Erik Hurtado and Johnny Russell - Sporting Kansas City - October 11, 2020
Sporting Kansas City

Sporting Kansas City most improved team in 2020; Atlanta United FC with biggest dropoff

The 2020 MLS season has been nothing but unpredictable. While everyone has had to adapt to (more or less) the same conditions and get used to an ever-changing schedule, some clubs have taken it in stride better than others.

Of course, there will always be some change in points per game from season to season and this year saw clubs playing the same few teams over and over again, but let's take a look at who improved the most and who took a big hit in 2020.

Team PPG difference from 2019-2020
SKC +.74
ORL +.69
CLB +.66
TOR +.44
PHI +.42
COL +.32
POR +.26
VAN +.17
DAL +.14
SEA +.12
NE +.07
MIN +.06
SJ +.01
CIN -.01
RBNY -.02
MTL -.08
NYC -.18
CHI -.24
HOU -.27
LA -.50
DC -.56
RSL -.56
LAFC -.67
ATL -.75

At the top of the list, there are three that stand out from the others as making the most improvement from 2019 to 2020: Sporting Kansas City, Orlando City SC, and the Columbus Crew SC.

Sporting started 2019 with a deep run in Concacaf Champions League and a 2-1-3 record in the MLS regular season (including a 7-1 victory over the Montreal Impact). But after that, things went south for Peter Vermes' side and they finished at the bottom of the Western Conference in 11th place with 1.12 ppg. This year, Sporting started strong and stayed consistent to finish first in the West with 1.86 ppg.

Orlando was in a similar situation, finishing 11th in the East last season with 1.09 ppg and finishing this year in 4th place with 1.78 ppg. They've not only earned their first trip to the playoffs since joining MLS in 2014, but secured home-field advantage. 

Columbus also missed the playoffs last year, finishing in 10th place with 1.12 ppg. In 2020, the Crew SC were a formidable foe, allowing the second-fewest goals in MLS and wrapping up the season in 3rd place with 1.78 ppg.

At the bottom of the table are two names that no one would have expected to see in the "biggest drop" category — LAFC and Atlanta United. In 2019, LAFC won the Supporters' Shield and set an MLS record of most points in a single season with 72 points (2.12 ppg). Diego Rossi still finished the season with a 2020 Golden Boot presented by Audi win for 14 goals in 19 games and LAFC made the playoffs in 7th place with 1.45 ppg, but it was not as successful of a regular season as Bob Bradley might have wanted (or expected).

Things started going south for Atlanta with the loss of Josef Martinez due to a season-ending injury and then a disastrous MLS is Back Tournament and the Five Stripes just never recovered. After finishing 2019 in 2nd place with 1.71 ppg, Atlanta United were eliminated from the playoffs in 2020 and dropped to 12th place with 0.96 ppg.