MLS Table Talk (Week 20) - Narrowing of the Gaps
The story of the table this week is the narrowing of two gap. The field is beginning to gain on the lead trio just as the race for the final playoff spots begins to heat up. At the top, the Revs continue their reign as kings of the hill, trailed by the Texas duo, but United, the Red Bulls, and Chivas are all creeping into contention for the crown. This becomes even more evident in the points-per-game table, which has four teams piled into the 1.65-1.71 range behind the Revs (1.77 ppg) and DC United (1.74 ppg). The hunt is on for the Supporters' Shield!
At the other end of the playoff picture, the Wizards and Crew are sliding back towards the Rapids and Fire, who are starting to heat up at the right time to make a serious run. Though Toronto are ostensibly still in the picture based upon points and table position, it's hard to see them recovering from their current run of form to mount a serious challenge. Likewise, while Beckham has raised the level of play for LA, they are busy squandering games in hand and could find themselves well and truly out of the playoffs in the next couple of weeks unless they start finding points in tasty bunches of three.
The scoring mojo is now firmly with DC United, who lead the field with 1.68 goals per game as their Brazilian duo becomes more influential, while RSL continue their miserable search for the net at a paltry 0.78 goals per game. At the other end, nobody can challenge the Dynamo's downright miserly 0.68 goals allowed per game. TFC can only dream of that kind of defensive record as they're surrendering at a rate of 1.62 goals per game and it only seems to be getting worse.
Much has been made of this being the best MLS regular season yet. The added bonuses of international tourney qualification and the instant impact of the DP's has only served to add spice to an already exciting dish. Many - including yours truly - looked at the field in pre-season and found the rest wanting behind the favorites out of DC and Houston, but so far, fully half of the field seems to still have their eyes on the regular season crown. At the other end of the table, only RSL are really out of the playoff picture, though TFC and LA are showing every sign of joining them soon.