By Tony Edwards - San Jose, CA (Oct 11, 2012) US Soccer Players -- In Thursday’s column, Tony outlines the Galaxy’s playoff options, measures negative goal difference, and compares point totals in the Eastern Conference as a feature of an unbalanced schedule.
What’s the best option for the Galaxy at this point in the season?
The Galaxy is two points behind third-place Seattle in the Western Conference. However, Seattle has a game in hand, and Los Angeles’ two remaining games are at San Jose and home against Seattle. Given the well-documented injury problems the Galaxy are having, should Bruce Arena’s team push to overtake Seattle and play Salt Lake in the conference semi-finals, or use the time to give their inexperienced defense some minutes, knowing they would host the Western Conference wild-card game?
Given Salt Lake’s current form, the Galaxy may want to take their chances against (likely) Vancouver and then San Jose. Los Angeles has a significantly better road and home record than the Whitecaps.
As of Wednesday, Chivas USA’s goal difference stood at -32. Will they have the worst goal difference in League history?
Let’s hope not. Chivas USA in 2005 and Tampa Bay in 2001 share the worst goal difference in League history with -36. Salt Lake in 2005 was at -35 and the MetroStars famous 1999 team was at -34. Looking for something positive, that MetroStars team went from -34 in 1999 to +8 in 2000. Chivas USA went from -36 in 2005 to +3 in 2006. Tampa Bay went from -36 to...well, we should stop while we’re ahead. Still, is there a better example than that massive change for the better in goal differential for the possibilities that exist for bad teams in 2012 to become good teams in 2013?
With the season almost over, which team will win the ‘Supporters' Shield’ for the Reserve League?
Most likely, Montreal with 22 points from 10 games. With the season ending on October 21st, Columbus, on 19 points, needs a win in their remaining game to pass the Impact on goals scored. The Crew will face a DC United squad scrambling to complete the 10-game season with three games in 12 days.
This is another example of MLS ostensibly trying to do the right thing, but making the player development system more complicated than it needs to be. Ten games, especially when first-team players can feature, isn’t going to develop anyone.
Which MLS teams are already in the 2013-2014 CONCACAF Champions League?
Kansas City and San Jose. Among the automatic qualifiers are the teams that win the US Open Cup and the Supporter’s Shield. Kansas City won the US Open Cup and even if they passed the Earthquakes in the Supporter’s Shield race, San Jose would qualify for the CCL as the second-best regular season record.
How many playoff teams in the Eastern Conference already have more points this season than it took to win the Conference last season?
Kansas City took the Conference in 2011 with 51 points. This season, 51 points will likely not get you into the playoffs, as fifth-placed Houston has 50 and are one-point ahead of sixth place Columbus. This is a highlight for the unbalanced schedule, as intra-conference competition makes both conferences competitive. That’s good news for the East, where things were predictable and boring in recent seasons. Add in the latest playoff tweaks, and the East is no longer an opportunity for a Western Conference wildcard team to setup another Western Conference MLS Cup.
Tony Edwards is a soccer writer from the Bay Area.