MLS Week 23 Power Rankings: Formula MLS

A couple new things to flag this week: first, some major rearranging blew through the Top, um, 9 this week, the result of some sober reconsideration of a couple teams; second, now that we’re clearly in crunch-time I’m going to list the next “Week’s” game(s) for each team after I rank ‘em.  And, as always, last week’s ranking appears immediately after this week’s in parentheses.

So…what’s “Formula MLS”?  It’s pretty straight-forward: build a team that’s simultaneously athletic and hard-to-beat, top it off with a striker or two capable of a telling moment of magic.  This applies to more than one team below; not coincidentally, the teams that work this well hang around the top of the rankings.  Now…on to this week’s rankings:

1. (1) DC United
Back when I followed the Premier League, during those long, dark years when Manchester United couldn’t stop winning, it seemed like they never suffered a single injury and all their players looked fresh and rested every game – all the while, The Plague seemed to have walked off with half your team.  Things seem the same for DC this year, as if nothing can so much as harm them, never mind stop them.
In Week 24: Real Salt Lake (9/12; home)

2. (4) Chivas USA
What can I say?  I’m convinced: a solid team with a good mix of weapons up top spells success – they almost fit Formula MLS, but I detect a dash of something else.  They’ll be a seeded team, which, given their home record, should be enough to take Chivas to the second round of the playoffs.  But they do have to keep plugging away in the meantime.
In Week 24: LA Galaxy (9/13; home); Colorado Rapids (9/16; away)

3. (5) Houston Dynamo
As much as I believe they’ll hold on for one of the Western Conference seeds, these cats don’t convince.  The Dynamo works Formula MLS as well as anyone in the league, especially with Dwayne DeRosario out of sorts and Brad Davis injured.  As such, they rely on a “big body” to make it come together these days, which means they need Nate Jaqua to become/remain productive when Brian Ching is out.
In Week 24: LA Galaxy (9/16; away)

4. (3) FC Dallas
As much as Dallas seems stuck in its proverbial late-season fade, maybe Morrow has the personnel to right the ship this time around.  Then again, they could be experiencing the downside of adding a new offensive piece late in the season (Denilson).  Like Chivas, they don’t quite fit the Formula MLS mold…maybe that’s the problem?
In Week 24: New England Revolution (9/15; away)

5. (2) New England Revolution
From #2 to #5: Take that, motherfuckers!  (Why do I hate my team so much?!)  Seriously, my finger has hovered near the downgrade button all season because I’ve seen a good game out of the Revs all of once.  Another “Formula MLS” team, but one showing signs of wear, particularly in defense of late, a clear violation of Formula rules.
In Week 24: FC Dallas (9/15; home)

6. (9) Chicago Fire
Welcome to my momentary bout off insanity.  Still another Formula MLS team, but one with fresh parts and a new mechanic in Juan Carlos Osorio.  I’d say New England has the better parts top-to-bottom, but Chicago should have enough to make the playoffs….or to be a colossal pain in the ass for the rest of the league.
In Week 24: Red Bull New York (9/15; home)

7. (6) Red Bull New York
With this, we come to the victims of Formula MLS, the teams that don’t have enough to break down the stubborn defenses of the teams above.  For instance, I get the sense that the somewhat recent win over Chicago could be the last rallying gasp for a Red Bull team that looked so robust early.  What I’m seeing now is a great forward tandem somewhat starved of service from an on/off midfield.  Having Claudio Reyna work the transition out of defense has made them a better team, even if I doubt that will be enough once the season leaves the stretch.
In Week 24: Chicago Fire (9/15; away)

8. (8) Kansas City Wizards
Holding steady at mediocre; worse, they’re vulnerable at the back.  As I’ve said many times before, there’s something about them, a kind of fatal softness that runs counter to just about everything I’ve ever associated with KC.  I still think they’ll make the post-season, but I wouldn’t bet on it.
In Week 24: Columbus Crew (9/15; home)

9. (7) Colorado Rapids
What a difference a week makes.  I don’t like to punish losses this severely, but  that wasn’t a meltdown against just any other team, but against the Lords of All Meltdowns, the Galaxy. That mid-season Passage of Suck could wind up proving fatal.  And Fernando Clavijo should still get the sack.
In Week 24: Chivas USA (9/16; home)

10. Columbus Crew
Did I dream their success?  Was God just toying with Columbus like some kind of sick cosmic cat?  Hard to say, but nowhere near as hard as the Crew’s playoff hopes seem right now.  This weekend’s game versus KC is huge, maybe even defining.  To put my heart on my sleeve, go Crew!
In Week 24: Kansas City Wizards (9/15; away)

11. Real Salt Lake
Can one keep up one’s chin when playing for pride for the fourth consecutive season?  I think we’ll find out in 2008.  They did well, it seems, in signing those Argentines, but it also seems too late.
In Week 24: DC United (9/12; away); Toronto FC (9/15; away)

12. Los Angeles Galaxy
Ah, the bloodied carcass of LA – y’know, the one being dragged across the country a traveling carnival of indentured servants? – they showed signs of life!  Huzzah!  Sadly, with the bodies stacking up in the back of the bus and the march plowing inexorably forward, the overall situation isn’t likely to improve.
In Week 24: Chivas USA (9/13; away); Houston Dynamo (9/16; home)

13. Toronto FC
Dead, buried.  The smart money says they’ll end the season with the worst offensive record in MLS history.
In Week 24: Real Salt Lake (9/15; home)

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3 Responses

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