As the 11th season comes to a close and the playoffs draw near, let’s take a look at the teams and players that have made an impact this season. Parity seems to be the norm with only one team really separating from the pack. Even DC has had trouble winning lately, pushing their draws into double figures. If the season ended today, the playoffs would be populated with teams that have these records: 9-13-6, 9-7-11, 8-8-11, 11-11-5. Even a good team like Houston is only 10-8-9. This makes the playoff race and quest for the cup pretty wide open with any team that gets hot making a run all the way.
DC United (14-3-10, 52pts) – Ran away with east. By clinching a playoff spot early, they can work on form and give a run-out to bench players like backup GK Rimando. Esky (7g) has had a nice season returning from injury, but team’s good play has been carried by MVP candidates Moreno and Gomez (too bad SI status makes them ineligible for Nats). Adu progressing nicely accepting team role. Argentina connection brings Donnet from Boca to join Gomez and Erpen and strengthen midfield. An absolute crime if they don’t win MLS Cup 2006. Nowak coach of the year candidate (remaining games: Home: NY, NE, CHI Away: CHI, HOU)
Chicago Fire (10-9-8, 38 pts) – basically in with rest of the pack at barely over .500 Barret and Rolff (5g each) not getting consistent time. Two remaining games against DC could provide some insight as to this team’s playoff readiness. (Home: DC, LA, CLB Away: NY, DC)
New England (8-8-11, 35 pts) – Another team flying below the radar. Still dangerous with an angry Dempsey and Twellman (9g) with something to prove. Joseph provides the glue in midfield. Like KC, maybe NE will settle into a rhythm now that their best players are safe from transfer. Look for Nicol’s steady hand to guide NE deep into the playoffs. (Home: KC, COL, CLB Away: NY, DC)
Kansas City (9-13-6, 33 pts) – With as many losses as LA and Columbus, I see this team faltering down the stretch and conceding it’s playoff spot to NY. Their only hope lies in Wolff and Johnson getting into some kind of consistent rhythm now that the transfer rumors have been shelved. Key remaining game is away to NY. (Home: RSL, CHV Away: NE, NY)