We just passed the July 4th weekend and that unofficially means the 2016 MLS regular season is half complete. Because of the uneven schedule, most teams have played more than 17 of their 34 games while some have played as low as 15. But we are literally 17 weeks into this 34 week schedule so it’s an appropriate time to grade each team is as they go into the second half of the season. We recently went over the Eastern Conference, now we’re looking at the West.
1) FC Dallas – 34 points – A+
This team is set up to be a force for the foreseeable future. A team that is very young, not afraid to play homegrown players and really is the prototype of what an academy should be in the United States. They are being rewarded with the Supporters Shield lead at the halfway point (though they have played two more games than the next three teams). It may not keep them top of the standings but they should be in great shape going into the playoffs.
2) Colorado Rapids – 33 points – A
Of all the teams that could come back from a terrible season to compete in the next, I wouldn’t have said the Colorado Rapids. This transformation has been very surprising and I think even surprised the Rapids themselves. They started on this great run before the newly signed Jermaine Jones and Tim Howard started playing. It’ll be interesting to see if they can hold on.
3) Real Salt Lake – 28 points – A
Real Salt Lake kind of lost their way a bit a few years ago when Jason Kreis left but Real Salt Lake seems to have turned it around now. “Burrito” Martinez has proven to be a great asset and should be an all star.
4) Los Angeles Galaxy – 26 points – B
The Galaxy only has three losses in 17 games and have scored a league high 30 goals (tied with FC Dallas). And sitting 3rd in goals allowed with 18, it would appear that LA would be running away with the West. The issue is that with a league high eight draws, the LA Galaxy sit 4th in the West. Surely, LA will learn to turn draws into wins at some point.
5) Sporting Kansas City – 25 points – C+
Sporting Kansas City won their first four of five games. Then, things went downhill quickly, as Sporting won only three of their last 14 games. The team couldn’t score, they couldn’t connect a pass to save their life and the backline has been disorganized. Maybe the loss of Krisztian Nemeth was bigger than people expected but amid a big 3-2 win against Columbus, maybe Sporting can get it together.
6) Vancouver Whitecaps – 24 points – B-
Vancouver may be top of the Cascadia region but they currently have a tenuous grasp of a playoff spot. Kekuta Manneh has been out of the 18 and given the transfer window is open, rumors are rampant that he is being traded. But the attacking game isn’t their problem. They have allowed multiple goals against teams in six of their last nine games dating back to the end of April. Vancouver needs to take care of that first and foremost.
7) Portland Timbers – 24 points – C+
The defending MLS Cup champs are sitting a bit worse than they were expecting to be. But to be fair, they finished 3rd in the West last season and got there in the last few weeks of the season or else they could’ve been 6th. This razors edge output worked out for them and won a title last year. Looks like they are doing it again this year.
8) San Jose Earthquakes – 22 points – C-
Success and failure in MLS can be decided by the slightest of margins. After winning their first two games, San Jose has fell down the standings, giving up points. Their current stretch is a five game winless streak dating back to May 11. Four of those five games were draws so they haven’t completely fallen behind but the Earthquakes need to turn those draws into wins if they want to get into the playoff hunt.
9) Seattle Sounders – 17 points – F
Last season, many Seattle fans were upset after their Sounders were eliminated in the Western Conference Semifinals. If they were upset after that, I can’t imagine how pleased they are with the first half of this season and possibly not even make the playoffs. The team on paper is surely capable of getting it back and salvaging the season, they need to prove it on the field.
10) Houston Dynamo – 17 points – F
Houston is in a state of transition. With Owen Coyle resigning and longtime assistant Wade Barrett on as interim manager, Houston is at least making changes and is trying to turn things around. But their first half of the season has been a failure and will continue to be for a while