On Tuesday, PST’s very own Nicholas Mendola made the case for the Eastern Conference being Major League Soccer’s better half in 2015.
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While Nick made a number salient points in his argument, he was always fighting an uphill battle because, well, it’s simply not true. The Western Conference has reigned supreme for years. It will continue to do so in 2015, and we all know it.
Let’s have a look at the last six MLS Cup winners — LA Galaxy (three times), Sporting Kansas City, Colorado Rapids and Real Salt Lake. Five of the six lifted the Cup while residing in the Western Conference.
A team that could win the Eastern Conference is going to miss the playoffs altogether in the West this year.
Money matters, and in MLS it currently resides out West. Not only is the money in the West, but they spend it better, too. We could talk about Robbie Keane, Clint Dempsey and Obafemi Martins all day, but we’d be doing a disservice to the likes of Pedro Morales, Diego Valeri, Osvaldo Alonso, Javier Morales, Omar Gonzalez, Matt Besler, Graham Zusi, Fabian Castillo and Mauro Diaz.
While Toronto FC have committed a combined $18 million to their three Designated Players this season, you could have the above nine DP or DP-worthy players for a combined $5 million, or, one Michael Bradley.
3) Unrivaled fan support
Quick — tell me which team the best fans/in-stadium support in MLS. While five unbiased people might give five different answers, chances are all five teams are in the Western Conference.
Whether it’s Seattle and their 40,000-plus per-game average, with the occasional 67,000; Portland’s Timbers Army that. never. stop. signing.; Sporting Kansas City’s Cauldron; the Southsiders in Vancouver; or the RioT, which on its day gives any stadium in MLS a run for its money; the fact is simple — the West is best.
4) The strong gets stronger
As if the aforementioned list of MLS Cup champions reminded us, the West has been dominant for quite some time. In 2015, it gets even stronger (and tougher) as Sporting KC and Houston Dynamo make the move out West, adding the 2013 champions to the mix, as well as the 2006 and 2007 winners.
Of the last 10 Cup winners, nine now reside in the West — Sporting, Houston (twice) and Galaxy (again). If that doesn’t scream, “Power conference,” nothing does.