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Crew Playoffs 4caster - Game 25

While a second straight 3-goal victory at home, the Crew took 6 of 9 points from a critical home stand. Still, the past week saw them merely keep pace with much of the Eastern Conference. Next week's games could provide more opportunity to gain points on their rivals.

Shoulder Programming
Shoulder Programming
Sam Fahmi

Current Playoff Outlook: TCB

In the 70s, Elvis' personal and professional ethos was summarized thusly: Taking Care of Business.  "TCB" and a corresponding "...in a flash" lightning logo was everywhere - his jewerly, his plane, a room in Graceland:Tcb_medium
He even named his band The TCB Band (they still perform live gigs under this name).

This week, the Crew did that - and only that - in its playoff hunt.  As I had suspected in last week's "What if..." section, the latest round of games around the Eastern Conference didn't help the Crew too much.  They gained two points on TFC, but New York, New England and Philly all held serve at home with wins.  These four teams (East Quad?  Need a nickname here, folks) are set up to duke it out over two playoff spots for the next two months in what should be a thrilling race.

Houston and Chicago, however, did not keep pace and are both going to need to win about 4 games in a row to get back in contention in the East.  With the Dynamo flying west to SKC and Chicago hosting red-hot Dallas, next week could doom both of their remaining seasons.  Here's a looksy at the current standings, sorted as always by PPG:

MLS Eastern Conference Standings

Standings_08.24_medium

The Race

Note: Some values are not visible (Looking at you, Montreal's point total).Eastrace_08.24_medium

Black = Points earned.  Blue = Projected points.  Gray = Potential points.

Reason to like/trust the blue dots: They take number of games played into account.  For example, while the Crew and TFC are "even" in the standings, Toronto has two games in hand.  My blue dots show that by expecting TFC to get a few points out of those two games in hand.

Reason to roll your eyes at the blue dots: They don't take into account new players recently added or dropped from teams, who's hot, strength of schedule, etc.  You know, human stuff.

The Not-Quite-Heidi Klum "In" or "Out" Analysis:

  • In: SKC, DCU
  • Probably In: TFC.  Toronto won 6 of their first 11, then 3 of its next 12.  Julio Cesar is gone.  They're Toronto.  Plenty of reasons to wonder if they'll pull a 2013 Montreal and fade fast.  Three games in 8 days starting next Saturday, including a home and away vs. Philly, will say a lot.
  • Battling for Final 2 Spots: Columbus, Red Bulls, Philly, Revs.  "The East Quad" until someone comes up with something cooler.
  • Fading: Houston, Chicago
  • Out: Montreal

Crew Playoff Breakdown

Category
Statistic Notes

Projected Pts Needed For Crew To Make Playoffs (3rd, 4th, 5th)

3rd - 49

4th - 45

5th - 44

This week finally saw the middle of the pack in the East separate from Chicago and Houston.  While the 5th place line had been projecting in the historically low 40-41 range since the 4th of July, it shot up to 44 this week.  Columbus still has a shot at catching never-playoffed TFC for 3rd, but 4th or 5th are still more likely outcomes.
Current Crew Points & PPG
33, 1.32 Approaching the historical playoff benchmark of ~1.5 PPG and 50 points.

Projected Additional Points Needed for Playoffs

11 44 - 33 = 11

Example Record & PPG needed for 11 points in 9 games

3-4-2

1.22

For a team as hot as the Crew, a record like this should not be difficult.  They will still need to manage a rework of their back line and the common late-season MLS injury bug, but earning only 11 points in 9 games would be disappointing.  I'm expecting more than that.

Crew could host MLS Cup against:

Colorado, Portland, Vancouver

  • Why not dream, eh?  The MLS Cup participant with the better regular season record hosts the championship.
  • Of these teams, only Vancouver is in playoff position.







Who Do I Root For This Week?

Bigguns:

  • Toronto - New England.  The best part about this game is the kickoff time: 5:00pm.  A full 2 1/2 hours before the Crew take on Montreal, the Revs and John Paul "Jermaine" Jones will line up against the never-playoffed team up (true) north.  Best case here is a tie, which would allow the Crew to gain on both teams.  Next best result, and still a pretty good one, would be a Revs loss.  New England winning still evokes a smile, since TFC would then lose.  And probably fire their coach, as is tradition.
  • DC - New York.  Pains me to say it, but root for DC.  New York is what I'd consider the Crew's most dangerous foe in the "East Quad".  Henry knows that this is his last chance to win a cup for New York, and that scares me.  A lot.

If You're Couch-Surfing:

  • Kansas City - Houston.  Houston needs a win to stay relevant, but KC hasn't been great at home.  With 4 points in last 4 games, KC not looking stellar... another loss and a Crew win brings them into "catchable" range.
  • Chicago - Dallas.  Dallas should win this game handily.  Chicago has won twice in Bridgeview this year, and never once in Chicago.

What if...


If... ...Then
Best Case
Crew beats Montreal
Houston beats SKC
TFC - Revs tie
DC beats NYRB

  • Crew would be in 3rd on pts
  • 4th on PPG
  • 5 points clear of 5th place in the East.
  • Would pull to within 6 points of Kansas City for 2nd in East.
Worst Case
Montreal beats Crew
SKC beats Houston
Revs beat TFC
Red Bulls beat DC
  • 3-way tie for 4th-6th place on points
  • 6th on PPG
  • Bright side: TFC & DC both lose!
My Guess
Crew beat Montreal
SKC - Houston tie
TFC - Revs tie
DC beats NYRB
  • Nearly a best case scenario; I think this will be a kind weekend to Columbus
  • 3rd on pts
  • 4th on PPG
  • 5 pts clear of 5th place

.