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.