The big news of the week in the American soccer scene is undoubtedly the appointment of Bob Bradley as manager of Swansea City in the English Premier League. If you believe Twitter is an accurate way to measure the feelings of an entire fan base, Swans fans aren’t particularly excited about the idea of someone who hasn’t coached a team in a major European league taking over the reins, but there is also more than a dose of some anti-American sentiment among the riff-raff.
As much as I don’t care about what the perception of MLS is in Europe, here’s to hoping Bradley knocks this opportunity out of the park, so that all former Chivas USA coaches can continue to dream of making it to the big time.
1. FC Dallas (Last Week: 2)
A change at the top this week as Dallas regains the top spot following a win at home over LA and a Toronto loss to D.C. With games left against the red-hot Sounders and a rematch with LA in Carson, Dallas hasn’t quite locked up the top seed in the West just yet.
2. Colorado Rapids (Last Week: 3)
Colorado is the only team yet to lose at home in MLS, so you’ve got to think taking the top spot in the conference and earning home field throughout the playoffs is top priority for Pablo Mastroeni. It’s almost likely that Colorado could overtake Dallas for two reasons: 1) the Rapids have two games in hand on Dallas, and 2) their remaining four-game schedule is easy, with none of the three teams they’ll face currently in the playoff picture. They’ll take on Houston twice, while also facing Portland and San Jose.
3. New York City FC (Last Week: 4)
It’s just about a lock for Patrick Vieira to take home the MLS Coach of the Year Award this season after steering the Bronx Blues to a tie with their crosstown rivals and perennial Eastern Power Red Bulls. Now, can he take his team to heights that the Red Bulls have never managed and win the MLS Cup?
4. New York Red Bulls (Last Week: 5)
Through my television, the atmosphere of the Bulls’ 3-2 win over Philly was fantastic this week at Red Bull Arena, which goes to show that those East Coast rivalries aren’t as far behind those Pacific Northwest ones in terms of fan interest.
5. Toronto FC (Last Week: 1)
Despite Jozy Altidore scoring a man-child goal this week, Toronto fell to a streaking D.C. at home after playing Orlando to a scoreless tie. The international break this week will be key for the Reds, who desperately need to get Giovinco back healthy and in top form before the playoffs begin.
6. Seattle Sounders (Last Week: 9)
What a story Seattle is becoming. After stinking up the place all year, the Sounders are suddenly securely in the playoffs, having leapfrogged Kansas City by winning four games in a row this week, all without the soccer styling of one Clint Dempsey. After firing Sigi Schmid mid-season, this was the kind of run the Seattle faithful needed to reassure themselves that this team is headed back in the right direction.
7. D.C. United (Last Week: 11)
Ugly D.C. has suddenly turned pretty to the tune of three straight W’s as the season nears the end. It would be a small shock if D.C. could make a run all the way to the MLS Cup Final, but don’t be surprised if Ben Olsen steers his charges out of the knockout stage and into the Conference semifinals.
8. LA Galaxy (Last Week: 6)
Much like Toronto, this International break feels needed for an LA team that is beginning to show signs of its age. Some much-needed R&R should be on the docket for the Galaxy if they are planning some run to the title.
9. Montreal Impact (Last Week: 12)
Can we get Don Garber to rig the last weeks of the MLS season David Stern-style so that we can get another Montreal-Toronto playoff pairing? I’d like that a whole bunch.
10. New England Revolution (Last Week: 13)
New England stomped Kansas City at home this weekend for the Revs’ fourth win in five. As underachieving a year as it has been for Jay Heaps’ talented bunch, this late-season push might be good enough to see them make some noise come playoff time.
11. Sporting Kansas City (Last Week: 8)
I’ve been saying it all year, but this team’s window for championship glory looks shut to me. Every time I watch Kansas City play, it strikes me just how unexciting this team is compared to where they were just a couple of years ago.
12. Real Salt Lake (Last Week: 7)
RSL is just about in free fall at the moment, but is cushioned by their early-season success as far as the standings go. Despite going without a win in five, RSL still sits in fourth place in the West.
13. Philadelphia Union (Last Week: 10)
Much like RSL, Philly is struggling considerably at just about the worst time of the year, but doesn’t have all those cushy wins from earlier in the season to fall back on. Also winless in five, Philadelphia sits sixth in the East, holding off a rising New England team hot on its tail.
14. Portland Timbers (Last Week: 14)
Plain and simple, the Champs have too much talent to be losing as many games as they do. Any team with Diego Valeri, Darlington Nagbe, and Fanendo Adi should be as interesting an attacking team as there is in MLS, and yet Portland is in the middle of the pack in terms of goals scored.
15. Columbus Crew (Last Week: 16)
C-Bus has won three of four to put a small cherry on top of what has otherwise been a very disappointing 2016. The Higuain-Kamara locker room spat from earlier this year will be the lasting story from the 2015 MLS Cup Runners-up.
16. San Jose Earthquakes (Last Week: 19)
San Jose won for the first time in eight games, which says more about their opponent (RSL) than it does the Quakes. Jeff Cassar better figure something out, and quick.
17. Houston Dynamo (Last Week: 15)
After winning two straight, Houston came back down to Earth with a home loss to David Villa and NYCFC this week. Seriously, does anyone enjoy scoring more than David Villa? Every time Villa puts one into the back of the net he reacts as though he’s just scored his first.
18. Orlando City (Last Week: 17)
Here’s a discussion I’m sure some Orlando fans are having: On the list of big-name DP’s to enter the league, how far down the list does Kaká rank?
19. Vancouver Whitecaps (Last Week: 18)
Vancouver is in absolute rebuild mode right now, as evidenced by the continued presence of 15-year-old Alphonso Davies in the lineup.
20. Chicago Fire (Last Week: 20)
Maybe the Fire are trying to take a page out of the Cubs’ playbook and become the new Lovable Losers in the Windy City.