It has been a while since we last looked at the the Eastern and Western Conferences and just how they have matched up against each other this year. Back in May we looked at cross conference play in MLS and decided that the Eastern Conference was not very good. In June we decided that the East might just be getting better, but they were still lagging behind the West. Now, with only fifteen cross conference games left to go let's take one more look at the East vs. the West.
To date there have been 85 cross conference games played out of the 100 total in the 2015 MLS regular season. Early in the year the Western Conference had dominated the competition between the East and the West, and that is a trend that has continued as the year has gone on.
Now the West hold a combined record of 41-27-17, earning 140 points in the process, (1.65 points per game) over Eastern opposition, all but guaranteeing to come out ahead overall when the regular season wraps up at the end of October. For their part, Eastern Conference teams have earned only 98 points in the same cross-conference matches (1.15 points per game).
A quick look at the wins and losses columns for teams in both conferences passes the eye test that the West has had the most success as well with five Western Conference teams getting five or more wins against Eastern Conference opponents so far and no team losing five matches to teams from the East. In the Eastern Conference, no team has managed five wins against Western conference opponents and four teams have lost five matches or more in cross conference play.
- Montreal Impact, 4-3-0, 1.71 points per game
- Orlando City SC, 4-3-2, 1.56
- Columbus Crew, 3-2-3, 1.50
- New England Revolution, 4-5-1, 1.30
- D.C. United, 3-4-2, 1.22
- Toronto FC, 3-5-0, 1.13
- New York Red Bulls, 2-3-4, 1.11
- Philadelphia Union, 2-4-2, 1.00
- Chicago Fire, 2-7-1, 0.70
- New York City FC, 0-5-2, 0.29
In the Eastern Conference, Montreal, Orlando, and Columbus are the only three teams with positive records against the West, with Montreal on top of the conference standings on points per game. This could be in for a quick shakeup before the end of the season, however, with Montreal still facing three road trips to face Western Conference opponents. The Crew, meanwhile, have two matches remaining agains the West, both of which are at home.
Although several Eastern conference teams could, in theory, drag themselves to an even record by winning out, none of the teams in the East that do not already have a positive record could get there.
Finally, New York City is the only team in either conference to have failed to record a single cross conference win.
- Sporting Kansas City, 6-1-2, 2.22 points per game
- FC Dallas, 5-2-1, 2.00
- Portland Timbers, 5-3-0, 1.88
- Vancouver Whitecaps, 5-3-1, 1.78
- Seattle Sounders, 5-4-0, 1.67
- Houston Dynamo, 4-2-3, 1.67
- LA Galaxy, 4-2-3, 1.67
- San Jose Earthquakes, 3-3-1, 1.43
- Real Salt Lake, 3-4-3, 1.20
- Colorado Rapids, 1-3-3, 0.86
In a mirror image of the East, the West only has three teams without positive record in cross conference play: San Jose, Salt Lake, and Colorado. RSL, the only Western Conference team to have played every one of their ten cross conference games, are destined to end the season with a negative record against the East, but both the Earthquakes and Rapids are within reach of a positive record to finish the year. Of the two, San Jose looks like they have the better chance, with two upcoming home games and a final visit to NYCFC to finish off their cross conference slate.
The Rapids, meanwhile, would need to win their remaining three cross conference matches to get end with a positive record. With home games against Montreal and D.C. and an away match against Toronto, Colorado are not in a great position to take maximum points from the East.
As they fight their way through the obviously intense Western Conference playoff race, the Timbers only have two remaining matches to take points off Eastern Conference opposition. On back to back weekends the Timbers will first host the Red Bulls at Providence Park then travel to Columbus to take on the Crew. The Red Bulls are the hottest team in MLS currently, having won the top spot in the league's latest power rankings, but three of their seven losses have come to Western Conference teams, while they have only managed two wins against teams from the West, both of which were at Red Bull Arena.
On the other hand, the Crew, as mentioned above, are one of the better cross conference teams from the East, so traveling to play them will certainly not be easy for the Timbers. The Crew have only played three of their five home cross conference games so far this season, registering 3-2 wins over both the Sounders (early in the season when they were not yet falling apart) and Sporting KC, and a 1-1 draw against the Galaxy.