MLS Table Talk - The Final Countdown

Not much change in the table this week, eh? DC and Colorado climb a rung on the ladder and stay alive, while Dallas drop two to join the cast of snot-nosed street urchins staring through clouded glass at the warm and rosy picture of those still in the playoff hunt. So let's start with a quick dash through the numbers before wrapping up with an overview of the aforementioned playoff picture.

Goal difference is solidly in the favor of the +13 Crew and Dynamo, while Chicago weigh in with a respectable +8. On the other end, San Jose's late collapse drops them to -8, just above the trio of DC, TFC, and LA at -7. LA continue to lead the way in goals scored at 1.83 per game, with the mighty Crew closing at 1.69. Defensively, the Fire's long dominance is over as they join Houston at 1.07 goals allowed per game.

And what about the leaders in futility? San Jose has managed 30 goals to ensure that they'll have at least one goal scored per game, but their current 1.03 average is well behind the other infrequent scorers, KC and TFC, knotted at 1.17 apiece. Defensively, the woeful Gals will know where they need to start shopping for replacements. 60 goals surrendered thus far ensures that they will average at least two goals allowed per game. Their current 2.07 tally is miles worse than DC's pathetic 1.72 mark.

So that's the numbers, what about those playoffs? Rather than rehashing what's already out there, I'll refer you to the more exhaustive explanations from Ives and Goff. If all that's making your head spin, here's the executive summary:

1. The winner of RSL or Colorado gets in, while the loser goes home. In the event of a draw, RSL marches on.
2. If KC and NY win or draw, they're in unless DC really hammers the Crew for a boatload of goals.
3. If DC loses or draws, KC and NY are in.
4. If DC wins, they'll need either (a) lots of goals or (b) one or both of the KC and NY to lose.

Simple enough? Let's look at the matchups for the first round.

Columbus v. KC/DC/NY
Chicago v. New England

Houston v. KC/DC/NY
Chivas v. Colorado/RSL

What do you think? I can see whoever faces Columbus making a bit of noise because all three of those sides have managed to mount a decent end-of-season rally when their backs were against the wall, and Columbus has been cruising for a while now. I'd be tempted to put Houston in the same boat, not because of coasting to the finish line, but because of their crowded fixture list with the Champions' League. But they've seemed to handle it fine up to this point, and their playoff experience and veteran leadership will probably see off any early challenge. New England should bow out meekly against Chicago, while I see Chivas doing the same against RSL. Against Colorado? Hard to figure. I suppose it depends upon which Colorado shows up.

So what do you think out there in the electronic ether? Playoff predictions? Predictions for this weekend? Let's hear it!

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