The grind of the season has entered it's final third; this is where the chaff will be culled from the wheat! Or, in the case of New England, chaff that has already been culled will lie somewhere off the field in a sad little pile.
Our Toros avoided the reaper's scythe this week, but you have to wonder how long they can keep dodging death with the absolutely brutal stretch coming up.
But enough about FC Dallas! On to MLS news!
Real Salt Lake is a bit of a confusing beast, but at least they're as equally confusing as the Vancouver Whitecaps. Both teams win and lose with such stark unpredictability that I've given up on really making an educated guess as to their weekly outcomes. I do not doubt, for example, that Real is a better side than Vancouver, but then why did they lose 2-1 to the Whitecaps?
The Whitecaps seems to have actually improved since dumping some of the bigger name players, and have slowly started challenging for a solid finish in the western conference. With Le Toux and Hassli out the team is actually functioning properly. Weird huh?
The MLS website is speaking about San Jose as a "team of destiny" after their latest win, a thrilling 2-1 last second victory over the Sounders. While the Quakes are very impressive, I remember another team *coughcouggalaxycough* that was christened as God's Chosen not long before the season began, and now they're fighting for a playoff spot.
The truth of the matter is that in a playoff system, regular season performance matters little outside of getting to the postseason. Colorado had no business being in the 2010 playoffs but they won the title anyway. Destiny aside, you're not going to find any serious MLS observer that places the Rapids in the top 5 teams that year. The Quakes are MUCH better than the Rapids were in 2012, but I still think anything referring to "destiny" based on regular season performances in MLS is a bit silly.
Montreal is actually within striking distance of a playoff spot! I'm not sure they will get past Houston, Sporting, New York or DC, but it is possible. Oh yes it's true that they've played like four more games than the next team they're chasing in the standings, DC, but the fact remains that an MLS expansion team is actually, MAYBE, looking at a playoff spot. That they're even in the conversation is a sure sign of a successful opening campaign for the French Canadians.
LA spanked Chivas USA 4-0 and Donovan tallied no less than FOUR assists on the night. With all the articles written about Landon today, perhaps we should focus on how Chivas should be getting the hell outta LA and into a town that might appreciate them? Obscure markets are the way to go! Just look at RSL. I say the future lies in the new franchise name, Chivas Bismarck.
So, how bad are Philadelphia and Portland? Which is worse? Portland has to deal with much tougher competition on a regular basis, but Philadelphia has been hamstrung by abysmal personnel management. Both teams have very enviable fan bases, so what gives? Portland is looking at Vancouver, Toronto and New York next, while Philadelphia has DC and Columbus. Yikes.
I could be worse I guess, they could have Chivas' attendance issues or an ugly field like New England. It is sad that two of the League's fanbase powerhouses struggle so badly in the area that matters most, winning. Can you imagine the kind of press the league could get in Philly in the summer if the Union was a decent team? Especially with the Philadelphia Phillies being as awful as they are...
Sporting Kansas City is still looking down at the rest of the Eastern Conference, but not for long. New York is looking like the better team and needs three points to overtake Sporing for the conference lead. Statistically they're neck in neck in most categories, but my money would be on New York. They're cohesive on the field and getting Cahill can only be a plus.
Mark me down as "New York wins East".