Thursday, March 17, 2016

2016 MLS - When to Care

If you care about the competition side* of the league... start to dig in after 10 games or so. That's the quick answer to when to care about the table. At least, it kinda is. Jumping through the MLS table week after week, year after year, you see that the regular season is more about figuring out who the bad teams are.

Last year, over in the East, MLS watchers saw NYCFC only manage one win out of their first ten and Philly pull out an underwhelming 9 points from their first 12. The other two non-playoff teams took a few more weeks to find their level, but signs were there early on. 

Orlando was playing in front of some of the largest crowds in the league during their first year but were only eeking out points (12 pts from 11 games). Same with Chicago who picked up 10 pts from 9 with a -3 goal difference. 

The only team to rise out of a low table position last year was Montreal, but anyone who was remotely familiar with how MLS completely cleared (and blew up) their schedule to accommodate their CONCACAF Champions league run knew that they would improve.

The focus in MLS, almost all year, is to not suck

Columbus hasn't looked good or bad in the first two games. They've looked pretty much like last year's team in every way possible. Going over Gregg Berhalter's results in his first two years with the team is a funny reminder of just what MLS is during the regular season as far as a competition.

Average as an Achievement
Two team franchise low streaks happened both years. In 2014 it was April 5th through July 16th. One win in 16 games. ONE. Crew still made the playoffs. Just last year there was a 10 game streak that included only one win. Both streaks a firm reminder that Berhalter learned (at least, part of), his trade under a "wake me when it matters" Bruce Arena.

Why shouldn't Columbus Crew SC go through another long run of futility? We all want to see the best out of the players and teams, but MLS, like most other pro leagues in the USA, is open about placing inhibitors on excellence. Were we to all completely buy into the "parity" sales pitch, would we not all be rooting for average teams?

Maybe there should be an award for "Most Average (and therefore, most) MLS team in MLS."

2014 Winner: Sporting KC (10th out of 19 teams). Although, you could make an argument for the Philadelphia Union, with a record of 10 wins, 12 draws and 12 losses. That's some pretty darn average. In 2015, the award should go to Toronto FC. 15 wins, 15 losses and 4 draws. Maybe that corporate office guru guy Tim Bezbatchenko (pictured) was sent in to make them the most average in MLS, which, in turn, is MLS. They won!

Columbus is in action again this weekend against Chicago.

*This is an MLS problem.

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