Columbus Crew 2013 MLS Playoff 4caster - October Off Week

Here We Go - Jamie Sabau

Each week, I update the Columbus Crew's playoff outlook based on their results and the those of their MLS Eastern Conference foes. This week the Crew took five and hopefully rested up for two straight victories against New England.

Current Playoff Outlook: Down To The Wire

With two weeks remaining in the season, The Crew can still potentially make the playoffs.  It will require two wins over New England, as well as favorable outcomes in 5-6 other matches, but it can happen.

First, a quick recap of this week's results.

  1. Houston's mid-week win took them to 48 points; they're now uncatchable.  Bon voyage.
  2. When the Crew really needed them to, DC United came through and *didn't* lose their game against Philadelphia.  Sure, they still blew a win by awkwardly and spectacularly missing about five sitters, but they didn't lose.  The Crew need no more help from DC, but they could need their pals up in Toronto to put something together.  More on that later.  Like, in the next point.
  3. Chicago's win in Dallas was bad.  A tie would have allowed them to beat Toronto next week without catastrophic Crew consequences.  Now, there are scenarios in which the Fire could knock the Crew out of the playoffs by beating TFC next week in Bridgeview.
  4. Montreal's free-fall from grace would make Tom Petty proud.  Here's a round-by-round view of the season, sorted by current PPG, with the purple color indicating the top record in the East.  Montreal held this claim 26 of the first 28 weeks of the season.  (Their round 32 total will be determined after playing the Galaxy on Wednesday.)  Montreal, you're a bad boy for breaking your fans' hearts.

Seasonbyround_10

MLS East Standings

I've cut out all "projected" numbers this week.  With only two weeks to go in the season, the numbers are small enough for us to use our brains and deal with them.  Plus, after Montreal plays their Wednesday night game, all teams in the East will have played the same amount of games!  Can you believe it?!

Tiebreakers reminder - after points, it goes:

  1. Wins (W)
  2. Goals Scored (GF)
  3. Goal Differential (GD)
  4. Thumb War (TW)

For the full tiebreaker listings, click here for Joshua Mayers' Seattle Times article.  The standings, sorted by PTS, W, GF:

Standings_10

...and the standings again, this time including potential points (gray).

Eastrace_10

Here's my breakdown of the Crew's position in the MLS East playoff race:

Stat
#
Notes

Pts To Clinch #1 Seed the East

59 New York and Sporting KC are battling for the top spot in the East and home field advantage in the playoffs.  While KC's maximum points are one behind New York's at 58, I still give them the edge due their game remaining against DC United.  If the Red Bulls win either of their last two games, only Sporting can catch them.  A Houston tie or loss or Montreal loss knocks either team out of the running.

Points to Clinch Playoffs

53 The 6th place team (Philly)'s maximum points is currently 52.

Minimum Pts To Make Playoffs (5th Place in East)

46 Chicago, currently in 5th place, has 46.  The only way the Crew can reach that many points is by winning their last two, which would land them on 47.

Maximum Crew Points

47 Unchanged from last week

Most Likely Scenario In Which the Crew Make Playoffs

This is one I could see happening.  Others exist.

1) Crew win last 2 games, get to 47 points.  By doing so, they pass New England, which ends with 45 points.  ALSO,

2) Philly loses in Montreal, ties at home to Sporting KC.  Ends with 47 points.  Crew advance on wins tiebreaker.  ALSO ALSO,

3) Chicago ties TFC, loses season finale at New York.  Ends on 47 points, equaling Crew.  Crew advance on wins tiebreaker.

Selected Scenarios In Which the Crew Miss Playoffs...

Sadly, there's a bunch

1) Crew fail to get 6 points in last 2 games, OR

2) The 46 & 2 scenario.  If 2 of the following 3 teams push 2 (or more) points beyond their current standing of 46, they'll be uncatchable for the Crew. (number of games in parentheses):

Worst case, the Crew could find themselves out of the race before kickoff in Foxboro.  If Montreal wins on Wednesday and loses to Philly early Saturday afternoon, game over.

Who Should I Root For This Week?

First, apologies for poopin' up your rootin' last Saturday. I had advocated for a Montreal win in their game against New England, which was wrong. While unthinkable just a month ago, Montreal is crashing so hard they could now miss the playoffs. I didn't explain those possibilities; for shame.  The Revs winning was of no harm to the Crew, who would still pass them in the standings with two straight wins to close out the season. Clearly, you didn't listen to my jibba jabba, as you rightly willed the Revs to a win and a Lee Nguyen a 1-match ban to boot.  I hope you didn't also will a horrific injury on Saer Sene; speedy recovery wishes to him from Massive Report.

With Houston now out of the Crew's reach, Montreal, Chicago and Philly are the teams on which you need to focus your bad voodoo.  The Crew need to pass or catch at least 2 of these 3 in order to qualify.

As explained in the previous table, if 2 of these 3 teams gains 2 more points, the Crew are out.  Lots of ways that could happen... you're smart enough to look at the schedule and sort that out.  But there is one scenario that's especially interesting to me right now.

4 for 47

For all plausible playoff scenarios, the Crew end the season with 47 points.  With Montreal and Philly playing each other on 10/19, one of those two teams will have to gain points.  But if the Impact lose in LA midweek, and then that IMFC-PU match ends in a tie, both the Union and Impact will be at 47 points.  Imagine then that Duncan rallies TFC into playing the game of their non-playoffed lives, and Toronto ties (a win would be asking too much, no?) the Fire later Saturday night following the Crew's victory at New England.  The standings would be:

4447-1_medium

This would set up a wild grand finale to 2013's regular season.  On Saturday, 10/26, Sporting KC will go to Philly on a few days' rest due to mid-week CCL.  That match kicks off at 3pm; Montreal's tussle in Toronto starts an hour later.  If either Philly or Montreal lose their match that day, the Crew would still be alive going into their Sunday home match against the Revolution.  A Columbus win coupled with a Chicago loss would send the Crew to the playoffs.  If both Montreal and Philly lost their 10/26 games, the Crew could clinch a playoff spot with a home win against the Revolution.  This ability to clinch is because they would win the tiebreaker against Montreal, Chicago or Philly due to having 14 wins.  So in a scenario in which all 4 teams ended up with 47 points, the Crew would actually take 4th place in the East and host the Wild Card game on my birthday, Halloween.  Tony Sanneh, you are not invited.

The trickiest remaining game in terms of scoreboard-watching is next week's Impact-Union match-up.

  • If Montreal wins in LA on Wednesday, they'll be uncatchable. In that case, root for Montreal for a win against Philly.
  • If Montreal loses in LA, a tie next Saturday in Stade Saputo is best because it keeps both Philly and Montreal at 47 points going into their final game.  This is the scenario with the most flexibility for Crew fans; neither Philly nor Montreal would be uncatchable going into the final weekend.
  • If Montreal ties in LA, they'll be on 47 while Philly's on 46. If you think Montreal has a good chance at losing in Toronto in the season finale, root for a Philly win on 10/19. If you think that it would be more likely that Philly would tie or lose to Sporting KC on 10/26 than Montreal would be to lose to TFC, root for Montreal to win.  A tie in this case would not eliminate the Crew, but would make Montreal uncatchable.

Here's a cheering guide for the last two weeks of the season:Calendar_10

Supporters' Shield

I moved this to the bottom this week because I wanted to focus on the Crew stuff.

**Editor's Note: Just updated this post-Seattle/Portland.  Seattle played like a bunch of well-paid guys on the same team.  Portland is a team.

  • Current Points are in black, Potential Points are in gray.
  • ROPPG (Remaining Opponents' PPG) gives you an idea of each team's strength of schedule through the rest of the season.
  • Reminder of 2013's 1st three tiebreaker rules: 1) Most wins, 2) Goals for, and 3) Goal differential.

Ss_10

Stat
Value
Notes
Points to Clinch Supporters Shield 59 The Red Bulls & Portland can reach 59, while Sporting KC & RSL can only get to 58.  I think Kansas City wins both their remaining games, wins Supporters Shield with 58 points.
Teams Still In Race Technically 10, but for now I'm focusing on the top 5 New York, Seattle, Kansas City, Salt Lake, Portland.  LA can even get to 57; I may have to include them next week if they get at least 4 points.
Key Remaining Games

10/19: RSL @ Portland

10/20: New York @ Houston

Salt Lake travels to Portland in the second of a gigantic back-to-back home stand for the Timbers.  I think this one ends in a 1-1 tie.

New York got their away match against Houston at a favorable time of year, weather-wise.  However, the Dynamo always seem to play well a the end of the year.

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