The next six weeks of Major League Soccer will take Power Rankings to whole new, ridiculous level. Trying to provide insight into these teams’ relative strengths? Good luck. Until the 31 players who’ve left for the World Cup return, we’re looking at a Football Manager experiment gone wrong. We’re looking at a number of teams that should have never been allowed to transcend hypotheticals.
The 11 Mark Watson had to pick for this weekend’s game in Seattle? That was a U.S. Open Cup blow-off team, but thanks to absences, injuries, and suspensions, the team was fighting for three points in Seattle. And what about Peter Vermes’ options in Bridgeview? They led a staunchly 4-3-3 Sporting to start in a 5-3-2 formation against Chicago. Anything learned at a team-level from these types of games is too ephemeral to take seriously.
As such, don’t expect a lot of movement over the next six weeks. When two in-tact teams face each other, we’ll be able to make some meaningful assessments, but given the teams whose June games are going to be compromised, the pods that’ve formed through the season’s first 10 weeks may hold up:
- Don’t expect Kansas City, Real Salt Lake, or Seattle to fall out of the top four. If they collapse this month, it will likely be because of their absences. We’ll keep that in mind.
- Expect a lot of movement in the middle group, but few teams to jump in or out. LA will likely stay near the top of the six-through-12 cluster, but without Landon Donovan or Omar Gonzalez around, it will be difficult to justify a fall.
- Any improvement we see from teams like Colorado, Portland, Philadelphia, Chicago — teams left almost unscathed by World Cup call ups — will be taken with a
grainlick of salt, particularly if they come against a depleted squad
So what’s the point? If we’re going to be reluctant to change teams’ rankings, why do the list at all? In fairness, the exercise doesn’t have much relevance under normal circumstances, but to the extent they matter, the rankings can still reflect one person’s view of the league’s balance of power. Just because that’s unlikely to change over the next month doesn’t mean it won’t. If new faces prove themselves over the next six weeks, they could change a team’s outlook for July and beyond.
Here’s my look at Major League Soccer after 11 weeks: