Connect in the back of the net

Week 21 of the MLS season is in the books and there were some clear winners and losers this week around the league. Player transfers, coaching changes, and goals-galore made the action extra exciting entering the All-Star break.

In the Eastern Conference Toronto FC showed why they are the clear favorite for silverware this season as they took NYCFC apart 4-0 behind a Sebastian Giovinco brace. Out in the Western Conference it was Sporting Kansas City holding on to the top spot with a 3-2 win over the mighty Chicago Fire.

On the other end of the standings DC United was run off the park by expansion side Minnesota United 4-0 as the once-mighty Eagles sit in last place in the East with their 14th loss of the season in 22 games played. In the West, it was the struggling Colorado Rapids in last place still looking for goals as they dropped another 1-0 decision this time to the San Jose Earthquakes.

Teams making big waves this week in the transfer market were Orlando City adding recently capped U.S. forward Dom Dwyer from Sporting KC and the LA Galaxy re-uniting the dos Santos brothers signing Jonathan from La Liga’s Villarreal to join big brother Giovani in LA.

The Galaxy also replaced coach Curt Onalfo with former boss Sigi Schmid in a move certain to shake up the results in the Western Conference.

So here is a breakdown of the standings and why each team is here and what looks to be just over the horizon:

 

Eastern Conference

Toronto FC-43 points

The class of MLS this season. Multiple weapons like Giovinco, Altidore, and Bradley are all contributing. 41 goals scored ties them for first in the league (Atlanta).

Toronto should be the team to beat in the East and only injuries or an incredible effort by David Villa in the conference championship could derail their path to MLS Cup this season.

 

Chicago Fire-38 points

They boast a deadly duo in attack with the league’s top scorer (Nikolic-16 goals) and Accam (third in league with 12 goals) with a trio of midfielders Schweinsteiger, McCarty, and Juninho controlling the midfield.

Chicago looks to be regular-season strong but seeing Toronto or NYCFC should knock the Fire out of the MLS playoffs.

 

NYC FC-37 points

David Villa. This guy drives the team and all the others support their star who is second in the league with 14 goals.

Sean Johnson in goal has been a nice addition this season to settle the backline and push the team into third place.

Watch out if these guys move past the Fire into second place in the standings…this looks to be the one team that could pass Toronto to MLS Cup this season.

 

NY Red Bulls-35 points

Bradley Wright-Phillips and Daniel Royer have each scored in the double-digit goals totals this season but there just is a missing piece to their midfield puzzle with the trade of Dax McCarty to the Fire this off season.

Sasha Kljestian can’t do it all in the middle and it shows this season. Red Bulls should make the playoffs but their Cup quest ends early without controlling the midfield.

 

Atlanta United—34 points

The new kids on the block have not disappointed in 2017. Adding U.S. international goalkeeper Brad Guzan over the summer transfer window takes this leaky defensive team to another level.

Young, fast, South American goal-scoring threats like Villalba (Argentina:10 goals), Martinez (Equador:9 goals), and Almiron (Paraguay:8 goals) have made the Five Stripes exciting to see.

An upset awaits in the playoffs but the MLS learning curve is steep and find Atlanta exit after their first-round upset.

 

Columbus Crew-32-points

The lack of speed and depth will show over the second half of the season and the Crew just miss out on the playoffs this year.

 

Orlando City-30 points

Good things ahead once the Lions move from the Larin era to the Dwyer era. Orlando slips into the playoffs once they figure this out.

 

New England Revolution-26 points

The Revs need a soccer stadium and once the Pats start…the interest level disappears.

 

Philadelphia Union-26 points

C.J. Sapong just can’t score enough goals to make the Union matter in 2017.

 

Montreal Impact-24 points

Really underachieving this season and as the season drags on they fall more and more off the pace and finish a forgettable 2017 below the playoff line.

 

DC United-18 points

Is the Olsen era coming to an end in DC? A new stadium in the near future can’t hide a tired, aging team on the pitch.

 

Western Conference

Sporting Kansas City-36 points

Dwyer is gone but this opens the door for Feilhaber and company to score by committee and keep Sporting leading the pack. Don’t expect SKC to drop points at home and the team that does everything well will keep doing so into the playoffs.

 

FC Dallas-34 points

It was shocking that Vancouver was able to enter Dallas and reel off a 4-0 result since Dallas was undefeated at home in all competitions this year.

Six more home games this season will see FC Dallas with a renewed focus and the results will follow to keep them in the playoff picture.

 

Houston Dynamo-33 points

The team that dominates at home and flounders on the road rolls into the second half sitting in a playoff spot that they might have trouble holding as October rolls around. Any slip in their home form will doom the Dynamo.

 

Portland Timbers-31 points

The fans are great, the team has talent, and Portland is in a playoff spot as they like being the outsiders.

Not a championship season in 2017 due to the rollercoaster results the Timbers just can’t shake off this season.

 

Seattle Sounders-31 points

Steady as she goes in Seattle. A powerful team going forward that has been undone by leaking too many goals in defense.

Seattle will use the strong home support to make a push at the end and make the playoffs.

 

Vancouver Whitecaps-30 points

A great mystery every game night in B.C. The ‘Caps will slip late in the season and just miss out on a playoff spot as LA sneaks past them for the final spot.

 

San Jose Earthquakes-29 points

The new skipper wants the Quakes to keep the ball but playing for a possession-filled 1-0 result every night with the squad they have just isn’t going to happen.

There aren’t enough goals possible in the Wondolowski attack system and the defense has too many gaps to possess and win.

 

Real Salt Lake-25 points

Too many errors in the back have plagued RSL this season. Rimando has been marooned on an island too many nights and the record shows this lack of defensive support in the back. The

 

LA Galaxy-23 points

The LA club made big moves in the summer transfer window and look for a Hollywood ending to the regular season to propel them back into the playoffs.

The talent is here and Sigi will look to revive the Galaxy swagger of the past as the newest dos Santos looks to set the table for a goal-scoring feast in LA. The Galaxy get it right to end the season in the playoffs but there is a storm on the way named LAFC…

 

Minnesota United-22 points

Looking for an identity in year one. Good progress has been made but playing at the “Gopher Zone” has really been a drag this expansion season.

Depth and how all the pieces fit together have been questions yet to be solved this season. 2018 will be a welcome second chance to get things right.

 

Colorado Rapids-20 points

Tim Howard has been the lone bright spot this season. Can’t wait for a fresh start in 2018.

 

Written by Forrest Wimberly

Follow Forrest on Twitter @ForrestWimberly

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