With clubs now averaging over 8 games played apiece, we can officially call the first quarter of the season and declare the Goats your Medio Apertura champions. Or something. Chivas' commanding lead on the single table looks pretty impressive. Eight points clear of the pack with a +9 goal differential. Even factoring in the games in hand that others hold, nobody could get closer than 5 points. A victory for negative futbol? A magical avoidance of the Parity Police beatdown? We shall see in the longer term. For now, let's look at those numbers...
- Parity Pack! Yes, Chivas are out there in the lead, but check out the mere six points separating the #2 Sounders from the #13 (third from bottom) Crew. That six point swing contains everybody except the league-leaders and the bottom-feeding Quakes and Hoops. And there are no gaps in the group either, with any given club being either level, one point above, or one point below its pack-mates. The points per game table makes for similar reading, though the Sounders can boast of being the only team to have opened a 0.2 PPG gap. Strange that the PPG table also reveals DC, Colorado, and Houston as tied for third, while the currently playoff-shy RSL and Revs (1.3) are actually slightly ahead of 8th place KC (1.2) and just behind 4th place TFC (1.4).
- Goals, Goals, Goals! RSL's big lead in this category has dropped off in the wake of the 6 they put past the Revs. Now, the Fire (1.8) have drawn level with RSL, while DC United (1.7) are closing in. The goal-shy are numerous, with two sides (Revs and Dallas) being locked on 0.9 goals per game, while three (Quakes, Bulls, and Dyanamo) are marginally better at 1.0. It's not like there's a pattern either. The Crew have managed a healthy 1.4 gpg, a figure that looks odd surrounded by 1.0's and 0.9's, though Houston's 1.0 looks similarly out of place in the top half of the table.
- Protect the Net. Defensively, it continues to be the usual suspects, and they're all out west. Chivas (0.3 goals allowed per game) lead the way, with Seattle (0.6 apg) and Houston (0.7 apg) mounting impressive records of their own. For comparison's sake, the best defense in the East? How about the Red Bulls, at 1.2 apg? Huh? The 12th-placed Red Bulls? In a somewhat less shocking turn of events, the bottom three lead the way in conceding goals, with the Quakes (2.0 apg), Dallas (1.9 apg), and Crew (1.8 apg) all deep in the mire.
- Goal Difference doesn't really throw up too many shockers as well, save for the fact that only a third of the teams have negative goal differences. Chivas (+9) are the top dogs, with Seattle (+6) being the only team that's even close. The miserable Quakes (-8) and Dallas (-8) pad the bottom.
- Tie Factories? Four teams (DC, Chicago, LA, Columbus) have finished more than half of their fixtures in a tie, with the Fire and Gals doing so 75% of the time. By contrast, only two teams (Chivas and Seattle) have winning percentages of 50% or better.
- The Balanced Effort Award of the Week has to go to the Galaxy, who not only manage to end the aforementioned 75% of their games in draws, but have one win to balance their one loss and sit squarely in the middle of the pack in both goals scored and conceded (1.3 on both counts). Hey, Becks! You ready for a mediocrity chaser on top of that shot of Milano?