OK, about half the league has finished their 25th match of the year and a number will be doing double MLS duty this week. Along with the power ranking of each team, I am going to be forecasting their chance of making the playoffs and while mathematically only one team is truly eliminated, but reality is that for me 5 teams are out , and 3 are trying to pull of some type of miracle to steal a spot away from a team that currently is in.
16. DC United - 18 points (-)
Oh it would have been nice if DC United could have finished off the match against LA, but LA isn't Toronto and DC found itself on the wrong end of 2-1 loss at the Home Depot Center. It is nice that Ben Olsen has established the correct perspective for his team, their goal is simply not be the worst team in MLS this year. For DC United them find themselves the first team to be officially eliminated from the playoffs.
15. New England Revolution - 24 points (-)
A early goal given up at Colorado lead to a 3-0 thumping for the Revolution and the only real question is will they finally own up to the fact that they need to start a major rebuilding project. Younger, healthier, and players who can contribute on a week in and week out basis are needed, instead of one hit wonders who have a great match or two and then go absent for weeks on end. The Rev's have a busy week as they will head to Pizza Hut Park to face off with FC Dallas on Wednesday and then will play host to the Columbus Crew. The results won't matter because the Revolution will not be making a playoff run this year, they are 12 points out of a spot with 18 possible points remaining but by next weekend they could be mathematically eliminated officially.
more after the jump:
14. Houston Dynamo - 23 points (-)
When you lose at home to a team with just a single road win all year it should be a sign that your season is over and that you like so many other teams should start the evaluation and rebuild process. When Houston dropped a weekend home match to Toronto FC, it marked the end of any miracle comeback, oh they might get a couple results this week as they will head to Kansas City on Wednesday and then to DC on Saturday, but even with two wins they would be on the outside looking in and I can't see them getting two wins. If I were a Houston fan I would start making suggestions on what DP they should be looking for, a new Keeper to replace Onstad, a new striker to replace Ching, someone in the midfield to replace either Clark or StuHo? 13 points out of a playoff spot, with 18 possible points, but Houston is another team that could be eliminated from any hope of the playoffs by the end of the weekend.
13. Chivas USA - 25 points (-)
It was another match where Chivas had some players doing well but as a team it was a mess and in the end it was a 2-0 win for the Kansas City Wizards, and the end of the Chivas playoff dreams. Chivas will head to Philadelphia for a match that they should be able to leverage some individual efforts to make at least an entertaining match to watch, but they are 11 points out with 16 possible points and I see nothing that would lead me to believe that Chivas will be able to pull off even 9 points in their final 6 matches.
12. Philadelphia Union - 24 points (-)
A Thursday loss to San Jose may have been the final nail in the coffin of play off dreams for the Union. They are 12 points out of a playoff spot with 6 matches (18 points available), so the likelihood of a serious run at a spot are over. They may have 4 of their last 6 at home but they also have 3 matches against teams in the race for the Supporters' Shield (LA, New York, and Columbus) the final 3 weeks of the season. A win this weekend against Chivas would give them 7 wins on the year and for an expansion team that isn't really that bad, they have a good core to build around and should be able to improve next season.
11. Chicago Fire - 26 points (-1)
I know that many people a month ago thought the Fire would make a run at a playoff spot and they still could but it will require a huge shift in form, they are 10 points out of a spot but have 7 matches left (21 points). The issue that I believe is causing the issues is that the Fire continue to play as individuals instead of as a team. they make good runs, they make some great plays but overall they end up falling short when too few are being asked to do too much. That is what happened to them on Saturday as they lost 1-0 to Real Salt Lake, and unless they find a way to start playing as a team it is likely to cost them when they play host to the Sounders on Saturday.
10. Toronto FC - 31 points (+1)
Grasping to straws, a come from behind 2-1 win on the shoulders of former Dynamo Dwayne De Rosario, over the Dynamo keep the playoff hopes alive as the Red's claim their second road win of the season. They are 5 points out of a playoff spot with 5 matches (15 points) left , but they face some tough matches and a busy schedule. TFC will head to Mexico City to face Cruz Azul on Tuesday in CCL play, and then head home to host the San Jose Earthquakes (one of the teams they are chasing for a playoff spot) on Saturday in what would be a must win match if they are to have any shot at the playoffs.
9. Kansas City Wizards - 30 points (-)
This is the team from the East that I think has the best shot at getting into the playoffs via a wildcard spot, they are currently 6 points out of a spot but have 7 matches (21 points) remaining. They have two home matches this week and the first is against a struggling Houston side, but then they will host FC Dallas on Saturday, we will know a lot more about their playoff hopes after this weekend. It is one thing to beat up on Chivas USA, a whole other thing to be the 3rd team to hand FC Dallas a loss this year.
8. San Jose Earthquakes - 36 points (-2)
So how does a team that gets a road win drop in my power rankings? Easy their win was less impressive than the two teams that move in front of them. The Quakes are in good shape with their 36 points as they have two games in hand over Seattle (also 36 points), and one in hand over the Rapids (37 points). They will head to Toronto this weekend to try and get another win and keep points from one of the teams chasing them for a playoff spot.
7. Colorado Rapids - 37 points (+1)
I love how during the Rapids match this weekend their announce team was quick to point out that they had won 2 of their last 3 matches by 3-0 margins, they didn't mention they were over two of the worst teams in the league or that when they had to face a top team like the New York Red Bulls, that they got handed a 3-1 defeat. I will give the Rapids their due, they are an improved side over last year and will likely make the playoffs, but they will face a stern test this weekend as they head to Salt Lake City for leg one of the Rocky Mountain Cup.
6. Seattle Sounders - 36 points ( +1)
I am sure the Crew supporters have plenty of excuses why they lost 4-0 to Seattle this weekend, I am sure Will Hesmer will explain that the Crew were actually the better team. The reality is that the Sounders were far and away the better team, and that a team is always better than a group of individual players. Seattle since the departure of that guy famous for getting paid to leave West Ham, and posing in his tighty(thanks for the correction Jeremiah) whities, they have started to play like a team and the end result is that they are making a serious run for a playoff spot. Next up is a battle at Chicago, and a win would boost the Sounders playoff chances while keeping the Fire away from a spot.
5. Columbus Crew - 44 points (-)
I for the longest time had waited for the real Crew to be exposed and you have to wonder if after 3-1 loss at LA, and a 4-0 loss to Seattle at home if the wheels are coming off. Not that their playoff spot is going away, they are in unless they have a complete meltdown. The question is with CCL matches and knowing they are secure making the playoffs have they decided to use some cruise control for the last few weeks of the MLS season and try to turn it back on for the playoffs? They should be able to play at 70% and still get a win over New England this weekend.
4. New York Red Bulls - 41 points (-)
The Devil went down to Texas, I mean Thierry Henry and the New York Red Bulls went down to Texas and while they left with a 2-2 draw, they did their fair share of damage. They were able to take out the cement of FC Dallas' lineup as both Daniel Hernandez and Kevin Hartman went from the pitch to the injured list. It is still interesting that now 4 days later MLS still hasn't spoken out about the reckless and stupid play of TH14 that resulted in a player perhaps being done for the season. Nice to know the rules only apply when they want them to, and you know that "the Don" and his minions don't want anything to take away from Friday nights big match between LA and New York. One is left to wonder what other rules have or would be bent to ensure they get this same matchup in November?
3. Los Angeles Galaxy - 50 points (-)
LA put forth a stellar effort against Columbus, getting a 3-1 win and then they had to come from behind in the final minutes to squeak out a 2-1 win over DC United. It is clear that LA is at the point where they are motivated against the top teams and tend to dial it in against others (ask the Islanders). This strategy might work, but it also could come back and bite them in the playoffs. The Galaxy are the first team to clinch a playoff spot and they are to be congratulated on that, but they aren't nearly as scary as they were at the start of the season. They should show up big on Friday, it will be ESPN2 and the New York Red Bulls, it should be fun to watch.
2. FC Dallas - 42 points (-)
For a while it sure looked like FC Dallas were going to get the win over the mighty Red Bulls, but a stupid red card for Shea, an injury to Hernandez, Hartman taken out by TH14, and the point might be the least important part of the 2-2 draw with New York. Still with only two losses this year, the Hoops are clearly a team to be taken seriously. They will get a huge chance to close the gap with both LA and RSL as they play two matches this week and they should be the heavy favorite in both of them. Wednesday they will host the New England Revolution, and on Saturday they will travel to Kansas City and I doubt either will hand them their 3rd loss of the year.
1. Real Salt Lake - 47 points (-)
Only 5 times in MLS history has a team had just a single loss in 20 matches, that is the type of history RSL has been making this year after their rough start. 23 unbeaten matches at home, a MLS record, was set with their 1-0 win over the Chicago Fire. There are a number of other possible league marks that RSL could set this year, but all of that will have to wait as the team is headed to Panama for some CCL action before heading back to "Castle Real" to continue the "Reign of RSL" as they host the Colorado Rapids in leg one of the Rocky Mountain Cup.
So here is how I see the playoffs shaping up:
In- LA, RSL, Columbus, New York, FC Dallas
Likely - Colorado, San Jose, Seattle
Possible - Kansas City
Sorry but not going to happen - Toronto FC, Chicago Fire, Chivas USA, Philadelphia, New England, Houston and DC United.
So there you have my power rankings and thoughts on the playoffs.
OFF MY SOAPBOX