Whether the pure standings, MLS Power Rankings or those from SB Nation Soccer the West is still seen as a cut above, even after the Colorado Rapids and Portland Timbers both laid road eggs. The fact is that only the Chicago Fire is both east of the Mississippi and earning two points a match or more. Much of this is likely due to the preponderance of East at West games, as the home advantage is still about half a goal. If you remove the home advantage from Sagarin, you actually get balanced conferences statistically.
Still there is variance. Several SB Nation voters are vote cautious when it comes to the top of their rankings. A total of four teams received votes for #1 overall - Real Salt Lake, Seattle Sounders, Los Angeles Galaxy and Sporting Kansas City. The race for #1 between RSL and Sounders FC is so tight that if any one RSL voter switched the two's places Seattle would be in possession of the top spot.
Nine teams got at least one vote within the top five. Only four teams didn't get a ranking in single digits. The Galaxy, Vancouver Whitecaps, San Jose Earthquakes, Toronto FC and Philadelphia Union have the most diverse rankings. Some voters seem hesitant to react to slow or fast starts by these clubs.
In Cascadia, both the Portland Timbers and Whitecaps are in the top 10, yet their SB Nation averages have them outside of the top five in the West since FC Dallas and the Colorado Rapids are ahead of both -- for now. The East top five are Sporting, Houston Dynamo, Fire, New York Red Bulls and Columbus Crew. Check back at the SB Nation Rankings and see how far down the Crew are overall.
Dave's vote follows
- Whitecaps (yes, moving up rapidly)
- Red Bulls
I take the voting as a combination of "if they met on a neutral field" and "prospects to trophy." Though there is less specific direction than that.