While on bye last weekend, there was a pretty decent chance that Sporting Kansas City could’ve lost ground in the Eastern Conference. But, that didn’t happen.
Results, mostly, went Kansas City’s way. (A weekend worth of rest after a confidence-building win over Saprissa while in the midst of a CONCACAF double-header can’t be a bad thing either.)
With D.C. United dropping points and New England losing, Kansas City managed to retain sole possession of second place.
A win this Friday against the Revolution could even pull KC level with United for first place. That’s not at all what many expected after Sporting’s four-game losing streak during the summer.
The conference remains as tight as can be.
After this weekend’s results — United drawing 3-3 with Chicago, New England falling 1-0 to Columbus and Toronto getting back on track against Chivas — there are just 11 points separating D.C. from seventh-place Toronto. And, with a month left in the season and only five games remaining for most competitors, there are going to be some serious battles on either side of this red line.
This Friday’s match at Sporting Park against the Revs is going to be kind of a big deal.
It’s the first of two mega-matches with serious playoff implications. On Saturday, D.C. United hosts Philadelphia — currently two points out of the playoffs. If the Union can manage a victory over D.C., it could bring KC back into a tie for first place in the East.
Oh yeah, KC and DC face each other next Friday. Every game from this point forward is just so big.
Champions League headache
Kansas City, D.C. and New York all face the added difficulty of CONCACAF Champions League fixtures.
Sporting hosts Esteli this week (Tuesday), United hosts Panama’s Tauro (Wednesday) and the Red Bulls travel to El Salvador to face FAS (Wednesday).
All three clubs will also have another tricky week ahead of the last round of fixtures in MLS. Kansas City travels to Costa Rica to face Saprissa on Oct. 23, D.C. heads to Panama Oct. 21 to face Tauro and New York will host Montreal on Oct. 22.
Those two added fixtures per team are potential pitfalls that other Eastern rivals — especially New England and Columbus — don’t have to endure.
Magic number: 11
We’re still about two weeks away from serious discussion of magic numbers (for a playoff spot and for playoff position) in the East — though Seattle and Los Angeles have both clinched a playoff spot out West.
As of right now, if Kansas City can gobble up 11 points and reach 56 overall — one more than the max points possible that the last playoff team, Columbus, can accrue — they’ll be safe.
Based on KC’s points-per game of 1.55 with five games left, the expected points total for the end of the year is 53.