Armchair Analyst: The Magic Unicorn returns and more from Week 13

Here we stand, Memorial Day upon us (in the United States) and June just hours away. This is "mid-season", not "early season" anymore. You are what your record and what your goal differential say you are.

And in the MLS Eastern Conference, three of the six teams above the red line sport a negative goal differential. Only one of the five teams below the line in the East can say the same.

This is wild and inexplicable and very much a feature of MLS, not a bug. Parity has always been and still is the defining trait of this league, and the occasional 4-0 drubbing can/does/will have an outsize effect on any team's goal differential, especially when compared to other leagues around the world.

It's not as pronounced in the Western Conference, where just one playoff team has a negative goal differential. At the same time, though, with over a third of the season gone nobody out West nobody has a positive goal differential greater than +6. So nobody on the left of the Mississippi is running away from the pack or is in danger of breaking new ground for margin of victory.

This is not unprecedented. Back in 2010 nobody in the East went better than +9 for the season, and in 2004 literally nobody in the entire league was better than +8. New England won the East with a dead even goal differential in 2002. Even the great, double-winning Columbus Crew SC team of 2008 was only +10.

What might become unprecedented, though, is what Toronto FC are doing. Through 14 games they are +14, and I'll leave you to figure out what that puts them on track for across the full, 34-game regular season (math is hard but I'll bet you can do it). And I'll point out that the single season +/- record is +41 by the 1998 LA Galaxy. In the post-shootout era, the record is +32 by the 2014 Galaxy.

Onto the week that was:


In Bloom

The best part of the New York Red Bulls' 2-1 win over the visiting New England Revolution wasn't the scoreline. It wasn't that they came back from a deficit with a sterling second half, and it wasn't that they got another highlight-reel finish from Bradley Wright-Phillips (who can only score when he's facing away from goal now). It wasn't Daniel Royer's tap-in.

It was the play of Sean Davis, who had his finest game of the year both as an individual, but also in terms of how he moved the ball and was an effective cog in the previously sputtering RBNY system.

Davis had struggled this year – there's a reason he came into the season as a starter but has spent most of the spring eating DNP-CDs. And the shocking thing about his struggles was that, at their core, they were about his inability to complete the quick, incisive, meaningful passes he'd excelled at in 2016.

That changed against the Revs (volume up for analysis):

This was the second meeting of the year between these two teams, and both were played at something approaching playoff-caliber intensity.

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