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It comes down to goals and points


Our weekly dose of Major League Soccer quick takes, plotlines to watch and Power Rankings.

It's basic math: All it takes to win a game is to score more goals than the other guys. How does this theory hold up for the 2009 MLS season? Actually, remarkably well in the Eastern Conference. The first-place Columbus Crew boast a plus-10 goal differential, while the lowly New York Red Bulls have a remarkable minus-22. In between, the goal differentials of the other five teams separating them in the standings steadily decrease. The Western Conference, however, is an entirely different story. Three teams -- Houston, Colorado and Real Salt Lake -- lead with a plus-eight. Those squads sit in first, fourth and sixth place, respectively. The Los Angeles Galaxy, second in the standings, have the fifth-best goal differential. What does this mean? Expect to see a bit of correction during the last quarter of the season.

"Win at home, tie on the road" is a mantra known across the world. Nowhere is that more true than in MLS. Four of the league's top five outfits in terms of points have earned at least five draws on the road. And it's not as though all these teams have been dominant on their home pitches. While the Crew are undefeated and the Dynamo have suffered only one defeat, both L.A. and the Fire are a piddling 4-4-4 on their respective home fields. This shows that the road to the postseason lies not so much in defending your turf but in uprooting your opponents on theirs.

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Once again, the best game of the week is the last, as the Crew invade Chicago in Sunday's lone game in a battle for Midwest bragging rights. As previously noted, the Fire struggle to win at home, but three points for the Windy City side would draw them even with the Eastern Conference leaders. Another regional match see the New England Revolution head to Gotham on Saturday in search of an important victory. Can the Red Bulls continue to play their role as spoiler, this time against Steve Nicol's squad? Finally, in a battle for the West Coast, Chivas USA flies to Seattle to face the Sounders in a match with serious playoff implications.