MLS Table Talk (Week 18) - Mining the Strata

The MLS table seems to have settled into a series of strata: Houston, Dallas, and the Revs on top; KC, DC, Chivas, Red Bull, and the Crew up next; Chicago, Toronto, and Colorado just off the bottom; and LA and RSL propping things up. The big winners this week were DC United, whose 3-0 hatchet job on Eastern Conference leaders New England sees them jump three places. With 2-3 games in hand on every side above them, United could make a serious surge if they can find some consistency and finishing.

The points per game table has some interesting stories to tell as well. For the first time in what must be months, Houston are no longer in the lead, as both the Revs and Dallas sport higher averages. Similarly, United and Chivas have a superior average to the Wizards side that sits just above them in the actual table. Also of interest to MLS HQ is the fact that LA would be sitting two spots higher if we were to rely on points per game. That's not particularly exciting news to a club that considers itself to be among the league elite, but it certainly makes for more positive reading than second from bottom and gives a little glimmer of hope that with a bit of a boost in results, they can make a real scrap of it for that final playoff spot.

On the goals front, New England and DC lead the pack, both averaging over 1.7 goals per game, while Colorado and RSL continue to set the pace for the goal-shy. Defensively, Houston are nearly untouchable with their outstanding 0.7 goals allowed per game, while Toronto and RSL are shipping a league-worst 1.53 goals allowed per game. Somewhat distressingly for the Wizards, they are not too far behind with 1.47 allowed. That total is certainly reflective of Onalfo's refreshing "damn the torpedoes" approach to the game.

So, Houston's current 3-game wobble has allowed others to catch them in the standings, while RSL and LA's recent (limited) success brings them within shouting distance of the playoff-wannabes above them. But the continuing story continues to be the great divide between the playoff and non-playoff teams, which hasn't changed for quite a few weeks now. Can any of those bottom five make a real play for a spot in the postseason? As we close in on the end of summer, time is beginning to run out.

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