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Friday, 21 October 2011

Foresight – MLS Round 32 Weekend Preview

Four questions to be answer in this the final weekend of MLS action:

    While the playoff entrants have been decided, their positioning is yet to be determined - How will the final bracket shape up come the conclusion of the matches?

    The final guaranteed spot in the Western Conference is still up for grabs Salt Lake and Dallas are tied on fifty-two points with RSL holding the spot based on goal difference.

    The Eastern title too is still undecided as four teams – Kansas City, Philadelphia, Columbus and Houston – could each theoretically take the plaudits. Philly has no more matches remaining, so they rely on KC losing by more than one goal  - the two are tied on head-to-head, so goal differential becomes the tie breaker – and Columbus and Houston losing. If Kansas wins they take the honours, while Columbus and Houston must win and hope KC lose to take the top spit.
 
    Positioning could prove to be crucial – especially for the wildcard matches - as a single match to be played at one’s own home ground should be a valuable asset at the end of a long season. The West has locked up the top wildcard spot, but the other is still up for grabs; with all three teams tied of forty-six points, it could prove to be a complicated mathematical finish to the standings.


    Conversely, who will end up grabbing the dreaded wooden spoon for worst team of the season?

    New England currently hold the unwanted position of last place in the league, but should they defeat Toronto and Vancouver loses or draws they will leapfrog the Whitecaps – the Revolution hold the first tie-breaker having drawn and won vs. Vancouver, while a draw would see them climb above only with a Whitecaps loss. The Canadian expansion side host Colorado - one of the sides vying for home-field advantage in the wildcard round - this weekend in a match with meaning for both clubs.


    The Golden Boot is on the line; who will step up and seize it, or will it be shared?

    Dwayne De Rosario’s midweek goal - though not enough to keep DC’s hopes alive - saw him take the lead in the Golden Boot race for the league’s top scorer. His tally of sixteen puts him one ahead of San Jose’s Chris Wondolowski, both take the field for their final matches this weekend; which will take home the honours? Or will one of the chasing pack have a huge day and overtake them in the end? Columbus’ Andrés Mendoza has thirteen goals, while several players are tied at twelve.


    Will teams with nothing to play for take the opportunity to give youth a chance?

    End of season games - without substantial meaning - often prove a good trial ground for young players on the fringes of a club’s roster. With decisions on who to protect and who to leave vulnerable in the upcoming expansion draft, as well as choices to be made on who will remain with the club come next season will full-strength lineups be fielded by the eliminated sides or will some new faces get the chance to show their worth?


New England v Toronto; Vancouver v Colorado; DC v Kansas City; Chicago v Columbus; Salt Lake v Portland; San Jose v Dallas; Chivas v Seattle; Houston v Los Angeles.

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