Look away, Atlanta United fans. LA Galaxy supporters, too.
Your home stadiums didn’t quite make the cut when it comes to the “Toughest Road Trips in MLS.”
I've been to every MLS stadium except for San Jose’s Avaya Stadium and the two new expansion cities (Atlanta and Minnesota). But I’ve disqualified Atlanta – though the MLS newbies have been good at Bobby Dodd (6W-2L-0D) – because the club is approaching a move to Mercedes-Benz Stadium (and my money is on Atlanta going on a serious run in September when it settles into its new digs).
As for the Galaxy, who were once a shoo-in for a compilation like this one, they have been abysmal at StubHub Center (1W-5L-3D) this season, collecting a single win.
Strangely enough, LA's slump comes at a time when home-field advantage has never been more pronounced. Eastern Conference teams have combined for a 62W-21L-18D record at home this season. In other terms, they've collected 67 percent of available points – the highest “home winning percentage” in MLS history.
Meanwhile, Western Conference sides have been slightly less dominant at home, combining for a 55W-23L-28D record (61 percent of available points).
Last month, the Armchair Analyst Matt Doyle mentioned in-stadium atmosphere as one of the many reasons why MLS teams have been so dominant at home. That's one of several factors that go into the ranking below:
No. 10 BBVA Compass Stadium (Houston Dynamo)
Home Record Since 2015: 22W-9L-13D
The Skinny: Steering clear of Houston’s home ground between June and August is viewed as good fortune for MLS sides lucky enough to avoid game time temperatures in excess of 90 degrees Fahrenheit. Take it from someone who visited Manaus and Fortaleza throughout the 2014 World Cup: The conditions in South Texas are every bit as challenging as some of the most-talked about venues in Brazil.
No. 9 Yankee Stadium (New York City FC)
Home Record Since 2015: 20W-11L-12D
The Skinny: It's well-documented that Yankee Stadium, which is shared with the Major League Baseball club, presents visiting teams with the tightest confines in the league at 110-yards-long by 70-yards-wide. Initial reports pondered whether the tight dimensions hurt NYCFC's possession-oriented style. Two years later, the Bronx Blues have lost just two league games at home since last May.
No. 8 Gillette Stadium (New England Revolution)
Home Record Since 2015: 23W-8L-8D
The Skinny: Imagine if the Revs were half-decent on the road. Most MLS players and coaches agree: Traveling to Foxborough is among the most difficult tasks in the league. Visiting teams not only have an additional hour — or more — drive from Boston Logan International Airport to the all-purpose stadium, but they also have to adjust to the new playing surface that was recently installed and which gives the Revs a decided edge.
No. 7 Children's Mercy Park (Sporting Kansas City)
Home Record Since 2015: 26W-6L-12D
The Skinny: The energy inside Children’s Mercy Park is the same as it was back in 2011, when Sporting KC opened one of the league’s top venues. It’s as if fans in Kansas City support every week with an appreciation for the then and now. They are on top of visiting sides from start to finish and Sporting’s players seem to feed off the capacity crowds. You get the sense SKC's players feel invincible inside their venue.
No. 6 BMO Field (Toronto FC)
Home Record Since 2015: 26W-8L-9D
The Skinny: Watch back at last month’s Canadian Championship and you’ll see a club that truly feeds off its audience. Those who took in last year’s Eastern Conference playoffs understand BMO Field provides one of the most raucous atmospheres in MLS.
Come the fall, the stadium — located steps away from Lake Ontario — presents the harshest cold-weather conditions in the league, with wind-chills plummeting and strong gusts making it extremely difficult for opposing teams that aren’t used to playing into strong gusts blowing through BMO’s open-air south stand. Toronto FC’s goal was to improve its home form this season. So far, the Reds are unbeaten in the Big Smoke.
No. 5 CenturyLink Field (Seattle Sounders)
Home Record Since 2015: 25W-10L-7D
The Skinny: A visit to CenturyLink Field also means facing the 40,000 strong who turn up — rain or shine — and refuse to sit for the duration of a two-hour Sounders match. It’s an atmosphere unlike any other in Major League Soccer — the envy of many onlookers worldwide. With that kind of support coupled with a playing surface that takes getting used to for visitors, the Sounders are always favored to win at home.
No. 4 Providence Park (Portland Timbers)
Home Record Since 2015: 25W-7L-12D
The Skinny: Home to the Timbers Army, the best and most organized supporters’ group in the league, Portland’s home venue has been a death trap for visiting teams since 2015.
First, Caleb Porter’s side is built to play at a blistering pace that’s enabled by the field surface at Providence Park. Then the record sellout streak that eclipsed 100 games last season, has regularly produced an atmosphere I’d argue is far and away the most rowdy in the league. If there’s an MLS venue where the opposition is going to get lost in the theater of it all, it’s Providence Park.
No. 3 Red Bull Arena (New York Red Bulls)
Home Record Since 2015: 30W-7L-6D
The Skinny: The Reds Bulls are one of two sides to have won at least 30 times at home since the start of 2015, making Red Bull Arena one of the most difficult venues to travel to in MLS. There's nothing quirky about the pitch or the venue. New Jersey's climate doesn't complicate things.
Rather, Red Bull Arena traps sound better than any other stadium in the league. I recall being startled one night during the national anthem when Red Bull supporters yelled "Red!" in unison. This is another home ground where it feels like supporters are sucking the ball into the net.
No. 2 Orlando City Stadium (Orlando City)
Home Record in 2017: 6W-2L-3D
The Skinny: The Lions may or may not be a playoff team this season. Either way, Orlando City Stadium is gaining a reputation as one of the most hostile grounds in Major League Soccer. It’s one of the few — maybe the only — venue in MLS that combines climate and audience.
Similar to matches played in Houston and Dallas, summer humidity in Florida verges on unbearable. Floridians don’t care. Orlando City fans have been packing their new stadium to the brim and producing one of the most rambunctious environments in MLS. It’s quite the contrast for clubs in the extreme northeast and northwest, where spring and late summer temperatures are pleasant.
No. 1 Toyota Stadium (FC Dallas)
Home Record Since 2015: 31W-4L-9D
The Skinny: You don’t want to go to Dallas in need of a win. Heck, most teams would just prefer to avoid this fixture altogether seeing as FC Dallas has lost just four regular season games at Toyota Stadium since the start of 2015.
Dallas’ success can be attributed to more than just having one of the most complete rosters in the league. FC Dallas’ location gives it an advantage in that most teams spend approximately 3-4 hours on a plane just to get there. Add in the staggering heat during the summer months and visiting teams are completely wiped before stepping on the field.
Kurt Larson is an MLSsoccer.com contributor who covers Toronto FC for the Toronto Sun and the Canadian national teams for Postmedia.