As the wind up to the final playoff push begins, the standings become of paramount importance. Obviously they are always important, but in these final weeks I find myself constantly looking at the current standings after every MLS game. They call this "scoreboard watching" in many other sports. Combine the fact that the Fire only play East teams the rest of the way, and every game is of vital importance. I will be bringing a standings update weekly as the season ticks down. Yes, I know you can easily pull them off the MLS website too (or look at our sidebar widget). However, I prefer to present all pertinent data to the Fire right on the front page so all readers can keep up to date in one easy spot.
Follow me after the break for the East standings and a couple of thoughts...
|1||Sporting Kansas City||47||26||1.81||14||7||5||32||23||9||15||6||17||3|
|2||New York Red Bulls||45||26||1.73||13||7||6||44||37||7||27||15||17||-8|
|9||New England Revolution||23||25||0.92||6||14||5||30||35||-5||16||5||14||-10|
This past weekend was very kind to the Fire results wise, as Mark pointed out in his Week 25 recap. All of the final scores combined to keep the Fire in 4th place in the East. This paints a picture of a huge game this Sunday vs. Houston with a lot on the line. However, as I previously mentioned, every game will be huge the rest of the way. Nothing can be taken for granted and having multiple games like this under press can make or break teams. If the Fire can finish strong and persevere in games like this it should prime us for a post season run. Playoffs are another animal but the team should be more than used to big games with a lot on the line. It can only help in terms of experience.
First is still within striking distance, but my long standing prediction of a top 3 finish seems very achievable if we finish out the season strong. We have all the tools in place, and other the blip in the radar that was the DC game, I am still confident we will head into the playoffs on a good run. We are getting some valuable rest for players like Patrick Nyarko and Dominic Oduro that could be huge when legs are getting very weary in the playoffs. Dan Gargan has also gotten a lot of rest lately (although my last article shows my thoughts on that). The silver lining I suppose is that he will have more rested legs for the last part of the season. And Sherjill is still improving, with Flaco having yet to really find his groove. If those guys get locked in, all MLS teams will be taking notice. Let's hope that happens.
Montreal is still on a fierce push but the saving grace is the 3 games in hand we have over them. It should take a minor miracle for them to sneak in. Columbus is really scaring me. They are starting to get on a real tear, and their new additions are really making some noise. Let's hope they cool down a little bit. The other 3 teams at the bottom of the table are looking at 2013 and are out of the race. This is going to be a fun last handful of games. As they say, "the cream will rise to the top". Hopefully the color of that cream is Fire red!