Week 21 is in the books and, in true MLS fashion, some teams are finding their form while others are losing it. Consider that earlier in the season Seattle and New England were vying for first place in the Supporters' Shield standings, and now neither team looks much like their former selves at all.
Injuries, suspensions, international call-ups, and the transfer window have all wrought havoc on the landscape of the league. Welcome to MLS, where crazy things happen.
1. LA Galaxy (Last Week: 1)
Last week I seemingly gave LA the kiss of death because they came out this week and got drubbed by Houston. LA stays at the top, however, because the Gold Cup ended this week, meaning that you won't see some guy named David Romney who wears number 67 and usually plays in USL starting in MLS again for a long time.
LA leads the league in goals scored, and they haven't even sniffed having the kind of team that they'll have for the rest of the year.
2. FC Dallas (Last Week: 3)
Dallas has given up only two goals during their current five-match winning streak.
3. Sporting Kansas City (Last Week: 2)
Rivalries in American professional sports are different than rivalries in other countries or even in American college sports. The reason for this is space. There will never be a situation like this in American professional sports. Our country is just too big and spread out. Outside of New York, LA, and Chicago, there are no cities with multiple teams playing in the same league (or in the case of baseball, opposite leagues). Rivalries that split communities just don't happen that often here in terms of professional leagues.
American professional sports rivalries are built from three factors: success, familiarity and ego. Consider the historic Lakers-Celtics rivalry, the Knicks-Pacers rivalry of the '90s, the Steelers-Ravens rivalry of the 2000s. In all of those cases a rivalry was built out of the fact that both teams were good, playing each other often with high stakes, and they both thought they were better than the other. The players didn't like each other and the fans fed off of that. That's what made them great rivalries.
RSL-SKC is a great American professional sports rivalry in this vein. We know that 20 years down the road, Seattle and Portland will hate each other. That's a great rivalry. Twenty years down the road, RSL-SKC may not be as intense as it is now, but that's okay. It's a great rivalry right now, and that's all that matters.
4. D.C. United (Last Week: 4)
The difference between D.C. and Philly is that when Philly scores two goals in the first three minutes, they lose.
Also, I like the fact that D.C. is now employing the RSL strike tandem from, like, five years ago.
5. Toronto FC (Last Week: 5)
Kudos to MLSsoccer.com's Matt Doyle for saying something I've been saying all year: Toronto has 10 of its last 15 games at home as a result of that BMO Field construction-induced, season-opening road trip. That may well be the biggest statistic in MLS right now.
6. Columbus Crew SC (Last Week: 7)
7. Portland Timbers (Last Week: 6)
8. Vancouver Whitecaps (Last Week: 8)
9. Real Salt Lake (Last Week: 11)
10. Houston Dynamo (Last Week: 13)
I'm pretty unabashed with my love for Owen Coyle. For some reason when he was at Bolton I liked listening to him, and now that he is in MLS I like listening to him. For starters he has an awesome accent, but he also seems like the ultimate players' coach, and I like that.
On that note, adding in Cubo Torres and bringing Giles Barnes back in gives Houston a front three that could be deadly. Coyle seems excited about it. The Dynamo are going to feast on teams unaccustomed to the late summer heat of Houston.
11. New York Red Bulls (Last Week: 9)
12. Colorado Rapids (Last Week: 12)
13. Montreal Impact (Last Week: 19)
Montreal is in the playoffs! In other news, the East is incredibly weak! And, with three games in hand on teams like Orlando and NYCFC, they just added Didier Drogba to their strike force.
14. New York City FC (Last Week: 16)
The Soccer Yankees become only the second team to LA to score five goals in a single game this season.
After a week off, Sal, the Fictional Sports Fan from the Bronx, is back with his ten cents, and he's back with some thoughts on Andrea Pirlo: "Dat noo Italian guy I've been seein' in da papuh kinda looks like Mick Jagger witta beard."
I don't know if that's a compliment on Pirlo's devilish good looks, or simply a byproduct of the fact that he's really old.
15. Orlando City (Last Week: 10)
I'll just leave this right here:
In Didier Drogba I'd say Montreal are getting "a Larin-type forward," but I don't want to put that much pressure on the guy.— Matthew Doyle (@MLSAnalyst) July 26, 2015
16. New England Revolution (Last Week: 14)
17. San Jose Earthquakes (Last Week: 15)
18. Seattle Sounders (Last Week: 17)
Honestly, I'm not terribly convinced that Seattle could beat either Philly or Chicago right now, but I can't bring myself to drop them much further.