MLS Table Talk - A Gaping Wound in the Table
No, your eyes do not deceive you--that is a great big gaping wound in the middle of the playoff sides up there. KC is #6 in the table, but in anticipation, perhaps, of the West's mighty suckitude and the likelihood of the Los Angeles Beckhams (ahem! excuse me) . . . the Los Angeles Galaxy finishing 3rd in said pile of donkey pooh, MLS revamped the playoff rules (again) to allow the top three sides in each conference an automatic playoff bid. So the Wiz sit sixth in the table, yet still are on the outside looking in. Whatever.
So . . . how are things stacking up in the points per game table? Well, once again we're splitting into micro-packs. The Crew and Fire are running away at the top, followed by a rather tight knot of five (Revs, Red Bulls, TFC, KC, and FCD), a trio scrambling to catch the five (Rapids, Galaxy, RSL), the Dynamo making a solitary break from the cellar dwellers, and then the woeful triumvirate of United, Chivas, and the expansion Quakes.
As for goals, it's the Galaxy and the Crew (WTF? Yes, you read that right) banging in two a game, while only the Quakes 2.0 can't manage over a goal per game. Defensively, the problems still lie with the same trio--the LA sides lead the way at 2.14 shipped per game, while DC United is trying hard to catch them at a 2.0 per game leakage rate.
Goal differential is a bit of an indicator as well. While Columbus has impressively stalked out to the lead and boasts a +5 differential, it's the +10 for #2 Chicago that has to be an indicator of dominance. The Crew are deserved leaders, but they're doing it more with grit and a bit of luck. +10 for the Fire says that something is really going right for those guys. At the opposite end, it's last year's table toppers who are setting the low bar for futility. Chivas and DC United are both on -5. That's even worse than the new boys in San Jose at -4!
Big Picture? Well, I'd have to say that it's still a pretty open race in the middle. Even the sides on the bottom would still be challenging for playoff spots with a couple of positive results. Nobody has been cast adrift, and while the Crew and Fire are threatening to break away, it's still pretty early in the season to even be considering the Supporters' Shield. What stands out to me most is that impressive Chicago goal difference and the fact that 6 of the 7 sides in the East are ahead of every single Western Conference side.