The Full 90

September 23, 2013

MLS Playoff Watch: The game of 'games in hand'

This week in the MLS playoff watch: The advantage (or disadvantage) of having more games remaining on the schedule.

The Full 90

Covering Sporting Kansas City and soccer throughout the Midwest and the world

Are there just fives games left in the MLS regular season? Or is it six? Or maybe it's only four?

The answer to that question this morning determines who has the most ground to make up/lose over the next week of games.

The answer also determines who sits atop the Eastern Conference and Supporter's Shield race. Both races don't appear to be nearing conclusion anytime soon. (Everyone say it with me: PARITY!)

Sporting KC (just five games left) sits on 45 points, just three behind New York (four games left) and three ahead of Montreal (six games left*) in a tight Eastern Conference.

*The Impact have seemingly had a game in hand the entire year. They won't make it up until the penultimate week of the season when they have a Wednesday night affair with Los Angeles and a Saturday match with Philadelphia.

In the Supporter's Shield race, New York leads the way with Seattle (six games remaining) behind by 1 point and Kansas City even with Real Salt Lake (four games left). Portland (five games) aren't out of the mix with 46 points, one more than Montreal, Los Angeles (five games) and Colorado (four games).

Got all of that? Well, it's quite mixed up. That's why it's so valuable to use points-per-game at this time of year to see which team is in the driver's seat, which teams are riding shotgun and which teams are clinging to hope.

Here's the MLS Top 8 as of this morning. As you can see, KC is riding shotgun right now -- with a much easier schedule remaining than any other team on this list!

1. Seattle, 1.79

2. New York, 1.70
3. Sporting KC, 1.66
4. Montreal, 1.61
5. Salt Lake, 1.60
6. Portland, 1.59
7. Los Angeles, 1.55

8. Colorado, 1.5

How important does that second goal from C.J. Sapong on Saturday look now? It kept Sporting KC firmly in the hunt for home-field advantage and an automatic spot in next year's CONCACAF Champions League.

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