All good things must come to an end. So do other things, such as the 2013 MLS Previews. Over the course of the season I managed to grow my reader into at least 6 or 7, and I thank each and every one of you. Seriously, I’ll do it personally, using your name, if you introduce yourself. But first, let’s see where we stand, vis-a-vis playoffs.
- West playoff teams are set (unless, say, Colorado gets pummeled 7-0 and San Jose beats Dallas 6-0…it could happen).
- New York and S. Kansas City are some permutation of 1-2 in the East.
Things not settled:
- The Supporter Shield. NY and KC, with their advantage of getting to beat up on DC and Toronto multiple times (NY 4-0-2, KC 4-1-1), are in what your grandfather would call “the catbird seat.” To which I say, “what’s a catbird?”
- Third, fourth and fifth in the East. Five clubs are vying for three spots, and even the once-awesome Montreal could face expulsion. (Remember when we all envied their shrewdness in hiring relatively inexpensive Italians? Turns out they had an expiration date.)
- Exactly who will finish in what spot.
Will the New Jersey Eleven find Hoffa? Might Portland actually win a trophy Seattle didn’t win before them? Will Philly- er, never mind! Find out this weekend! Drama! Competitiveness! Bus parking!
With this the Previews end for 2013 – I may do some playoff previews, we’ll see. I’m also likely going to make the traditional MLS Fan Post Enumerating All Things Wrong With MLS And How I Would Fix Them Quickly And Easily.
(Winning clubs with best combined record)
New York vs Chicago (Combined 30-21-15)
After a season that started in relative shambles, the recently devalued Supporters Shield is the Ruddy Steers’ to lose. On the other hand, after a season that started in relative shambles, a playoff spot is Chicago’s to lose. Both clubs have most of their parts relatively oiled and working (save the mysterious lack of Joel Lindpere).
Will Thierry Henry manage to give us one last existential goal celebration? Will he do the Achy Breaky again? Or will he try something new, like attempting to play connect-the-dots with Jeff Larentowicz’s freckles? Hey, “Breaking Bad” is over, so this is all we’ve got.
(Losing clubs with worst combined record)
I told you about this last week — only four clubs have more losses than wins, and only Dallas and Vancouver can join them. This season has been about 15 clubs mostly beating up on three weak teams, then playing roughly even against each other. MLS calls this “competitive.” I call it “limited skill.”
(Clubs with least points-per-game differential)
Seattle vs. Los Angeles (0.03 PPG differential)
The final match of the regular season is also the closest. Unfortunately, it’s no longer the marquee matchup ESPN had planned when they paid for it: Seattle, who continued their descent into madness in Frisco (the one in Texas) last week, faces a not-completely-healthy Starries club.
Unlike the other matches in these previews, this one has little urgency for either club, although it’s in everyone’s best interest to not have to face the one-game “wild card” playoff. The best news is for Portland and Salt Lake, who are guaranteed to finish ahead of at least one of these two clubs. The story instead is the 67,000-plus fans who will be there, rain or shine, despite the recent flailings of their home club. Hell, someone may even tune in thinking it must be the Seahawks.
El Burrito Grande
(Clubs with greatest points-per-game differential)
DC vs. Houston (1.03 PPG differential)
What’s the opposite of a victory lap? A Defeat Lap? A Lap of Shame? Either way, DC makes its curtain call, with zero doubt that they were the worst club of 2013. In fact, once again a Joiner tilt against a below-the-red-line club beats out even a West matchup of second-place RSL vs. last-place Chivas.
Don’t be fooled though — there’s a ton at stake here. DC can set the new record for fewest wins in a full season, even beating Chivas’ dismal 2005 season. Meanwhile, Houston found out how easy it is to fall below that thin red line, and need at least a draw or most likely a win to make the playoffs. Of course, this is virtually the same situation the Generator faced last year at this time, and they managed to become the sacrificial lamb to their AEG big brother once again.
Who’ll end up on top? Gotta watch the games to find out. Or read the Internet. One or the other.