Man, doesn't that image look awful? Have no fear, dear reader, the technical glitches with the Dogpile are high on the off-season agenda. And by the looks of it, I won't be the only one looking to do a little re-tooling in the winter. Would you look at some of the crap these teams in a playoff "dogfight" are putting forth as "effort" in their last five outings?
- Chicago Fire - no wins, three draws for 3 points
- Colorado Rapids - no wins, four draws for 4 points
- DC United - one win, one draw for 4 points
- Toronto FC - one win, two draws for 5 points
So how to read the Pile? Shouldn't things be so much more settled by now? How can six of the fifteen teams move by three or more places this week? Parity is an ugly mistress sometimes, isn't she?
The Big Guns
Columbus hang on to the top spot, but just barely. It's tempting to give a nod to Arena's men, but LA just aren't as complete a team as Columbus. Add in that the Crew were damned unlucky not to find the net against Seattle, and we can suffer them another week at the top. Houston? They probably should be dropping more than one spot, but I don't see any of the next tier presenting a realistic case for bypassing them.
Middle of the Road
Seattle and Chivas are the big climbers in the Playoff Pack, with their road wins making once-questionable playoff places seem more secure. While neither can claim more than two victories in the last five matches, neither has lost more than one either. The Revs are a draw machine at the moment, but they're doing so while beset by a rash of injuries and some moderate fixture congestion. Will they have enough able bodies to last the course?
The Border War
Chicago and the Rapids both plummet after seeing the wins dry up over the last month. But they also look strangely comfortable in their playoff spots despite the terrible spells both are suffering, enough so that I can't see dropping them from the Playoff Pack altogether...yet. FC Dallas and the Wizards are sniffing around the margins with respectable recent points hauls, but I can't see either sneaking a playoff bid, thus their exclusion from the top 8.
Toronto FC and DC United are stumbling along in the pursuit of an elusive post-season berth, but each is being dragged down by gaping wounds: TFC by its defense and United by its defense and lack of team speed. RSL looked like they were on the verge of scrambling their way in a few weeks ago, but consecutive losses and horrible road form make it increasingly likely that they'll miss out again.
Surely the Quakes should be reeling in at least one of those previous three sides given their back-to-back victories and four-game unbeaten streak? Not quite. They still have that pesky points gap to overcome, and victories over the only team beneath you on both table and Dogpile don't do too much for the Pile position, do they? Lastly, the Richie Williams mini-spark (no pun intended...well, maybe a little--damn, did it again ;-) seems to have fizzled as the Red Bulls are back to their losing ways.