The Best MLS Teams (single season & multiple)
It's probably the most basic piece of information that MLS fans would be interested in. I'm talking about the best single season records in league history. Incredibly, I've yet to post them while going on and on about trivial stuff. I did post a list last summer, but it wasn't the now standard (for me anyway) "shootouts as draws" version (aka Adjusted PPG).
However, it would be too easy to post just that. It wouldn't be a Climbing the Ladder post unless I took it a step further, and I've done just that by also figuring out the best MLS teams over 2, 3, 4, and 5 year periods. Scroll down for the top ten in every category, but now a quick look at the best teams in each:
Best MLS Teams
The 1998 Galaxy were a team the likes of which hasn't been seen since. Unfortunately, Chicago and DC also had great teams, and they couldn't get it done in the playoffs. But let's take a moment to look back at how truly amazing that Galaxy team was. They had 9 wins of 3 goals or more, and 7 games where they scored at least 5 times. It was the best offense in league history (2.66 goals per game) by 0.35 over the second place team (1998 DC). They also managed to lead the league in goals allowed.
Starters: Kevin Hartman, Greg Vanney, Robin Fraser, Steve Jolley, Ezra Hendrickson, Danny Pena, Martin Machon, Mauricio Cienfuegos, Cobi Jones, Welton, Carlos Hermosillo
Subs: Matt Reis, Paul Caligiuri, Dan Calichman, Joey Franchino, Daniel Hernandez, Wellington Sanchez, Clint Mathis
That's a pretty nice gameday roster right there. I would love to see a video game with classic MLS teams. In the middle of writing this, I just realized that Wellington Sanchez was on Ecuador's 2002 World Cup roster (although he didn't play). Did not know that.
Whenver an MLS coach is in trouble, I always like to bring up Octavio Zambrano's name. His teams in LA and NY played some great attacking soccer. A lot of that was probably due to the talent, but if Rongen can get another shot, then why not him? Anyone who offended Lothar Matthaus can't be that bad.
Best Single Season MLS Teams
Yep, the 2001 Fusion were amazing...and the 2005 Earthquakes. Hmm...maybe the Wizards shouldn't aim to be "that" amazing in 2006.
Along with those two, I would add the 2000 Fire as the best 3 teams in this decade. Another one that screwed up in the playoffs. Only 3 of these teams took home the MLS Cup, as you can see by the "titles" column on the far right. Not surprising, since only 4 of 10 Supporters' Shield winners have won the championship.
Best MLS Teams Over 2 Seasons
Ok, now that we're in multiple year territory, you can throw out every team except for the "big 4" of MLS. This isn't a particularly close list at the top. Too bad the Dynamo history is officially seperate from the Quakes, or they could've given 'em a run for their money.
There's only a couple completely post-shootout teams here, as is the case for the other years. I should also mention that the 1996-7 Mutiny were tied with the 9th and 10th place teams. I sorted them by goal differential, but I could've easily listed them up there as well.
Best MLS Teams Over 3 Seasons
DC finally breaks up the Galaxy domination. Two titles, and only 18 losses in 96 games.
Best MLS Teams Over 4 Seasons
4 years in a 10 year league is a long time, which is why you can have a horrible team (2000 DC) be a part of this group.
Bubbling below in 14th place is the 1999-2 Dallas Burn. Huh. They had a great 1999 followed by 3 average years, and only 1 playoff series win to show for it.
Best MLS Teams Over 5 Seasons
Again, it's the same teams over and over. 1998 and 1999 were very uneven years, helped by the move to 12 teams. I expect future expansion to cause a bigger imbalance between the good and the bad; at the very least we won't be like 2002-4 again. Only 10 teams, plus the dispersal draft; it was incredibly even. With 12 or more teams, you can have a few teams with really great seasons. Just look at the 2001 standings. There's also the whole "gradually moving away from single entity" thing. So what I'm saying is, soon we'll have our very own Yankees and Royals.
There's still only one title, though. So while the records here may be improved, good luck beating DC's accomplishment (3 in 4 years).