MLS Power Rankings: Who Finishes Regular Season At No. 1?
Final Regular Season MLS Power Rankings
The Major League Soccer regular season has come to a close, and what a season of drama it was. There were teams who started out strong and faded towards the end like FC Dallas; there were teams like the New England Revolution, who started out slow but got key results when they needed them in order to make the playoffs. Then there were the Seattle Sounders, who started slow, then went on a big unbeaten streak in the middle of the year, only to falter towards the end of the season.
The rankings that you are about to see are unbiased, mathematically-based power rankings. The formula is one of my creation which rewards a win by crediting that club with the opponent's win percentage in the plus column. Subsequently, it punishes a club for a loss by subtracting the opponent's losing percentage from their total, and a draw is worth 0 points either way.
For example, Seattle beats Portland, whose record is 4-1. Seattle would be credited with a number of .800, which represents Portland’s win percentage. That number is put into the formula as a variable which will change based on Portland’s performance. So if Portland were to go on a three-game losing streak after that match, then Seattle’s win would only count for .500 as Portland’s record would be 4-4 losses.
It works the same in the opposite direction; if Seattle loses to Portland, whose record is 4-1, Seattle would have .200 taken away from their score as that is Portland’s losing percentage. If Portland were to go on a three-game losing streak, then the loss would count worse against Seattle since Portland’s losing percentage would have increased.
Now without further ado, here are the final MLS power rankings for the 2013 Regular Season.
19. DC United
Record: 3-7-24, 16 points
Evans Rankings Product: -10.132
Finished: no. 10 in the Eastern Conference
Best Win: 1-0 on 3/9/13 over Real Salt Lake
Worst Loss: 4-1 on 9/28/13 to Toronto FC
It was a bad season that just continued to get worse for DC United. The future does look bright for this once-prominent club as they are working to build a new soccer-specific stadium in the Washington area, as well as participating in the CONCACAF Champions League thanks to their stunning U.S. Open Cup title.
18. Chivas USA
Record: 6-8-20, 26 points
Evans Rankings Product: -6.309
Finished: no. 9 in the Western Conference
Best Win: 3-2 on 8/25/13 over New York Red Bulls
Worst Loss: 5-0 on 10/6/13 to Los Angeles Galaxy
Chivas has the potential to be a mid-table team if they can shore up their defense. There is nothing wrong with having Dan Kennedy in net; the big problem is the lack of a backline in front of him. Chivas gave up three or more goals in 10 of their matches this season. A complete overhaul is needed -- it just doesn’t look like that will happen anytime soon.
17. Toronto FC
Record: 6-11-17, 29 points
Evans Rankings Product: -5.500
Finished: no. 9 in the Eastern Conference
Best Win: 1-0 on 10/26/13 over Montreal Impact
Worst Loss: 4-0 on 9/7/13 to Portland Timbers
Once Toronto FC learns how to finish off their matches, they will be back in the playoff hunt. This past season, Toronto FC gave up five goals in stoppage time that were either game-tying or game-winning goals. If those matches swung the other way, then Toronto could have been fighting for a playoff spot. If Toronto can do this and also keep their young stars building around a player like Jonathan Osorio, then I could see them making the playoffs next season and making a run at the MLS Cup in 3-4 seasons.
16. Columbus Crew
Record: 12-5-17, 41 points
Evans Rankings Product: -2.603
Finished: no. 8 in the Eastern Conference
Best Win: 2-0 on 8/10/13 over New York Red Bulls
Worst Loss: 3-0 on 6/5/13 to Philadelphia Union
For Columbus to take the next step, they will need to find another scoring option. They have two great goal-scorers on their squad in Dominic Oduro and Federico Higuain, but if these two are neutralized, Columbus has nowhere else to turn. Taking out what Oduro and Higuain contributed, Columbus would only have 18 goals total. The development of Aaron Schoenfield will be important for Columbus; he is big-bodied at 6-foot-4 and could be a big aerial threat against a smaller defense.
15. FC Dallas
Record: 11-11-12, 44 points
Evans Rankings Product: -0.176
Finished: no. 8 in the Western Conference
Best Win: 2-0 on 3/23/13 over Real Salt Lake
Worst Loss: 3-1 on 3/10/13 to Chivas USA
The offseason will see a lot of change around the FC Dallas roster as manager Schellas Hyndman announced his resignation following the season. Dallas started out really hot this season, and it looked like it could be a return to another MLS Cup final for Hyndman and his men until the summer came. With summer this year came struggles and disappointment as Dallas could only muster one win out of 13 matches between June and August. They had only three wins from June 1 until the end of the season. It will be very interesting to see how Dallas addresses their needs this offseason, especially those pertaining to their aging attack.
14. Chicago Fire
Record: 14-7-13, 49 points
Evans Rankings Product: -0.176
Finished: no. 6 in the Eastern Conference
Best Win: 3-1 on 4/7/13 over New York Red Bulls
Worst Loss: 5-2 on 10/27/13 to New York Red Bulls
Mike Magee was the heart that nearly led the Chicago Fire to the postseason. Magee scored 17 goals in 25 matches across all competitions for Chicago, even while being targeted by the opposing defenses. For Chicago to improve next season, they will need to find another scoring threat in the winter transfer window, someone who can free up some of the pressure that Magee has been faced with this season. Chicago already have a solid young midfield with Dilly Duka, Patrick Nyarko and Alex; throw in Jalil Anibaba and Austin Berry on defense with Sean Johnson in goal, and Chicago already have a good young nucleus.
UPDATE: 9:00 p.m. PT -- Multiple outlets are reporting that Chicago Fire have fired manager Frank Klopas. No official word from the team but we should expect to hear something on Wednesday
13. Philadelphia Union
Record: 12-10-12, 46 points
Evans Rankings Product: -0.059
Finished: no. 7 in the Eastern Conference
Best Win: 3-0 on 6/23/13 over New York Red Bulls
Worst Loss: 5-1 on 8/25/13 to New England Revolution
The Philadelphia Union is right on the cusp of something special. With 15 players on their roster born in 1990 or after, this young group could be a force to contend with in the next few seasons with the right leadership. Led by 21-year-old star striker Jack McInerney, Philadelphia nearly made the postseason this year, coming up just a few points short. Philadelphia’s slump coincided with McInerney’s goal drought; if Jack Mac can put together a full season where he is contributing from beginning to end, Philadelphia can contend for a postseason spot next year.
12. Vancouver Whitecaps
Record: 13-9-12, 48 points
Evans Rankings Product: 0.412
Finished: no. 7 in the Western Conference
Best Win: 4-1 on 10/9/13 over Seattle Sounders FC
Worst Loss: 2-0 on 4/20/13 to FC Dallas
The Vancouver Whitecaps announced on Tuesday that they would not be retaining the services of manager Martin Rennie. Whoever the next manager is has hit the jackpot with what was left behind. Vancouver’s only real need is a replacement for the retiring Lee Young-Pyo; other than that, this young team is set for a big run next season. Camilo Sanvezzo won the golden boot with 22 goals, including eight in the last six matches of the season. Vancouver is a high-powered offense that can do great things next year with the right leadership, including a real good chance of defending the Cascadia Cup.
11. Montreal Impact
Record: 14-7-13, 49 points
Evans Rankings Product: 0.706
Finished: no. 5 in the Eastern Conference
Best Win: 5-0 on 8/24/13 over Houston Dynamo
Worst Loss: 4-0 on 7/20/13 to New York Red Bulls
Montreal were right in the position that they wanted on August 24: they were in first place in the Eastern Conference and were coming off of a big 5-0 win over Houston Dynamo. But Montreal then went on a terrible run of form, only earning one points out of the next possible 18, dropping them from first to fourth. This slump could have been predicted though as most of Montreal’s key players are in the late stages of their careers. Alessandro Nesta, Matteo Ferrari, Marco Di Vaio and Patrice Bernier are all over 33. These players combined for 32.5 percent of the total minutes played and 50 percent of the goal scored. Montreal will need to win this year or face an uncertain offseason with aging stars.
10. New England Revolution
New England Revolution
Record: 14-9-11, 51 points
Evans Rankings Product: 0.956
Finished: no. 3 in the Eastern Conference
Best Win: 5-0 on 6/2/13 over Los Angeles Galaxy
Worst Loss: 4-2 on 9/8/13 to Montreal Impact
When the New England Revolution are on their game, they really are a dangerous team who could make some noise in the postseason if they get the right matchup. It’s amazing to think that the leader of this New England team is only 18. Diego Fagundez led the team this year with 13 goals and is a great talent. Fagundez has recently been awarded his green card and has expressed a desire to gain permanent residency, which would require him to stay in the United States for 3-5 years. What a boost this would be to New England in the near future. If manager Jay Heaps can keep this young core together and on the right track, the sky is the limit for New England.
9. Houston Dynamo
Record: 14-9-11, 51 points
Evans Rankings Product: 1.191
Finished: no. 4 in the Eastern Conference
Best Win: 3-1 on 8/17/13 over Seattle Sounders FC
Worst Loss: 5-0 on 8/24/13 to Montreal Impact
If regular season results dictated how a team would fare in the postseason, then the Houston Dynamo would not stand a chance. Their combined record against the other Eastern Conference playoffs teams is 2-3-7, scoring six goals and conceding 22. Dominic Kinnear’s team will need to step up their game against this good opposition if they expect to make a run in this postseason.
8. Seattle Sounders FC
Seattle Sounders FC
Record: 15-7-12, 52 points
Evans Rankings Product: 1.324
Finished: no. 4 in the Western Conference
Best Win: 2-0 on 9/13/13 over Real Salt Lake
Worst Loss: 5-1 on 10/5/13 to Colorado Rapids
If the Seattle Sounders were in need of a jersey sponsor that described their season, that sponsor would be Six Flags. Sigi Schmid and company have been at the bottom of the table for a time this season, then shot their way to the top and finally settled in the middle. A lot of questions surround this Seattle squad as they enter the postseason and subsequent offseason. Will they make a play for a different goalkeeper? How will they deal with the contract situations of Osvaldo Alonso, Brad Evans and Eddie Johnson? Will Schmid be back next season? GM Adrian Hanauer will surely be earning his paycheck this offseason.
7. San Jose Earthquakes
San Jose Earthquakes
Record: 14-9-11, 51 points
Evans Rankings Product: 1.794
Finished: no. 6 in the Western Conference
Best Win: 2-1 on 9/21/13 over Real Salt Lake
Worst Loss: 4-0 on 5/11/13 to Seattle Sounders FC
After the disappointment of not winning the MLS Cup in 2012, the San Jose Earthquakes were on a mission this season -- a mission to repeat as Supporters’ Shield winners and to take that next step to a championship. Unfortunately for San Jose and their fans, they took two steps backwards, missing the playoffs completely and not even registering half of the goals they scored the year before. Now they have their coach of the future Mark Watson, who led the team to 11 wins in 19 games after Frank Yallop was let go. Watson has a strong team and with a full season at the helm, they should make a return to the postseason in 2014.
6. Colorado Rapids
Record: 14-9-11, 51 points
Evans Rankings Product: 1.868
Finished: no. 5 in the Western Conference
Best Win: 4-3 on 6/29/13 over Montreal Impact
Worst Loss: 3-0 on 6/23/13 to Portland Timbers
One goal in midseason can change the entire course of the year for good or bad. In Colorado’s case, this goal came in the 96th minute on June 29 when 23-year-old reserve forward Tony Cascio scored his only goal of the year. This goal propelled Colorado to a 4-3 win over Montreal Impact, and those two precious points earned are the reason why Colorado is playing in the postseason. Colorado will be a tough out for any potential playoff opponent, which should make for some entertaining soccer over the next two weeks. Their first task is to get the Emerald City monkey off their back and get a win at CenturyLink Field.
5. Los Angeles Galaxy
Los Angeles Galaxy
Record: 15-8-11, 53 points
Evans Rankings Product: 2.662
Finished: no. 3 in the Western Conference
Best Win: 4-0 on 5/26/13 over Seattle Sounders FC
Worst Loss: 5-0 on 6/2 to New England Revolution
Bruce Arena has the Los Angeles Galaxy in the postseason once again. Led by Landon Donovan and captain Robbie Keane, the Galaxy have ambitions to win another MLS Cup. Usually the Galaxy are a pretty tough, but there is evidence that the 2013 Galaxy can be handled in the postseason. Los Angeles has only four wins on the road and five losses from goals scored in the last 10 minutes of a match. The blueprint is there, now it’s up to a team to use it. As for the future, Los Angeles will need to find and develop a young goalkeeper to take over for 32 year-old Jaime Penedo when his career comes to an end.
4. Real Salt Lake
Real Salt Lake
Record: 16-8-10, 56 points
Evans Rankings Product: 2.779
Finished: no. 2 in the Western Conference
Best Win: 4-2 on 8/30/13 over Portland Timbers
Worst Loss: 1-0 on 3/9/13 to DC United
Real Salt Lake is another one of those teams that just needed to close a few more matches. RSL gave up three stoppage-time winners this season, all of them to Eastern Conference playoff teams. Those six critical points lost from those matches would have given RSL the Supporters’ Shield and the ever important home-field advantage. Real Salt Lake is most dangerous in the last 15 minutes of the match, scoring 19 goals. This could be very interesting in their upcoming playoff series against the Los Angeles Galaxy, who have conceded 18 goals in that same time frame.
3. Sporting Kansas City
Sporting Kansas City
Record: 17-7-10, 58 points
Evans Rankings Product: 2.779
Finished: no. 2 in the Eastern Conference
Best Win: 2-1 on 7/20/13 over Real Salt Lake
Worst Loss: 2-0 on 4/20/13 to Los Angeles Galaxy
If the old saying “Defense wins championships” is true, then hand over the MLS Cup to Sporting Kansas City right now. SKC has only allowed 30 goals in 34 games this season. The more interesting number is that they've allowed one or fewer goals in 27 of the 34 matches -- just a remarkable number and one that shows just how good Peter Vermes' defense really is. Sporting Kansas City is on a hot streak now, winning six of the last eight and only giving up four goals in the process. Whoever their opponents are in the playoffs will need to take advantage of the few opportunities they will have if they want to send SKC home.
2. New York Red Bulls
New York Red Bulls
Record: 17-8-9, 59 points
Evans Rankings Product: 3.397
Finished: no. 1 in the Eastern Conference
Best Win: 5-2 on 10/27/13 over Chicago Fire
Worst Loss: 3-0 on 6/23/13 to Philadelphia Union
Even though the New York Red Bulls won the Supporters’ Shield, it still was not enough for them to capture in the no. 1 spot in the MLS Power Rankings. New York is primed for a run at another trophy this season as they are currently on a nine-game unbeaten streak going in to the playoffs. New York has been consistently good all season, but is playing at a level that is just unreal right now. Everywhere you look on their roster, you see strength. Thierry Henry and Fabian Espindola pace the attack while Tim Cahill and Jonny Steele control the midfield. Jamison Olave anchors the defense while Luis Robles tends the goal. They can win it all if they play to their potential.
1. Portland Timbers
Record: 14-15-5, 57 points
Evans Rankings Product: 4.147
Finished: No. 1 in the Western Conference
Best Win: 2-1 on 7/13/13 over Los Angeles Galaxy
Worst Loss: 4-2 on 8/30/13 to Real Salt Lake
If Caleb Porter does not win MLS Coach of the Year, then the award should be dissolved because there is no other coach who has done what he has done this season. Porter took over a struggling club with a frantic fan base and in one season, turned them into the cream of the MLS crop. Portland lost five times this season, the lowest amount of losses by a club in a 34-game MLS season. Portland is strong in every position and they play a constant pressure style that forces mistakes from even the best players. They aren’t just a one-trick pony on offense either; Portland had four different players (Diego Valeri, Will Johnson, Ryan Johnson and Darlington Nagbe) score nine goals this season. The Timbers are a very dangerous team and have earned themselves the no. 1 spot in the MLS Power Rankings.