Current Playoff Outlook: No Sleep Till Harrison
Last Week's Summary
I normally try to keep the focus on the future, but these weekly wrap-ups are too important to gloss over. I'll try to be brief (Editor's Note: Failed at being brief).
New York beating DC mid-week was probably the result that hurt the Crew the most. The Red Bulls made up their game in hand, beating the top 2 teams in the East back-to-back, then nearly beating Philly for a roaring triple (More on that in a bit). In doing so, they leapfrogged both Columbus and Philly in the standings. New England's expected win over Montreal sent them to 5 straight wins and 5 points ahead of Columbus. If you're keeping track at home, the Emo-lution now have 2 separate 5-game win streaks this year, sandwiching an 8-game losing streak. TFC tying Chicago in the 89th also wasn't great, but they still didn't gain any points on Columbus. Kansas City managed to earn some breathing room from the pack with a win over Chivas TBD, but I see them losing points in their next 2 games against the Revs and DC. Expect them to be fighting, and knowing SKC that probably means throwing ninja stars, for 3rd by October.
The best non-Crew part of the weekend was Philly's stoppage-time tying goal against New York. That "killed a point" as they say, distributing 2 points among Philly and the Red Bulls instead of giving New York 3. I've beat this to death, but that's going to be key in the next 6 weeks. When 2 teams that we're up against for playoffs spots play each other, best result is usually a tie. Also, since the Crew have 2 games remaining against Philly and only one against New York, the Red Bulls' success would leave the Crew needing more help for others than Philly's would.
As far as my predictions ("My Guess" in the bottom section), I went 5-2. I thought the Galaxy would beat Montreal, but the Impact showed that they're a team better than their record and managed a tie. Dilly Duka and their new DP Piatti have changed the DNA of the team enough that they now play with the confidence of a mid-table team. That said, their loss Saturday effectively eliminated Montreal from the playoffs. I also thought Chicago would beat the mess that is TFC, but that was prior to Mike Magee being out for the season. Even without him, the Fire still almost managed to win the game. I'll take 5-2 anytime; especially in MLS.
Here's the current standings. Like I said last week, these are now sorted in the standard MLS order: PTS, W, GD, GF... Since all teams are within 2 games of each other, I'm no longer sorting by PPG.
Current MLS Eastern Conference Standings
The Race and 4cast - 6 Weeks Left
Last week, I introduced my actual 4casted figures. These were compiled by me running through all the remaining games that involved Eastern Conference teams and picking winners and losers or ties. So this week, I'm eliminating the previous "projected" blue dots to clear things up even more. Those were computed simply by taking a team's PPG and multiplying by 34. Lame, heartless math crap, get off my lawn!
Start to pay more attention to the gray stuff below. Potential points will be what matters when it comes to teams making up their games in hand over the next few weeks. They will also point out when certain teams will clinch playoff spots and when others will be eliminated.
Like last week, I have the Crew ending in 4th place, tied with Philly but earning 4th on the wins tiebreaker. This scenario would have the Crew needing a win going into their final home game of the season to even qualify for the playoffs. As if the final home game of the regular season needed more drama, it will be their first since their rebranding announcement and potentially their last with the construction crew on their crest. (Single tear...) Friendly tip: Get your tickets secured for that game!
Note: Some values are not visible (Looking at you, Montreal's point total).
CREW 4CAST: 4TH PLACE
Yellow = Crew's Pts earned. Black = Bad Guys' Pts earned. Gray = Potential Pts Red = 4casted Pts
In-N-Out Burger Analysis:
No Change from last week...
- In: DC United, Sporting Kansas City
- Battling for Final 3 Spots: Revs, Crew, Red Bulls, Philly, TFC
- Keep Hope Alive: Houston, Chicago (barely)
- Dehors: Montreal
Crew Playoff Breakdown
4casted Pts Needed For Crew To Make Playoffs (3rd, 4th, 5th)
3rd - 47
4th - 46
5th - 46
Reminder: All points are now the 4casted (red) projections
No change from last week.
|Current Crew 4cast
||46||This would be a 5-point improvement over 2013.|
Projected Additional Points Needed for Playoffs
47-37 = 10
46-37 = 9
Example Record & PPG needed for 9 or 10 points in final 6 games
|The Crew's next two games are at home. I'd say they'll need four points in those two to stay on pace. After that they have three, count 'em THREE road contests in a row against the teams they're battling with the most in the playoff chase (New England, Philly, New York). Even six points in the next two weeks will not give Crew fans any comfort. I'm thinking the earliest Columbus will clinch a playoff spot will be after their game vs. New York. No Sleep Till Harrison.|
Crew could host MLS Cup against:
|Colorado, Vancouver||Only Vancouver is in playoff position. As FC Dallas won again Saturday, it's looking more and more like the 5th place Western Wild Card entry would be the only team against whom the Crew could host the 2014 MLS Cup.|
Who Do I Root For This Week?
Thankfully, MLS' mid-weeks games have given way this week to the US Open Cup final and CONCACAF Champions League. This gives you more time to enjoy/donate/paint for #TIFOSWEAT this week.
- Houston & Philly to tie - Saturday 7pm, MLS Live. The Dynamo are 5 points behind the playoff line right now, so it's easy to think that beating the Union would benefit the Crew. However, with a game in hand and 2 remaining against flailing Chicago, Houston could easily pull a Houston and Houston their way into the playoffs right at the finish. Philly will be starting their top line on Tuesday night in the US Open Cup final, there may be some fresh faces Saturday night.
- Seattle over New York - Saturday 7:30pm, NBCSN. If you're thinking, "But Nate, no effin' way am I rooting for the Starbucks Flounders!", I get that. Try just following Massive Champion Brad Evans around the field, knowing that he's a goofball who did this.
- DC over Chicago - Saturday 8:30pm, MLS Live. Kicking off an hour after the Crew game, you probably won't see much of this one. Chicago is 7 points behind the playoff line, but has a game in hand. Without Magee, I don't see them competing for the post-season. So a win would keep them in the conversation, while a loss would give them a maximum of 48 points and would pretty much bury them.
- Chivas over Toronto - Sunday 3:00pm, UniMas. Like Chicago, Toronto is looking up at the playoff contingent. However, with 34 points they're in a much better position than the Fire. But like the Crew and SKC before them, Toronto finds themselves lined up with the ultimate slump-buster: Chivas TBD. I see TFC winning this game and keeping the pitchforks at bay for at least another week. (In fact, I see them beating Portland the following week, too. But 10/4 at the Galaxy... not so much.)
- New section. Looking out a week, this will indicate if players we're 2 weeks from soccering against are sittin' on 4 yellers.
- From last week, Bunbury's card means he'll miss the Crew match Saturday.
- For Montreal, Ouimette has 4 yellow cards; one more and he'll be out vs Columbus
Note: Montreal is out, so I'm ignoring them in the "If...". This week, I'm guessing they beat SJ.