row is an unbelievable feat and speaks to the era of imbalance in the Czech league. Not even Bayern Munich has managed that. 

But, to be fair, Bayern did get 19 consecutive wins during a 53 game unbeaten streak, 46 wins and 7 draws, back in 2013 – 2014. Oh Bayern.

A sixteen game win streak for the Sounders would tie us with the likes of Barcelona, Real Madrid and AS Monaco, who each managed an equal win streak. I would note that the Sounders doing it would be even more impressive given the comparative parity of the MLS to La Liga and Ligue 1.

As I said above, I think it is a lofty goal that is unlikely to happen for the Sounders. Could it happen? Absolutely. I can’t wait to see.