Power rankings have always struck me as somewhat bizarre things. I think of them like an episode of Judge Judy. Nothing of real substance (they don't impact the standings), but I just cannot stop watching (and the catty bickering that ensues is the most addictive part!). It is, therefore, with great hesitation that I write this post. It's also my first fan post, so be nice (but feedback is welcome).
I'm a bit miffed that the Sounders aren't getting top tier votes. I'm not saying they ought to BE in the top tier, but they should at least be above the 20-point "everyone calls them 2nd tier" voting line.
Now, before you cry fowl and point to the Sounder's extremely 2nd tier record, I'd like to take a second and ask "What are power rankings for?" Are they to reflect the overall performance of a team across a season? If so, why in the world would we need them as, at this point in the season, the actual standings do that for us just fine. Are they to reflect the general opinion of the strength of a club right now? Are they meant to be predictive of future success?
The name itself, "power rankings," seems to suggest that they aren't predictive (i.e. we aren't really saying that LA and RSL are equally likely to make the finals as, say, NYRB, since NYRB will have a much easier road). They certainly aren't meant to mirror the standings (as, otherwise, they'd be worthless). Instead, they must be about the present strength of the club.
In that case, I'd like to suggest that the Sounders ought to be given more credit for their recent run. Right now, the standings appear to mirror the SB Nation power rankings - but the Sounders deserve better than that.
Over the last 12 matches, the Sounders have earned more points than ANY other 1st or 2nd tier team.
LA has earned 17
RSL has earned 21
FC Dallas has a earned whopping 24 points
NYRB has earned 21 points
San Jose has earned 17 points
Colorado has earned 18 points
Seattle has earned 27 points over that same span of games.
Our early season struggles can largely be explained by injury and luck - but if power rankings are supposed to reflect current strength of a side, the Sounders can legitimately claim the top overall spot. Past performances matter, and I'm no statistician that I can devise a good way to weight past with recent performance, but given that there are real, substantial changes in our lineup (a healthy Alonso, Riley, Zak and Nkufo) and that there were clear instances of "bad luck" (which we know will regress over time) early in the season, I see NO reason why Seattle shouldn't at least get SOME top tier votes.
We should have started getting them from the match in Columbus onwards. Now? I'd put us up against any team in the league and expect us not only to go toe-to-toe with them, but to win. Can you think of a team, right now, that can match up against Nkufo, Zak, and Montero up front? Can you pick a group of forwards that Ianni or Parke or Gonzales or Alonso or Riley can't handle?
Neither can I, and the last 12 matches have proven what we've known all along: this team is legitimately contending for the MLS Cup, and we shouldn't be surprised in the least if they win it.
They may be as meaningless as a Judge Judy ruling, but let "justice" be done in the power rankings: give the Sounders a top tier vote this week. They've earned it.