MLS Week 2 Collective Power Rankings

The real pisser about the Major League Soccer (MLS) schedule is the fact that, by the time I get around to posting these on Thursday, some of these calls look silly. I’m thinking here of that #1 ranking for the Kansas City Wizards; I’m guessing that the 8 of 11 pundits who placed KC on top would reconsider after last night’s loss at home to the New England Revolution. Hardly matters, as this is just meant to be a snapshot in time – e.g. how 11 pundits (or more, given that some sites involved take a collective approach to ranking) stack(ed) up MLS’s 14 teams in the week of the prior week’s action.

So…what to say, generally, about how said 11 pundits stacked up these teams? It’s fair to say they’re not all speaking with one voice. In some cases, they’re barely harmonizing. Teams like DC United, the Houston Dynamo, the Colorado Rapids…well, suffice to say the list goes on. It’s not all muddy water: for instance, 8 of 11 pegged KC at #1 – however dubious that looks after last night – and everyone agrees that the league’s worst team is either Toronto FC or the San Jose Earthquakes.

And who were these 11 pundits? Here ya go (and, again, feel free to post your rankings in the comments after mine, to email me rankings, etc.):

Center Holds It (me)
Goal.com (Kyle McCarthy)
Orlando Sentinel (Brant Parsons)
Fullback Files (um…Fullback?)
Sideline Views (Luis Bueno)
AYL Soccer (Jacob Hart writes, but it looks collective)
WVHooligan (Drew Epperley)
Blue Blooded Journo (a collective)
3rd Degree (Parrish Glover)
ESPN.com (collective)
Fox Soccer Channel (Keith Costigan)

For those wondering what happened with Soccer By Ives rankings, he’s part of ESPN.com’s collective; that’s also why Andrea Canales’ rankings don’t show. Don’t want to double-count anyone…

(UPDATE: My apologies to On Soccer’s pate.  He forwarded his Week 2 “scariness rankings” for inclusion this post; I had to put it in an update because I couldn’t figure out how to work it into the text.  Anyway, it’s a pretty nifty concept pate has; it’s another way of looking at all this if nothing else.)

I’ll work into some details after the jump, but will start with the how I organized the data. Copy/pasting directions from previous entry: each team will be listed by rank and with their average, collective score following. 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. Und, jetzt, der data: Continue reading

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MLS Week 2 Power Rankings: Breaking Hearts and Molding Clay

To the teams sending seriously mixed signals – I’m looking at you New England Revolution; you too Columbus Crew – shame on you! People devote large (if kinda irrational) chunks of their lives to the team of their choosing; you owe them honesty about exactly who you are at the very least.

OK, feeling like we all have a little more with which to work this week – even if things remain a little early and a lot misshapen. At the top and the bottom of the rankings, I’m feeling a little more confident about who goes where; the middle remains a lump of clay waiting to be caressed into coherence, set in the clarifying fires of the pitched battle, glazed in defeat or victory – by the Shield of Galadiel, huzzah! (Sorry…reading Lord of the Rings…please, Mr. Tolkein (and I know you’re long departed) do I have to read about each and every hill those little midgets climb?)

Where was I? Right. The one thing to keep in mind: teams are ranked on the assumption that those above will beat those below right now. Strength over the long haul, well, that’s something else again. When we get closer to the “real season” – i.e. the playoffs, the bit that counts – I’ll probably through an addendum to the rankings about who I think will or will not make the playoffs. But we’re a long way from that; for now, it’s who beat who.

Enough about baffled lovers, broken hearts…my geeky reading list; this week’s rankings follow, with last week’s rankings placed in parentheses right after. As always, feel free to post power rankings of your own in the comments and I’ll include them in the collective rankings I compile every Thursday. Here’s my take on the MLS Stack-Up: Continue reading

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: Continue reading

MLS Week 1 Power Rankings – HA! (+ do post your own rankings)

I’m torn between two images for this first edition of the Major League Soccer power rankings. This one captures what rankings, oh, #2-14 look like to me:

This one, on the other hand, gets to how making each of those selections felt:

So, yeah, confidence is low, people, so low in fact that I put fairly little stock in what appears below; I blame the whole Week 1/too little information thing.

Rankings and jabbering aimed at justifying them appear after the jump. And, as always, the previous week’s ranking appears in parentheses after the current week’s rankings. This will go into the collective rankings – look for those Thursday – along with several others I have already found. Anyone is welcome to submit power rankings of their own into the comments (or to email them to me; jeffbull71[at]yahoo.com) and those will go into the collective mix as well.

Now….the rankings….accuracy, validity, hell, even intelligence, not guaranteed: Continue reading

2008 MLS Pre-Season Collective Power Rankings: Featuring Collectives Within The Collective

Here comes another first for Center Holds It: Major League Soccer (MLS) Pre-Season Collective Power Rankings. All I do here is take every single posted power ranking of which I’m aware, add up all the numbers for each given team, and then post the average – plus some other data and commentary. The idea is to divine the collective wisdom on MLS’s 14 teams. Does it work? Don’t know. Never thought of it that way…I just find it interesting.

NOTE: If you compile power rankings yourself, or if you see a set of rankings out there that I’m not using in this poll, PLEASE forward word to me (comments or email – jeffbull71[at]yahoo.com – will do). If they get to me before I post the collective rankings on any given Thursday, I can include them. The guiding principle is, the more the merrier, the more the better, the more the smarter. It’s a cornucopia of wisdom we’re wanting.

OTHER NOTE: Last year, a couple readers joined in by posting rankings in the comments to my power rankings post (like this one, posted today) and that is welcome. I imagine, however, there is some kind of upper limit for what I can process without letting this hobby consume my life. I’ll let you know when I get there. For now, though, fire away…next week, that is…fire away for next week’s edition.

One last thing before getting to the rankings and commentary: the list of pundits. As with last year, some rankings come from individual’s (like me and Luis Bueno’s for Sideline Views), while others grow from on-site collectives (ESPN.com’s and Blue Blooded Journo’s); in other words, we’re dealing with collectives within collectives (and our solar system could be an atom contained in the thumbnail of some giant, etc. etc.).

It being early in the year, this is a small sample – only 7 pundits. But I have faith it will grow as the season progresses. Here’s the list for today (with links embedded, so you can check my math): Continue reading

2008 MLS Pre-Season Power Rankings: Science!

I’ll begin by apologizing for the constant need to explain my posts and myself. Sorry.

Welcome to the first, and first-ever, Major League Soccer (MLS) pre-season power rankings I have ever compiled. In the past, too few teams playing meaningful games equaled too many unknowns, so I didn’t see the point. I don’t really now….good times, aside. Oh, how we’ll laugh when we look back. That confessed, I’m going to embrace this form wholeheartedly and dress it in the available trappings of science.

I’ll begin with methods, a problem I never resolved during 2007 (mainly because I caught the issue too late in the game). By judging teams on different criteria at different points in the season, I tarnished the results. I started, if memory serves, by ranking MLS clubs based on form – e.g. a broad-brush impression of which team would beat which on the Saturday ahead. By the end of the season, however, I altered the formula to address something that seemed more important: the teams I believed would make the playoffs took the top 8 spots and I placed the teams I thought would go deeper in the post-season nearer the top, regardless of form. I move that the last organizing principle be branded as stupid and relegated to the Hole of Non- and Never-Existence.

With that in mind, the methods employed in the season ahead will adhere closely and permanently to those that first guided me – that is, I expect the team above to beat the team below 6 games out of 10 at a minimum; a brief explanation of my thinking will follow each team listed and each post will close with a discussion of trends and points of interest – assuming any come to me. With consistent methods in place, sound results, analysis, and conclusions should follow – if only logically…and internal logic at that. And – voilà! – we have science…of a sort.

And, later today, I’m going to up the science a little more by roping in all the pre-season power rankings I have seen so far in order to revive the Collective Power Rankings from last season. But, after the jump, I’ll lay out how I see all 14 MLS teams entering this deeply fascinating 2008 season. It promises to be a wild one, (but, c’mon, we all know deep down it’s going to peter out into a dogfight involving the usual suspects…I mean, how many people are rating Red Bull New York…pssh). Continue reading

Bueno Throws Down Gauntlet: Nostalgia and Questions

I think it was yesterday that Sideline Views’ Luis Bueno posted pre-season power rankings for Major League Soccer’s (MLS) 14 teams. Now, I’m missing the 2007 like a bitch, with its power rankings and the collective power rankings I ran on this site….and will soon run again.

Bueno took a fairly scientific approach, basing his rankings on the rankings he assigned to each position and you can find links to those through Laurie’s post on this subject for the MLS Offside. And, if you go to the comments, you can see that surprisingly deep and persistent love for Toronto FC, a team whose off-season moves (see the bottom) have 1) only just begun, and 2) haven’t been of an order to make me think they’ll rise super far above 2007’s on-field horror-show (again, people, the crowds are cool and nice, but they don’t but anything in the standings). That is to say, I don’t know why people think 11th is such a strange call for Toronto in 2008. Still, the comments – even those Toronto-philic ones (the Crew will beat you this year; the as-yet unnamed (meaningless) trophy will be ours!* You’ll see!) – are worth the gander.

Anyway, getting back to it, what Bueno put down for his rankings appears below (and I’m borrowing this from The Offside’s post, ’cause their copy is cleaner). I was tempted to try to compile rankings of my own, but, if I’m being honest, I can’t get my head around variables like the new players, tested or otherwise. I’ll just post the questions that come to me upon seeing Bueno’s rankings – e.g. a man who has actually gave this some thought. I will only say this: Bueno pulled together his rankings in a way that made each team the sum of its parts. Respectfully – and I say that ’cause he’s killer – I don’t think that’s the correct approach: teams can compensate for weak spots – e.g. a good defense can help a dodgy ‘keeper and route-one play can cover a sub-par midfield. Not every time, of course, but a team can get away with it if the replacement parts are strong enough. So, yeah, I’ll just pose some questions…

…and to show my respect for the difficulty of what Bueno did, I’m going to preserve the crack at power rankings I started, but failed to complete. You’ll see that all the way at the bottom…and – woo! – it’s just non-sensical.

(* Holy crap!  I think I’m pulling for the Crew!  How’d that happen?  No wait.  Why does that happen?)

Continue reading