5. San Jose Start To Threaten
The Earthquakes have flown completely under the radar this year, but it might be time to start paying attention.
After beating a very good Columbus team on Saturday night – with the help of an early red card, it should be added – the ‘Quakes have won three out of four at Avaya Stadium. San Jose isn’t going to thrill anyone, but they continue to be a tough out and very good home team.
This looks like vintage Dominic Kinnear. This San Jose team doesn’t play particularly good soccer – part of that is that they still haven’t quite figured out how to get the best out of Innocent Emeghara and Matias Perez Garcia – but they’re recovered much of the spine that they lost under Mark Watson last year.
Chris Wondolowski continues scoring – 99 goals now – and the defense is good. Maybe this season finishes with San Jose in ninth. That’s about where their talent suggests they should be. But I doubt it. They’re getting wins consistently, and most of MLS isn’t.
6. Vancouver Isn’t Elite
The ‘Caps are good, but they aren’t one of MLS’ best teams. Let’s put that narrative to bed right now. Playoff team? Absolutely. MLS Cup winners? No chance.
Vancouver is good against bad teams. They’re good against tired teams. They play with verve, they counter-attack extremely well, and they’ve got a couple of great players in Pedro Morales and Octavio Rivero.
But Vancouver’s defense is hit or miss. The Waston-Kah center-back pairing is incredibly erratic, and the central midfield pairing of Matias Laba and Russell Tiebert has been pretty average this year.
More discouraging the regression of young talent like Darron Mattocks and Erik Hurtado. Both have fallen out of favor, while Mauro Rosales appears to have lost a step and Kakuta Manneh still refuses to come to play every week. Vancouver has gotten a couple of results they shouldn’t have – at Orlando and at home against Portland – and those will even out later this year.
I like Vancouver. But not as real MLS Cup threats. They’re not there yet.
7. What Happened To Portland?
The Timbers are a year and a third away from winning the Western Conference and coming within a game of MLS Cup. Now, the Timbers are a pretty average team. They’ve only won six of their last 22 home games in league play, and were well beaten at Houston on Saturday night.