MLS Table Talk (Week 22) - The Emperor's New Clothes
A new look this week for the eponymous table of Table Talk as Files HQ transitions to iWork '08 and Numbers in hopes of streamlining the tabulation and avoiding the sorts of errors that have plagued the previous system in the last month or so. Enough housekeeping - on to the drama! Not much change in the table positions this week as the top two and bottom two flip-flop, but all else toes the status quo.
The Red Bulls notch another win to at least keep a faint hope alive for the Supporters' Shield. Realistically, the Bulls and the Hoops are in danger of watching their Shield dreams go up in smoke, while Chivas cling to their games in hand as they press their own claim, hard on Houston's heels both in the combined table and in the Western Conference. At the wrong end of the playoff pack, the Wiz have just about been sucked back in to a four horse race for the final two spots, though a result or two may see them to safety. Bringing up the rear, the Gals games in hand have just about evaporated, much like their playoff dreams and Donovan's PK mojo.
The points per game table divides itself into four distinct strata, with the Wizards magically not falling into any of them. On top, DC, the Revs, and Chivas are all over 1.8 points per game, with DC leading the pack at 1.91. Next up come Houston, Dallas, and New York, the other three contenders for the top spot, all clustered around 1.6 points per game. Below them, the Rapids, Crew, and Fire are bunched up around 1.2 points per game, with the "Ambiguously Good" Wizards mystically hanging out in the breach, splitting the difference near 1.4. And huddled about the Blazing Trash Receptacle of Sorrow, warming their hands against the chill of being frozen out of the playoffs, are the sub-1.0's: TFC, RSL, and Lalas' Abomination (otherwise known as the LA Galaxy).
Where goals are concerned, there are clear leaders in putting them in and keeping them out. DC United must have been eating their goal-bran because they're scoring with extreme regularity - to the tune of 1.82 goals per game. Houston are still the stingiest "D" around, conceding at a rate of only 0.71. Bringing up the rear are the impotent Canucks at a miserable 0.82 goals per game, while we all know who's always getting scored on - the metaphorical mattress in a whorehouse if you will. I speak of course of the Gals, who are busy tipping the scales of futility by allowing 1.74 goals per game. It's appropriate that they play in the Home Depot Center, as the team seems to be filled with overpriced tools - and they've got the results to prove it.
We're into the home stretch now and it looks like it'll be going down to the wire all over the table. The Supporters' Shield is still up for grabs, the playoff picture is becoming increasingly muddy, and even the battle for draft picks at the bottom is in flux. The only thing missing to make the season run-in more perfect would be a relegation spot or two. Oh, how I'd love to see Lalas scramble to avoid the drop, but alas that glorious day will have to wait.