MLS Table Talk | Parity Pileup
The entire league has now dragged themselves across the halfway mark, save the Revs (c'mon, guys, pick up the pace!). And while the Parity Pileup isn't quite as severe as it was last year, the potential is still there for it to get pretty congested, pretty fast, particularly given MLS's penchant for the anomalous result. So how do things stack up?
* According to the points table, the Dynamo (31 points) hold a multi-game margin over the chasing pack, with a four point edge over Chivas (27), who sit at the head of a pretty tight group of playoff probables: Seattle (25), DC & Chicago (24) and Columbus (23). Tucked in behind this group is the dogfight for the final playoff spots, with the current holders, TFC (22) and Colorado (21), under threat from the Galaxy (21), RSL (20), and the Wiz (19). In the no-man's-land between the dogfight and the basement are Dallas (17) and the Revs (16), not quite out of the running, but a couple of results from being back in the game. And finally, languishing in despair at the bottom of the table, are the Quakes (13) and Red Bulls (10), who both need to put together an impressive close to the summer if they're even going to be anywhere near contention come the fall.
* The points-per-game table distorts the picture only slightly. Here, we have the Dynamo (1.9 points per game) and Chivas (1.8) neck-and-neck at the top, with the Sounders and Fire (1.6) in comfortable positions behind that pair. The almighty scrap for the remaining playoff spots is evident in the tiny spread (1.3-1.4) in which seven teams:--DC, the Crew, TFC, the Rapids, the Galaxy, RSL, and KC--find themselves. The Revs (1.2) are nearly in with that group owing to their multiple games in hand, while Dallas (1.1) have a bit of work to do. The Quakes (0.9) probably still have a chance if they can mount a bit of a run, but the Red Bulls (0.5) are done. Time of death? About 2-3 weeks ago.
* League parity is most evident in the scoring stats. Witness: no team in MLS is scoring at a clip above 1.5 goals per game (Seattle, DC, Chicago, Colorado), and the majority are packed into the 1.3 to 1.5 gpg span. The exceptions? The Revs and Quakes (1.2), Galaxy (1.1), and Red Bulls (0.8). Note that no team below 1.3 gpg is currently in a playoff position, though the top two (Houston and Chivas) are at that mark, with the rest of playoff sides, excepting TFC, above them. So maybe it's down to defending? Having the Dynamo (0.6 allowed per game), Chivas (0.8), and Seattle (0.9) heading up the table would seem to indicate that, but then how do you explain the rest of the playoff sides being between 1.3 and 1.6 apg while the Galaxy (1.1), RSL (1.1), and KC (1.2) are on the outside looking in? Indeed, of the non-playoff sides, only the Quakes' sorry 1.9 apg is above the worst of the playoff sides (TFC at 1.6 apg).