MLS Week 27 Rankings: DC United + Guests

In a mistake that I’ll now attempt to pass off as being a common one, I stated in yesterday’s wrap of Week 27 that “just one more team clinched a post-season placement.”  This is incorrect: Red Bull New York made it in as well; so far as I know, credit for the correction goes to MetroFanatic for realizing before anyone up to including MLSnet’s interns that both Chicago and LA can’t win their final game of the season.

So that makes two dodgy teams in the post-season – at least two.  Who knows?  Maybe if Denilson continues to play defense (as he did against Columbus, if only a little bit) and Dallas gets some steel in their shoes, they may again become the team they were.  With Red Bull, eh, not so much.  But the rot goes beyond those two teams, really: as it now stands, the playoff picture looks a lot like DC United and _____.  Who can you see hauling down DC United – and this is crucial – before MLS Cup?  With all the contenders losing their footing down the stretch, figuring the team to do this requires a mixture of cool analysis and faith in one of the teams to play their best game when it matters.  It’s that little bit of missing consistency and conviction, something we’re seeing now in all comers, that makes me wonder if there’s anyone up to trading blows with the Black and Red.

Finally, I’m going to rip these things up and start from scratch.  The (absurdly long) regular season, whether you’re talking records or points compiled, just doesn’t seem all that relevant as we peer over the post-season precipice.  As I see it, the real question now is which teams do the others want to avoid in the first round.  The answer to that is, Chicago…or LA.

All righty, moving to the business side of this, last week’s ranking appears in parentheses after this week’s ranking, each team’s points total appears after their name, and, finally, each team’s Week 27 opponent comes after my chatterings.

1. (1) DC United (54 points)
In ways too diverse and depressing to relate, DC stands above the crowd.  The best hope for kneecapping their confidence comes a home loss to Chicago; so, yeah, Saturday’s game looms large (better be on goddam TV).
Week 27: Chicago Fire, 10/13

2. (4) Chivas USA (51 pts.)
Then there’s Chivas’ potential for using their two Week 28 games to force a tie in the Supporters’ shield race.  But they do need all six and that road game to Dallas – who really should be riding high after this weekend’s late rally – could be tricky.
Week 28: @ FC Dallas, 10/11, Colorado Rapids, 10/14

3. (2) Houston Dynamo (48 pts.)
They only rate this high after I reined in my instincts to punish them horribly for losing to LA.  They have the pieces to be contenders – or did, till one up and got suspended – but they need to prove they know how to use them in 2007.  I’m ready to drop ‘em lower if they fail to show against RSL.
Week 28: @ Real Salt Lake, 10/15 (apparently, this is Week 29 officially)

4. (5) Chicago Fire (36 pts.)
Yeah, I did it.  I bumped Chicago into the contender stratosphere. The key: they’re figuring “it” out quicker than the rest.  They just look like a confident team – and that’s even with Paulo Wanchope dogging it all over every park he visits…he’s making Chad Barrett look like God.
Week 28: @ DC United, 10/13

5. (3) New England Revolution (49 pts.)
In their defense, I think fatigue got to them against Chicago; they played a pretty sound game while they had the legs.  But I also feel like people have figured out the “Nicol-system” and that the Revs will pay for this…though not before rolling into the playoffs on the back of two wins.
Week 28: Columbus Crew, 10/13

6. (8) FC Dallas (43 pts.)
The first of the post-season make-weights, FC Dallas deserves credit for coming back against the Crew; I, for one, didn’t think they had it in them.  I’m still pulling for them to break their first-round jinx, but suspect their defense won’t let them.
Week 28: Chivas USA, 10/11

7. (6) Red Bull New York (39 pts.)
No disrespect intended to Red Bull fans, but I don’t see these guys doing much; then again, those fans are probably twice as pissed about this as I’ll ever be. Maybe kicking a half-supine KC this weekend will give them a lift?
Week 28: Kansas City Wizards, 10/13

8. (10) Los Angeles Galaxy (30 pts.)
Well, the bastards won again.  As much as it pains me to admit it, the fact they have, literally, run the table to make the post-season is the only reason I didn’t rank them higher.  This is one of very few genuinely scary teams in MLS right now.
Week 28: Toronto FC, 10/13

9. (7) Kansas City Wizards (37 pts.)
Sad to say, but I won’t be surprised at all if these cats collapse and join Columbus on their third straight visit to the Short Seasons Club.  Better teams could roll with their last two games, but, if they were better, they wouldn’t be KC.
Week 28: @ Red Bull New York, 10/13

10. (9) Real Salt Lake (24 pts.)
RSL only dropped to make room for KC.  In all honesty, I think RSL would beat KC just now.  But I also think RSL should be punished for not being able to play when it matters.
Week 28: Houston Dynamo, 10/15

11. (11) Columbus Crew (31 pts.)
They…just…don’t…have…it.  Sigi Schmid had them looking for their balls several weeks too late.
Week 28: @ New England Revolution, 10/13

12. (12) Colorado Rapids (32 pts.)
Still mathematically alive, but I don’t think anyone is pulling for a Rapids’ presence in the post-season…possibly not even their own fans.
Week 28: @ Chivas USA, 10/14

13. (13) Toronto FC (24 pts.)
Better luck next year.  Just trip LA on your way to Portland.
Week 28: @ Los Angeles Galaxy

8 Responses

  1. In regards to who can match up against DCU, I think Kansas City showed a rather interesting strategy, if you have the personnel to pull it off.

    In the KC game, Moreno was hobbling around on one leg and Fred was absent. But the usual cast of characters were there. Regardless, KC managed a tie employing the same strategy they had at the beginning of the year:

    Speed past United on the wings, converge to the central defenders after gaining momentum, get off a quick shot before the lumbering central defenders are set, then run back like hell. Defensively, abuse the two forwards and pray you don’t get a card in the box (see: Emilio). DCU’s wingers in Fred and Olsen have been highly productive due to the fact that defenders are pre-occupyed with United’s attack from “cherry picking” styled forwards, giving the wingers all the room in world. What did KC do? Stifle the forwards and central midfielder, forcing the wingers to take the attack themselves. Olsen can only go so far and a healthy Fred creates for others and only really scores on give-and-gos.

    Kansas City has the perfect strategy. They just don’t have the personnel to use their strategy effectively. But really, who does have the right personnel to do that?

    But then again, this strategy is bullocks if you can’t score (meaning: Troy Perkins has another god-like day).

  2. Forward this to coaches across the league! Quickly!! As in NOW!!

    Thanks for that, James. Educational read.

  3. jeff, why do you think the regular season is absurdly long? i’ve never heard anyone express that sentiment, so i’m curious.

  4. Don’t take this wrong, expat lumberjack, but I have to ask first, seriously? You’ve never heard this? I’m not saying that’s a bad thing – I mean you hear things when you hear them – but I always feel like I’m re-hashing old news when I mention this stuff.

    Getting to the question, though, it’s not the season itself so much as a tension thing. Basically, MLS plays 30 regular games to weed out five teams for the playoffs – e.g. the second season when all teams start with a clean slate. Every team knows they can afford a mid-season slump because it typically takes just one good run to get back in contention – see, Galaxy, Los Angeles.

    The American in me makes me very comfortable with playoffs conceptually, but MLS needs either a bigger weed-out at the end of those 30 games or they need to play fewer regular season games and expand the post-season. That said, I’d also do fine in a league that plays a season and crowns a champion at the end of it, much like they do in Europe. If they go THAT way, however, they need to stick with the enforcement of parity.

  5. ah, i see the argument. i guess i always heard the argument go against the playoff system rather than against the length of the season, so it didn’t occur to me that you were explicating that tension. it seemed as though you were voicing a separate complaint you had with the length of the season.

    i have been de-ignorant-ized. cheers!

  6. Ah, there’s the rub. I don’t always explain things so good.

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  8. Hi! Nice site!

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