September is here, and that means that Major League Soccer enters that period when the results seem to matter even more. Some teams have surprised thus far, others have followed form, but with a month and change left, teams that haven’t risen to the top will be fighting to make the cut.
Let’s group these teams into categories, and see how they all shake out:
DC United – A dismal 2013 behind them, their lead should help them withstand a slightly road-heavy backend of schedule.
Should Get In:
Sporting Kansas City – Defending champions, in a bad batch of form currently, but have the talent to overcome the late summer doldrums.
New England Revolution – Addition of Jermaine Jones stabilizes a team that was angling back towards another postseason run.
New York Red Bulls – Have a bunch of home fixtures left, and Thierry Henry looks inspired to end his glorious career by carrying the team to an MLS Cup.
Philadelphia Union – Only two road fixtures left, the one complication is balancing the US Open Cup Final. In good form under Interim Coach Jim Curtin.
No Room For Error:
Columbus Crew – Crew are in decent form currently, but face New England and Philly twice in the closing weeks. Wins in those matches should change their fortunes.
Toronto FC – A team on the ropes, Michael Bradley needs to lead this team back to winning. Also, a healthy Jermain Defoe would help immensely.
Houston Dynamo – We’re used to Houston turning it on late, but losing Tally Hall to injury is huge. Could be the year the late heroics aren’t enough.
Chicago Fire – A draw machine, tough to see the Fire overcoming their point deficit unless their offensive output improves.
Seattle Sounders – The juggernaut keeps on rolling. Their schedule closes with a tough home-and-home against the Galaxy, but if any team is equipped to overcome that, it’s Seattle.
Los Angeles Galaxy – On a five-game tear, Landon Donovan’s last season appears to have them on a trajectory back to the MLS Cup Final. May secure the Supporter’s Shield.
Real Salt Lake – The Utahns lost ground to Seattle during World Cup absences, but they have a relatively soft schedule to close the season.
Should Get In:
FC Dallas – Oscar Pareja has done well to turn around the Hoops this year, and barring a complete disaster they should have enough points to sneak into 4th or 5th.
Vancouver Whitecaps – A game in hand over Portland, and a much better defense. Carl Robinson should get the Caps back into the playoffs, especially since their adversaries have Champions League fixtures.
No Room For Error:
Portland Timbers – They’ve let too many results slip away under Caleb Porter this year. May need to ignore CCL to concentrate on eclipsing Cascadian rival Vancouver.
Colorado Rapids – They picked a horrible time to go on a Chivas-ian losing streak (7 games). Miracles can happen, but likely won’t in this case.
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