MLS Table Talk - Vive La Parité!
Six games to play and still no definite answers--vive la parité! Let's do a quick rundown of the table thus far. New England pulls back two points on Columbus, closing the gap to three points at the top. Chicago and Houston both fumble their chances to make up ground and will be hoping for further stumbles from the Crew to let them back into the chase. And yet, those two have to keep an eye on the rear as well as Osorio's black magic has the Bulls closing on respectability in 5th.
United is being inexorably drawn into the street fight for the final playoff spots, but still hold a small advantage over a Gordian Knot of clubs waiting for just one or two to declare their intentions with a sparkling run of victories. At the moment, San Jose and RSL look the most likely, but KC have been shuffling their pack in an attempt to haul in United. Three points off the pace lie Dallas, while TFC, who are level with Dallas on points, are six points out, owing to their conference affiliation. And trailing everybody, drowning in their own incompetence and suffering the continued lashings of poor decisions past, lie the moribund Galaxy, alone in last.
Those self-same Galaxy still top the goal scoring charts at 1.83 per game, but it's only a matter of time before the Crew (currently at 1.71) overhaul them. By virtue of that respectable goal tally and a solid, if unspectacular, defense, the Crew have taken the lead in the goal difference sweepstakes, their +11 narrowly edging out long-time leaders Chicago at +10. KC and TFC, at -7 and -8 respectively, haunt the opposite end of the spectrum and also boast scoring averages (1.08 and 1.04 per game) that continue to threaten the improving Quakes, who still "lead" the league at 1.00.
When it comes to defense, worst and first are easy to find. LA's terrifying 2.04 goals suffered per game is well above the nearest challengers, DC United (1.58) and the wounded Goats (1.54). At the other end, Chicago continues to dominate at 0.83 goals against per game, despite taking two at the weekend. Any real challengers? Not unless you consider the Quakes and Quakes Sr. (Houston), both of whom boast impressive 1.17 marks.
So that's about it for the Table Talkin' this week. Anything else catch your fancy? With 18 points still on the table, every team is still theoretically within striking distance of everybody else at the party--a testament to the Power of Parity. Realistically though, we've pretty much got five teams that have virtually guaranteed their spots in the post-season, barring a tremendous collapse. That leaves three spots on the table. Three spots that could go to any of the remaining teams given a decent run-in.