The Western Conference was already pretty tough. The Seattle Sounders finished with the fourth highest point total of all time. The LA Galaxy just posted the first +30 goal-difference since 1998. Real Salt Lake just turned in another solid season. FC Dallas appears to have turned a corner. The Vancouver Whitecaps had their best season ever.
Heck, the Portland Timbers managed to score 61 goals, had a +9 goal difference and went 5-1-3 over their last nine and didn't even make the playoffs.
The one reprieve was the opportunity to play Chivas USA three times. No team took bigger advantage of that little bit of scheduling serendipity over the past two seasons than the Sounders, who claimed a maximum 18 points against Chivas USA in that time.
And guess what? That's going away in 2015. Not only was news of Chivas USA's contraction made official on Monday, but so was the decision to move Sporting Kansas City and the Houston Dynamo to the Western Conference. Although Sporting KC and the Dynamo weren't up their normal levels in 2014, this would seem to sway the balance of power even further toward the West.
Consider: Four of the last five Supporters' Shield winners were already scheduled to play in the Western Conference for 2015. Now, they'll be joined by all five MLS Cup winners from 2009-2013 as well as all 10 of the finalists from those years. From 2011-2014, the Dynamo and Sporting Kansas City have played in three MLS Cups and combined to average nearly 52 points per season. In those four seasons, they've collectively missed the playoffs once. By contrast, Chivas USA has averaged about 31 points and missed the playoffs all four years.
Just to make it a little more annoying, Los Angeles is only about 1,100 miles from Seattle while Kansas City is closer to 1,800 and Houston is about 2,100.
None of this is to suggest that MLS really had much choice in the matter. There weren't a lot of good options here. But, that doesn't make it any less annoying from a completely selfish point of view.