With fewer than 10 games (or, in the case of Chicago, exactly ten games) left in the MLS season, let’s take a look at how the league’s 16 teams stack up.
1. Real Salt Lake (12-4-7): The most impressive thing about the defending champs’ none-too-pretty 1-0 win over New York on Saturday? Well, apart from it being a record-tying 22nd straight home game without a loss, that is: They completely shut down Thierry Henry. Denied him the ball all game.
2. FC Dallas (10-2-10): The Hoops ran their unbeaten streak to 13 games with a 1-0 win over Toronto, and have conceded only 17 goals in 22 games this year. Last year they gave up 47 in 30 games—and missed the playoffs.
3. Columbus Crew (13-5-5) Two straight wins over lowly DC United may not seem like much, but both were on the road and one was in the U.S. Open Cup semis, the only thing United had left to play for this season.
4. LA Galaxy (13-5-5) Sure, they’re in a serious funk of late, and they barely salvaged a 1-1 tie against Chicago despite being a man up for 70 minutes, but will anyone be surprised if Bruce Arena’s men snap out of it come playoff time?
5. New York Red Bulls (11-8-4) Missing four starters, they nearly stole a point in a lackluster game at Real Salt Lake. If they get lineup continuity down the stretch, watch out.
6. Seattle Sounders FC (9-9-5) Three New England goals in ten minutes negated Steve Zakuani’s 59th-minute opener, and ended Seattle’s seven-game unbeaten streak. Can they regroup for Thursday’s clash with RSL?
7. San Jose Earthquakes (9-7-5) Newly-signed Brazilian DP Geovanni bagged his first MLS goal in a 2-1 win over Houston. He’ll face the stingy Dallas D on Saturday.
8. Colorado Rapids (9-6-7) Two straight 3-0 wins against lower-rung teams (Houston and Chivas USA). Next up is a road test against New York.
9. Kansas City (7-9-6) The Wizards scraped out a 1-1 draw at Philadelphia to keep their playoff hopes alive.
10. Chicago Fire (6-7-7) The Fire is surprisingly weak at home (3-5-2), gives up too many late goals (nine this season after the 76th-minute mark), and can’t seem to get Mexican DP Nery Castillo going. Other than that….
11. Toronto FC (7-9-6) The Reds’ 1-0 loss to Dallas kept them winless in their past four. Upcoming games against Chicago (Wed) and DC (Sat) could put them back in the thick of things—or even farther out of it.
12. New England (7-12-3) Impressive and surprising win over Seattle, but we wonder if there’s any more where that came from.
14. Houston (6-12-5) The two-time MLS champs (2006, 2007) lost Stuart Holden, Ricardo Clark (transfers) and, for much of this season, Geoff Cameron (knee injury). Too much to overcome.
15. Chivas USA (6-12-4) Hey, Justin Braun (eight goals, three assists) has had a good year.
16. DC United (4-16-3) It’s been a brutal season for the league’s most successful franchise (four MLS titles and four Supporters’ Shields).