MLS Table Talk - Watch Out For the Godzilla-Quakes!
Welcome back. So here we are with less than a quarter of the season to go, and still very little has been decided. Say what you will about the dreaded Parity Pox, but you've got to admit that it sure makes for a more entertaining spectacle than a league where you know that one of 4-5 teams is going to win the league, and do so in relative comfort compared to the rest of the field. Certainly, the product on the field may not be quite so good, but from a sheer competitive standpoint, MLS is hard to match. So where do things stand thus far?
Columbus has laid down their marker by casually dismissing the Revs and grabbing a 5-point league in the race for the Supporters' Shield. That dismissal has also resulted in the Fire and Dynamo reeling in the Revs to create a three-team chasing pack. United and the Red Bulls both failed to win, thus allowing the chasing pack to pull further clear, while simultaneously dropping themselves into the mire below.
RSL and Chivas have a fragile grip on the two most contested playoff spots (2nd and 3rd in the West) and are perched atop the mire, but the rampaging Quakes have donned giant foam-rubber monster outfits and are treating the table like their own personal Tokyo in a Godzilla flick as they close in from beneath. Just behind the Quakes are the unpredictable Rapids, followed by a four-team tangle at the foot of the table.
With just five points separating 2nd from 7th in the West, it's going to be a real melee for post-season places, a melee that will be all the more violent if DC and the Red Bulls can notch a few more wins and secure the at-large playoff bids, reducing the places on offer for those six teams from four to two. The only question in the East is if the aforementioned clubs can hold off the surge of the Western sides towards those at-large spots. Unless KC and TFC stage remarkable Lazarus-moves to open the field back up, that is. Parity Pox means you can never rule something like this coming into play.
Statistically, the recent dominant performances by the Crew and Dynamo see them finally mounting a challenge on the Fire's goal differential lead (-11 and -7 to -12, respectively). The more damning numbers are twofold. First, if anybody needs further cause to doubt the possibility of the Reds and Wiz mounting a late charge, check out their league worst -8 and -9 goal differences. And second? Further evidence of the Revs fall from their lofty perch comes from that damning -2 mark that they're throwing up.
LA are still the Kings of Goals (in both directions), but the positive side of that coin may soon be sporting an image of Schelotto rather than Buddonoveckham. The Crew's 1.74 goals for is closing in on LA's 1.91. But at the other end, you've got to stretch a bit to find a challenger for the Galaxy's woeful 2.04 goals against. Even lowly TFC (1.39) and KC (1.43) can't hope to challenge that figure. Defensively, Chicago's recent rise in goals against seems to have halted and is starting to head the other way again, as they dip down to a miserly 0.78, with nary a challenger to be found within figurative miles of them. And, last but not least, a big shout-out to the Quakes 2.1, who managed to push their goals per game number up to the 1.0 mark. Watch out TFC and KC (both 1.04)--you're about to suffer a Godzilla-thrashing!
So what do you think, dear readers? Does anything else leap out at you from the numbers? Have your say in the comments below.