New York: Right Back In the Thick of Things

The soccer gods seemed to have favored the Red Bulls before their rescheduled match against Los Angeles Galaxy even kicked off.  When it was originally set to be played, before the East Coast was ravaged by a Hurricane, Teemu Tainio was suspended, Luke Rodgers was struggling with injury, and the whole squad was fumbling around on the field.  Fast forward to Tuesday night as Los Angeles was missing the services of Landon Donovan, Robbie Keane, Chris Birchall, Mike Magee, Sean Franklin and Gregg Berhalter.  Even if some of these guys aren’t always starters, that’s still six of the 18 players Bruce Arena would have brought with him to Harrison, New Jersey.  Oh, and importantly, New York learned how to get results in the meantime.

Here is the highlight video because MLS, unlike the stuffy Brits in the FA, actively promote their product on youtube instead of removing videos for copyright infringement.

New York has two games left in the regular season.  Away to Kansas City on Saturday the 15th and at home to Philadelphia the following Thursday the 20th.  Mathematically, seven teams have a chance to claim one of the four wildcard playoff spots (but realistically, no one believes in Chicago anymore).  Luckily for the Red Bulls, if they tie any of these teams on points, they have the advantage on goal differential unless something drastic happens in the remaining two games.  They still need to grab four points at the fewest to make it in the playoffs.

D.C. United has four games remaining against arguably much easier competition (at Vancouver and home against Chicago, Portland and Kansas City).    -At the very least, D.C. will take 7 points from a possible 12.  Pontius’s injury will hurt them, but they have enough other pieces around Charlie Davies diving that they could just as well take 9 or 10.

Portland has tough matches against rival playoff contenders Houston, then D.C. before finishing the season at Salt Lake, who will want to build some momentum going into the postseason.    -Portland has the toughest schedule down the stretch.  They’ve been a great addition to the league, but I can’t see them adding more than 2 points from their last 3 matches.

Houston has two games left, at Portland in their imposing Jeld-Wen Field and against league-leading Los Angeles Galaxy who will likewise want a win going into their playoff bye.    -One win, one loss for Houston; 3 points, unless the Galaxy rest players to make sure they’re fully healthy for the postseason…

Colorado has the home leg of the Rocky Mountain Cup (their “derby” against Salt Lake), before traveling to Mexico to take on Santos Laguna in CCL action.  They finish their season at league bottom-feeders Vancouver.    -A matter of pride and playoff life in the Rocky Mountain Cup, at least 4 points as the Rapids forsake the continental competition for the hope of domestic glory.

FC Dallas has three games against teams all but eliminated from the playoffs: Vancouver, Chicago, and San Jose.    -9 points of 9 for them.

FC Dallas – 55 points

Colorado –  49+

D.C. United – 47,48

New York – 47+

Houston – 46?

Portland – 42

The point is, New York Red Bulls cannot simply win their two remaining games.  They have to win and rely on other results going their way around the league.  This is gut-wrenching, nail-biting stuff for fans but the playoff race is what American sports is all about.

Wild Card Race PTS GP GD
FC Dallas 46 31 2
Colorado Rapids 45 32 2
New York Red Bulls 43 32 7
Houston Dynamo 43 32 0
Portland Timbers 40 31 -6
D.C. United 38 30 0
Chicago Fire 37 31 0
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