MLS Report

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)

New York (6-9-11, 29 pts) – Bruce Arena can earn his money with 2 games in hand over KC which leads NY by only 4 points. Remaining games against Columbus (this weekend) and Kansas City will either cement Arena’s legend or continue his miserable year. Buddle (6g) needs to become a consistent goal scorer for this team to advance. At only 25, he may have his best years ahead of him……..(Home: CLB, NE, CHI, KC Away: DC, COL)

Columbus (6-13-8, 26 pts) – Lack of scoring has doomed this club. Gaven (2g) has been disappointing after getting regular time. Can be spoiler with win against NY this weekend but don’t count on it. (Home: HOU, DAL Away: NY, NE)

FC Dallas (14-9-4, 46 pts) – Solid season with Ruiz (8g) and Cooper (9g) providing offense up front. Defensive formation makes them no fun to watch, but is effective. Cooper has the quietest 9 goals I’ve never seen. Ruiz is a prima donna on the scale of a NFL wide receiver but the firm hand of coach-of-the-year candidate Clarke makes it work. Getting a bounce from new stadium which could lead them to the ultimate home field advantage with MLS Cup 2006 in Frisco. Only real challenge in west should come from Houston (Home: RSL, LA Away: RSL, CLB, LA)

Houston (10-8-9, 39 pts)– All this club does is win. Despite playing in new colors in a new location, this is the same rock solid team that came in 1st last year. MVP candidate DeRosario is having a great season playing in a more attacking midfield role. He still scores with regularity (10g) but now is setting up teammates as well (Ching 10g). Kinnear is a solid coach who would be great as an assistant to a foreign born Nat coach. If this team had any of the resources that other Anshitz franchises have (like one MAJOR international allocation (2 Canadians and Cerritos don’t count)) this team wouldn’t be the Dynamo they’d be the Dynasty! (Home: CHV, DC, COL Away: CLB, RSL)

Colorado (11-11-5, 38 pts) – Heavy away schedule against west rivals could drop them out of crowded playoff picture. (Home: NY Away: LA, CHV, NE, HOU)

CD Chivas LA (9-7-11, 38 pts) – Along with RSL, having a much better season than inaugural campaign. A complete roster makeover which brought in veteran goal scorer Ante Razov who is having what seems like his 5th rebirth himself. One of the league’s better goal differentials (+6) and a savvy Bob Bradley at the helm make this a dark horse to advance in the playoffs. Remaining games against west rivals will tell if this team is a contender or a pretender (Home: COL, RSL Away: HOU, KC, LA)

Real Salt Lake (9-12-6, 33 pts) – Cunningham with 15 goals and 10 assists which works out to almost 70% of their offense. New players have played better soccer but many are at tail end of career. This team will have to draft well and get some SI help if it is to compete next season. (Home: DAL, HOU Away: DAL, KC, CHV)

Los Angeles (9-13-5, 32 pts) – Huge disappointment this year for defending champions. 2nd lowest goal total speaks volumes of their troubles. The return of Landon Donovan (9g) from WC duty has added some firepower but time is running out for this last place team. Even bringing in Frank Yallop has not provided the consistent results this team is capable of. Used late surge last year to capture cup. With remaining games against teams ahead, there is a sliver of hope, but I don’t see this team making waves in the playoffs. (Home: COL, CHV, DAL Away: CHI, DAL)

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  1. The Three Lions September 16, 2006
  2. Hernandez September 16, 2006
  3. Kartik September 17, 2006

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