Graphing Seattle's Rivals' Average Rankings Throughout 2012
A unanimous number one (San Jose) and number two (Kansas City) isn't a surprise. But there is also separation at spots three through five (Seattle, Salt Lake, D.C.). The cluster of tight teams in six through nine shows a virtual tie.
With the Seattle Sounders going on a four match stretch with two wins and two draws, with six goals for and only one against, some of the doubters have had their doubt lessened. There are still questions about the Rave Green, but they focus on consistency and that team from the SF Bay Area. One of the four Seattle-based voters did put the Sounders fourth. The rest had Seattle at third. Six total voters didn't have Seattle third overall, with Real Salt Lake being the next most common vote at third.
Both RSL and the LA Galaxy did get third place votes (also D.C. United). The largest knock when comparing Salt Lake and the Sounders has to be Goal Differential and any way you look at it Seattle is the better side. RSL is outclassed by that measure at home and on the road (in fact Seattle is one of four teams to have a positive road GD). This is one of the primary reasons that Sagarin loves Seattle, even if Seattle fans are down on the team's chances. The Galaxy have the fourth highest Road GD with a whopping +1. When looking at the top teams in MLS, LA and RSL (DC as well) both have worse performances against top teams than the Sounders. Seattle's poor record against top teams is solely due to performances against San Jose. This may seem repetitive; it is. It is also still true.
The Cascadia rivals are in different boats. The Portland Timbers won the Cascadia Cup primarily due to their road strength in the mini-tourney. Their last win drug them up from laughingstock in the rankings to "hey you exist and aren't completely awful." They are in a chunk of teams with the Revs and Rapids that are bad, but not horrid. As the Vancouver Whitecaps backed into the MLS Cup Playoffs, not many see them going far. While ranked 11th, the distance between they and the Impact is meaningless. There could be a strong argument for Montreal being the better team. The Whitecaps are one of the teams with the most diverse opinions about their 'power' at this time. While United and the Galaxy are seen as either good or very good, the 'Caps have a drifting of opinions from mediocre to poor.
Playoffs by Power Ranking
Those mirror the actual Playoffs at this time, though with a game left to play for all of those sides there will be shuffling in the order.
- 'Quakes - Their speed of play and weak defense can be exploited as the Galaxy showed, but they are still the favorites.
- Sporks - Can they score in the Playoffs?
- Sounders - Last year's ouster and the only team that beats them regularly stand in the way of an MLS Cup.
- RSL - No team will push for a road nil-nil in the Playoffs more than RSL.
- Dynamo - In the slowdown game of the Playoffs their large bodies up front and strong defense should hold up to the pressure.
- United - Held up well without DeRo due to their successful drafting and development of young talent.
- Galaxy - Healthy, they can compete with anyone. They aren't healthy yet, but close.
- Red Bulls - GM and Coach in flux and now with questions at keeper. Great timing, good effort.
- Fire - Emperor Jerry told me they suck. Or it could be that they actually suck. Great teams don't have +5 GD on a season, don't take double digit losses and aren't rated ninth by the math.
- Crew - Sorry you're in the East and MLS eliminated the Wild Card. In many Playoff formats you'd be in them.
- Toros - If one rated a team only based on top six talent they'd be in the top 5. The rest of the roster matters.
- Impact - Old Italian greats make for a mediocre MLS side. Mediocre is pretty good for year one.
- Whitecaps - So yeah, you're in the Playoffs. You also have a losing record and negative goal differential.
- Union - The only team with two matches left could make a push late and still bump up only a spot.
- Revs - The interesting experiment in only having good midfielders didn't go well.
- Rapids - It was a close call between they and the Timbers. Colorado is a better road team.
- Flotsam - Regional Cups = Victory!
- Goats - Once upon a time they had the best defense in MLS. Then they added talent to every part of the pitch and got worse, because that's how it works?
- Mariners - You raised ticket prices after that season? Wait, wrong Mariners. The Reds of Toronto have coaching issues and a horrid season, but at least they rolled back prices back to their expansion year in attempt to just start over from scratch with their fanbase.