The Table Talk column did some yeoman work for FBF last year, but it never drummed up much conversation or traffic. I don't know if it'll do any different this year, but I've decided to allow it back for a couple of weeks—a trial if you will—and we'll see how it goes. So...
We've got a rather well defined trio of leaders, with LA well in front and the Crew and RSL trailing within striking distance. The usual logjam is arranged behind them, though its numbers are not so great as in years past. Six teams are currently in the four point swing of teams vying for the five remaining playoff spots. The Dynamo are somewhat off the pace, but can get back in the mix quickly while three points separate the not-yet-buried 11th place Fire from the 15th place Revs. Bringing up the rear are United, rock bottom and with extra games played.
The points-per-game table wouldn't pitch up many changes (two teams swapping spots in a couple of places) but does give the Fire more of a say in the playoff scrum owing to their games in hand. Predictably, the league-leading Galaxy boast the most wins (12) and least losses (2), though Dallas match them on the latter count. So why are Dallas in 5th? How about pointing that finger at their league-leading 8 draws?
On the fancy new Goals Table, we can see that the Galaxy nearly sweep the honors. Most goals scored? Check (29-tied with RSL). Least goals allowed? Check (10, 0.556 per game). Goal difference? Check (+19). The one category where they don't rule the roost is in goals per game, where RSL's impressive 1.706 tally takes the top spot.
On the wrong end of the goal stats, it's not really a shock to find cellar-dwellers DC United claiming most of the "honors." Their goals scored (12, 0.706 per game) is really only under threat by KC (13, 0.813 per game), the only other team scoring less than a goal per game. And while United's league-worst goal differential (-16) is a long way ahead of the nearest challenger, their (also league-worst) 28 goals allowed doesn't net them the worst goals allowed per game. That dubious honor falls to the expansion Union, who let in 1.857 per game. Want another surprise? United isn't even second-worst; that distinction belongs to the Revs at 1.733 allowed per game.
Any anomalies in the goals stats? How about 4th placed New York's -1 goal difference, the only negative mark in amongst the playoff sides and a mark matched by the 11th placed Fire? Or what about the Union banging in 1.286 goals per game? Not exactly an average to brag about, but it does put them ahead of half of the playoff field. In fact, there are only four teams in the league scoring at a higher clip than Nowak's men (a fifth side, Chicago, are level).
And what about that old "defense wins championships" saw? Well, half of the playoff sides allow less than a goal per game, the most being San Jose at 1.2 allowed per game. For a point of comparison, if we exclude KC's 1.25 allowed, the rest of the non-playoff sides are all at 1.357 allowed per game or worse.
So what do we think? Does Table Talk stay on trial, or do we send him packing for the lower divisions?