Current Playoff Outlook: Rising
That win was big time. Those are the types of games that are remembered as season highlights for years to come. If it felt historic, that's because it was. As Matt Bernhardt (@bernhardtsoccer) pointed out Saturday night, the Crew's 4-1 destruction of Los Angeles represented only the 3rd time in team history that Columbus scored 4 or more goals in front of 20,000 or more people. The first was the Crew's first ever game (!), and the most recent was on 9/1/2001.
The win also significantly buoyed the Crew's playoff hopes. With 70% of the season and hopefully an extended mid-season malaise behind them, Columbus now sits in 4th place in the MLS East. Here's the current view, sorted by PPG:
MLS Eastern Conference Standings
Projected Pts To Win the East
SKC and DC are on a collision course (count number of times you hear that this week), set for impact (MLS joke!) Saturday night at 8:30pm at Sporting "Definitely Nothing to do with Lance Armstrong, That Sunuva Bitch" Park. Both are keeping a blistering pace, winning 5 of their last 7.
Kind of getting sick of this row in the column. It goes bye bye next week.
Projected Pts Needed For Crew To Make Playoffs (5th Place in Eastern Conf)
|41||The math still says 41, which would be a historical low. But with 10 games left, Columbus is leading a pack of 4-6 teams chasing 2 spots. The Crew also have the easiest schedule of the bunch, and could deliver knockout blows to Houston, New England and Philly, teams they play twice.
|Current Crew Points & PPG
||30, 1.25||While these are not normally figures to be thrilled with at this point of the season, it just may do this year. Given all the transition the team has undergone, one could argue it's one to be proud of.|
Projected Additional Points Needed for Playoffs
|11||41 - 30 = 11|
Example Record & PPG eeded for 11 points in 10 games
|3 wins is it? Well, maybe. But 5 more wins would seem to lock it up.|
Remember, the blue squares show where each team is projecting to finish in terms of points, based on their record so far. Something it doesn't take into account, for instance, is schedule strength.
- In: SKC, DCU
- Probably In: TFC
- Battling for Final 2 Spots: Columbus, NYRB, Revs, Philly
- Battling to be Battling for Final 2 Spots: Houston, Chicago
- Focusing on CCL: Montreal
Who or What Do I Root For This Week?
I told you Montreal was due! Last week was another tremendous week in terms of the help that the Crew got from the rest of the league. This coming week's book of games probably won't be as kind, with games lining up in a much less favorable way for Columbus (more on that below).
Also, as CONCACAF Champions League play begins this week, Sporting KC, DC United, New York and Montreal will start to feel the compounded weight of the MLS late season grind plus mid-week games and travel. The problem with that is that of those four teams, only the Red Bulls are in the thick of the playoff race. On the contrary, the Crew would be better off if SKC, DC and Montreal were focusing their efforts on upcoming MLS opponents, not divvying up playing time and traveling mid-week to far off lands.
Your new favorite bands this week:
- Montreal, all year. Learn some French. This week they play the Red Bulls on Saturday night.
- Chivas MLS, who go to play a team located in the general New England area. (Can you imagine if there was a team called "Great Plains" located in Sioux Falls? I know the geography doesn't work out, but "New England" always seemed so general. And for the place that fought back the Brits, they never got around to naming the region something less referential?) Anyway, I give Chivas no shot in this one. Still, Crew fans, you must root.
- San Jose. They also travel cross-country to play a team that Crew fans want to lose - Philly. The Quakes just got undressed by Dallas... Not sure what to expect next week.
- Toronto-Chicago: A tie here would keep both teams in check; Toronto ahead and Chicago from behind. If the Crew can get hot and leap TFC for 3rd in the East, that would allow them to avoid the (knockout) Wild Card game. In MLS' goofy system, 4th place typically means after you host aforementioned Wild Card game mid-week, you host the #1 seed 3-4 days later as the start of a 2-leg aggregate series. If you're greedy for home playoff games, you want the 4th seed. So a close second to a tie would be a TFC loss.
- SKC-DC: They're both in. Ignore.
Crew beat Houston 1836
Chivas MLS beats Revs
San Jose over Philly
IMFC beats NY
SKC beats DC
The Crew would solidify their hold on 4th place, tying TFC on points (33) but losing the 1st tiebreaker (wins). They'd be 4th in PPG with 1.32. New York would be in 5th with 28 points/1.17 and the Revs would sit in 6th with 27 points/1.13.
If this scenario happens, I will gladly eat your dirty socks.
1836 beats 1996
TFC beats Chicago
New England win
Philly beats SJ
NY over IMFC
DC over SKC
Just losing to Houston will feel like a worst case scenario. The Crew need to make hay now, taking advantage of playing teams with worse records and playing the bulk of their remaining home games.
This would drop the Crew into a PPG and points tie for 6th/7th with Philly. Both teams would also be tied with the Red Bulls with 30 points, but New York would have more wins and a game in hand.
If this scenario happens, I'll buy myself some new socks. (In times of pain, I often employ retail therapy.)
Reds beat Fire
Revs beat Chivas
NY over IMFC
This would mean no position changes in the Eastern Conference standings. I see this week as one in which the Crew won't get much help, so beating Houston will be simply to keep pace with those making the playoff push.
If this scenario happens, I'll be heading to Vegas.
Per a great suggestion, I changed the poll to be a ranking instead of a multiple choice