The league standings are a good indicator of who has done the best over the course of a whole season. But every team goes through highs and lows, peaks and valleys, streaks and slumps. Playing a bad team on a good run is usually more dangerous than playing a good team in a mediocre stretch.
So who is sitting pretty right now and who should be worried?
Welcome to the first installment of the MLS Thermometer, in which MLSsoccer.com takes the temperature of clubs around the league, looking at who's heating up at the right time, and who's giving their fans the cold shoulder.
LA and Columbus, we’re looking at you. In their last five games, the East and West conference leaders have each acquired just seven points (that's less than half of what was available, for those keeping score at home). With the Crew being outscored 7-1 over their last two league games and the Galaxy hosting the streaking Red Bulls on Friday, there is serious doubt over whether these two teams can hold on for their conference titles and or win the Supporters' Shield.
Caution: Very Hot
Here come Real Salt Lake. The reigning MLS champs officially have the longest home unbeaten streak in league history, shutting out the Chicago Fire 1-0 at Rio Tinto last Saturday and making it 23 games since the last time the team lost in Sandy. Taking just their last five games into consideration, RSL are picking up 2.2 points per game. If they keep that pace up, they are actually the frontrunners to win the Supporters' Shield with 58 points.
The Colorado Rapids are next to try to crack RSL’s streak, though, and Colorado have put together a little streak of their own with nine points in their last five. Not impressed? Consider this: FC Dallas, riding a 15 game unbeaten streak and securely in the playoff picture, have the exact same number of points over the same period. Could the Rocky Mountain Cup see an end to fortress Rio Tinto? No matter where you are, you’ll hear the cheers in LA if the Rapids manage to pull it off.
There are four teams coming in behind RSL as the hottest team in MLS, each averaging 2 points per game over their last five: New York, San Jose, Kansas City, and ... the Philadelphia Union? Yes, despite being all but eliminated from playoff contention, the boys from Chester have put together a very solid streak. Kudos, Philly.
Didn’t See That Coming
A few weeks ago, there wasn’t much talk about the Kansas City Wizards as a playoff team. Now might be a good time to hop on the bandwagon.
The Wizards are in 10th place in the playoff standings, six points behind Seattle and San Jose. Kansas City, however, have two games in hand over both of their foes from the Western Conference. Based on KC’s recent form, those two extra games should be plenty to vault them into a tie with both the Sounders and Quakes.
Circle Oct. 9 on your calendars. That’s when Kansas City host Seattle. The Wizards lost their only meeting against the Sounders 1-0, which means they must win to even out the head-to-head tiebreaker.
What’s Cooler than Cool?
The Chicago Fire have been dreadful of late. The Fire have gotten just two points from their last five games. That puts them behind Houston, New England, and cellar-dwellers D.C. United for the worst form in the league.