MLS Table Talk (Week 23) - I Coulda Been a Contender
Lots of Top O' the Table clashes and playoff battles this week, but in the end, the only positional changes are Colorado and Chicago swapping places, though that does alter the playoff picture. United has managed to open up a bit of a gap over the other Supporters' Shield contenders, who now cluster in a three-point huddle in spots 2 through 5, but they face potential derailment through continued fixture congestion when Copa Sudamericana rolls around. The three "C's" - Chicago, Columbus, and Colorado - are closing on the Red Bulls and Wizards, who continue to cling to the 6 and 7 spots respectively. At the bottom, RSL and LA should soon bypass a TFC side in freefall down the table.
The points per game table has started to spread out a bit, with DC clearly in the lead at 1.92, trailed by Chivas at 1.82, and the other three major contenders, New England, Dallas, and Houston, packed in around 1.7 points per game. Strung out behind them are the Bulls at 1.5 and the Wiz just around 1.4, while Osorio's Fire have moved out ahead of the other battlers for the final playoff spot at 1.26 versus the Crew and Rapids at 1.17. Down in the murky depths, TFC, RSL, and LA are all sub-0.9 points per game.
Offensively, DC United are far and away the class of the league, with their 1.92 goals per game far outpacing the nearest contender in the Revs 1.63 per game. The Dynamo's once unassailable position as the defensive Scrooges of the league is now under threat from Chivas, as the Goats have crept beneath the one goal-per-game barrier once again. Continuing to set the pace for futility in front of net are TFC, whose paltry 0.78 goals per game makes them the only MLS franchise scoring less than a goal per outing. If you want to see goals of course, you need to head out to catch the Gals, who are letting them in at a ferocious 1.7 per-game clip.
With most of the league only having a half-dozen games remaining, parity's ugly noggin is on full display through the fact that we don't yet have any playoff spots confirmed, nor has any team yet been eliminated from playoff contention. Realistically, the top six are all but guaranteed of their spots, with United's "magic" qualification number being down to just a single point. At the other end, the bottom three have some serious mountains to climb if they are expecting to realize any playoff ambitions. We only have a little over a month to go until the playoffs start, and nothing is yet set in stone. Competition really is a good thing.