Sunday, March 16, 2014

The Machine Behind Results: Houston Start Strong, East Conf Impressions

We are two weeks in and every team in Major League Soccer has played at least one game (over half has played two!). What's this mean? Well, as far as final results go, very little. In fact early season scores can be very misleading. RE: POWER RANKINGS.

What isn't misleading is the machine that is behind the results - the teams that have the tools and the correct system even if the final scoreline doesn't reflect it. Certainties might be few in MLS but there are a handful of indicators that do point to success in the league.

It might be June before the numbers are telling us who is possessing the ball well or preventing shots on frame or whatever, so for now we have to settle for teams that are at least trying to do the right things.

With that in mind, here we go...

 LOOKING THE PART, MLS EAST------------------

 1. Houston Dynamo
In an unusual turn of MLS scheduling, the Dynamo have taking on two of the stronger Eastern Conf teams from last year in the Revs and Impact and easily handled both. Will Bruin has already notched three goals and Houston looks to be doing what Houston does this year; Which is be good.

 2. Columbus Crew
The Crew were as impressive as I have seen them in the last three years last weekend against DC in DC. The Crew have played plenty of bad teams in that time, so it wasn't just DC. At least I don't think it was.

  THE MIDDLE -----------------

 3. Philadelphia Union
A draw away in Portland to start the year and a win back at home against a Jose Goncalves-less Revs team is a great way to start the year. I got to see these guys in person down in Orlando during the preseason, they looked solid.

 4. Chicago Fire
After a wild second half against Chivas in their opener and a somewhat solid performance away in Portland, I think this team is in pretty good shape. The situation with Mike Magee is strange, but he only adds to what is already a very good looking team... if they can hold out till things settle in.

 5. Sporting KC
CONCACAF Champions League has got her hooks in this MLS side. They showed up with a weak lineup against Seattle to start the year, fouled the hell out of them and still lost. After that they probably expected to get a result from the FC Dallas match at home. They didn't. They also royally messed up a tifo event at the same time.

 6. NY Red Bulls
Much of what they do this year will depend upon how Thierry Henry approaches the season. The draw at home was fine. They will be fine. But they will not be Supporters' Shield contenders this year.

 7. Toronto FC
The Jermain Defoe Show so far. There wasn't much to go off of in that first game against a Seattle team that is inches away from finally spiraling off into the abyss.

  THE BOTTOM -----------------

 8. Montreal Impact
The Impact are struggling a bit without Di Vaio (suspension) and have lost their first two. Fans of the team will point to the fact that both were on the road. I see that, but I also see a team that is sort of drifting this year with a makeshift lineup and a new coach. Di Vaio though. He alone can keep this team competitive.

 9. New England Revs
There are a couple unfortunate things going for head coach Jay Heaps. First up; that God-forsaken pitch they play on. Second is the tricky situation with 2013 defender of the year.

 10. DC United
Plenty of MLS talent but need a better coach to pull it together before this season is out of reach. The first game against the Crew was a mess. Have the ability to get into the playoff hunt. We see.

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