The MLS season is a little over halfway done. In other leagues the season table is everything. In the MLS it is a step to the much bigger playoffs. We have seen a shift in the league with the addition of the two expansion teams, and it has changed the league in multiple ways. The format is the same, with 34 matches making up the regular season. Due to other competitions, not all the teams have the same amount of matches played currently.
The top 6 teams from each conference move onto the playoffs, with the top 2 teams getting a bye to the Conference Semi-Finals. The top team in each conference during the regular season also gets a bid to the following season CONCACAF Champions League. Let’s jump into the table.
The Eastern Conference saw the addition of the two expansion squads, while the Houston Dynamo and Sporting KC moved to the Western Conference. That said, the conference has plenty to get excited about.
The top of the conference has DC United currently with 44 points from 26 matches. No other teams have played 26 games, but a handy 5 point lead isn’t hurting them either. In second are the NY Red Bulls, with 39 points from 23 matches. Tied for 3rd are the Columbus Crew and New England Revolution with 34 points. The Revolution have played one more game, giving the Crew a slight edge. Toronto FC sits in 5th with 31 points. Currently, the Montreal Impact hold the final playoff spot with 28 points, despite only completing 21 matches. Orlando also have 28 points, but have played 25 out of their 34 regular season games. NYCFC follow with 27 points, while the Philadelphia Union and Chicago Fire bring up the bottom with 24 and 23 points, respectively.
The top two clubs, NY Red Bulls and DC United, seem to have a decent stranglehold on the top 2 spots right now. The New England Revolution might find themselves in a bit of trouble if their competitors begin to pass them as they become equal on matches played. The Impact have been flying under the radar, considering they had time taken up in other competitions. They have 5 matches in hand to DC United, and at least 2 on everyone else in the Conference. They may not look great sitting in 6th place, but they are undoubtedly in a pretty good position. No one is out of the playoff race yet, although the Union and Fire need to gain some points quickly if they want to stay within striking distance.
The West saw its conference shift with the realignment additions of Sporting KC and the Houston Dynamo. Both teams have settled in well, and are staying competitive in the Western Conference.
Much like DC United in the East, the LA Galaxy hold the top spot in the West, partially due to the fact that they have completed more matches than their peers. Even so, they lead with 43 points. Vancouver is just behind with 42 points. Sporting KC sits in 3rd with 40 points, although they have at least one game in hand against the rest of the Conference. Portland are 4th with 39 points, while FC sit in 5th with 38 points. From there, it is a 3 point gap to the Seattle Sounders in 6th. Houston are in 7th with 31 points, 4 below Seattle and 2 above 8th place. San Jose and Real Salt Lake are tied for 8th, although San Jose have two matches to play before being level with Real Salt Lake. The Colorado Rapids are bringing up the rear with 24 points.
The top 6 in the conference seem pretty set. I would be very surprised if Houston managed to unseat any of the current playoff teams. The real race it seems is where the playoff teams finish, who gets the byes and Champions League spot. The Galaxy have added star power over the summer, which could lead to a late push. Sporting KC has 4 games to catch the Galaxy, and their home games are basically like playing at a fortress. Seattle have struggled, but have the talent to beat anyone. This conference is still wide open, although Colorado seems down for the count.
We still have plenty of games left, with 8-13 remaining for each squad. Only time will tell as to who goes to the playoffs and who starts their winter vacation early.
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