The Western Conference's dominance over the East is not a new development, but when the past weekend's results effectively put six West teams into playoff positions and gave us the first glimpse of possibility of just two East teams making the post-season, that dominance felt just a bit more glaring.
San Jose's 1-0 win against Los Angeles, coupled with Toronto FC's collapse against New York, allowed the Earthquakes to leapfrog TFC (and Colorado) into playoff position. It's a position they may not relinquish now that Brazilian playmaker Geovanni is in a San Jose uniform.
There is still plenty of soccer to be played, but East teams, with the Columbus Crew and New York Red Bulls, aren't exactly showing signs of being ready to make a run at the West playoff contenders. The Chicago Fire has multiple games in hand, but fell victim to its shaky defense yet again in a 4-3 loss to a Houston side that came in riding a ten-match winless streak.
New England fared no better. After winning consecutive games to put itself back on the fringes of playoff contention, the Revs dropped their second match in four days in a 4-1 thrashing against Kansas City, another East team with faint hopes of a playoff berth.
Can the East avoid the embarrassment of having just two teams in the playoffs? The Colorado Rapids are certainly leaving the door open, having won just once in their past ten matches and facing a brutal remaining schedule that includes five matches against the top four teams in MLS.
Toronto, Chicago and Kansas City (and even New England) could all conceivably catch the faltering Rapids, but it will take one of them finding some consistency and improving on the form they've shown for much of the year.
BRADLEY DISCUSSES ASTON VILLA
Bob Bradley has been asked questions about the Aston Villa job for nearly two weeks, and has repeatedly stated that such a job would be of interest to him. For that reason, it really shouldn't have come as a surprise to anybody when Bradley answered "Of course" when asked yet again if he would be interested in managing Villa.
Speaking to BBC Radio recently, Bradley said the same things he said before and after the U.S. national team's recent loss to Brazil. He would be interested in the Aston Villa job and he had his people look into the situation. Perhaps the fact he was speaking directly to the British media made it seem like some sort of revelation.
It is clear that Bradley wants to keep his options open while he and U.S. Soccer figure out whether they will have a future together beyond 2010, and there isn't a more appealing job available on the international coaching market than Aston Villa. Whether Bradley will be seriously considered or not is unclear (though a recent Yahoo Sports report suggested Bradley was not a serious contender), but what is clear is that Bradley's coaching future is anything but settled.
What do I see happening? I still see him staying as U.S. men's national team head coach, but it's a safe bet he would jump at the chance to manage Aston Villa if he were offered the job.
WHO IS CONOR DOYLE?
For some folks who read the most recent Americans Abroad update, seeing the name Conor Doyle might have left them scratching their heads. A relatively unknown American earning a start at forward in the English First Division is reason to take notice, but who exactly is Conor Doyle?
Doyle is an 18-year-old Dallas Texans product who finished high school early to attend Creighton University, but wound up skipping his college career to sign with Derby County after a training stint turned into a successful trial.
The "Call Him Up" crowd might want to slow down regarding Doyle. He was in Derby's starting lineup because the Rams had FIVE other forwards unavailable. That said, he is already making a good impression at Derby and is a player American fans will want to keep tabs on.