Manchester United manager Sir Alex Ferguson once called this time of year “squeaky bum time.” And there were some squeaky bum matches in MLS this weekend, no?
D.C. United made one goal hold up—finally—against the Colorado Rapids, reigning MLS champions Real Salt Lake won another game on a late header, and the 10-man LA Galaxy managed to pull out the 2-1 over Chivas USA in the SuperClásico.
Some weekend. And now that it has passed, we are less than a month away from the MLS Cup playoffs. The Thermometer takes another reading to see who’s picking up steam and who will be limping to the dance.
RSL, seriously? Do they ever lose?
Excuse the hyperbole. The reigning champs have lost on occasion, and sometimes in spectacular fashion. It was little over a month ago when the Royals went down to Mexico and came out on the wrong end of a 5-4 CCL loss to Cruz Azul.
But the last time they lost in league play was on July 17. Back then, the Mets and Dodgers had records above .500 and we didn’t know if Brett Favre would play football this year. But since that 2-0 defeat to FC Dallas (who also never lose, thus demonstrating what happens when an unstoppable force meets an immovable object), they’ve managed to break the MLS record for number of games unbeaten at home. They even ascended to the top of the Supporters Shield standings this weekend, albeit for less than a day.
And yes, they also have the most points of any team in the league over their last five games. Congratulations, RSL, you are officially the hottest team in the league.
Becks Will Not Let You Have More
Boy, it must have felt good for David Beckham to put that perfectly curled shot into the net. After missing nearly the entire season with a ruptured Achilles tendon, a classic free kick goal against the Goats is the stuff of Hollywood scripts.
But more important, it vaulted LA back into the Western lead and also kept them on pace for the Shield. The Galaxy have only one less point than RSL in their last five, and with only three games left it still looks like they are taking the overall award at season’s end.
Beasts of the East
We were remiss in not mentioning this last week, but better late than never: The number say the Columbus Crew will not win the Eastern Conference.
That honor will go the New York Red Bulls, and it won’t be close. Last week, our projections had New York winning this race by just one point, but they’ve pushed this number to four with a win over the Kansas City Wizards on Saturday and the Crew drawing 0-0 against the San Jose Earthquakes. And, lest we forget, the Red Bulls actually hold the lead in the Eastern Conference table in real life. They have their destiny in their own hands. Sorry, Columbus.
Break Up United!
DC had not won a game in Colorado in 10 years before this weekend. They were massive underdogs, facing altitude and the hottest striker corps in the league.
So much for that. United sauntered into Commerce City and left with their three points, thank you very much. In doing so, they also collected more points in their last five games than six other teams in the league. The kicker? One of those teams is playoff bound Columbus.
What’s Cooler than Cool?
Make any jokes you want about Chicago’s recent futility, but that win over the San Jose Earthquakes was downright impressive. And it ensured that they are no longer the coldest team in the league for the first time in two weeks.
That honor now passes to the New England Revolution, who will miss the playoffs for the first time in nine years. No more tea parties.
|Team||Points||Games remaining||Last 5 (pts/gm)||Projected Pts.|
|Real Salt Lake||51||3||2.2||55|
|New York Red Buls||47||3||2||53|
|San Jose Earthquakes||40||4||1.6||46|
|Kansas City Wizards||33||4||1.4||39|
|New England Revolution||26||3||0.4||27|