MLS Table Talk | A Tale of Two Tables
The Story So Far...
The Dynamo have nudged themselves in front in the three-way race for the Supporters' Shield, putting them a point clear of the inactive Crew and two clear of the Fire. Three points back, the surprising (if compact and uninspiring) Galaxy look to have their playoff position firmly in hand, though their cross-town neighbors, Chivas, have pulled out of their tailspin and sit just two back of the Galaxy with three games in hand.
The Sounders maintain a three point cushion when it comes to their post-season hopes, with TFC, the Rapids, and the Revs all level on 30 points. The Revs lose the three-way tie-breaker at the moment and so find themselves out of a playoff spot, but they do have games in hand. DC United and RSL sit just one point and three points out of a playoff spot respectively, but both sides are struggling to keep up the pace. That said, at least they're still alive. Dallas' collapse at the lowly Red Bulls sees their playoff dreams in tatters, while KC, the Quakes, and, of course, the Red Bulls haven't threatened the playoff spots for some time now.
If the playoffs started today, your matchups would be...
Crew (E1) v. Rapids (W5)
Fire (E2) v. Toronto (E3)
Dynamo (W1) v. Sounders (W4)
Galaxy (W2) v. Chivas (W3)
...though of course that ignores the little problem of games in hand. Thus...
The Points Per Game Rereading of the Table...
In this instance, the Crew (1.8 ppg) still sit top of the table, with the Dynamo, Fire, and Chivas all level (1.7 ppg) in their wake, thus completing the seeded sides. The Galaxy and Revs (1.5 ppg) are level behind them in comfortable third spots for each conference, while the Sounders, TFC, and the Rapids all sit level on 1.4 ppg, which would leave one of them on the outside looking in. DC United (1.3 ppg) and RSL (1.2 ppg) are still the closest threats to the post-season, while KC (1.1 ppg) are ahead of Dallas and the Quakes (1 ppg) and the Red Bulls (0.6 ppg).
It's In the Net!
Colorado (1.6 gpg) are currently the goal-scoring kings of MLS, though their grip on said title is a loose one, with DC and the Crew boasting similar records (1.5 gpg), and much of the rest of the league stuffed in the 1.2-1.4 gpg range. Only the impotent Red Bulls can't manage a goal per game, with their 0.8 gpg mark joining KC's 1 gpg as the only ones below the 1.2 gpg threshold.
Defensively, only the Dynamo can keep from shipping at least a goal per game, though their 0.9 apg mark is under threat from the Galaxy, Chivas, and the Sounders, who all only allow once per game. The flip side of the equation are the bottom sides from each conference, with the Quakes and Red Bulls letting in 1.8 apg, double what the league-leading Dynamo allow.
What's the Difference?
No surprises on the table, with the conference leaders, Houston and Columbus, boasting +10 goal differences, while the conference whipping boys, the Quakes and Red Bulls, suffering -12 and -22 (-22?!?) indignities. What may not be immediately apparent from the single table, but is when you split into conferences is that the West only has two sides with negative goal differences (Dallas and the Quakes), while the East only has two with positive goal differences (Crew and the Fire). Even with the weighted schedules, that would tend to make a mockery of all of the pre-season hype about how much stronger the Eastern Conference was as a whole. Can we chalk that up to roughly equal teams slugging it out and keeping each other largely in check, or was the West perhaps stronger than the massed ranks of the punditry had anticipated?