History repeating: The worst expansion-team seasons ever in MLS
Minnesota United quickly set an MLS record, but it was one for futility.
No team in league history had ever allowed five goals or more in two consecutive games. Minnesota managed to give up 11 in the first two games of the season. It has many asking whether United will be one of the worst teams in MLS history.
Well, there are plenty of bad teams littered across the history of the league, and many of them are expansion teams in their first seasons. It isn’t easy pulling a team together and getting it ready to compete, even if you have a history in NASL or USL.
Here are six of the worst starts in MLS expansion history:
Chivas USA – 2005
It can’t upstage the two-game start for Minnesota United, but Chivas certainly did its best to show it wasn’t ready for MLS.
The now-defunct franchise started its inaugural season with a 1-8-1 record in its first 10 games, with its first win coming in its sixth game. Chivas was outscored 23-9 in those first 10 games, and wouldn’t pick up a second win until the 18th game of the season. Chivas finished tied for the second-fewest wins in MLS history (4), surpassed only by 2013 D.C. United. The final record: 4-22-6, including 11 home losses, second-most in MLS history.
The win percentage was tied for third-worst in league history and, like Minnesota, there were defensive problems – Chivas allowed 2.09 goals per game, fourth-worst in league history.
Philadelphia Union – 2010
Philadelphia was actually respectable in its inaugural season, finishing above D.C. United in the standings in the East in 2010. The start, though, wasn’t spectacular.
The Union collected just seven points in the first 10 games of the season, better only than Chivas USA’s four points. The first six games brought just one win, and the team was outscored 21-11 through those first 10 games. The biggest problem that season was scoring goals, with just 35 for in 30 games.
The Union rounded into form by the end of the season, however, going 4-4-2 in the final 10 games of the season. It wasn’t a great year, but it was slowed especially by the poor start.
Vancouver Whitecaps – 2011
The Whitecaps struggled badly out of the gates, matching the first Chivas team with just one win in its first 10 games.
Vancouver, though, had a much better balance over the course of the season. After winning its opening game in MLS, Vancouver wouldn’t pick up three points again until the 16th match of the season. The Whitecaps would go on to win four more, finishing last in the West that year.
The 1-4-5 record and eight points in the first 10 games was nothing to boast about. Vancouver would also finish with a .147 win percentage on the road that year, going 0-12-5 away from home.
Toronto FC – 2007
Toronto’s welcome to MLS wasn’t kind: four straight losses by a combined 10-0 score.
If Minnesota’s back line is the big problem, Toronto’s ability to find the back of the net was just as bad, and perhaps worse. Toronto would go on to win three of its first 10 games and collected 10 points in those games, but the overall season wouldn’t get much better.
Toronto finished with just six wins and 25 points in its expansion season. Even more ghastly: it managed just 25 goals scored all year, a mark that is fourth-worst in MLS history. The 2007 team was shut out in 15 of its 30 games that season, fourth-most in MLS history.
Montreal Impact – 2012
The Impact had one of the worst early stretches in expansion history.
Montreal did not manage a victory until the sixth game of the season, but a pair of wins in Week 9 and Week 10 would give the Impact a 3-5-2 record in the first 10 games of the season. It was a respectable start, but the 0-4-1 start to the season featured three shutout losses and plenty of misery for the expansion side.
Things would get better late in the year. Montreal won five consecutive games from July 28-August 25 that year, pulling all the way up to seventh place in the East that season, one of the best finishes for an expansion team in league history.
The 42-point performance was behind the likes of Seattle and Orlando in the modern MLS era, but it could have been even better if not for the sputtering start to the campaign. If Minnesota wants hope that a bad start doesn’t mean an awful finish, Montreal is the best example out there.
Real Salt Lake – 2005
Real Salt Lake opened its MLS campaign with three wins and two ties in its first 10 games, a respectable tally compared to the aforementioned expansion teams. The problems in those games were glaring, though, and it would lead to one of the worst seasons in MLS history.
Like Chivas, RSL struggled defensively. It allowed 65 goals that season, just two fewer than its expansion counterpart, and RSL would finish only two points above Chivas USA in the standings.
RSL’s .234 win percentage in 2005 is good for fifth-worst in MLS history. After winning three of its first 10 games, it would manage just two more wins for the rest of the year, back-to-back victories in late July and early August. There were losing streaks of five and 10 games during the year, with only a few draws sprinkled in to provide some hope. Also like Chivas USA, RSL struggled on the road, going 0-14-2.
Paul Tenorio is a reporter for FourFourTwo. Follow him on Twitter @PaulTenorio.