- Posted by Drew Epperley
- On September 24, 2009
- 4 Comments
- Playoff Push 2009
As we near the final few weeks of the season the playoff race continues to be one of the hottest in recent memory. Four clubs are gunning for the Supporter’s Shield trophy while another seven are just gunning for a playoff spot in general.
I figured with a few games left on nearly all the club’s season menus it was time to look once again at the schedules to see who has what points left out there to grab. I’ll go ahead and throw out the four clubs that are really out of contention right now and are in the spoiler role. San Jose and Dallas can join New York this weekend with another loss I believe and be actually eliminated from contention. Kansas City is on a nice run right now but let’s me honest here it is too little too late so we will count them in the spoiler group as well.
First of all let’s look at those four that I see are in the running for the Supporter’s Shield this year. The Columbus Crew, the Houston Dynamo, the Chicago Fire and the LA Galaxy are all within a legitimate shot of one another for the regular season crown. You could very well also say that someone like Chivas who has six games to play instead of four or three like LA and Houston respectively has a good shot at the Shield but since they’ve been cold and luke warm since June I will continue to count them in the wild-card area for now. More on them in a second though.
Supporter’s Shield Race:
Chicago Fire (40 points, four games remaining: two home, two away):
For the Fire I do see plenty of chances to still get that top spot in the east and possibly the Supporter’s Shield. They must get points at home right now but with a 4-4-5 record at Toyota Park, one of the worst home records in the league it won’t come easy. However they get visits from two not so good road sides in Toronto and Chivas. Their final two road games see them in LA to face the Galaxy and in New England.
Out of the remaining 12 points they have left, eight seems realistic with the way they play at home. They get LA on the road which I think could be a win for the Fire. LA isn’t great at home and Chicago is one of the best road teams in the league. The game in New England is a toss up and so is the finale against Chivas at home. I think they’ll finish with 48, which may just be a couple shy of the Supporter’s Shield winner.
Columbus Crew (43 points, five games remaining: 3 home and 2 away +1 home CCL game and 1 away CCL game)
The Crew still have the best shot at the Supporter’s Shield crown for a second straight season. Take out their two remaining CCL games, which haven’t really slowed them down in league play yet and the Crew have a tough stretch here. LA, Seattle and New England all come to town, each should put up a good fight. Gotta believe that Seattle game will be a tough one with the return of Sigi Schmid. The two roadies go to DC and New England.
With 15 points on the boards left for the Crew I think it is still possible for them to reach 50 points here on the season, which should be good enough for another Supporter’s Shield. I think with this schedule they have a good shot at getting seven to nine points. I go below 10 points because of their two remaining CCL games, at home to Saprissa and on the road to Puerto Rico.
Houston Dynamo (43 points, three games remaining: 2 home, 1 away + 1 home friendly + 1 home CCL game and 1 away CCL game):
The Orange only have nine possible MLS points left on the board and with two home games remaining out of the three games it shouldn’t be too hard to get. They next host a hot KC squad and then LA before wrapping up the year at Chivas. Honestly that should be at least six points if not seven at the end of the year.
If they get all nine points it would put them at 52 points. That may be enough for a Supporter’s Shield but it may not. In other words they have to take care of everything they can here.
LA Galaxy (41 points, 4 games remaining: 2 home and 2 away):
I’ve been saying for weeks that I thought LA was a dark horse to win the Supporter’s Shield this year. No CCL games like two of the clubs in the race with them so they have 12 remaining points up for grabs. Much like Chicago, their home record isn’t anything special as they are just 5-4-4 at the Home Depot Center this season. With a visit from Chicago and in-state rival San Jose, improving that record won’t come easy.
Their two road trips are also in tough places as well. Trips to Columbus and Houston mean they have to take care of business on the road if they want to pass both the Crew and Dynamo for the Supporter’s Shield. I still think they have a good shot at it but getting even six points could be tough. I think the Galaxy will land somewhere in the four to six point range with their remaining slate.
Wild Card Race:
Chivas USA (37 points, 6 remaining games: four home and two away):
If Chivas is going to move into the Supporter’s Shield race they certainly have the schedule to do so. Their four remaining games see them host New York, KC, San Jose and Houston. If that doesn’t get them at least nine points then they really don’t deserve even a wild card spot in the playoffs. Their final two road games put them in DC and Chicago.
Out of the remaining 18 points the Goats have I think it is feasible to see them get at least 12 of those points, which should easily put them in the playoffs at 49 points. That could also get them an automatic playoff birth too instead of a wild card spot. That just means they have to win those first three home games against clubs they should beat no matter what here. Then picking up points in either of the two road games or the last game at home against Houston shouldn’t be too tough.
Colorado Rapids (38 points, four games remaining: 1 home, 3 away):
Things aren’t easy for the Rapids here on out, especially after they failed to pick up three points last night when they hosted San Jose. Still they do have a couple winable games. They will host New England inbetween road tips to Kansas City and Dallas. They close out the season against Rocky Mountain Cup rival Salt Lake, which could end up being a game that decides if they go to the playoffs or not this year.
With 12 points remaining the Rapids might be lucky to make out with seven points.
DC United (36 points, 4 remaining games: 3 home and 1 away + 2 home CCL games and 1 away CCL game):
If you exclude the CCL portion of the DC schedule this club has a very nice set up based on how they’ve played at home this year. Three home games against San Jose, Chivas and Columbus should get them at least six or seven points, which has to be enough right there to get them into the post season. The three CCL games will probably complicate that though.
New England (34 points, six remaining games: three home and three away):
The Revs are an interesting bunch to figure out. One week it looks like they are dead and out and the next they look like they are well on their way up the standings. With 18 remaining points they really do control a lot of their own fate here this season. The three home games sees Seattle, Columbus and Chicago come to town. All three games won’t be easy but that should be at least four points there. The three road games see them go to Dallas, Colorado and Columbus. Again, they could get at least four points out of that.
Will eight points in a remaining 18 points be enough to get them in? Maybe as the bottom number to get in will be at least 42 points this year. Their schedule isn’t easy to say the least but they could get some solid results and pick up points on the road which will certainly help their cause.
Real Salt Lake (34 points, 4 games remaining: 2 home and 2 away + one friendly):
Let’s face it, they have to at least get those two home games as wins if they want any shot. Thankfully one of those games at home is against New York, the other won’t be so easy against Colorado who will probably be playing for their playoff life at that point too. Road games at Dallas and Toronto won’t be easy though. They’ve tripped up plenty of times in Dallas before and going east (and north) to Toronto has never been easy for them.
This club has to steal points on the road to even feel like they have a chance at the playoffs. If they can pick up three points in Dallas it will easily give them the lift they need to get six points at home, which should be enough to get them in the playoffs. Lots of ifs though.
Seattle Sounders FC (38 points, four games remaining: one home and three away):
Tough stretch ahead for the expansion Sounders. Three straight road games in New England, Columbus and KC before closing out the year at home to Dallas. Face it they need to score at least five points on the road and get the one win at home to feel good about things. I think they can win in either New England or KC and I do think they have a shot at Columbus with the way Sigi Schmid always coaches his clubs up against his former sides.
Playoffs are still in line for this expansion club but the hopes rest on a lot of good play on the road which hasn’t come very often this year for them (just 3-4-5 on the road this year).
Toronto FC (34 points, four games remaining: two home and two away):
If Toronto is going to get into the post season it could very well happen based on the fairly easy remaining four games. They travel to Chicago and New York while hosting Salt Lake and San Jose. They must get those two home wins to get to 40 points while stealing three if not four points on the road. I think New York is a game they can win and surprisingly with the way the Fire play at home it could be a place they pick up a point on the road.
Still a lot of ifs for this side as well but the schedule does set up nicely for them to get at least eight or nine points.