Friday, April 16, 2010

MLS Power Rankings and Fixtures Preview: LA and KC (Believe it)

By M.J.D.

We were going to wait until each team in the MLS had played 3 games before starting this season's power rankings, but we were doing all the work anyway, so we decided to release them. It's very early in the season, and we don't have nearly enough data for the numbers to mean very much, but we thought that what we did have was revealing (look to the right and scroll down).  Here's what we know from watching some matches and crunching the numbers.

LA is for real.  Those 3 wins are no fluke. Their sheer rate of production is higher than we've seen since we started doing our nalysis using 2008 numbers.  They are currently producing over 15 Chances plus Goals per game, which is a rate they can't maintain for an entire season, but tells us just how well they HAVE  played for three straight fixtures. For example, they are generating three SOGs for every one SOGA.  And they have not given up a GA.  Again, they won't play this well all season, but right now they are dominating the opposition.  Which brings us to KC.

We're not afraid to admit it, we didn't expect this at all from the Wizards.  To quote ourselves: "L'Etat C'est Moi."  WAIT!  That was the Sun King.  Here's the real quote from our season preview: "KC signed some journeyman European players in the off-season but nothing to shout about. They amassed only 33 points last year, and we don’t see them doing much better this season"  Well, we may have to eat those words.  They've got six solid, legitimate points, and they are producing very close to LA's rate, if only over two games. 

Early stats and performance tell us only so much.  Right now, both LA and KC look legit.  And if they continue to play well through their next three or four games, we'll know even more.  Regardless, right now we wouldn't bet against either team at home.

On the other end of things, DC is in deep, deep, trouble.  They haven't just been losing, they've been getting their hat handed to them, then kicked in the arse, and then poked in the eye.  Sure, they have lots of time to turn it around.  But our analysis suggests that it's not just a matter of one or two tweaks to the lineup.  This dog just might not ever learn to hunt.

Now on to tomorrow's fixtures.  These are the games to watch, or at least to check up on Sunday morning if the MLS website is functional:

KC at Seattle - We'll be watching this one closely.  If KC goes in to Seattle and gets a result, we'll know more about both teams.  We still think the Sounders are going to be tough.  But their fans will be hungry for a clean three points and KC will be tested soundly on the road.  NY may have surprised the Sounders.  We don't expect KC to do so.

Chicago at DC - Relegation Preview.  Wait, there is no such animal in the MLS...yet.  But seriously folks, this is an early meeting of two teams that need to get it together and toot sweet.  If the Fire get a result, Curt Onalfo will be feeling the heat.  Chicago plays better on the road, something no one seems capable of explaining, so our sense is that the Fire will go in and get a positive result.  If they get three points, it will drive even the United fateful to an early exit from RFK en route to their homes in the DC suburbs.

RSL at LA - Given our allegiance to the Crew ('till we die), RSL is now to the Crew what DC used to be; namely, anathema.  So, we look forward to LA trouncing the MLS "champs" in a rematch of last year's MLS Cup and showing that RSL's playoff run was a fluke.  Emotion aside, this is another match whose result will tell us much about both teams, but probably more about RSL.  If the boys from Rio Tinto can earn a point, let alone knock off LA, we'll have to admit that they're more legit than we'd like to, um, admit.  If LA wins 1-0, or dominates, it might not tell us much about RSL, but it will be even more evidence that the Galaxy are the team to beat this season.

No comments: