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Balance of power shifts to Eastern Conference
by Paul Kennedy, September 27th, 2012 10:19PM

TAGS:  mls


[BY THE NUMBERS: MLS] One of the common perceptions about MLS is that the Western Conference is the league's dominant conference. It was true the previous three seasons, but it hasn't always been the case and is not this season. With only two interconference games remaining on the 2012 schedule, Eastern Conference teams hold a four-game edge on their Western Conference counterparts after suffering deficits of 10, 25 and eight games the last three seasons.

The most one-sided season took place in 2010 when Western Conference teams finished with a 25-game edge. Only two Eastern Conference teams had winning records and two Western Conferences had losing records.

The Eastern Conference's best season was 2005 when every team but the Columbus Crew had a winning record. It was the first of four straight seasons the Eastern Conference won the season series.

In 2002, the first season after MLS contracted to 10 teams and they were split into two conferences, no Eastern Conference team had a winning record and every Western Conference team but the Kansas City Wizards finished above .500.

Battle of the Conferences
2012: Eastern +4
2011: Western +10
2010: Western +25
2009: Western +8
2008: Eastern +6
2007: Eastern +2
2006: Eastern +1
2005: Eastern +18
2004: Western +3
2003: Eastern +9
2002: Western +14
Note: Regular-season records only.

The 2012 season marks the first that teams have not played each other at least twice, so we'll never know what would have happened if every team played a balanced schedule.

The biggest contributor to the Eastern Conference's 2012 turnaround is the New England Revolution, which has enjoyed a seven-game swing. The Chicago Fire and Sporting Kansas City, who meet in Friday's top-of-the-table clash, have enjoyed four- and three-game positive swings, respectively.

Eastern Conference vs. Western Conference (W-L-T Record)

Team (2012 vs. 2011) 2012 vs. Western 2011 vs. Western
Sporting KC (+3) 6-1-2 7-5-6
Houston (-1) 5-2-1 9-5-4
Columbus (+2) 4-2-3 7-7-4
New England (+9) 4-3-2 2-10-6
New York (+1) 3-2-4 5-5-8
D.C. United (-2) 3-3-2 6-4-8
Chicago (+4) 3-4-2 3-8-7
Montreal 3-5-1 --
Philadelphia (0) 2-4-3 4-6-8
Toronto FC (0) 2-5-2 4-7-7
TOTAL (+14) 35-31-22 47-57-58

The Los Angeles Galaxy, the 2011 MLS champion, has suffered the biggest drop by an Western Conference team, suffering a negative swing of eight games.

Western Conference vs. Eastern Conference (W-L-T Record)

Team (2012 vs. 2011) 2012 vs. Eastern 2011 vs. Eastern
Real Salt Lake  (+3) 5-3-2 6-7-5
Seattle (-4) 4-2-4 10-4-4
San Jose (0) 4-3-3 6-5-7
Colorado (-2) 4-4-1 5-3-10
Portland (+3) 3-3-3 5-8-5
Vancouver (+2) 3-4-3 5-8-5
FC Dallas (-4) 3-5-2 7-5-6
Los Angeles (-8) 3-5-2 8-2-8
Chivas USA (-4) 2-6-2 5-5-8
TOTAL (+14) 31-35-22 57-47-58

It should be noted Western Conference teams have won eight of the last 10 MLS Cup titles.

  1. John Soares
    commented on: September 28, 2012 at 12:22 p.m.
    Not that it really matters!? But it is difficult, if not impossible to get a true measure without a balanced schedule. If west is not playing east... How do you know?
  1. Ramon Creager
    commented on: September 28, 2012 at 3:42 p.m.
    I think he is considering only east v. west matchups to make his case. If one conference were weaker than another, this would show this.
  1. Peter Skouras
    commented on: September 28, 2012 at 5:19 p.m.
    Hey John: DO you follow the EPL and other international leagues? Do you enjoy them? What is so unique other than the mass amount of $$$ involved? Let me know I'll let you in on a little secret!

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