MLS Dogpile | Prepare the Electric Truncheons!
What a glorious tangle we've got, eh MLS HQ gargoyles? At this point, would you put it past any of the teams still in playoff contention (oh hell, let's throw in everybody but the Red Bulls) to beat any of the others? The Parity Police are slapping their electric truncheons in their gloved hands with cruel smiles as they wait for what should be an almighty scramble across the finish line and a wide-open playoff field. With that unpredictability and finely poised balance of power in mind, let's hit the Dogpile, shall we?
The Crew got stung by a desperate DC this week, but managed to control most of the game despite a monsoon and some missing pieces to their starting puzzle. Their recent form is slipping, but they're also getting a chance to rest and recuperate their big guns before the playoffs arrive. If there is one side that looks a favorite in the playoffs, it's got to be the defending champs.
In behind them is the trio chasing the Western crown. Chivas don't seem to be beating anybody difficult and don't look terribly impressive on paper, but they aren't losing games either. This, more than anything else, is what gives them the edge over their rivals on the Pile. The Galaxy seem to be hitting a bit of a roller-coaster at the moment, which is always dangerous heading into a two-game playoff series, but I think the Bruce will have them focused. Likewise for the Dynamo, who are backing into the post-season somewhat, but it looks to me like Kinnear might be able to crank it up a gear when push comes to shove.
Seattle are an interesting package. They're the only other team outside the top four that has booked their passage, are the second hottest team (in terms of results) in the league, and even have an outside chance at nipping the Western crown in the last week. And they're an expansion side to boot! Full credit to Sigi, who has not only nursed them past a bout of Expansion Fever, but seems to have figured out how to start getting points on the road, something they'll need when the playoffs hit.
And now the snarl.
FC Dallas are the hottest team in the league and by rights should probably be grabbing a playoff spot, where nobody will be happy about facing them. Sadly, their early season was so poor that they may come up just short in the end. Chicago, on the other hand, have the opposite problem. After a relatively strong start, they seem to be coasting on fumes and have forgotten how to win, but will probably limp over the line. TFC are putting up a game battle for their first-ever post-season bid and have their destiny in their hands. The good news? They play the Red Bulls to clinch. The bad news? They're on the road.
DC United found life in their slow, aging bones with a huge win over a Columbus side with one eye on the Champions' League and the other on keeping everybody healthy and rested going into the post-season. Were it not for the three home losses that preceded the win, they'd be sitting in a comfortable playoff spot at the moment. And the Revs? They've likewise spoiled a massive opportunity by failing to take advantage of games in hand, leaving them with the very real chance that they could already be eliminated by the time they take the field at Crew Stadium on Sunday.
RSL are the only remaining team alive in the hunt, but their chances hinge (if I'm wrapping my mind around the byzantine MLS tie-breaker rules correctly) on (1) beating Colorado by multiple goals (three would do the trick, two might) and (2) having most everybody else still in contention manage to lose. Like I said, alive, but only just.
KC lead the pack of also-rans, having been eliminated from the playoffs before they even kicked a ball last weekend. San Jose have long known that their number is up, but could scrape their way to third from the bottom with a win and a KC loss on the final weekend. And the Red Bulls? They've been looking forward to 2010 for months already.