As FC Dallas recorded yet another win to stay top of the Western conference on Saturday, the pack behind them continues to jostle.
Led by sides from the Pacific Northwest, an assault on the Texas table-toppers is on the way.
The Seattle Sounders, Vancouver Whitecaps and Portland Timbers all recorded hugely impressive wins in Week 11, with resounding scorelines matching their excellent performances.
But will the three clubs from Cascadia be Dallas’ biggest rivals for the Western conference title?
The jury is still out on that one.
Firstly, let’s start with Seattle. The offensive outburst that has been threatening to happen all season arrived on Saturday, in some style. A 4-0 hammering of the San Jose Earthquakes sent out a huge message to the rest of MLS, not just the West. ‘Watch out people, the Sounders are back!’
Sigi Schmid’s team have found their feet in recent weeks but they have some way to go to catch the Portland Timbers. Caleb Porter is enjoying a sterling start to his MLS coaching career. The former Akron University head coach has translated his success at the collegiate level seamlessly to the pros. He has assembled a squad full of attacking flair and grit — Will Johnson, Diego Valeri and Rodney Wallace are having breakout seasons — that is unbeaten in nine games and sits second in the West, six points behind leaders FCD.
Then there is Vancouver, perhaps the weakest out of three Cascadia sides, but still, on their day — as they proved against LA with a superb 3-1 win — they have the individuals who can defeat any side in MLS. If they get hot then not many teams will leave BC Place with points in their back packet. With a key Amway Canadian Championship final against Montreal coming up, the ‘Caps confidence is burgeoning at the right time.
So with Vancouver and Seattle getting there act together, in the next few weeks we will be able to see just how close they are to matching the top two teams in the West. The Whitecaps face Portland at BC Place this Saturday, May 18. While Seattle get the chance to show everyone just how good they are, when FC Dallas roll into town on Saturday night.
I believe Seattle will surge up the table, with goals coming thick and fast and their back line looking steady and solid, the early season jitters will soon disappear in the Emerald City. As for the Rose City, Portland’s good form should continue but they have plenty of tricky games ahead. But Porter has been a revelation, surpassing many people’s expectations already. Merritt Paulson has performed a masterstroke.
This time next week we will have a better idea just how good the Cascadia sides are in 2013. Until then, let the speculation commence… Seattle, Portland or Vancouver? Take your pick.