Not a whole lot went Sporting Kansas City's way this weekend. First came the squandered three points against Philadelphia on Friday -- a game KC dominated. Then, on Saturday, nearly every result went awry for KC.
Houston won its first away game of the season and -- somewhat miraculously if you read the beginning of this sentence a second time -- took control of the East. Dwayne De Rosario pushed D.C. United back into the mix by beating Real Salt Lake pretty much single-handedly and New York took down Portland. The only result that went KC's way was a short-handed Los Angeles squad taking down Columbus 1-0.
The fall-out? Four points now separates the top six teams in the East.Current Eastern Conference Standings by points per game
Team: Points | Games | W-L-T | Goal Differential | Points/Game
1. Philadelphia 40 | 29 | 9-7-13 | +6 |1.389
2. Columbus: 41 | 30 | 11-11-8 | -3 | 1.367
3. Kansas City: 41 | 30 | 10-9-11 | +6 | 1.367
4. DC United: 38 | 28 | 9-8-11 | +2 | 1.357
5. Houston: 42 | 31 | 10-9-12 | 0 | 1.355
6. New York: 39 | 30 | 8-7-15 | +5 | 1.300
7. Chicago: 33 | 29 | 6-8-15 | -3 | 1.138
8. Toronto: 30 | 31 | 6-13-12 | -23 | 0.968
9. New England: 27 | 30 | 5-13-12 | -15 | 0.900
As you can see, it's so close up there at the top, I had to expand it out to three decimal places.
Sporting are still right in the thick of things -- no need for any overt negativity, yet. But it's time to worry about picking up points.
Philadelphia holds the tiniest edge over Columbus and Philadelphia, with DC and Houston holding down the last spots.
This race will, maybe, gain a modicum of clarity before Saturday -- KC hosts Columbus on Wednesday night and Philly will duel with D.C. at PPL Park on Thursday. Both games are massive.
Because of the strength of the West and the claustrophobic nature of the East, losing is not really a pleasurable option.
Los Angeles, Seattle and Salt Lake have all clinched playoff berths; meaning the Eastern teams who don't clinch the automatic berths have to fight with Dallas and Colorado for the four wild-card spots.Current Wild Card Standings by points per game
Team: Points | Games | Points Per Game
1. Dallas: 46 | 30 |1.533
2. DC United: 38 | 28 | 1.357
3. Colorado: 42 | 31 | 1.355
4. Houston: 42 | 31 | 1.355
5. New York: 39 | 30 | 1.300
6. Portland: 37 | 30 | 1.233
7. Chicago: 33 | 29 | 1.138
8. Chivas: 35 | 31 | 1.129
As you can see, there's only a tiny margin of error. KC fans need to monitor not only the matches involving Philly, Columbus and Houston, but also Colorado, DC, New York and maybe even Portland.
That's what happens when you drop points this late in the season.