Schedule Extrapolation (Incomplete, Based on the Crew’s)

This morning, Shawn Mitchell, of Columbus Dispatch and Covering the Crew fame, posted a leaked 2008 home schedule for the Columbus Crew. This schedule is, as he notes, tentative – as in, we may see something different on Thursday (though he doesn’t see why we would) – but that doesn’t mean we can’t learn a thing or two from looking at it.

To begin, this home schedule contains 15 games. And, assuming that’s accurate, that tells us….yes, Timmy, that we can expect a 30-game regular season schedule. Don’t know if Major League Soccer (MLS) fans knew that already, but I didn’t and it makes sense seeing as it does match last year’s total. That’s too many games, as I see it, especially with all the other junk going on (Superliga, CONCACAF Champions League, U.S. Open Cup, money-spinning club friendlies, etc.), as well as the still-bloated playoff format. But I’m not on that committee…so, moving on.

There doesn’t seem to be much for gaps in the Crew’s home schedule toward that late summer gap, but that could be a factor of the club in question – e.g. a club that won’t be participating in Superliga, the Champs’ League, etc.

Speaking of the Crew’s 2007 schedule – and Crew fans might want to look away from the results – I got to wondering if we could use that to fill in a few blanks on Mitchell’s half schedule – e.g. how many times Columbus (along with the rest of the teams) will play clubs inside and outside the Eastern Conference. While I’m guessing this is pretty obvious – e.g. I’m sure there’s a formula for this kind of thing – I’d rate getting some of the league’s tougher teams twice at home instead of twice on the road counts as some kind of advantage.

Here goes, starting with a copy/paste job of Mitchell’s insider dish:

March 29, 2008, 4:00 PM, Toronto FC
April 12, 2008, 7:30 PM, Chivas USA
April 26, 2008, 7:30 PM, Houston Dynamo
May 3, 2008, 7:30 PM, Kansas City Wizards
May 24, 2008, 7:30 PM, New England Revolution
June 7, 2008, 7:30 PM, San Jose Earthquakes
June 28, 2008, 7:30 PM, Colorado Rapids
July 5, 2008, 7:30 PM, Chicago Fire
July 17, 2008, 8:00 PM, Kansas City Wizards
August 16, 2008, 7:30 PM, FC Dallas
August 23, 2008, 7:30 PM, Real Salt Lake
September 6, 2008, 7:30 PM, New England Revolution
September 18, 2008, 7:00 PM, New York Red Bulls
October 4, 2008, 7:30 PM, Los Angeles Galaxy
October 26, 2008, 5:00 PM, D.C. United

Turning to last year’s schedule, one sees that teams seemed to have played clubs in their conference three times and clubs outside their conference twice; for Columbus, that amounted to 18 games against Eastern Conference opponents and 12 against Western Conference teams. And, right off the bat, there’s a rub: what happens with the San Jose Earthquakes being the 7th Western Conference club? Not so obvious, as it turns out.

In a word, bugger. This effort may not be so productive as I had originally thought. But, seeing as I don’t give up easy, let’s keep pushing a little bit.

Looking over the above tentative home schedule, I’m seeing a couple Eastern Conference teams twice: the Revolution, the Wizards, and…uh-oh, that’s only two teams. Now, you’d assume if MLS were planning on sticking with the three intra-conference games set-up, there would be at least one more Eastern Conference team showing up in there (and do check my work; I’d leave my pants at home if I didn’t have a wife to remind me).

Put it altogether and it gets one wondering. As much as the 13-team set-up seemed designed for scheduling confusion, one has to admit the 18/12 breakdown looks pretty tidy. Now, if I was the guy building a 30-team schedule out of this, I’d stick with the 18 intra-conference games and have the “give” come by axing 4 inter-conference games. Looking at the above, though, it’s not clear that’s what will happen. After all, the Crew gets each Western Conference club once at home and it’s hard to imagine they would get more home games.

Any thoughts? And not just about the Crew’s potential schedule?

BONUS: College Humor dubbed this the 20 Creepiest Album Covers.  But at least a few of these go right past “creepy” and straight to “fucked up.”

– Finally, could someone please win this game and explain it to me?

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