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MLS Power Rankings: Western Conference shows strength early

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MLS Power Rankings: Western Conference shows strength early

Entering this Major League Soccer season, the Western Conference was supposed to be the stronger of the two conferences and that's already proving to be true.

In 11 matches that pitted the two conferences against each other, Western Conference clubs have earned six wins and three draws against just two losses. As a result, CSNChicago.com's newest MLS Power Rankings have Western Conference teams in the top four spots.

Most of the league took a week off for the international window this past weekend. Only three matches played on Saturday. MLS is back in action with nine matches on the schedule this upcoming weekend.

[MORE: Fire hope to be fresher after week off]

Previous rankings: March 15

 

Rank

(previous)

Team
Record Comment
1 (2) 3-0 Sporting Kansas City: Three wins against three 2015 playoff teams is a fantastic way to start the season. Brad Davis' game-winner against Toronto shows he could be a difference maker for a Sporting team that consistently contends.
(7) 1-0-2 Real Salt Lake: RSL won its only home match and has two road draws. That's a solid formula. Then add in that those two road draws featured first half red cards and it starts to look more impressive. One concern is that even though RSL was shorthanded, they did blow 2-0 leads late in both away games.
3 (6) 2-1 LA Galaxy: This might be an aggressive ranking for the Galaxy, which continue to look like last year's team. Dominant home wins, outscoring their opponents 7-2 in two home victories, and a lackluster road loss. If the Galaxy figure out how to play on the road, watch out because this team won't drop many points at home.
4 (10) 3-1 FC Dallas: Shutout victories against Montreal and at D.C. restored order for Dallas after that puzzling 5-0 loss at Houston. FCD now has three shutout wins, all by multiple goals. That game at Houston may go down as one of the weirdest results of 2016.
5 (1) 2-1 Montreal Impact: The Impact came back to earth a bit with a 2-0 loss at FC Dallas. Losing in Dallas is nothing to be ashamed of though and Didier Drogba made his season debut off the bench. Getting Drogba reintegrated should make the Impact even stronger.
6 (3) 1-1-1 Toronto FC: TFC suffered a tough 1-0 road loss in Kansas City, but just needs to stay afloat while they endure this season-opening road trip. Four points through three games is good enough. Toronto's home opener doesn't come until May 7, after eight road matches, due to renovations at BMO Field.
7 (11) 2-2 Vancouver Whitecaps: The Whitecaps got back on track with back-to-back wins at Seattle and against Houston. Picking up a shutout against Houston in a 1-0 victory was especially impressive because the Dynamo scored a league-leading 11 goals entering that match.
8 (4) 2-1 San Jose Earthquakes: Losing on the road to the Galaxy is expected, especially when going down a man like the Earthquakes did on March 19. Still, the Quakes look like an improved team from 2015 and Chris Wondolowski has three goals already.
(5) 1-1-1 Portland Timbers: The Timbers rallied from 2-0 down, while playing against 10 men, to get a home draw against Real Salt Lake. That's not the most inspiring result, but the comeback shows something about the team's confidence and spirit.
10 (13) 2-1 Philadelphia Union: The Union have been one of the surprises early in the season with back-to-back shutout victories in Columbus (2-0) and against New England (3-0). Not much was expected of this team, but the decisive results show the Union could be pushing for a playoff spot.
11 (16) 1-2 New York Red Bulls: The Red Bulls' offense exploded in a 4-3 win against Houston, which followed two shutout losses. Meanwhile, the defense is really struggling with eight goals against in three matches, the worst defensive record in the league.
12 (8) 1-2-1 Houston Dynamo: The Dynamo scored an unbelievable 11 goals through three matches. The problem? They only got four points from those three games. Then on Saturday, Vancouver clamped down on the Dynamo with a 1-0 win in Canada.
13 (15) 1-1-1 Colorado Rapids: The big news is the eventual acquisition of Tim Howard, who follows Jermaine Jones as a U.S. National Team player to sign. Defense wasn't an issue for the Rapids last year though and they've only given up two goals so far. Meanwhile, Colorado has just two goals in three matches.
14 (19) 1-0-2 Orlando City: The Lions improved on two home draws with a road win at New York City FC, courtesy of a Josh Saunders mistake in goal. That gave Orlando its first win of the season. Cyle Larin (3 goals) is on fire. Kaka is yet to play so things could get even better.
15 (14) 0-2-1 Columbus Crew: The scoreless draw in Bridgeview was a step in the right direction for the Crew, who dominated the play at Toyota Park. That draw at least got the Crew on the board with a point, but the team was noticeably sloppy. All that talent on offense has scored just one goal in three matches.
16 (12) 0-3 Seattle Sounders: Another one-goal defeat for the Sounders, this time a 2-1 loss to Vancouver at home. Jordan Morris hasn't exactly hit the ground running. Seattle is the only team in the league without a point. Any team with Clint Dempsey has a chance in MLS, but this team may have more problems than most expected.
17 (9) 1-1-2 New York City FC: After winning a thrilling 4-3 game at Toyota Park to open the season, NYCFC got just two points from the three home matches that followed. The 2-2 draw against Toronto showed promise, but NYC has just one goal in its last four hours of soccer.
18 (18) 0-1-2 Chicago Fire: The defense has shown improvement in each of the first three games, but the Fire are last in the league in possession. The offense was non-existent without David Accam against Columbus. The team may be improving, but it's happening slowly.
19 (17) 0-1-3 New England Revolution: The Revolution were a streaky team last season with both a six-match winning streak and a five-match losing streak. With that in mind, the winless start may just be a downturn before a hot streak comes. Or it could mean the Revs aren't that good this year.
20 (20) 0-2-2 D.C. United: D.C. was a bit fortunate to get a home draw against Colorado after a goalkeeper mistake from Zac MacMath allowed United a late equalizer. On Saturday FC Dallas gave no such reprieve and hammered United 3-0 at RFK. Two goals for, eight goals against in four matches. Ouch.

Chicago isn't hosting the 2026 World Cup, but fans should still be excited

Chicago isn't hosting the 2026 World Cup, but fans should still be excited

After failing to qualify to play in this summer’s World Cup, the United States’ pain was alleviated on Wednesday morning after earning a joint bid to host the 2026 World Cup.

But why is this bittersweet for Chicagoans?

Even though the World Cup will be hosted by the U.S., Mexico and Canada in eight years, matches will not be played in Chicago.

The city chose not to be one of the potential hosts of the world’s largest sporting event, despite using Soldier Field as a venue for the 1994 World Cup.

One of the reasons could be the low seating capacity of Chicago’s historic stadium. Soldier Field would be the second smallest spot out of any World Cup host option, seating only 61,500. The massive competition also draws enormous crowds, possibly causing logistical concerns for a highly-populated place like Chicago.

Ten out of 17 different cities in the United States will be gifted the opportunity to host 2026 World Cup games. The list includes Cincinnati (Paul Brown Stadium), Kansas City (Arrowhead Stadium) and Nashville (Nissan Stadium), which are the closest domestic locations to Chicago.

The bright side is that fans from the Midwest won’t have to travel very far to see a match. For bigtime soccer fans in the Chicago area, having the chance to attend world-class matches in United States could be exciting enough.

Out of the 80 games taking place in 2026, 60 of them will be located in the United States.

Can this bid with Mexico and Canada at least help the relevancy of U.S. Soccer in the Chicago area?

The U.S. men’s national team missed this year’s World Cup at a very unideal time, just when it seemed like the sport of soccer was gaining more and more popularity in the United States.

Plus, the United States might not even get an automatic bid to play in their own World Cup as hosts.

But becoming a member of the first trio in FIFA history to host the World Cup, coupled with the expanded 48-team field in 2026, could help the United States retain the fans they have across the nation and around Chicago.

The World Cup might not be coming to the Windy City, but Chicagoans will still have something to be excited about in 2026 with games being played right around the corner. If the U.S. can qualify for the upcoming World Cups, having the tournament in North America will be much sweeter.

Until then, the 2018 World Cup kicks off this Thursday night in Russia.

Ever wonder what a Portillo's soccer jersey would look like?

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@JTHAZZARD

Ever wonder what a Portillo's soccer jersey would look like?

Portillo's has become a staple in the Chicagoland area due to its popular hot dogs, Italian beef sandwiches and now, its soccer jerseys.

OK, maybe one of these does not belong with the others. Regardless, Twitter user @JTHazzard created mock-up soccer jerseys mashing MLS teams and restaurants based in that team's city, and the Portillo's jersey is sweet. 

From the Portillo's logo taking center-stage to the picnic blanket pattern to the discrete Chicago Fire logo, this jersey is absolutely brilliant. The only change this writer would make is including the logo below instead.

Valspar is the current sponsor featured on the Fire's uniforms. If the team ever needs a new sponsor, though, Portillo's would be an excellent replacement.