MLS Table Talk (Week 12) - When Fixture Congestion Attacks!

Houston and Columbus take full advantage of two games in a week to make dramatic surges up the table, though the Crew's Lazarus-like rise from second bottom to a playoff spot probably says more about MLS's "everybody gets in" playoff model than it does about their true quality. While Dallas continues to sit atop the standings, they have played more games than anybody else and are somehow still managing to get by with that glaring negative goal differential.

A few notes here on ranking. Did you know that MLS, like La Liga, uses head-to-head as the first tie-breaker? Me neither - check out the full rules here. That's why DC is ahead of Chivas despite Chivas' better goal differential. Also, the Crew ranking ahead of the Rapids is down to goals scored as they haven't played each other yet and have identical goal differentials.

Taking a look at the per game stats, the Revs and Red Bulls would be one-two in the table, with both also sporting the top offenses, managing to put in two goals per game. Only RSL is managing less than a goal per game, as befits their bottom of the heap status, while Toronto's lowly ranking is accentuated by their suffering 1.75 goals against per game. Ouch!

For the first time this season, gaps are starting to appear in the table with the top five in the lead group followed by six clubs within 4 points of each other. The Galaxy and RSL are adrift at the bottom, but the Galaxy have games in hand on everyone owing to their back-loaded "Beckhamania" tour dates. Probably more interesting is the big divide in points per game between the top seven (1.83-1.55 ppg) and the rest of the league (1.17-0.75 ppg). If that trend continues, you can pencil in 7 of the 8 playoff teams and the other 6 will duke it out for that final spot.

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