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The Daily Dirt April 25, 2018: POWER RANKINGS

A hater’s guide to the 8 weeks of the MLS season so far

MLS: New England Revolution at Columbus Crew SC Aaron Doster-USA TODAY Sports

We’re getting into a point in the season where I can pass off hot takes as analysis now that there’s a somewhat decent sample of games to reflect on. So if you were hoping to get news links with pithy little comments over them, sorry, I have analysis for your morning below.

Eastern Conference

Atlanta United - We’re #1, We’re #1, We’re #1, We’re #1! So Atlanta has a game in hand on SKC and NYCFC and so is averaging 2.26 points per game while those slugs are only pulling in a measly 2.13 ppg. Add to it that the Five Stripes are on track to score 82.5 goals this year and you can see that I’m not a biased blogger writing for a very specific audience and that Atlanta is the best team in the league. Our 13th best player just bossed Zlatan in a game, this isn’t hard.

NYCFC - The Pigeons got slayed by the Portland Timbers despite having 99% of the possession last weekend. New York is good and they’ll probably still win the Supporter’s Shield, but this week they’re behind Atlanta.

3 way tie for 3rd - New York Red Bulls, Columbus Crew, Toronto FC. NYRB can press, wow they can press - just look at them run teams into their own end with their pressing. Oh - a chance on transition after a turnover was forced by the press, so many Bradley Wright-Phillips goals. Can they break a team down? Does Jesse Marsch have any ideas beyond pressing? He certainly hopes he doesn’t have to find out. The Columbus Crew are making lemonade out of Gyasi Zardes, Gregg Burkhalter is a genius, his system is as close to plug and play as MLS will get - enough said. Toronto has put everything into winning Concacaf Champions League and should be commended for it. They have three points out of five games. They’ll make the playoffs but it seems out of reach for them to repeat as Supporters’ Shield winners and a home field playoff game in the opening round would be a huge success for them.

6th New England Revolution - Hey, New England is kinda fun, they’re trying to possess the ball and pass it around and play soccer and what not. What isn’t fun is what Brad Friedel is doing to Lee Nguyen by not trading him and not playing him - maybe more is going on there, but I expect it isn’t.

7th Orlando City - OCSC is begrudgingly OK right now. They have defensively been pretty terrible as Jason Kreis seems to be focused on building the attack early on this year. If the backline can come together maybe they make the playoffs.

8-9: Montreal Impact and Chicago Fire - Each of these teams has exactly one good player on them and that should be just enough to keep them out of the cellar all year long.

Two way tie for last - DC United and Philadelphia Union. DCU hasn’t played a home game in a permanent stadium this year and Ben Olsen is still showing that he can’t get the defense to cope with the new wave of MLS attackers and can’t get his attack to get past weak MLS defenses, the clock is probably ticking on Ben with DC getting new ownership. Philly is laughably bad, they have three goals in six games and have Alejandro Bedoya on the roster.

Western Conference

Sporting Kansas City - Peter Vermes where have you been? Just to quickly recap the psychic trauma of Sporting’s recent seasons. 2015: One of the more fun teams to watch in MLS, bounced in the knockout round. 2016: A kinda fun team to watch, bounced in the knockout round. 2017: A dreadful team to watch with an anti-soccer style that was pure torture to sit through for 90 minutes, bounced from the knockout round. 2018: YOLO. Really, it is nice to see Vermes get with it and realize that he should just stomp all over the terrible Western Conference and show why he should possibly get a look to manage the USMNT. Getting rid of Dom Dwyer and Benny Feilhaber has allowed Vermes to develop a dynamic attacking side with a great new player in Johnny Russell. SKC probably has a claim at being number one, but the West is so bad they probably get 6 points this year just from playing in a conference with Andrew Wenger in it.

8 way tie for second (in no particular order, it’s a tie): Portland Timbers, LA Galaxy, LAFC, Vancouver Whitecaps, FC Dallas, Houston Dynamo, Real Salt Lake, Seattle Sounders - Every one of these teams is good, not great, and deeply flawed. On any given day they could beat an opponent 3-0 or lose 5-0 and neither result would be surprising or unexpected in any way. At some point maybe Seattle pulls away from this group, but they aren’t going to play Minnesota United every weekend.

10th - tie between Colorado Rapids and San Jose Earthquakes. Both are teams with new managers who, to this point in the season, have yet to develop anything resembling a consistent soccer style. San Jose looked like they put it together in their opening weekend win but can’t keep that form together for 90 minutes. At least the Rapids are trying to score goals this year.

12th - Minnesota United: Am I being disrespectful, maybe. Is Minnesota the worst team in MLS? No, they aren’t DC or Philly. Are they probably on par with Colorado and San Jose? Yeah, but someone has to be 12th. They are a severely unbalanced team led by a manager who thinks he can beat every team 4-3 but the 4 doesn’t come and the 3 is more likely to be 5 even if it did. Minnesota had a great attack last year and.... added another attacker. Francisco Calvo is a great center back but he needs three other good players next to him and a keeper who can hold it together in MLS.

So that’s it, the objective and completely fair assessment of MLS to this point in the season. Have a great day!