Setting the Stage for August: US Open Cup or Bust

Ben Olsen and the team get ready for the US Open Cup semifinals and five MLS matches in August. - USA TODAY Sports

Look no further for a breakdown of what happened in MLS during July, and a look ahead to August. From team records to the Supporters' Shield Standings to attendance to stadium announcements to August's schedule, we've got you covered.

The dog days of summer are upon us, and Washington will soon feel like a ghost town. That won't be because D.C. United reverted to league-worst form during the month of July (although that did happen), but rather because the District shuts down in August for summer holidays like no other major American city. Major League Soccer, however, won't be taking the month off for vacation, so let's get you ready to enjoy some soccer in August while you are (hopefully) on your summer break by reviewing what happened in the month of July and what lies ahead in August.

0. July's Stadium Announcement Table. Before we get to bleaker statistics regarding United's performance during July, let's get to the most satisfying (and long-awaited) table of the month.

Team Stadium Deals Announced
D.C. United 1
Chicago Fire 0
Chivas USA 0
Colorado Rapids 0
Columbus Crew 0
FC Dallas 0
Houston Dynamo 0
LA Galaxy 0
Montreal Impact 0
New England Revolution 0
New York Red Bulls 0
Philadelphia Union 0
Portland Timbers 0
Real Salt Lake 0
San Jose Earthquakes 0
Seattle Sounders 0
Sporting Kansas City 0
Toronto FC 0
Vancouver Whitecaps 0

1. July's MLS Results. The Houston Dynamo only played three games during the month of July (Philadelphia, at New England, and Chicago), but they did well enough in those games (2-0-1, 7 points) to be the best team in MLS on a points per game basis (2.33 pts/game) during the month. The Colorado Rapids earned the most points during July on an absolute basis, garnering 11 points (3-0-2) from five games (New York, DC, New England, at Seattle, and LA)--the second time in three months they've piled up the most points. At the other end of the table, D.C. United finished dead last during the month of July (0-3-1, 1 point) both on a points per game basis (0.25 pts/game) and on total points--the second time they've held this monthly distinction this season (although they were in the hunt for this ignominious position in other months as well). The only other team not to win a game in July was FC Dallas.

The table below shows each MLS team's results during July. The table is sorted based on average points per game.

Team Total Points Games Played Pts/ Game Wins Losses Draws
Houston Dynamo 7 3 2.33 2 0 1
Colorado Rapids 11 5 2.20 3 0 2
Sporting Kansas City 10 5 2.00 3 1 1
LA Galaxy 9 5 1.80 3 2 0
New England Revolution 9 5 1.80 3 2 0
New York Red Bulls 7 4 1.75 2 1 1
Philadelphia Union 8 5 1.60 2 1 2
San Jose Earthquakes 6 4 1.50 2 2 0
Chicago Fire 7 5 1.40 2 2 1
Vancouver Whitecaps 7 5 1.40 2 2 1
Seattle Sounders 7 5 1.40 2 2 1
Montreal Impact 6 5 1.20 1 1 3
Chivas USA 5 5 1.00 1 2 2
Toronto FC 5 5 1.00 1 2 2
Portland Timbers 4 4 1.00 1 2 1
Real Salt Lake 4 4 1.00 1 2 1
Columbus Crew 3 4 0.75 1 3 0
FC Dallas 2 4 0.50 0 2 2
D.C. United 1 4 0.25 0 3 1

a. Surprise teams in July. It's tough to say Sporting Kansas City is a surprise team, but during the month of July they earned 10 points (3-1-1) from a difficult slate of five games (Vancouver, at Chicago, Toronto, at Real Salt Lake, and at Montreal). They made a habit of heart-attack inducing games during July (giving them the win at RSL and the loss at Montreal), but overall they moved from fourth in the Eastern Conference at the end of June to first at the end of July. New England also returned to their better form from earlier in the season by earning 9 points (3-2-0) from five games (San Jose, Houston, at Colorado, at Columbus, and at DC) and moving into a playoff position for the first time this season.

b. Disappointing Teams in July. The Montreal Impact have fallen off their early season form that saw them off to a red hot start. Although they beat Sporting at the death last weekend, they only earned 6 points (1-1-3) from five games (at Toronto, Chivas, at New York, Dallas, and Sporting), three of which were at home. The other hot team from early in the season, FC Dallas, has fallen even further off the map. During July, they earned 2 points (0-2-2) from four games (Chivas, at LA, RSL, at Montreal), and they haven't won since May 25, going 0-5-3 over their last eight games.

2. Current MLS Supporters' Shield Standings. Despite two consecutive last second losses (at home against Sporting and on the road versus the New York Red Bulls), RSL managed to hold onto the Supporters' Shield lead even though they only earned 4 points (1-2-1) during July (Philadelphia, at Dallas, Sporting, at New York). Somehow, Montreal continues to have the best points per game average (1.75 pts/game) of any team in the league. But, the lesson of the summer is that there is not an elite team in MLS this season. At times, individual teams have put together hot streaks, but parity is increasing at the top of the table as 12 teams are within 7 points of the Supporters' Shield lead.

Team Total Points Games Played Pts/ Game Wins Losses Draws Goals Goal Differential
Real Salt Lake 37 22 1.68 11 7 4 36 12
Sporting Kansas City 36 22 1.64 10 6 6 31 10
New York Red Bulls 35 22 1.59 10 7 5 33 6
Montreal Impact 35 20 1.75 10 5 5 32 3
Philadelphia Union 34 22 1.55 9 6 7 33 3
Colorado Rapids 34 23 1.48 9 7 7 28 4
Portland Timbers 34 21 1.62 8 3 10 31 11
LA Galaxy 33 22 1.50 10 9 3 32 5
Vancouver Whitecaps 32 21 1.52 9 7 5 33 4
FC Dallas 32 21 1.52 8 5 8 27 0
New England Revolution 30 21 1.43 8 7 6 27 8
Houston Dynamo 30 20 1.50 8 6 6 23 3
Seattle Sounders 28 19 1.47 8 7 4 24 2
San Jose Earthquakes 27 22 1.23 7 9 6 23 -10
Chicago Fire 25 20 1.25 7 9 4 25 -5
Columbus Crew 23 21 1.10 6 10 5 24 -3
Chivas USA 17 21 0.81 4 12 5 19 -18
Toronto FC 17 21 0.81 3 10 8 19 -10
D.C. United 10 21 0.48 2 15 4 10 -25

3. Current MLS Eastern Conference Standings. If the MLS playoffs started now, the five Eastern Conference representatives would be Sporting, New York, Montreal, Philadelphia, and New England. Although Houston is currently on the outside looking in because they lose the second tie breaker to New England (goals scored), the Dynamo have two games in hand and could be sitting on 36 points after 22 games if they win their next two games (Columbus, at RSL), exactly the same total Sporting has right now after 22 games. Chicago and Columbus continue to lurk outside the playoff slots, but any stretch of good play could see them easily find a way in. Toronto and D.C. United, on the other hand, have played themselves out of playoff contention.

Team Total Points Games Played Pts/ Game Wins Losses Draws Potential Points
Sporting Kansas City 36 22 1.64 10 6 6 72
New York Red Bulls 35 22 1.59 10 7 5 71
Montreal Impact 35 20 1.75 10 5 5 77
Philadelphia Union 34 22 1.55 9 6 7 70
New England Revolution 30 21 1.43 8 7 6 69
Houston Dynamo 30 20 1.50 8 6 6 72
Chicago Fire 25 20 1.25 7 9 4 67
Columbus Crew 23 21 1.10 6 10 5 62
Toronto FC 17 21 0.81 3 10 8 56
D.C. United 10 21 0.48 2 15 4 49

4. Current MLS Attendance Table. MLS average attendance continues its summer-long improvement to 18,076 (it was 17,706 at the end of June). For the 2013 season to date, MLS attendance is now down 3.89% from last year's average of 18,807.

Team Games Played 2013 Average
Seattle Sounders 9 40,650
LA Galaxy 10 21,764
Montreal Impact 11 20,957
Portland Timbers 9 20,674
Vancouver Whitecaps 11 19,948
Houston Dynamo 10 19,906
Sporting Kansas City 11 19,709
Toronto FC 11 19,446
Real Salt Lake 11 18,837
New York Red Bulls 11 18,314
Philadelphia Union 11 17,476
FC Dallas 11 15,831
Colorado Rapids 12 15,026
Columbus Crew 10 14,756
San Jose Earthquakes 11 14,032
Chicago Fire 11 13,775
New England Revolution 10 13,745
D.C. United 11 13,688
Chivas USA 10 8,715

D.C. United only had one home game during the month of July, and they drew 14,122 for their losing effort against New England. For the season, average attendance at RFK Stadium remains disappointing at 13,688, down 1.14% from 2012's average attendance of 13,846. Most telling, the average attendance for Saturday games (traditionally the best drawing games) in 2013 is 14,312, a 9.64% drop from 2012's average for Saturday games of 15,839. United now finds themselves as the 18th team out of 19 in overall attendance, only being kept out of the last spot by Chivas USA.

5. August's MLS Eastern Conference Schedule. Before we get to the MLS regular season schedule for August, we'll note that D.C. United's most important game of the season to date will be the US Open Cup semifinal on Wednesday, Aug. 7, on the road against the Chicago Fire. With an 0-7-3 record in ten road games to date, winning on the road at Chicago and then again on the road in the finals (which will be held at the winner of the RSL-Portland semifinal) appears highly improbable. But, in the midst of this season that has gone so badly against expectations, why not defy the odds? It should be fun to watch.

During August, the final weekend of the month bleeds over into Sunday, Sep. 1. To keep the final weekend intact, we've included the Sep. 1 games in the August schedule.

3/4 Aug 10 Aug 17/18 Aug 23/24/25 Aug 30/31 Aug, 1 Sep
Sporting Kansas City New York New England @ San Jose @ Chicago Colorado
New York Red Bulls @ Sporting @ Columbus Philadelphia @ Chivas DC
Montreal Impact @ DC @ Chicago DC Houston @ Philadelphia
Philadelphia Union Chicago DC @ New York @ New England Montreal
New England Revs Toronto @ Sporting Chicago Philadelphia @ Toronto
Houston Dynamo Columbus @ RSL Seattle @ Montreal @ Chicago
Chicago Fire @ Philadelphia Montreal @ New England Sporting Houston
Columbus Crew @ Houston New York Toronto @ RSL Seattle
Toronto FC @ New England Seattle @ Columbus @ DC New England
D.C. United Montreal @ Philadelphia @ Montreal Toronto @ New York

a. What to expect in August. The MLS schedule in August is very balanced with all Eastern Conference teams playing five games (with no bye weeks) and no mid-week games. While no specific schedule stands out as significantly more difficult (or easier) than the others, D.C. United faces four teams currently in a playoff position during their five league matches in August (with three of those games on the road). United plays Montreal twice (home and away), and while the Impact still have the best overall points per game average in the league, they are only 2-3-3 in their last eight matches. Road matches at Philadelphia and New York promise to be difficult, while a home game against Toronto gives the Black-and-Red a chance to avenge their loss to Toronto earlier this season.

The key to the month for United will be the US Open Cup match on Aug. 7. Win that game and they continue to have have something positive to play for in 2013. Lose that match, and the team will only be playing for professional pride, the respect of the fans, and avoidance of all-time MLS records for worst team.

What's your take on July? Looking ahead, what do you see happening in August?

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