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Columbus Crew 2014 Playoff 4caster - Game 17

In this series, I update the Crew's playoff outlook. In the first 4caster of the Gregg Berhalter era, we find our intrepid MLSers about where we left them last fall; fighting for the last playoff spot.

Isaiah J. Downing-USA TODAY Sports

It's Good To Be Back

50% of the MLS season is in the Chromebooks, and I couldn't be happier.  Not because I'm glad that so many games are behind us, but because each one starts to feel heavier come late July.  There's that sense of, "Wait, my report is due WHEN?!"  I know that the urgency to make the playoffs is not lost on many Crew fans.  And with that, the 4caster is back.

If you're not familiar with this column, in it I assess how likely the Crew are to make the playoffs.  This may involve looking at something as straightforward as the number of points needed over their remaining games, or something as obtuse as how well they perform after short rest... on the road... at high altitude... with their best players out.  (Of course that would never happen, sorry folks, dumb example, skip that.)  I'll also get into other MLSish factors and ask questions that I'd like to know the answers to in the poll question.

Last year's survey said that the readers' favorite part of the column was the Crew breakdown, so I'll feature that first.  Here we go!

Current Playoff Outlook: Plenty of Time To Freak Out Later

It's already been a wild season.  There was a rocket start, a huge swoon and an entirely different kind of soccer being played by the black and gold.  Based on the possession style change alone, I'd hold off on pushing the playoff panic buttons until August.

My breakdown of the Crew's position in the MLS East:

Crew's #

Projected Pts To Win the East

53 DC United was so bad in 2013 that scientists studied them.  Now they're leading the East.  That's so MLS I can't even Hristo Stoichkov.

Projected Pts To Make Playoffs (5th Place in Eastern Conference)

40 This is wildly low right now, because there's a gulf between the top 4 teams in the East and everyone else.

Maximum Crew Points

71 17 game win streak?  One can dream.
Current Crew Points
20 9 points in first three games, 11 points in the last 14.  Pretty awful showing since April.

Projected Additional Points Needed for Playoffs

20* If you just do the math, it tells you 20 points.  I'd bet my left hamstring they'll need at least 29 more points.

Example Record Needed

8-4-5 Just four more losses this year?  Okaaaaay.

Who Do I Root For This Week?

The Crew.  It's too early to be this paranoid.

First-4caster-of-the-Year Stuff

As is tradition, MLS changed their playoff format this spring.  In a break from tradition, they even let everyone know at the beginning of the year.

Playoff Qualification

Tiebreakers used this year are:

  1. Total number of wins
  2. Goal Differential
  3. Goals For
Goal Differential is back where it belongs, ahead of Goals For.  This is a change that I'm a fan of b/c it rewards both offense and defense.

Playoff Format

The away goal rule is now in effect during 2-game aggregate series.  In their explanation, MLS says that, "...the away goals rule will apply so as to be consistent with CONCACAF and FIFA practice."  They do have a point there; Africa's confederation used this rule in the final round of their World Cup qualifying.  Algeria advanced to the World Cup by virtue of this rule, in fact.

Use of the away goal is a religious debate; I happen to be against it.  It reminds me of when I played in a co-ed league that counted a girl's goal as 2 and a guy's as 1.  It also further erodes home field advantage, which is already suspect in MLS Playoffs.  More time to rant on this topic later in the year.

"Power" Rankings

Everyone seems to have a power ranking these days.  I feel left out, but I don't know how to measure power in anything other than Watts.  All that I can gather that is actually measured in power rankings is feelings. I would, however, like to rank my top 5 favorite "Power" songs.

  1. "The Power of Love" - Huey Lewis & The News.  This song has everything: Back to the Future, Huey Lewis, and ripping on those fancy credit card-havers.  My only negative thought associated with this song is that it reminds me of the time I sang it during Sunday night karaoke at Bourbon St (near Crew Stadium) and lost my car keys.
  2. "Fight the Power" - Public Enemy.  PE#1.
  3. "The Power of Goodbye" - Madonna.  Ray of Light is a fantastic album.  To me, it seems like it reflected a brief moment of clarity/sanity in Madonna's life after she became a mom.  TPOG speaks to strength in walking away; this is a critical lesson to learn in the development of a soccer player.
  4. "Power" - KMFDM.  Great first track to a great album, XTORT.
  5. "Power" - Snap.  I'm the lyrical Jesse James!
Dishonorable Mention: "Power" - Kanye West.  Dude is all over the paranoid map with this track.  Major points deducted for tacitly approving of drinking and driving... and ripping on the 2009 SNL cast.

And Finally...

Today is the one-year mark of my writing for Massive Report.  Tradition holds that you're supposed to get your significant other "paper" for your first anniversary.... so print this!  It's OK if you forgot to get me anything, so long as you're not upset that I forgot to get you anything.  We cool?  Cool.

Truly, I'd like to thank Patrick Guldan for inviting me to write for Massive Report.  I'd of course also like to thank you, the reader.  I have a day job; writing this is for fun (and a little bit of fighting).  Interacting with so many Crew fans over the past year has made this very, very fun.