With J Hutcherson -- Two nationally available games on Saturday, with Chivas USA traveling to Houston at 4pm on Telefutura and Los Angeles hosting Real Salt Lake on Fox Soccer Channel at 10:30pm ET. Of the two, it's the second game giving us a first vs second match-up in the Western Conference.
Like last season, it's the Western Conference that's the quality barometer for the League. The Los Angeles Galaxy are currently the best team in the West, starting the season with three wins. RSL trail them by five points, heading a group of teams with two wins, a draw and a loss.That's also where you find Houston (5th), the last team in the four points group and the only one with a negative goal differential. Chivas USA is 6th with three points from three games. Though it sounds like overstatement so early in the season, that one point difference looms large for a club that has managed to disappoint even when winning.
I'm still of the opinion that Chivas USA has a better team with their current squad than the one that's been taking the field and trying to apply coach Martin Vasquez's tactics in game situations. Something isn't there, and I'm willing to give the coaching staff the benefit of the doubt by adding 'yet.'
Chivas USA lacks the glaring need for a rebuild that is the Houston Dynamo midfield. Unlike Houston, they're also not missing their primary scoring threat. Robertson Stadium does a good job in canceling out the obvious advantages for the visiting team, but this is an opportunity for Chivas USA.
Simply put, it's a chance to prove they belong in the top half of the Western Conference table when the standings begin to shake out.
Back at the top of the table, there needs to be a better reason than a hunch to pick against the Galaxy home or away. Edson Buddle is on demolishing form and the rest of the Galaxy regulars are supporting each other in a way that only no goals allowed with five scored shows.
Perhaps… perhaps, there's a criticism that an attack flowing through one player eventually becomes a problem. Other teams target Buddle, and there's nobody to pick up the Galaxy offense. That completely ignores Landon Donovan, the Galaxy forward already getting that attention and freeing up Buddle as the League's current strongest scoring threat.
Moving on, it's easy enough to point to the difference in the number of home games and reasonable arena sizes when explaining why Major League Soccer's average attendance is higher than the National Basketball Association and National Hockey Leagues. At the same time, the real indicator will always be attendance plus television ratings. It's there that things start looking fine for the arena leagues at the expense of MLS.
That said, there's another indicator that might end up working in MLS's favor. Per market, there are teams in both those leagues and Major League Baseball that MLS could end up legitimately outdrawing across attendance and TV ratings.
In markets like Toronto and even Kansas City, there's also the very pertinent question for what those teams could do with their attendance in bigger buildings. To the League's credit, this story is about more than just Seattle and pushing one club's regular season attendance numbers over 30k.
Comments, questions, solutions to problems that have yet to present themselves. Please, tell me all about it.