Thirteen games into the 2013 season, the Portland Timbers have only lost one match and currently find themselves running fourth in the Supporters' Shield race. What's perhaps even more impressive is that they're currently on an 11-game unbeaten run.
In a league like MLS, where any team can beat another on any given day, this is particularly impressive. But just how exceptional is it?
On Tuesday, I noted that Uri Rosell has done superb work cleaning up messes in the central midfield for Sporting KC which, in all honesty, was one of the big questions for that team headed into the season.
Thanks to his work (and Paolo Nagamura, and Benny Feilhaber, and Peterson Joseph, and even a little bit of Lawrence Olum), attacking KC up the gut is still a no-go. But attacking from out wide doesn't work so great, either:
It's something of a transition year for Sporting KC, as they commit a little more fully to building chances from possession, rather than forcing chances via turnover.
That said, forcing midfield turnovers is still a huge part of their game, their high pressure still works, and someone still needs to do the dirty work in the midfield. Uri Rosell, the Barcelona product, has been more than happy to do that particular job:
For our continuing Referee Week series, stats nerd Devin Pleuler takes a deeper look at just how significant it is when the man in the middle goes nuclear and pulls out a red card.
Since 2011, there have been about 60 red cards issued to MLS squads that were locked in a tie game. In 28 of these instances, the games resulted in a loss for the reprimanded team. That's only almost 50 percent. Not too bad? Well, if you have been following Central Winger over the past year, context is king and there is much more than what meets the eye.
This was a banner week for the kids. And one of the very youngest was the very best.
New England Revolution Homegrown attacker Diego Fagundez is just 18 years old, but he is already in his third full year as a pro. And his game against the Red Bulls on Saturday was probably the best of his career – and good enough to put him at the top of the Castrol Index Weekly Top 20.
In Friday's entry, I made the point that Portland have climbed toward the top of the standings by both dominating the ball, and by doing so upfield. They lead the league (comfortably) in passing completion percentage in the opposition half.
As many pointed out, both on Twitter and in the comments section, Vancouver were second in that same metric. And the 'Caps are nowhere near the top of the standings.
Here's the difference, though:
You've probably noticed that the Portland Timbers are pretty tough to beat. They're one of only two teams in the league with just a single loss, and it's not because they're bunkering.
On the contrary, they'll holding the ball higher up the pitch, and defending from the front better than anyone in the leauge:
Opta Spotlight: Ryan Nelsen calls Toronto FC "soft," but is that what's behind their late-game collapses?
This one's pretty easy:
It took two games for Roy Miller to become a punchline this season, but since his return to the lineup in mid-April, the New York Red Bulls have gone 4-1-0. Here's a chart that should give you some idea as to why: