By: McLeod Brown
The United States’ top soccer league has reached the downslope of their soccer season, as more than 75% of the league’s year has been played.
With less than two months left to play in the season, here’s a look at my top five teams in the MLS currently.
1. Vancouver Whitecaps – No. 2 seed in the Western Conference with 45 points (14-9-3)
Just on the heels of LA Galaxy sit the Whitecaps. The team has emerged as a strong contender after finishing 9th overall in the league last year. The Whitecaps also swept the season series against the Galaxy 2-0, outscoring the defending champs 3-0 overall. After being dismissed during the knockout round of the playoffs last year, the Canadian squad seems primed to advance further than that this go-around.
2. LA Galaxy – No. 1 seed in the Western Conference with 46 points (13-7-7)
If you need to find any validity in the defending champions, look no further than their 5-1 steamrolling of New York City on Sunday. Robbie Keane notched two goals and two assists in the contest, while Giovani dos Santos continues to make his case as the best designated player in the MLS this season. The most decorated team in MLS history has just a good a shot as anyone in the league to recapture the league championship.
3. DC United – No. 1 seed in the Eastern Conference with 44 points (13-9-5)
After finishing third last year, DC United is just as competitive this season as they lead the Eastern Conference. The Red and Black have struggled against those clubs outside the Eastern Conference, however, going a combined 2-4-2 overall. That will need to change if they hope to have any success in the postseason.
4. Portland Timbers – No. 4 seed in the Western Conference with 40 points (11-8-7)
The team with arguably the rowdiest fans in the MLS hasn’t pulled away from anyone this season, but remains in the thick of the playoff hunt. The Timbers own the distinction as being the only currently qualified Western Conference team with more goals allowed than for. While their offense needs an uptick if they want a true shot at the title, it’s their backline’s steady play led by Nat Borchers and 21-year old Alvas Powell that has kept their rough-and-tough demeanor intact. Fanendo Adi’s 10 goals, good enough for eighth-highest in the MLS, haven’t hurt either.
5. Toronto FC – No. 4 seed in the Eastern Conference with 24 points (10-10-4)
I’m definitely going to catch some flak for this ranking but I like me some Toronto FC. Can’t put a finger on it, but I feel like if any currently-qualified team has a chance to turn some heads in the postseason, it’s these guys. Sebastian Giovinco is second in the league with 17 goals in 24 games. The presence of USMNT regulars Jozy Altidore and Michael Bradley also provides international-level play that few other MLS teams can match.
There’s still plenty of season left for the MLS, but these teams are the ones that have stuck out for me so far. We’ll see how the next few weeks go before we reevaluate the champs and the goats.