Caleb Porter - Portland Timbers - May 15, 2016

It's been a rough start to the season for last year's MLS Cup finalists.


After last year's final on December 6, 2015, at MAPFRE Stadium, the Portland Timbers and Columbus Crew SC made very few changes to their squads in the offseason, hoping that continuity would lead them back to another MLS Cup final. So far, it doesn't look good for either the Timbers or Crew SC.


After 12 games, the Timbers have collected just 12 points, placing them ninth in the highly competitive Western Conference. Their average of one point per game is a whole .54 points behind the sixth-placed team in the West, the Vancouver Whitecaps.


Crew SC have had an equally rough start to the season. They have 10 points through 10 games and, like the Timbers, they sit ninth in their conference. Luckily for them, the East does not appear as tough as the West, with the sixth-placed team averaging just 1.08 points per game.


But are these the worst starts ever by MLS Cup finalists?


Going back to the 1999 MLS Cup, there have been four MLS Cup winners that have gotten off to worse starts than Portland, while just one MLS Cup runner-up has had a worse start than Columbus. For the purposes of this article, we are only going back to the 2000 season, so we do not have to wrestle with the problems the shootout represented in terms of point totals.


Surprisingly, three of the four MLS Cup winners that have had worse starts than Portland have been LA Galaxy teams. The 2006 version collected just seven points in their first 12 games, tied for the fewest with the 2000 D.C. United team, while the 2003 and 2012 squads collected just 11 points out of a possible 36.


The 2009 New York Red Bulls were the only MLS Cup runners-up to collect fewer points than Columbus in their first 10 games; they accrued just nine points in 2010.


MLS Cup winners after 12 games in following season

Year
Team
Points
2000
D.C. United
7
2001
Kansas City Wizards
16
2002
San Jose Earthquakes
23
2003
LA Galaxy
11
2004
San Jose Earthquakes
17
2005
D.C. United
16
2006
LA Galaxy
7
2007
Houston Dynamo
19
2008
Houston Dynamo
17
2009
Columbus Crew
16
2010
Real Salt Lake
23
2011
Colorado Rapids
17
2012
LA Galaxy
11
2013
LA Galaxy
20
2014
Sporting Kansas City
18
2015
LA Galaxy
14
2016
Portland Timbers
12

MLS Cup runners-up after 10 games in following season

Year
Team
Points
2000
LA Galaxy
20
2001
Chicago Fire
17
2002
LA Galaxy
14
2003
New England Revolution
15
2004
Chicago Fire
16
2005
Kansas City Wizards
16
2006
New England Revolution
12
2007
New England Revolution
18
2008
New England Revolution
19
2009
New York Red Bulls
9
2010
LA Galaxy
26
2011
FC Dallas
17
2012
Houston Dynamo
13
2013
Houston Dynamo
20
2014
Real Salt Lake
20
2015
New England Revolution
18
2016
Columbus Crew SC
10