Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Don't forget the games in hand.

I'm frustrated by the sports page commentary on the MLS season as we rush toward the playoffs. Articles headline the point totals of our crew against those of other teams as if they were a straightline calculation.   And the articles which follow chew through excess verbiage on which team has how many points.  The truth is the discussion isn't worth having unless it includes recognition of where each team stands in games played.   Without the factor of 'games in hand' or the difference in numbers of games played,  all the talk about points is just jawing.

My take right now on the Western division isn't aligned with what you'd read in the paper. Sounders, coming on strong late in the season are not only atop the Western Division but have two games in hand and 50 points.  With six games left they have a potential 18 more points.  Even if they lost two games,  they'd be at 62 points.  Real Salt Lake has four games left.  Winning all four would give them only 60 points.  The Galaxy,  at best,  can pick up 60 points as well in five games.  Colorado with four games left can pick up a max of 12 points to put them at 59 possible points.   Hard to imagine that Seattle would drop more than two games.   The new alignment of the MLS means they will play all of their remaining games against western competition except for a match against Red Bulls on the 29th.

So that brings me to my own hometown crew. The Timbers have five matches left for a potential capture of 15 points. I rate the odds good that the Timbers can take all three of their home games and at least nail the final match against Chivas.  That would give them 58 points.  Good enough to be in the final four.   However,  it's not a given that 58 points are enough. The table is very very tight.  I'm holding my breath and counting.  No question that we are in a strong position but there's no room for missteps.