Skip to content

MLS: Looking at the next month on the fringe of the West’s playoff picture

Jul 3, 2014, 5:14 PM EDT

Keane, right, will be LA's go-to man once again this season. But will his age be a factor? Reuters

You may have noticed at the end of our last post something that looked like a throwaway line:

“In fourth place now, Dallas could find themselves outside of the West’s top five by the time their biggest threat returns.”

Really, Mr. Author? (Oh, wait. That’s me.) You’re just going to say something like that without offering any proof?

Fair enough. Let’s go ahead and take deeper look, trying to assess:

1.) Where we stand right now, in terms of the edge of the Major League Soccer’s Western Conference playoff picture;
2.) What each team is looking at schedule-wise between now and Aug. 4; and finally,
3.) The difficulty of that schedule.

1. Where we are, right now?

Pos. Team GP PTS GD PPG
4 FC Dallas 18 23 0 1.28
5 Vancouver Whitecaps 15 22 3 1.47
6 LA Galaxy 13 20 6 1.54
7 Portland Timbers 17 20 0 1.18

 

Fourth place … FC Dallas looks good, right? Not really. The important thing to note: The two teams with the best points-per-game rates and goal differences have the fewest games played, by a long shot. If you could choose to be one team out of this group, you’d pick Los Angeles, and ask Vancouver to be your backup.

Even if Castillo wasn’t suspended, Dallas should be worried.

2. What does each team’s schedule look like?

Games between now and Aug. 4:

Date FC Dallas Vancouver LA Galaxy Portland
July 5 vs. Philadelphia vs. Seattle vs. Portland at LA Galaxy
July 13 vs. Chivas USA vs. Real Salt Lake at Seattle
July 17 at Toronto vs. New England vs. Colorado
July 20 vs. New England at Real Salt Lake at Sporting KC
July 27 at Vancouver vs. FC Dallas at Seattle at Montréal
August 2 vs. Portland at LA Galaxy

 

While Dallas’s schedule isn’t particularly tough, it is particularly thin. The pack is playing five or six games over the next 32 days, while FCD takes the field three times. This is where that games played column begins to even out (and Dallas’s post-Mauro Diaz slump begins to hurt).

3. And how difficult is that schedule?

We’ll look at this a number of ways: Opponent’s average points-per-game; number of home games; number of opponents with average-average PPG rates:

FC Dallas Vancouver LA Galaxy Portland
Total Games 3 5 6 5
Avg. Opp PPG 1.35 1.54 1.53 1.55
Home Games 2 3 4 1
Above Average 2 3 4 4

 

Here’s the silver lining for Dallas: Their schedule is slightly easier, with two out of three games at home. Contrast that with the other end of the spectrum, Portland, who has only one home game in the next month and has the most difficult of the four schedules, both in terms of points-per-game and above average teams. Add an Open Cup match against Seattle (at Seattle) on July 9, and Portland’s schedule is as congested as LA’s.

It all comes back to the conclusion we made at the end of point one: “If you could choose to be one team out of this group, you’d pick Los Angeles and ask Vancouver to be your backup.”

  1. nobandwagoners - Jul 3, 2014 at 6:42 PM

    As a Vancouver fan, it’s a little unsettling to see the Caps in their current mini-slide, which really started before the World Cup break when they were having trouble hanging onto leads and letting in untimely goals. Now, after the World Cup break, their scorers are in a slump and can’t find the net.

    At the time the World Cup break seemed like it came at a good time and, maybe it did; however, the Caps have emerged from the break without finding their legs and the creativity and explosiveness they were playing with a month or two ago. Things could get ugly real quick if Carl Robinson can’t get the squad to turn things around.

    • mvktr2 - Jul 4, 2014 at 1:46 AM

      The Caps are something of an enigma to me because of their hot-cold play this year. Yet I think common sense should tell me it has a lot to do with how young they are. When they’re on they sure are fun to watch! Manneh is one of my fav. young players in the league, I think he has a very high ceiling.

Leave Comment

You must be logged in to leave a comment. Not a member? Register now!

Featured video

PST Extra: Can United beat Chelsea?