Nothing Beats MLS’ Western Conference

Even with strong Eastern Conference teams, the Western Conference is still the top flight
by Katherine Rupp   |   Wednesday, April 01, 2015

US Soccer Federation (USSF)

In past years, Major League Soccer has had many ups and downs, including how the conferences have been very parity-filled and even-keeled. However, with more and more seasons under its belt, the scenery of the Eastern and Western Conferences look to be divvied up moreso this year than previous years.

Let us look at the current landscape of how the conferences are laid out:

The Eastern Conference, although sans Sporting Kansas City and Houston Dynamo, still has quite a few mainstays who will keep the East strong. Although the New York Red Bulls went through some trials in the offseason, they seem to be paying off with head coach Jesse Marsch leading the New Jersey-based team to two wins and a draw so far. And although the season is young, a solid start could certainly be a catalyst for the Red Bulls being a cornerstone for the East.

However, also in the East are two opposing teams to squads such as the Red Bulls and the New England Revolution that have been in MLS since its inception, in Orlando City SC and New York City FC. Orlando and NYCFC are currently ‘above the red line’ which really just means they are safe and in position of going to the MLS playoffs. Even with the strength of the two new expansion team squads, there’s also DC United, Columbus, and the Revs also in playoff position – not that it matters too much just yet since there’s been just a handful of matches.

Also in the Eastern Conference are Toronto, Chicago, Montreal and Philadelphia. Although most – if not all of these Eastern Conference teams, including the other 6 teams – have added generously to the squads to improve the quality of play on the pitch. But will that pay off for the Eastern Conference? Even with the depths of quality of players in the Eastern Conference, it doesn’t look like the East will stake its claim and raise the flag this season.

As the Western Conference inherits two strong teams from the East in Houston and Kansas City, the West is looking as strong as ever in this 20th season in MLS. Although, similar to the East, the West has incredibly competitive and somewhat, headstrong coaches, to lead the teams in the West.

In previous years, the Supporters’ Shield – the award given to the team with the most wins during the MLS regular season – had been given to Eastern Conference teams but since 2010 (with the exception of 2013’s New York Red Bulls), the Shield has been award to Western Conference teams.

That said, with so many strong teams in the Western Conference this season, with Oscar Pareja-led FC Dallas leading the way with 3 draws and a loss so far, there will be a battle going on this year for playoff position (even with 6 out of 10 teams moving but that’s not here or there) and for possibly a few lead changes in the Supporters’ Shield race.

The Western Conference has so many perennial MLS Cup contenders (Seattle, LA, Real Salt Lake, Dallas, etc.) that the West looks to be the strongest conference this year. Although, with the couple of strong teams in the East, that thought could be swayed with performances like that from the Concacaf Champions League play from the Montreal Impact from a few months back. So although the Eastern teams have more ‘up and coming’ rosters, the Western Conference teams are the ones to beat in 2015.

Katherine RUPP

Nationality:
USA
College:
Drake University
Club Domestic:
Sporting KC
Club Foreign:
Tottenham Hotspur
Unabashed Minnesotan by birth. Tried reliving the glory days of collegiate intramural soccer championships but an ACL tear dashed future hopes of adult recreational greatness. Covering a city’s team that’s too big for one state: SKC.
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