With the 2013 MLS campaign in the books and Sporting Kansas City the MLS Cup winners and New York Red Bulls the Supporters’ Shield winners, Soccer365’s Curtis Reed looks back and hands out his grades for all the teams. From A’s to F’s it is all there on the report card. Take a look and see if you agree.
By Curtis Reed
MLS Eastern Conference Grades
Chicago Fire (C-): The Fire were a bit unlucky to miss the playoffs but luck only has so much to do with it. By and large they were responsible for their own downfall. Bringing in Mike Magee was nice but their other major acquisitions fell flat and ultimately cost Frank Klopas his job.
Columbus Crew (C-): The Crew also had a very disappointing season by their standards. The club has found it hard to find the right mix of players. Their new owner is already attempting to make big changes.
D.C. United (F): What a disaster of season for D.C. United. Winning only three matches in a league that institutionally values parity is a remarkable feat that no club wants to be a part of. What makes it even worse for the club is that last year they had the third best record with largely the same roster. Their U.S. Open Cup triumph will help ease the pain a bit as they move forward.
Houston Dynamo (B): Dominic Kinnear is one of the best in the business and year in and year out gets the best out of their players. They were just a game away from playing in the MLS Cup.
Montreal Impact (B-): The Impact made the playoffs for the first time in franchise history thanks to shrewd moves and solid coaching. They started off the season really well but then faded at the end. Considering how well they were doing early on it was disappointing to see them flame out of the playoffs.
New England Revolution (B+): The Revolution exceeded all expectations this year. Jay Heaps was tasked with a major rebuilding project when he took over the club two years ago and has now seen his hard work come to fruition earlier than expected.
New York Red Bulls (A-): The Supporter’s Shield winners put together a phenomenal season led by Thierry Henry, Tim Cahill, and Jamison Olave. However, they did benefit from a weak Eastern Conference and couldn’t get it done in the playoffs. That said, it was a big improvement over the previous years.
Philadelphia Union (D): Remember a couple of season ago when the Union made the playoffs? Neither do we. The clubs has taken a serious regression over the last few years and shows no signs of getting out of their rut. It may be time for a house cleaning.
Sporting Kansas City (A): Their style may not be viewed as attractive by most but it was effective. Of all 19 teams they are the only ones that can say they are MLS Cup champions. Even after they sold off Kei Kamara mid-season they were still able to dominate teams.
Toronto FC (D): Every year promises are made that the Reds will be a better side and every year they finish close to the bottom of the table. That said, Ryan Nelsen looks like he knows what he’s doing.
MLS Western Conference Grades
Chivas USA (F): On the field Chivas had their moments this year, especially after they picked up Erick Torres and head coach Jose Luis Real, but even those moments were limited. Off the field the team is in shambles and shows no signs of fixing itself anytime soon.
Colorado Rapids (B): The Rapids had a much improved season as illustrated by their playoff appearance. Oscar Pareja has them playing the right way and there is a sense that another year together and with the addition of a few more quality players they could be one of the top teams in the league.
FC Dallas (C-): All you need to know about FC Dallas’s season it was has happened since it ended. Their head coach is gone as are several of their marquee players over the last few years. Injuries were a problem but even when the team was healthy they lacked bite. Time to start over.
LA Galaxy (B+): Losing David Beckham had a major impact on the team as did Landon Donovan’s early season sabbatical. However, they team still finished third in the West and had a very strong season. Bruce Arena has deserved the praise he has recieved.
Portland Timbers (A-): Had they been in the Eastern Conference the Timbers in all likelihood would have won the Supporter’s Shield. It was a massive turnaround for the club under Caleb Porter. They made some shrewd moves in the offseason and appear to be one of the teams to beat going forward. Their only knock is the way they lost to RSL in the Western Conference finals.
Real Salt Lake (A): Even though the idea that RSL would fall apart without Will Johnson, Jamison Olave, and Fabian Espindola completely ignores the fact that the spine of the team returned, there is no doubt that RSL exceeded expectations. They were the only team to play in two cup finals this year. They also have a nice young group of players. They’ll miss Jason Kreis but they have the platform to succeed.
San Jose Earthquakes (D): You can’t get a good grade when you go from Supporter’s Shield winners one year to missing the playoffs with essentially the same roster. There were no Goonies heroics this year for the Earthquakes as their porous defense finally caught up with them.
Seattle Sounders (D): Given the expectations that surround the club they came up woefully short. Sure they made the playoffs but it was a weak run. Decreasing their grade is the fact that they made moves in season that made their team worse but still expected to compete.
Vancouver Whitecaps (C+): After making the playoffs in 2012 the Whitecaps should have done the same in 2013. The injury bug did help but Martin Rennie’s minute tinkerings were the real heart of the problem. The side never seemed to find much fluidity and relied too heavily on Camilo.