Columbus Crew 2013 MLS Playoff 4caster: Midsummer Off-Week

Rick Osentoski-USA TODAY Sports

Each week, I update the Columbus Crew's playoff outlook based on their results and the those of their MLS Eastern Conference foes. While the Crew hosted Wigan Athletic in a friendly on Saturday, the playoff race continued to take shape.

Current Playoff Outlook: Mostly Cloudy

With a 13 day gap between MLS competitions, the Crew are enjoying an extended midsummer break. It will be their last rest of 2013; the longest span between games from here on out is eight days.

Here are the standings as of 7/15, sorted by PPG. The column to the right of "PPG" is what each team's projected number of points would be over 34 games. Remember from last week that ROPPG stands for Remaining Opponents' PPG. This week, the Crew continue to have the toughest remaining schedule, while New England has the weakest. More on those two teams in a bit.

Standings_7

While the Crew were on their break this week, they lost ground. Of the 5 games that mattered to their playoff position, only 2 went the right way. Expecting TFC or Chivas to steal points from anyone this year is unrealistic, but Montreal's "le meltdown" is having a negative impact (ba-ZING!) on the Crew's chances of getting that coveted 5th position. IMFC have not won since hosting Houston on June 19. Were they exposed four days earlier by the Crew, leading to a season-long shift in their fortunes? Only time will tell, but they've been completely mortal since then. It was actually better from the Crew's perspective when Montreal was beating up on the rest of the conference; now, not so much. Here's my breakdown of the Crew's position in the race:

Stat ("Playoffs" = Only MLS East)

#

Notes

Projected Pts To Win Supporters Shield

60

With Montreal in free-fall, it's now a multi-team race.

Projected Pts To Win East

57

As Sporting KC's form has risen, so has the points needed to win the East.

Projected Pts To Make Playoffs

51

This jumped from 48 points to 51 this week. If I was a betting man, I'd put my money on the 5th place team having 51 points when it's all said and done in late October.

Crew Projected Points

41

7th place

Current Crew Points

23

7th place

Projected Additional Points Needed for Playoffs

28

51 – 23 = 28

PPG Needed for 28 Pts in 15 games

1.87

25/15 = 1.87. That's a spicy meatball.

Example Record Needed for 28 Pts in 15 Games

8-3-4

Good thing TFC is still on the schedule twice.

If my estimate of 51 points needed for the last playoff spot is correct, the Crew will need to have a better record from now until the end of the year than the best team in the league (RSL) has today (1.87 vs 1.85 PPG). Yowza.

Rivalry Week is Every Week: New England Edition

When you need to gain 1.87 PPG against the toughest remaining schedule in the East, every game has to be played with urgency. Of the Crew's 15 remaining games, 9 are against Eastern Conference teams currently ahead of them in the standings. Three of those (yes three) are against the New England Revolution. This week's loss to Houston dropped the Revs into within striking distance; Saturday's match between the two teams could see the Crew leapfrog the Revs both in PPG and in actual points. Their final 2 matches of the season are also against New England, in what could be a last-ditch chance for both teams to make the playoffs. I could see either team needing to sweep that series in order to make post-season.

CCL: A Lesser Impact?

(Man, I'm going nuts on the Impact puns this week...)

The schedule is out for CCL 2013-14 group stage matches. With Houston, Sporting KC and Montreal all participating, I wondered if any scheduling congestion might work out in the Crew's favor. Predicting the fatigue level is a bit of voodoo science, but there is a Crew match that could easily be affected: Saturday, 9/14 in Montreal. In CCL play three days later, Montreal travels 2531 miles and three time zones to San Jose to take on the Earthquakes. On 9/21, they're back in Montreal hosting Canadian rivals Vancouver in the Tim Horton's Coffee Cup. Montreal needs to win their group of three in order to advance in CCL, so I wouldn't buy that they'll send 18 to NoCal and hope for a result. If they are still comfortably in a playoff position at that point, I'd say their home match against the Crew on 9/14 would be one that they would look to a B+ team to handle.

Who Do I Root For This Week?

Date

Match

Root For

7/17
New England @ Colorado
Rapids
7/20
New York @ Toronto
Toronto
7/20
Dallas @ Montreal
Dallas
7/20
Portland @ Philly
Portland
7/20
DC United @ Chicago
DC United
7/20
Sporting KC @ Real Salt Lake
RSL

Schadenfreude Zentral

DC United
With no scheduled matches this past week, DC United managed not to lose. They are still the worst team in the league; I will include this statement every week it's true. Also, on a strangely-relevant-to-this-blog note, DC is now projecting to be eliminated from the playoffs on August 24, when they play...

Toronto FC
Toronto is once again going to miss the MLS Playoffs, as is tradition. After Saturday's loss to Sporting KC, they are approaching futility numbers that are bad even for Toronto's standards. Last year's team managed just 23 points in 34 games. This year's is currently projecting to earn 25. One remaining match vs. Chivas and two vs. DC United may determine whether this year's squad is the worst in club history.

DC United's Projected 2013 Points
18
Toronto FC's Projected 2013 Points
25
Projected Date DC United Eliminated From Playoffs
8/24 vs Toronto
Projected Date Toronto FC Eliminated From Playoffs
9/7 @Timbers
Date Toronto FC Fires Coach
Over/Under is Labour Day
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