Western Conference Week 23: Coping

Don Sigi does his best Marlon Brando impersonation. That's a nice-a donut.

When the home team is in last place, there are things we sometimes do to make the remainder of the lost season more bearable. Especially if we're regular contributors to a blog that covers said last place team.

1. Get really excited about next year. Obviously, with news that the Portland Timbers' next head coach will be hired soon, many Timbers fans have high hopes for what a new coach might be capable of. Unfortunately, the proof of the pudding is still seven months away, so we need other things to occupy our time.

2. Focus on the positive. In spite of the poor season the team has had, there's no question they've shown up when the rivals have come to town. We knew at the start of the season that, with the unbalanced home-away schedule in the Cascadia Cup competition, this year was our year to win it. And yes, the Timbers are on solid footing to bring the Cup back home. Ultimately, though, the Cascadia Cup will be a consolation prize in a lost season. We need more.

3. Root against our most hated rivals, the Flounders. Not a great week for this point. A 6-2 win featuring a hat-trick by their most iconic player ... yeah, it's probably best to focus on points 1 and 2.

Oh well. Catch up with the MLS Western Conference after the jump.

1. San Jose Earthquakes

Recent result: 4-1 win vs Colorado

Rolling over Colorado wasn't any great accomplishment, but rolling over them in spite of Chris Wondolowski, who seems to have lost some of his touch since his hat-trick against RSL in July, might have been. The Quakes star had more than his fair share of shanks on Saturday night, but he was saved by Simon Dawkins and the impossibly consistent heroicism of Alan Gordon (1.1 goals/90 mins).

But the real Chris Wondolowski might want to think about standing up before the playoffs start.

Week 24 projection: 3-1 win vs Chivas

2. Seattle Sounders

Recent result: 6-2 win at Chivas

Can we celebrate the fact that Michael Gspurning leaked two goals in a match for the second time this month? We can't? Dang.

Week 24 projection: 2-1 win at Dallas

3. Real Salt Lake

Recent result: 0-0 draw at Philadelphia

It's becoming hard to ignore the holes at RSL. The shaky defense that had been apparent in the middle third of the season. Their offensive incompetence when Fabian Espindola is out of the lineup. They're riding their second 4-game unbeaten streak since the June international break and are poised to be passed not only by Seattle but also by the Galaxy.

At present there's little danger that they could fall out of playoff contention, but still, what's going on?

Week 24 projection: 2-1 vs DC

4. LA Galaxy

Recent result: 2-0 win vs Dallas

Big sigh. The Galaxy had no business winning this game. But as usual they overcame shoddy defense with clutch goal keeping and a continuing propensity to make opponents pay for their mistakes. World keeps on spinning.

Week 24 projection: 2-1 win vs Vancouver

5. FC Dallas

Recent result: 2-0 loss at Los Angeles

Somehow Dallas is clinging to the fifth spot in our ranking this week, in spite of a disappointing effort against the Galaxy on Sunday. Unable to finish their chances on one end of the pitch, they made two costly errors at the other end, costing them the game and putting an end to their four-game unbeaten streak. It's hard to imagine a scenario in which they make the playoffs, but my model still likes their chances.

Week 24 projection: 2-1 loss vs Seattle

6. Vancouver Whitecaps

Recent result: 2-1 loss at Portland

The story in Portland was that the Timbers played a great game and finally gave the fans something to cheer about. The Vancouver side of the story is that their team is on a three-game losing streak and have won just two of their last ten matches. All this after the FO decided to fix what wasn't broken and bring in a bunch more 30-somethings to right the ship. It's just sad, that's all.

Week 24 projection: 2-1 loss at Los Angeles

7. Chivas USA

Recent result: 6-2 loss vs Seattle

Speaking of sad, Chivas somehow advanced to seventh in our rankings in spite of giving up six goals against Seattle at home. Math is weird.

Week 24 projection: 3-1 loss at San Jose

8. Colorado Rapids

Recent result: 4-1 loss at San Jose

We'll have more on Colorado in our previews of the next match, but suffice it to say, the Rapids are frustrated -- none more so than 22-year-old Argentine playmaker Martin Rivero. What's a guy gotta do to set up a Conor Casey goal around here?

Week 24 projection: a match in Portland against the Timbers.

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