MLS Week 1 Collective Power Rankings: One for the Circular File

Here’s the word from the Semi-Detached Pundit Collective (SDPC): we have no frankin’ clue what’s going on. Well, that’s not entirely accurate: New England impressed all observers in the survey but one (3rd Degree) and there’s general agreement as to who are the three worst teams in Major League Soccer (MLS) – Toronto FC, the Los Angeles Galaxy, and the San Jose Earthquakes, and in that order.

After that, however, it’s a fuck…ing….train…wreck. Calling views on the MLS’s, um, “middle 10 teams” a mash of opinions constitutes an insult to a mash of opinions. We’re way past that. Between the diversity of methods, the several pundit outfits involved still trying to figure this stuff out, this project comes closer at present to having 11 people with no shared languages among them attempting a re-write of The Bible – and with a flock of angry, holy-roller partisans barking in all 11 scribes’ ears throughout.

Tempting as it is to throw the results into the circular file, let’s just dub the mess itself an accurate reflection of where things are after Week 1 of MLS’s 2008 season. In other words, no one knows what’s going on and there’s nothing wrong with that. It just means I have eleven sets of data for this week’s survey and they all tell me different things. Let me list those before moving on (and, again, if you see rankings out there that don’t appear down here, due point them out to me):

Center Holds It
(me)
Goal.com (Kyle McCarthy)
Orlando Sentinel (Brant Parsons)
Fullback Files (um…Fullback?)
Sideline Views (Luis Bueno)
Soccer By Ives (Ives Galarcep)
WVHooligan (Drew Epperley)
Blue Blooded Journo (a collective)
3rd Degree (Parrish Glover)
“Jason” (left his rankings in CHI comments; always welcome)
Fox Soccer Channel (Keith Costigan)

(UPDATE: Oh, the hat!  ESPN.com finally posted their Week 1 power rankings, so I thought I’d post ’em here, even if I’m not about to re-calculate (Bastards!  Do your homework on time!).  In case you’re not aware, ESPN.com also takes the collective approach to their rankings, so maybe that was the hold-up.  Anyway, a quick look at the numbers suggest that little, if anything, would have changed: maybe KC ties Chivas (you’ll see below), maybe DC and the Rapids flip-flop (again, very much doubt it), and maybe TFC would have wound up worse than LA…but with all of them pretty close, I don’t think the collective rankings would have moved.)

Now, onto the results: each team will be listed by rank and with their average score following the club’s name. To provide some perspective, the most common score(s) assigned to each team by the individual members of the collective will appear in parentheses after that, followed by the previous week’s ranking and average. The ranges we’re looking at for some teams are nothing short of absurd. I’ll close it all out by trying to squeeze some kind of sagacious observations out of the data-cluster-fuck.

Now, to the numbers:

1. New England Revolution, 1.3 (#1 X 10; last week, #4, 4.0)
2. Chivas USA, 3.2 (#2 X 4; last week, #3, 3.3)
3. Kansas City Wizards, 3.3 (#2 X4, #3 X 4; last week, #6, 6.1)
4. Houston Dynamo, 5.2 (#5 X 3; last week, #1, 1.3)
5. DC United, 5.3 (#5 X 3, #6 X 3; last week, #2, 1.9)
6. Colorado Rapids, 5.9 (four different ranks X 2; last week, #9/10, 9.6)
7. Chicago Fire, 7.3 (#8 X 3; last week, #5, 5.9)
8. FC Dallas, 7.5 (#8 X 4; last week, #7, 7.0)
9. Columbus Crew, 8.5 (#11 X 3; last week, #12, 11.1)
10. Red Bull New York, 8.9 (#11 X 4; last week, #8, 7.4)
11. Real Salt Lake, 9.8 (#10 X 6; last week, #11, 11.0)
12. Toronto FC, 12.5 (#12 X 6; last week, #13, 13.3)
13. Los Angeles Galaxy, 12.9 (#13 X 4, #14 X 4; last week, #9/10, 9.6)
14. San Jose Earthquakes, 13.4 (#14 X 6; last week, #14, 13.6)

Right. This is so messy, I think taking the data and conclusions team-by-team offers the best hope for clarity.

– New England: So nearly #1 with a bullet, but 3rd Degree’s saucy #4 prevents it. Glover notes that he hasn’t nailed down his methods, but that could later prove a blessing if New England tanks.

– Chivas USA: Not a lot of change to how people view this team – a good thing I would assume. The worst rank they received was #7, but that was an outlier (Goal.com – whose ranking criteria I’m not yet following).

– KC: The week’s second biggest climber, the win over DC really made some noise.

– Dynamo: They won something this week: the biggest drop, going from #1 to #5 on losing a dizzying 3.9 on average. What’s more striking about them is the considerable breadth regarding where people think they stand. While most sites have them between #3 and #7, the “outlier” power rankings – Goal.com and 3rd Degree – have them at #11 and #2, respectively. I’m not picking on either pundit; given the confusion, it seems appropriate to approach this with due humility. They just have the, um, wackiest numbers.

– DC: Another big dropper, but nothing like Houston’s (well, 3.4 ain’t exactly happy news). Still, no one has them higher than #3 (though Goal.com has them at #10!…what are their criteria?!)

– Rapids: Ladies and Gents: say hello to this week’s biggest climber. The Rapids gained a whopping 3.7 on average…a move that leaves me behind…along with the Orlando Sentinel. That said, people ranked these guys all over the place – even more than Houston: there’s a #2, a couple #3’s, and a #4 to go along with Parsons’ and my #9’s.

– Fire: Cooled off this week (will that pun never die?), but another one people are struggling to interpret.

– FC Dallas: One of the few “middle 10” placed where they are by a broad-ish consensus. The #5 and #10 sit outside the general #7-to-#8 take on this team.

– Crew: A very respectable move up after the opening day when. Still, what’s wit all the #11’s?

– Red Bull: Kicked in the groin pretty hard for not having played a game. Their opener against the Crew should be pretty clarifying…quite possibly for both clubs.

– Real Salt Lake: Somehow the nearly firm consensus #10 ranking translated to a #11 ranking in the consensus poll. Just think what a win would have done.

– And the rest: these three basically stacked up as expected…a #10 was the best anyone thought to give them – and that went to LA…for some damn reason.

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7 Responses

  1. ESPN finally put up their rankings…don’t know if you are including those in these rankings this year or not but thought I would point that out to ya…

  2. Thanks, drew, I appreciate the heads-up. I’ve been looking for ESPN’s stuff all week; they were usually up by Tuesday at the latest in 2007. I mean, this was past Sports Illustrated’s guy for last year; I was always waiting on that guy (Gavin Hamilton? Was that it?)

    Hopefully, ESPN will post earlier next week. I don’t have time to re-jigger the math today…think I’ll sneak ’em in on an update.

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  4. A bit of Friday morning quarterbacking,to be sure, but I think I can stand by by #4 ranking for the Revs, saucy and all. Certainly, I don’t feel badly about having Chicago above them. In this league, you can’t lose guys like Ralston and Twellman and expect good things.

    Also, I was the one guy to have LA out of the bottom three. Hey RSL, it takes more than an own goal to impress this guy.

  5. […] The Los Angeles Galaxy beat the San Jose Earthquakes last night, a team widely regarded as being worse than they […]

  6. Even if last night made me less confident about where I’d put either New England or Chicago, I’m still thinking LA will underwhelm. There’s also the fact that neither Twellman nor Ralston would have helped with what looked to have killed the Revs last night: the marking for the Revs was bad, bad, bad.

    We’ll see how it all pans out, Parrish. I’m certainly not fool enough to say you’re wrong…only that there’s a lot to learn. Glad you found this, by the way. Hope to hear from you as the season goes on.

  7. […] by the individual members of the collective will appear in parentheses after that, followed by the previous week’s ranking and average.  Und, jetzt, der […]

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