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Projecting Playoffs: Sept. 17 Home/Away Splits Update

Chicago's win Saturday over New England improves the Fire's chances, but results over the final six games still could see virtually any outcome in the East

Here's to hoping Section 8 will get to bring it in the postseason in 2013 - for the first time, this week's numbers say it's likely.
Here's to hoping Section 8 will get to bring it in the postseason in 2013 - for the first time, this week's numbers say it's likely.

Since the last update (Sept. 3), the following games have entered the books - as is customary in football, home teams are listed first:

Sept. 4
Columbus 2, Houston 0
Seattle 1, Chivas USA 0
Sept. 7
Dallas 3, Vancouver 1
Kansas City 3, Columbus 0
Seattle 2, Chicago 1
Los Angeles 0, Colorado 1
Portland 4, Toronto 0
Sept. 8
Houston 1, New York 4
New England 2, Montreal 4
Chivas USA 1, DC 0
San Jose 1, Philadelphia 1
Sept. 11
Toronto 1, CHICAGO 1
Sept. 13
Seattle 2, Salt Lake 0
Sept. 14
Montreal 1, Columbus 2
DC 2, Los Angeles 2
New York 2, Toronto 0
Philadelphia 0, Houston 1
CHICAGO 3, New England 2
Colorado 2, Dallas 1
Chivas USA 1, Portland 1
San Jose 0, Vancouver 0

Updated projections

And, at long last, the latest projections:

Team Current PTS New Prj PTS Last Week Change
1 Seattle Sounders 49 60.99 58.01 2.98
2 Real Salt Lake 48 56.83 58.29 -1.46
3 New York Red Bulls 48 56.83 53.52 3.31
4 Montreal Impact 45 56.04 56.23 -0.19
5 LA Galaxy 44 54.92 58.08 -3.16
6 Sporting KC 45 54.14 52.68 1.46
7 Portland Timbers 43 53.62 52.42 1.20
8 Colorado Rapids 45 52.38 48.66 3.72
9 Houston Dynamo 40 49.52 51.00 -1.48
10 FC Dallas 40 48.57 48.38 0.19
11 Vancouver Whitecaps 38 47.08 46.75 0.33
12 CHICAGO FIRE 39 46.5 45.48 1.02
13 Philadelphia Union 39 45.33 48.85 -3.52
14 New England Revolution 37 44.93 48.38 -3.45
15 San Jose Earthquakes 38 43.55 43.90 -0.35
16 Columbus Crew 35 41.37 37.92 3.45
17 Chivas USA 26 30.03 28.77 1.26
18 Toronto FC 23 27.2 28.77 -1.57
19 D.C. United 15 18.21 18.31 -0.10

The race for the playoffs

The Fire's run-in to the playoffs promises to be a white-knuckle affair. After the top three in the East - New York, Kansas City and Montreal - any two of Houston, Chicago, Philadelphia, New England and Columbus can still get in the mix. Two of those teams - the Revolution and l'Impact - experienced sharp drops in their projection over this two-week period, which is what happens when a team gets zero points out of six.

In contrast, Columbus has resuscitated their playoff hopes by beating a tired Dynamo squad at home and surprising fading Montreal on the road. If the Fire can win in Columbus on Saturday, it will dramatically curtail the chances that the Crew can get into postseason while boosting Chicago's odds yet higher - the classic scenario for a late-season six-pointer.

The Fire have finally broken into the playoff places both in the current standings and the projections, but their position there is tenuous, mostly because their road form has been execrable this season - 0.91 points per game - the fact that, of their six remaining games, four are on the road. Their current pace (roughly 1 pt/game) suggests that a likely outcome from those four games is four points - a win, a draw, and two losses. Anything the Men in Red can do to improve that number will be a tremendous boost for their chances of playing in the postseason. Saturday's matchup with the Crew is exactly the sort of matchup a true playoff team needs to win.

In the West, the leaders are doing their darndest to pull the ladder up behind them. Colorado had a great couple of weeks, beating LA on the road and Dallas at home, to establish a five-point cushion in the standings over Big D. Dallas needs to play well and still needs some help, as right now they're projecting as 49-point sixth-place team.

Supporters' Shield heats up

Seattle has shown what 'games-in-hand' can do when one actually wins the games - they've leapfrogged LA and Salt Lake to take the top spot in both the standings and the projections. Playing (and winning) three home matches in a row will do that for you. Add to that the fact that they still have games in hand over their closest competitors - Salt Lake, LA and New York - and it's the Sounders trophy to lose now. On current form, it's hard to doubt them.

Another team that deserves some talk about 'current form' is the head-scratchingly unpredictable Red Bulls. New York leveraged themselves into the third spot in the projections after breaking their 'curse' in Houston; will they still have something to play for on the final day of the season? Because Chicago, who visits the Big Apple that day, doubtless will.

Finally, Montreal seem cooked in the Shield race, and could possibly drop into touching distance of the 'peleton' of the East if they are not careful. Which result portends: The 2-4 road demolition of a decent New England squad, or the 1-2 home swan-dive to chasing Columbus? The Fire play l'Impact a week from Saturday at Toyota Park; let's hope they're in free-fall, eh?