The penultimate round of MLS fixtures is here, with still plenty at stake for many clubs still in the mix. Clubs with games in hand have now caught up, and the leagues have adjusted accordingly.
Rapids Rise to the Top
Colorado now sit aloft the Western Conference, just 2 wins away from guaranteeing this year’s Supporters Shield, having kept pace with FC Dallas week after week. It really is in stark contrast to last year, with Colorado finishing bottom of the West with a lowly 37 points, and having the worst home record in the conference. Now they boast the best home record, and are the only unbeaten team on home soil from both conferences.
On paper they also have the easier run in over FC Dallas, the latter take on the Sounders this weekend, who are hunting to confirm their playoff spot after an edgy 0-0 with Houston this past Wednesday, and are then hosted by LA Galaxy, whose form has dipped of late but have only 1 home defeat all season and are tough to beat. Oscar Pereja’s side also have CONCACAF Champions League duty in between. Meanwhile Colorado’s final push takes them to defending MLS Cup champions Portland, who are outside the playoffs by 2 points but have claimed all their 11 wins of the season at home, and will be desperate for 3 points. And finally at home to Houston, whose form has picked up a little (currently 12/20 based on the last 8 matches) but whose season is over with regards the playoffs. It is certainly Colorado’s to lose heading into the final 2 games of the regular season.
The Big Apple Golden Boot
In a league that essentially has 3 team tables, there is of course an additional table all leagues around the world accommodate: The Golden Boot. This year it comes down to NYCFC’s David Villa and Red Bulls’ Shawn Wright-Phillips. Both sides occupy the top two in the Eastern Conference, level on 51 points. Both Villa and Wright-Phillips are also currently tied on 21 goals for the season, so both have all to play for. On paper the two sides couldn’t be more different; NYC have a European coach, built up of aging superstars, and are only in their 2nd season, whereas the Red Bulls are an MLS original, with an American in charge and have a much more American feel to them. For me the Red Bulls are the better side of the 2, but it’s hard to argue against Villa being this year’s MVP.
Cover photo courtesy of http://www.mlssoccer.com