The Playoff Line: 38 Points Or Bust

The Playoff Line: 38 Points Or Bust

  • Posted by Drew Epperley
  • On August 12, 2008
  • MLS Cup, MLS Cup Playoffs, Playoff Push, Supporter's Shield

Its mid-August and that means that it is not only hot out side but the MLS playoff race is heating up with every game. Most clubs have 11 games left on the menu so each team is starting to figure out where exactly that line is that they need to get to here to make the playoffs.

In a year with more draws than anything else (70 in total so far and up 27% from last year), it shouldn’t take nearly as many points as it normally does to make the playoffs. In years past the magic number for those final two or sometimes three clubs is to reach the 40 point line. Some are saying that this year it could be as low as 37 or 38 points for those final spots.

So what does your club have to do to make sure they reach that mark and more importantly pass that mark? Right now with all the parity in the league and with the jam packed standings (2 points separate 4th and 10th place) things are wide open here. I figure its a good time to break down those final 11 or 12 games to see what each club has left to do and if they have a realistic shot at hitting that 38 point line, or even that 40 point line.

Feel free to comment on your club’s schedule or which one’s you think are the toughest or the weakest.

Chicago Fire (32 points after 19 games):

Home (6): DC, New York, Dallas, LA, Columbus, New York
Away (5): LA, Houston, Colorado, KC, Toronto

Always good to have more home than away but this is a doable schedule for the Fire indeed. They are easily going to make the playoff at their current pace, and right now are in great contention for the Supporter’s Shield. Road games in Toronto and Houston worry me a bit but with who they play at home they could be seeing a Supporter’s Shield trophy here this year.

Chivas USA (22 pts., after 18 games):

Home (6): LA, San Jose, Toronto, KC, Colorado, Houston
Away (6): Houston, Toronto, New England, Salt Lake, DC, San Jose
CCL (2): Home and away with Tauro FC

Their home games are definitely win-able. Especially the next four. Thing is you throw in a three-game trip in the middle of that with Toronto, NE, and RSL and you could be looking at some tough times again for this injury-plagued bunch. Also, throw in the CONCACAF Champions League games and it could be a very long fall for this club. A big if is their health, because if they can stay healthy through it all they will be in the playoffs. I just wonder if they have the juice in the tank to get it done with that loaded schedule.

Colorado Rapids (21 pts., after 19 games):

Home (5): KC, Chicago, New England, Houston, RSL
Away (6): DC, RSL, Dallas, New York, LA, Chivas

As inconsistent as this club has been I just don’t believe they have enough to get those 16 or 18 points here to make the playoffs. That would be six wins or at least four wins and a couple draws. For a club that has yet to pull together a string of two straight wins in-league play this year, I just don’t see it happening.

Columbus Crew (31 pts., after 19 games):

Home (6): Dallas, RSL, New England, New York, LA, DC
Away (5): Dallas, Toronto, New England, Chicago, New York

You know I like the Crew’s schedule down the stretch. I like it a lot really. The final month could be tough with LA and DC in town and trips to Chicago and New York. But they should have no problems reaching the playoffs with that home schedule and you better believe that it does give them a shot at the Supporter’s Shield trophy still. Those two with Dallas coming up will show a lot though on the Supporter’s Shield area. Two wins and they should be in the hunt, but another stumble will mainly just keep them in the playoff picture and not the SS.

DC United (25 pts., after 18 games):

Home (5): Colorado, New York, Dallas, Chivas, New England
Away (7): Chicago, New England, San Jose, LA, Dallas, Houston, Columbus
CCL (6): Three home and three away
USOC (1): Home with New England (tonight)

That my friends is a loaded schedule. All 19 games for the Black-and-Red between today and Halloween. Let’s worry about league games for now though, more road games than home and that isn’t a good thing with how they’ve played this year. They have a game in hand right now on a lot of clubs so that’s a positive thing with games against Colorado and New York coming up at home. Thing is they have to travel to Chicago and New England before those two home games. Yikes. They need 13 or 15 points here so we are talking at least four wins, and honestly they should have them with some of those home games.

FC Dallas (25 pts., after 19 games):

Home (5): Columbus, Colorado, DC, San Jose, Toronto
Away (6): Columbus, KC, DC, Chicago, RSL, LA

Love the home schedule, hate the road schedule for this club. Needing that 13 to 15 points, they should be able to get that at home and maybe steal a point or two on the road against KC, Chicago, or LA. If SuperCooper continues to score they will make the playoffs but if he cools off it could be tough for this young club. I still think right now they have an excellent shot at making it.

Houston Dynamo (26 pts., after 18 games):

Home (7): RSL, Chivas, Chicago, KC, San Jose, DC, LA
Away (5): New York, San Jose, Toronto, Colorado, Chivas
CCL (6): Three home and three away

Sounds loaded but with 10 of those 18 being in Houston you have to love the Dynamo’s chances right now. They are in excellent position to not only make the playoffs but win the west this season. I would be willing to say that just about every home game is win-able at this point for them and they probably could win at least three out of those five road games. Plus, even with all the extra games they have long periods of games at home compared to those road stretches. Man did they ever luck out on their schedule this season.

Kansas City Wizards (25 pts., after 19 games):

Home (6): Dallas, LA, Toronto, Chicago, New England, San Jose
Away (5): Colorado, San Jose, Houston, Chivas, New England

If there is any club that has a great final month in terms of a schedule it is Kansas City. Three of four are at home to close the year. Sure they may not be cake walks with the likes of Chicago and New England on consecutive weekends but not having to travel those final weeks could really help this young club out. They need at least four wins and out of this 11 games they should be able to find that based on their recent play. It won’t be pretty but they may be able to just do enough to get in at this point.

LA Galaxy (23 pts., after 19 games):

Home (5): Chicago, RSL, DC, Colorado, Dallas
Away (6): Chivas, New England, KC, Chicago, Columbus, Houston

Traditionally not a great road team and with the recent coaching situation I really have my doubts for this club. Then again I had them from the start of the year so it isn’t a huge shocker. I did say back then that I didn’t see them winning more than eight games so I may be eating my words right there since they already have six in the bag. Still they need a lot of wins and points in general to make the playoffs at their current pace. Things just don’t look good for those 15 or 17 points right now.

New England Revolution (33 pts., after 18 games):

Home (6): DC, LA, Chivas, Columbus, RSL, KC
Away (6): San Jose, Toronto, Columbus, Colorado, KC, DC
CCL (2): Home and away with Joe Public FC
USOC (1): Away at DC (tonight)

Sounds a bit loaded but for a club that is in Supporter’s Shield contention, I like this schedule. The home slate isn’t too shabby with clubs coming into town in the coming weeks. Plus those ones at the end of the year aren’t great away from their home venues. Also, their away slate isn’t terrible but the could see some problems at Toronto or Columbus…or DC if they get their act together. Playoffs are a sure bet at this point, and Supporter’s Shield is also within reach.

New York Red Bulls (25 pts., after 19 games):

Home (6): Toronto, Houston, RSL, Colorado, Toronto, Columbus
Away (5): DC, Chicago, Columbus, RSL, Chicago

I honestly love their home schedule. For a club that needs four or five wins to be safe, they can do it with that schedule. The road slate isn’t great but having clubs like Toronto, RSL, and Colorado come into town sure sounds good for their chances. Plus getting Toronto twice at home could end up as a blessing. Its all about consistent play for these Red Bulls. If they can find it they should make the playoffs. Key word is should.

Real Salt Lake (27 pts., after 19 games):

Home (4): Colorado, Chivas, New York, Dallas
Away (7): Houston, Columbus, LA, New York, San Jose, New England, Colorado

Good lord that is just wrong. Two of those home games are in a new stadium too, so be watchful of that to see how this club responds to a new field that isn’t crappy turf. But seven of those last 11 on the road is just brutal for a club that doesn’t win away from Salt Lake City. I think the playoffs are in reach but stumbling on the road could do some major damage to their playoff position. They need four wins to probably be safe at this point so they cannot afford to drop any more points at home and hope to at least pick up what they can on the road. In other words, they have to figure out how to win on the road or else.

San Jose Earthquakes (18 pts., after 19 games):

Home (7): New England, KC, DC, Houston, RSL, Chivas, Toronto
Away (4): Chivas, Houston, Dallas, KC

For a club that is making a serious push, this schedule surely helps out down the stretch. Thing is they have to win as much as possible here and that won’t be easy when they play clubs that will be looking to secure a playoff birth themselves right now. To be safe they need 22 points, or about seven wins and change. Not going to be easy for a club with only four wins total on the year. Draws help but before long they have to be wins in order to remain in the hunt. For now they are but in a month I just don’t see it happening. But they will make it interesting.

Toronto FC (25 pts., after 19 games):

Home (5): New England, Chivas, Columbus, Houston, Chicago
Away (6): New York, Chivas, KC, New York, Dallas, San Jose

It’s apparent this club has to win nearly all five games at home to be really safe. They could pick up points on the road in places like New York, KC, San Jose or against Chivas. I’m not saying wins but at least some points. I believe they have the trickiest of schedules though, its as tough at home as it is on the road. If they find some offense I will be able to feel better about their chances but for now I just don’t know if their schedule will work out for them in the end.

  • realslfan

    If 38 points is really the magical number, then RSL is in. They would need just 11 points in 11 games. Their 4 home games should give them 8 points, and despite their early season road struggles I believe they can easily muster 3 points on the road in 7 matches. The problem is that I'm not convinced 38 is going to be enough.

  • If 38 points is really the magical number, then RSL is in. They would need just 11 points in 11 games. Their 4 home games should give them 8 points, and despite their early season road struggles I believe they can easily muster 3 points on the road in 7 matches. The problem is that I’m not convinced 38 is going to be enough.