From a ‘general’ perspective, you could absolutely make the argument that Major League Soccer is on the rise. From a quality and financial perspective, they’re starting to make better ground on the better known European leagues, and that can only mean good things as they start to expand even further over the next few years.
But when you break down the actual two conferences as a whole, it becomes obvious to say that one is starting to gain a serious upper hand over the other. We aren’t talking about past years or seasons, either, because we’re referring to the current table and the clear change in the status quo.
West is the best
If you take a look at the MLS Soccer table right now, it’s quite obvious to see that the Western Conference is taking a real stranglehold on proceedings ahead of the East. We understand and appreciate that the Eastern Conference has enjoyed their own success throughout the course of the league’s history, and we aren’t denying that, but we also don’t want to deny the West the satisfaction of their current situation.
Take a look at the respective top teams in each ‘division’ if you will. DC United and Montreal Impact are undoubtedly the top two sides right now, and they have failed to win the same amount of games that they actually have won this season. Sure, two of them were ties respectively, but the numbers don’t like – and when you go further down the list, the contenders don’t exactly make us particularly fearful.
Recent stories like this one from BBC Sport aren’t exactly helping matters, either, because DC are supposed to be the standard bearers over there. We can tell you from experience that a mid-30s defender that is on loan at a second tier English club isn’t going to be the answer to anyone’s problems, and we can say that with some confidence. They need to be aiming much higher than that, as you can probably tell by the opposition they’re inevitably going to come up against in the post-season.
LAFC, LA Galaxy and Seattle Sounders would all be riding high comfortably at the top of the Eastern Conference at this stage of the season, and in addition to that, FC Dallas (who are currently down in fourth position in the West) would be top of the East on goal difference.
There just seems to be a very obvious gulf in quality right now, and the most frustrating thing for teams in the Western Conference (and reassuring for the Eastern) is that it may not matter one bit by the time we get to the MLS Cup. All that matters as we get later into the season is who is on form and who is going to ride the wave of momentum when it matters the most.
That certainly makes things all the more intriguing for the average viewer, but for the players who are used to a standard league system that rewards the overall winners of the division at the end of the regular season, it can get a bit tricky.