MLS Table Talk (Week 17) - Goats on Parade
Let's do a little math exercise here, shall we? Okay, okay, class - settle down. I know math is a 4-letter word and all, but bear with me. New England sits atop the East with 30 points, while Toronto languishes on the bottom with 19 points. That makes a difference of, let's see...carry the one...ah, 11 points. 11 points separate top from bottom in a 7-team conference. Got that? Alright, let's try the same thing with the West where Houston are king of the mountain with 34 points, while RSL, who probably couldn't even float in their eponymous briny bathtub, sit mired on 9 points. That makes...hmm...34 minus 9...holy crap - 25 points! 25 points between top and bottom, versus 11 in the East. Yikes!
It's not just a reflection of the fact that Houston are great and RSL are so, so very bad. Take a look. The western six have 3 in the top 5, and yet also claim the bottom 3 places. The eastern seven form a solid block the middle of the table, with only KC and the Revs decapitated from the rest by Chivas, sitting in the five spot. So I guess the message is that parity is only the rule in the East this year?
Regardless, taking a look at the points-per-game numbers gives us the unsurprising results that Houston and New England are the class of the league, while RSL continues to limp along as everybody's least favorite, mole-infested, mustachioed, hunchbacked, butt-ugly stepsister. They've almost sunk to less than half a point per game. RSL - setting new lows on the MLS crapometer since 2005.
The Revs and Wizards continue to set the pace for scoring, averaging 1.82 and 1.78 goals-per-game respectively. On the flip side, Clavijo's Rapids seem intent on challenging Real Salt Lake's claim to offensive futility as their 0.89 goals-per-game nearly rivals RSL's paltry 0.81.
Houston continue to dominate defensively and remain the only MLS side allowing less than a goal per game at 0.68 allowed. Those are numbers that any team would envy, but particularly the likes of Toronto, who bleed 1.61 goals-per-game, and, inevitable, RSL, who once again set the benchmark for steaming piles of you-know-what, conceding at a 1.63 goals-against clip.
So, the playoff pack continues to be a packed bunch, with second and eight separated by only 6 points, while the gap between the haves and have-nots when it comes to playoff places remains in effect. Chicago will look to challenge the status quo however, as Osorio's men welcome new boys Blanco and Wanchope and look for Rolfe to return from a long stint on the trainer's table. Of course, the most interesting story to watch will be the Galaxy, who have a handful of games in hand on the rest of the field. It remains to be seen what effect Beckham will really have when he eventually strikes a ball in anger in MLS, but if he sparks his side like Blanco has done with the Fire, things could start to get really interesting in the playoff race.