Into The Stretch
Somehow, it’s September. The NFL starts on Thursday, MLB is going into their final month of the regular season, and now MLS is starting to head towards the finish line. While the run towards the playoffs is starting to heat up, it’s important to remember how well LAFC survived the summer. We lost our best players to the World Cup; we had a congested schedule with a lot of games in a short period of time; we bought some great players, but also sold two including our first ever captain; we made it to the US Open semi-final; and currently hold the expansion record for most points thru 27 games.
Even though the summer was busy, it’s time to dust it off and get ready and preview the last 7 games of the season. Right now, according to sportsclubstats.com, our boys in Black & Gold have a 99% chance of making the playoffs! Last year, the lowest seeded Western Conference team was Portland, and they only had 46 points going into the playoffs. While this year’s lowest seed is going to have more than that, most likely around the 50-53-point range, LAFC should be able to eclipse 50 points by the end of September.
If you don’t know or have never followed the MLS playoffs before (like me), here’s a quick rundown. Seeds 1 and 2 in both the Eastern and Western Conference get a first-round bye. Seed 3 plays seed 6 and seed 4 plays seed 5 in a single game elimination. Then seed 1 will play the higher seed and seed 2 the lower seed, in a home and home tie with the winner of most goals scored moving on to the conference finals. Same thing happens in the conference finals (home and home with most goals scored) and winners play in the final at the beginning of December.
Now that you understand (hopefully) how the playoffs work, it’s important to look at and preview the last two months of the regular season. I feel like it will be important to LAFC to get the best seed possible in order to host as many games at the Banc. Unfortunately, we are not going to be able to lift the Supporters Shield, but if we still have a shot at winning the Western Conference if we play like we did on Saturday against Toronto. In our remaining 7 games, we have 2 games against teams that have a winning record! As long as LAFC plays up to their potential, we have a good shot at going into the playoff on fire.
The top two seeds are going to be in the low 60s to high 50s season point total. With LAFC sitting at 46 right now, that means we are looking for about 14 more points in order to have the first-round bye. 2 points per game is a lot, considering we are averaging 1.7 points per game right now. In September, we play New England and San Jose at home and then go to Chicago at the end of the month. Hopefully that will be 9 points out of 9, since all of those teams are pretty much out of the playoff hunt. That would put us at 55, meaning we would need another 5 points-ish from the remaining 4 games in October. We would need to beat Colorado in Denver, and then hopefully draw or beat both Houston and Vancouver in our final home games of the regular season. The most consequential game of the year might come down to the last game of the regular season, LAFC at Sporting Kansas City. The only team to beat us at home this year is right on our tails for 2nd place in the west. There is a strong feeling around the league that the game on Oct 28thmight be a “playoff” game for the 2nd seed into the playoffs.
With a new defensive back line, LAFC are going to be really interesting to watch as we all head into the final stretch. As long of LAFC continues to dominate and dictate the pace of the game, there would be no reason to think they can’t get the top seed in the west! They just need to be the ones that create the chances and opportunities for us to put away games and the season.
Buckle up everyone, it’s going to be a wild ride!
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