Now that the dust has settled on the Fire's hard fought 2-1 last night, I figured it's a good time to once again look at the current MLS Standings. As I mentioned in my recap last night, there is a new team all alone in 2nd place. And that team is our very own Men in Red! How great does that feel? The Fire notched the 14th win on the season, and I would put good money on us notching a few more before it's all said and done.
Follow me after the break for the current Eastern Conference table and some of my thoughts...
|1||Sporting Kansas City||50||27||1.85||15||7||5||34||24||10||17||7||17||3|
|3||New York Red Bulls||46||27||1.7||13||7||7||46||39||7||27||15||19||-8|
|8||New England Revolution||28||28||1||7||14||7||35||38||-3||21||7||14||-10|
This is going to be a huge weekend in terms of impact in the standings. Friday night, Sporting KC faces off against Houston on NBC Sports Network. Just by looking at the standings, you should be able to tell how big this game is. With a SKC loss and a Fire win Saturday at home vs. Montreal, the Men in Red could be tied for first on points! And since the new playoff seeding tiebreakers (refresh your memory here if need be) are being used this year, the Fire could even be in first all alone. Although goal differential is normally the first tiebreaker, in MLS it will actually be goals for. Depending on what the final scores end up being, the Fire currently have 3 more goals scored for than SKC.
Along with the Fire/Impact matchup looming Saturday, New York and Columbus face off in a huge matchup in its own right. New York is right there with us in the standings, and the Crew have been on a pretty hot run in the past month or so. This will be an interesting game to watch if you get the chance. DC also faces off against New England, and this match could go a long way in revealing DCU's final fate. Although they were playing very well just a couple of months ago, the team seems to be struggling and possibly fading a bit as of late. A win keeps them in the thick of the playoff race, but a loss combined with wins from the teams above them would create a gap heading into the last few games. How will Ben Olsen's group finish? Keep and eye out for my Fireside Chat with the Impact coming up soon to see who I have tabbed as the 5 MLS teams that make the playoffs and whether DCU is in that list.
One other game to watch is actually a Western Conference game. Although we tend to pay attention to our own conference, and rightly so, Western games do have an impact on us too, and the San Jose/Chivas game is one to pay attention to. Now, I don't expect Chivas to get any sort of result at all against the high octane offense that is the Quakes, but if Chivas were to somehow pull out a draw of even an astounding win, the Fire could fin themselves only a point off the Supporter's Shield race or even in a a tie on points! It's amazing that I am typing that right now to be frank after how the past couple of seasons have ended up shaking out. But it's nice to be mentioning the Fire in these kinds of conversations again.
While these are all scenarios to keep an eye on, the most important thing for the team is to keep focused and not look ahead at all these lofty goals and forget what is immediately in front of us. We need to take one game at a time and prepare for each and every opponent properly. While grandiose visions of winning conferences and Supporters' Shields warms my heart with joy, the team can't be thinking of these things when they take the pitch or we could be in for a rude awakening. Fortunately I know that Frank won't let the team put the cart before the horse, and I don't see the players allowing this to happen either.
Anything can and probably will happen in the wacky world of MLS this last month and a half of play. We are right there in the thick of everything, and if we stay level headed and keeping working hard like we have all year, we could be in for a nice treat come playoff time. The beat rolls on...