MLS Table Talk - A Sure Sign of Parity-Pox
It's that time again--time to confront the almighty train-wreck that is the Major League Soccer table. Rather than stratifying as the season progresses, the dreaded specter of parity seems to be condensing everything into a giant ectoplasmic ooze. While it's true that 13 points separate first from worst, it's also true that no team has more than a three point lead over the team directly beneath them.
Points per game are starting to even out, so let's just take a look at the actual points to figure out the layers of our compressed cake. The Crew take over the top spot, but the Revs and Fire are just a point and two points behind, respectively. That lead trio maintains a three point gap but is being pulled back toward the rest of the pack. Houston, DC, New York, and RSL have their own little cluster in the 27 to 29 point range, just two points ahead of the six-way fight for the final playoff spot amongst teams with between 23 and 25 points. Bringing up the rear, but closing rapidly, are the Quakes at 21 points. No Derby County-types in Parity Central!
Despite losing, the Fire's massive edge in goal differential increased, with their +11 holding an 8-goal margin over Houston and Columbus at +3. In a race as close as this one, the Fire are holding a pair of deadly aces at this point (goal differential and their dominance of the season series with the Revs). On the negative side, the Quakes 4-0 victory pushes them up to -6, a mark that ties them with the Wiz. The Canucks are challenging as well at -5.
Despite being third-from-bottom, the Galaxy still maintain a 2 goals per game average, with DC the closest challenger at 1.68. But the Gals can't keep them out either, to the tune of 2.10 against, a figure that again mocks all challengers--once again United tiptoeing shamefully into the number two spot at 1.68.
Defensively, the Fire's number keeps creeping upward, but they're still below the goal-per-game threshold at 0.8. Despite shipping three this weekend, the Dynamo are #2 at 1.16 against. Merit awards for offensive futility continue to hang like dead albatrosses around the necks of San Jose (0.95), TFC (1.05), and KC (1.05), though the Quakes recent goal-explosion sees them closing in on the goal-per-game mark.
So that's the state o' the scrum for this week. Anything else jump out at you from the figures? I'm thinking particularly of the fact that 10 of the 14 teams have a goal differential between +3 and -3--another sure sign of the Parity-Pox. What do you see in there that either makes you scratch your head or causes the lightbulb to ding above your suddenly-enlightened noggin? Weigh in with your comments below.