The Portland Timbers find themselves in a grim situation six games into the season. With only four points from six games, the Timbers find themselves in desperate need of some wins.
At practice today, Caleb Porter mentioned the team's lack of wins.
We are six games in. You want it to be perfect, six games in. Some teams have gotten away with not-complete performances and getting results. We haven't, for whatever reason.
By this point in 2013, the Timbers had two wins and nine points. In 2012, the team's worst season since joining MLS, the Timbers had four points and one win from the first six games of the year.
Since the Timbers joined MLS in 2011 through last season in 2013, six teams have earned four points or less through their first six games. 2011 saw Sporting Kansas City go 1-4-1 through their first six. In 2012 the Timbers go 1-4-1 through their first six, the Montreal Impact do the same, and Toronto FC go without a point until the tenth week of the season. 2013 had both the Chicago Fire and DC United start the season 1-4-1.
So, did any of these teams go on to post-season glory? At the start of this year, the Timbers were consistently among the teams expected to compete for the Supporters' Shield. Now they are lucky if they are not dead last in the power rankings that circulate each week.
First, we can dispense with the 2012 Portland Timbers. We all remember how that went. However, how did the rest of the teams who have started off at this clip in recent MLS history fair?
Chicago Fire, 2013
The Fire, after a rough start to the season, made one of the most impactful moves of the season when they picked up eventual league MVP Mike Magee in a trade from the LA Galaxy. Magee would drag the team to within a hair's width of the playoffs, only to fall short on goal differential behind the Montreal Impact.
DC United, 2013
There is not much to say here. After taking four points in their first six games, DC set new MLS records in futility as they recorded the single worst season in league history by any number of metrics, finishing the season with sixteen points from 34 games. That is less than half a point per game.
Montreal Impact, 2012
The Impact arrived in MLS in 2012 and, despite a run that saw them record five straight wins toward the end of the season, the Impact could not hold on to a playoff spot thanks to a strong field of competitors in the Eastern Conference.
Toronto FC, 2012
Toronto managed a remarkably poor start to their season, so poor, in fact, that it prompted the team's start striker, Danny Koevermans, to call them the "worst team in the world". Toronto would eventually start picking up points, but not soon enough to keep them from earning the wooden spoon at the end of the season.
Sporting Kansas City, 2011
The shining beacon of hope in the group of teams with miserable starts since the Timbers joined MLS, Kansas City started their season off with a win then went on to lose or tie the next twelve games. In the middle of the season, however, something changed. The team formerly known as the Wizards rattled off a fourteen game unbeaten streak and only lost three more times after their initial run of poor form, eventually ending up as the Eastern Conference Champions. What could have sparked such a dramatic turnaround? The fact that the Wizards played their first ten games on the road, leading to an extremely home-game biased second half of the season may have had something to do with it.
Since 2011, one in six teams to start with four or less points in their first six games has made it to the playoffs. Can the Timbers turn things around?