Welcome to the final month of the Major League Soccer regular season. October's biggest event has already occurred with D.C. United winning the 100th US Open Cup, but let's set the stage one final time for the regular season's closing stretch. We'll proceed bullet style for this post since, like D.C. United, we are more focused on next season than on expending more words on the waning matches of this year.
0. Trophies Awarded in 2013:
- One of MLS's three trophies in 2013 has been awarded, and it went to D.C. United.
- The Black-and-Red continue to sit alone atop the all-time trophies list for MLS teams:
|Team||Major Trophies Won|
|San Jose Earthquakes||4|
|Sporting Kansas City||4|
|New England Revolution||2|
|Real Salt Lake||1|
|New York Red Bulls||0|
- The Amway Canadian Championship is included in the totals above. Does anyone think Toronto's four trophies are equivalent to San Jose's or Sporting's? Is Montreal's trophy equal to Colorado's, Dallas', or RSL's?
1. September's MLS Results:
- Teams that played well in September have positioned themselves well for the final stretch.
|Team||Total Points||Games Played||Pts/ Game||Wins||Losses||Draws||Goals|
|New York Red Bulls||10||4||2.50||3||0||1||8|
|San Jose Earthquakes||10||4||2.50||3||0||1||4|
|Sporting Kansas City||6||3||2.00||2||1||0||5|
|New England Revolution||4||4||1.00||1||2||1||7|
|Real Salt Lake||3||3||1.00||1||2||0||2|
- The New York Red Bulls, Portland Timbers, and San Jose Earthquakes had the highest points per game average (2.5 pts/game) in September. San Jose's late surge is both surprising and very well timed for the current Supporters' Shield holders who had all but played themselves out of the playoffs earlier this season.
- The surprising Columbus Crew piled up the most points in September (12 pts), followed by the hot Seattle Sounders (11 pts). The Crew's much improved performance since their coaching change finds them just on the outside of a playoff spot.
- D.C. United was the worst team in total points and points/game for the fourth time out of seven months (and third in a row) this season. Say what you will, but United's league performance has been consistent all season long.
- The LA Galaxy joined D.C. United as the only teams not to get a win in September.
- No team has clinched a playoff spot yet, and only three teams have been eliminated from contention (D.C., Toronto FC, and Chivas USA).
2. Current MLS Supporters' Shield Standings:
- The number of teams with a legitimate shot at winning the Supporters' Shield is astounding. Five teams easily have a shot (New York, RSL, Seattle, Portland, and Sporting), while five others have an outside shot (Montreal, LA, Colorado, Houston, and San Jose).
|Team||Total Points||Games Played||Pts/ Game||Wins||Losses||Draws||Goals||Goals Against|
|New York Red Bulls||52||31||1.68||15||9||7||48||37|
|Real Salt Lake||51||31||1.65||15||10||6||54||39|
|Sporting Kansas City||48||30||1.60||14||10||6||43||29|
|San Jose Earthquakes||44||31||1.42||12||11||8||32||41|
|New England Revolution||41||30||1.37||11||11||8||42||34|
- Seattle is not only the hottest team in MLS (8-1-3, 27 pts total, in their last 12 games), but they have the inside track to the Supporters' Shield with two games in hand over NYRB and RSL.
3. Current MLS Eastern Conference Standings:
- New York is leading the Eastern Conference heading into the final month. Other teams can catch them, but with only three games left to play, the Red Bulls have put a mark on the wall that others must now chase.
|Team||Total Points||Games Played||Pts/ Game||Wins||Losses||Draws||Potential Points|
|New York Red Bulls||52||31||1.68||15||9||7||61|
|Sporting Kansas City||48||30||1.60||14||10||6||60|
|New England Revolution||41||30||1.37||11||11||8||53|
- Columbus made the biggest move toward the playoffs in September. They were 8 points out of the final playoff spot at the end of August, and now they are 1 point out.
- It's hard to fault Mike Magee's missed PK in last weekend's 2-2 draw against Montreal for losing the match (he did after all score their two goals), but had he converted the penalty, Chicago would be sitting in the final playoff spot ahead of Philadelphia on the first tiebreaker (wins) rather than in eighth place 2 points out of the playoffs.
- For the first time since the beginning of the season, Montreal did not finish a month leading the Eastern Conference on a points/game basis. They've been sliding for months now from their early season form, and it's finally caught up with them in the standings.
4. Current MLS Attendance Table:
- MLS average attendance continued to slightly improve during September and now sits at 18,399 (up from 18,285 last month). For the year, 2013's average attendance is down 2.17% from last season's average of 18,807.
|Team||Games Played||2013 Average|
|Sporting Kansas City||16||19,758|
|Real Salt Lake||15||19,051|
|New York Red Bulls||15||18,693|
|New England Revolution||16||14,112|
|San Jose Earthquakes||15||13,064|
- D.C. United's average home attendance increased slightly in September to 13,792 (from 13,604 at the end of August). So far in 2013, attendance at RFK is almost equal to last season's home attendance of 13,846 (down 0.39%). Hopefully, Friday's game against Chicago at home will get a boost from the US Open win (although Fridays are rarely great draws at RFK).
- Overall, D.C. United sits 17th out of 19 MLS teams in average home attendance. Of the two teams that trail them, San Jose plays in a stadium with a capacity of 10,525, while Chivas is, well, Chivas.
5. October's MLS Eastern Conference Schedule:
- Good job by MLS for pitting conference rivals against each other in October. The right teams are playing each other to make this an exciting stretch run with several meaningful games that will directly affect the playoff standings and Supporters' Shield race on the final weekend.
|4/5 Oct||9 Oct||12 Oct||16 Oct||18/19/20 Oct||26/27 Oct|
|New York Red Bulls||New England||@ Houston||Chicago|
|Sporting Kansas City||@ Columbus||@ Houston||DC||@ Philadelphia|
|Montreal Impact||@ Houston||New England||@ LA||Philadelphia||@ Toronto|
|Houston Dynamo||Montreal||Sporting||New York||@ DC|
|Philadelphia Union||Toronto||@ DC||@ Montreal||Sporting|
|New England Revs||@ New York||@ Montreal||Columbus||@ Columbus|
|Chicago Fire||@ DC||@ Dallas||Toronto||@ New York|
|Columbus Crew||Sporting||@ New England||New England|
|Toronto FC||@ Philadelphia||@ Chicago||Montreal|
|D.C. United||Chicago||Philadelphia||@ Sporting||Houston|
- While it's a shame D.C. United isn't in the playoff race, they can play spoilers with all four of their games against playoff contenders. No matter who Ben Olsen runs out over the next four weeks, they will be playing against motivated teams with something on the line. This will be an ideal opportunity to check out the youngsters against real competition.
- Bruce Arena is right about the craziness of CONCACAF Champions League games being played during October. I don't have a better solution, so I'll only restate the problem and note that D.C. United may very well be playing mid-week CONCACAF games next October in some Latin American country while trying to make the playoffs in MLS. Both Sporting Kansas City and Houston will be playing CCL games in mid-week between the final two weekends of the season while in a tight playoff race, including the Dynamo having to travel to Panama just days before their final match at RFK.
- New York has the easiest schedule in October of the teams fighting for the playoffs. The Red Bulls only play three games, with two of those at home. The other playoff contenders play a majority of their games on the road (Sporting, Montreal, New England, Chicago), play more games (everyone but Columbus), or play tougher competition (notably Houston).
- Why do New England and Columbus close the season playing each other twice in a row? It makes no sense, but it just might determine the final playoff spot.
- D.C. United is currently on track to beat the 2001 Tampa Bay Mutiny for worst points/game average across an entire season:
|Team||Total Points||Games Played||Pts/ Game||Wins||Losses||Draws|
|2001 Tampa Bay Mutiny||14||27||0.52||4||21||2|
- This season couldn't be any stranger.
What are you watching for during the month of October? Which team do you see winning the Supporters' Shield?