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2 days 'til MLS: History says the Montreal Impact's playoff chances are good in Year 2

As the MLS season approaches, MLSsoccer.com marks each passing day with a different statistic, observation or talking point, setting the stage for March 2.

2 – Is there a sophomore slump or bump in MLS?

The Montreal Impact are entering their second season in MLS. It wasn’t a terrible season for the Quebecois side in Year 1. They were in the playoff hunt heading into September, but were undone by a six-game winless streak to close out the season.

Now, as every Quebecer is surely wondering, how will the Impact do in Year 2?

That remains to be answered. But looking at other clubs’ second seasons, we can see that there is no such thing as a sophomore slump. In fact, it’s the opposite.

Since 2005, which is the start of what I consider the “modern era” of MLS — that is, post-contraction and the start of expansion, check out how the league’s new clubs have fared in year two of their existences. (For accuracy purposes, I’m including San Jose as an expansion club.)

Club (year founded) Year 1 Result Year 2 Result
Chivas USA (2005) 4-22-6, 18 pts; missed playoffs 10-9-13, 43 pts; lost in Conf. SF
Real Salt Lake (2005) 5-22-5, 20 pts; missed playoffs 10-13-9, 39 pts; missed playoffs
Toronto FC (2007) 6-17-7 25 pts; missed playoffs 9-13-8, 35 pts; missed playoffs
San Jose (2008) 8-13-9, 33 pts; missed playoffs 7-14-9, 30 pts; missed playoffs
Seattle (2009) 12-7-11, 47 pts; lost in Conf. SF 14-10-6, 48 pts; lost in Conf. SF
Philadelphia (2010) 8-15-7, 31 pts; missed playoffs 11-8-15, 48 pts; lost in Conf. SF
Portland (2011) 11-14-9, 42 pts; missed playoffs 8-16-10 34 pts; missed playoffs
Vancouver (2011) 6-18-10, 28 pts; missed playoffs 11-13-10, 43 pts; lost in Conf. SF
Montreal (2012) 12-16-6, 42 pts; missed playoffs ?

The analysis: Six of the eight expansion sides improved their point totals between years 1 and 2. The most impressive jump forward was pulled off by Chivas USA, who nearly tripled their point total in Year 2.

Only one of the eight — the Seattle Sounders — made the playoffs in their inaugural season. Four reached the postseason in Year 2. None made it past the Conference Semifinals, but, hey, baby steps.

So what would I tell the Montreal coaches, players, and fans? Slip into your cool, new Impact jersey and wear it with optimism: History says you’ve got a pretty decent chance of getting into the playoffs.

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