MLS Table Talk - Of Planets and Modernist Ennui
At long last, the planets have aligned in the heavens and the entire league has played the same number of games, obviating the need for that oh-so tedious points-per-game discussion. We've got a clear look at where things stand without notional results and imaginary runs of form. So how do things shape up as we round the bend into the 9-game home stretch?
The Revs and Crew are in a dead heat at the head of the pack. In an intriguing twist tossed up by the MLS Scheduling Gnomes in their dank basement lair, the leaders will face each other twice before the post-season. The Fire are within striking distance, just two points back, while Houston are 5 points behind in the race for the Supporters' Shield, but, importantly, they hold a similar 5 point lead atop the Western Conference.
DC United and the Red Bulls, who face each other this weekend, are tied for 4th in the East and 5th overall, with United eking ahead on goal difference (head to head they've played twice with each winning once 4-1). Since a maximum of five teams will make it in from the East (and who honestly thinks a fourth team from the West even stands a chance?), the 5 point gap between DC/NY and TFC/KC (acronym soup!) is the playoff Maginot Line.
RSL and Dallas hold the 2 and 3 spots in the West, and thus the final playoff spots--3 and 2 points, respectively, ahead of the Gals, Goats, and Rapids (no more Clavi-holes, I'm afraid). And down on the bottom, the Quakes are eking their way back into the picture, currently just two points behind.
Offensively, the Galaxy's recent star-power-less drought sees them dip below the 2 goal mark at 1.9 goals per game, a lead that's under threat from DC United at 1.71. San Jose are still, predictably, the least prolific scorers, at 0.9. But their recent offensive output sees them closing on both the goal-per-game mark and on Eastern Conference minnows TFC and KC at 1.05.
At the other end, Chicago has driven the bar even lower, now boasting just 0.76 goals against per game. The closest challengers are nowhere near that mark, but who they are might be surprising. The West-leading Dynamo boast a 1.19 average, but so do (duh-duh-duh-DUHNN!) the MLS-worst San Jose Earthquakes! If anything suggests a possible playoff run for Yallop and the Quakes 2.0, it's that excellent defensive record.
So that's my take on the table for this week. Anything I seem to have missed? Anything else catch your eye? Suprise you? Shock you? Leave you yawning and filled with a finely-developed sense of modernist ennui?