MLS Week 25 Collective Rankings: The Dark Horse Wears Orange

It took till Week 25, but the Semi-Detached Pundit Collective (SDPC) has crossed broken the elusive twelve-pundit barrier.  Not only did Ryan Hunt finally made a deadline (of which he was, admittedly, unaware), but, through the services of On Soccer’s pate, the Fullback Files joined the collective this week.  Together, we reach dizzying heights of shared wisdom, a veritable Tower of Soccer Babel – except without the divinely-imposed language barrier.

By the way, the inspiration for the title appears at the bottom.

The usual stuff applies: in parentheses after the current week’s ranking and average, you’ll see the most common ranking for each team (e.g. three #1 votes, which will show below as “#1 X 3”) and the previous week’s ranking and average.

Here are the participants for Week 24’s pool:

Center Holds It (Me)
MLS Underground/American Soccer Daily
On Soccer (who combined USL-1 teams with MLS teams in a second set of rankings)
My Soccer Blog
Sideline Views (Luis Bueno)
Fox Soccer (Keith Costigan)
ESPN (another collective)
Fullback Files
Sports Illustrated (Ryan Hunt)
Tim & Fire_Juve10

And…drumroll, please….here are the collective rankings, comments to follow:

1. DC United, 1.0 (#1 X 12; last week, #1, 1.0)
2. Chivas USA, 2.0 (#2 X 12; last week #2, 2.5)
3. Houston Dynamo, 3.4 (#3 X 7; last week, #4, 3.6)
4. New England Revolution, 3.6 (#4 X 7; last week, #3, 2.9)
5. Red Bull New York, 5.4 (#5 X 9; last week, #6, 6.4)
6. FC Dallas, 6.4 (#6 X 5; last week, #5, 5.3)
7. Chicago Fire, 6.7 (#6 X 5; last week, #8, 7.5)
8. Kansas City Wizards, 7.5 (#8 X 7; last week, #7, 7.1)
9. Columbus Crew, 9.0 (#9 X 12; last week, #10, 10.0)
10. Colorado Rapids, 10.6 (#10 X 8; last week, #9, 8.7)
11. Real Salt Lake, 10.8 (#11 X 10; last week, #11, 11.0)
12. Los Angeles Galaxy, 11.7 (#12 X 8; last week, #13, 12.7)
13. Toronto FC, 12.9 (#13 X 11; last week, #12, 12.3)

– As the SDPC sees it, DC United and Chivas USA are the top two teams in MLS.  But are they?  And, as the numbers show, I pose that question as one who ranked them as such.  But what about Houston?  Or New England?  Who’s the darker horse?  Wait, that implies the opposite of what I’m getting at.  Who’s the lighter dark horse (e.g. which one can you see most clearly winning it all)?  If those two are/remain dark horses, what’s Red Bull?  An invisible horse?

– Speaking of perfect scores, looky there at the Crew: an undisputed #9 ranking.  And look at the gaps between those above and those below: 1.5 on one side and 1.6 on the other.   Life in an island with warm weather, but where the sun doesn’t shine: about what one expects from the Crew.

Turning to rises and falls now…

– What to make of the 1.0 rise in Red Bull’s average, especially when weighed against New England’s 0.7 drop?  The Revs drew on the road, scoring two while they did it, against a team generally regarded as being on the up, a result normally received with a shrug of the shoulders and suspended judgment.  I think confusion over Red Bull accounts for that.  For example, one interpretation is that a team perceived as being good (New England) lost to a team perceived as being bad (Red Bull).  Over recent weeks, though, Red Bull has moved slowly, but surely, up the rankings – which suggests they’re good or improving.  Hmm…

– There’s also the “Houston Factor” to consider.  The Dynamo are getting healthy, but that didn’t really show in their average ranking.  As such, it was more New England dropping below them, than Houston rising.  So, again, why did New England get hit so hard?

– No one, however, dropped like Dallas.  As the numbers show, the pundits ranking both teams at #6 five times.  Essentially, the SDPC not only expelled Dallas from the elite, it dumped them into the messy scrum for playoff seeds #6-8.

– The weirdest persistent phenomenon in the rankings, though, affects (or is it afflicts) KC.  There they sit, four points over Chicago in seventh place, but one wouldn’t know it from many of the rankings; in fact, 7/12 of the SDPC slotted them in at the precarious #8 position.  So is this a general view that, head-to-head, Chicago would beat KC?  Does this follow a perception that KC will eventually drop to #8?  If I had to guess, Chicago will wind up at #8, courtesy of their lousy start and a tough season’s end.  Speaking for myself, though, I do think they’d be KC head-to-head, oh, 6 or 7 times out of 10.

– Call Colorado’s late revival either dead or generally discounted.  The eight #10 votes you see isn’t the worst of it: it’s the 11’s and 12’s sprinkled in there that amount to a coroner’s report on the Rapids season (and, god willing, Fernando Clavijo’s job).

– Here’s the real question: is anyone on the up in either a relevant or significant way?  Columbus, RSL, and LA registered the biggest gains, but everyone sees an early golfing season in all three teams’ futures.  I suppose there’s Chicago, but are they really rising?  Two draws, even against tough teams, that’s rising?

– What I think I’m getting at here is this: everyone seems to be falling off a little.  Even the teams that keep winning – DC and Chivas – turned in sleepy games over this past weekend, if not the past two.  Are players’ legs deserting them when they need them most?  The way I see it, this amounts to advantage Houston, the best-rested team in MLS at this point.


2 Responses

  1. Hey, thanks for the inclusion! It’ll be interesting to see if LA get a little more love on the back of their third consecutive victory. They’re still a crap team, but folks are just deluded if they stay that close to the bottom given the results they’ve been getting.

  2. Happy to have you. I just sneaked by and lifted the current week’s rankings as well.

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