Know your Major League Soccer -- Five things we learned from Week 27:
There is still a race for the Supporters Shield, with L.A. in charge while Real Salt Lake and Dallas remain in hopeful pursuit. And there could still be critical movement in terms of who could host the conference final.
But when it comes to determining first-round playoff opposition, there's really no point.
As it stands, Los Angeles, Real Salt Lake, New York, Columbus, Dallas, Seattle, Colorado and San Jose will make the playoffs. And the way it stands today is very likely the way it will stand in the end.
Kansas City has an outside shot (way outside) of displacing San Jose or Colorado. But that's about it. Chicago and Toronto remain alive statistically, but realistically their chances are dead.
So which of those teams toward the bottom of the postseason field would you want to face? San Jose's offense has sprung to life with DP
FC Dallas is about to become, statistically, the hardest team to beat in MLS over one season; the Red Stripes, with just two losses all year, are closing in on San Jose's 2005 league record for fewest losses (four).
No matter how the brackets fall, there will be no first-round pushovers for the foursome at the top.
Another record was matched, and this one a biggie:
Cunningham seems certain to take sole possession from Moreno, who struck for career goal No. 109 back in August 2007, kept it going and has retained the crown ever since. The only question is whether Cunningham can get another goal and take sole leadership this year -- and he's got a pretty good shot at it.
FCD has three games remaining, and Cunningham is scoring regularly even though he's taken a role as second-half replacement for starter
Either way, Moreno, 36, will likely have to forfeit the crown this year or next since he's retiring at season's end. It's a bitter pill all the way around for Moreno and D.C. United fans, as the classy, longtime Bolivian international feels forced out. And it just stacks up the misery for United fans, who have had so little joy this year as it is.
Cunningham, meanwhile, probably has another year left, at least. He's 34 and seems reasonably satisfied with his role off the bench in Dallas. He's always played with a chip on his shoulder -- for instance, he has refused to speak to reporters for most of the 2010 season.
Cunningham, his career dotted with contentious relationships and less-than-amicable departures, isn't the poster boy that Moreno is. But never mind that; he's about to become the all-time scoring king -- at least until
You can perhaps argue that tossing out the old boss for the new boss mid-campaign provides a head start on the larger target, wholesale turnaround. But that argument loses steam when the interim man isn't retained, which happens regularly. So what's the point? Any owner or GM who changes coaches in the middle of the year as some last-ditch gambit to rescue a playoff berth isn't paying attention to history.
New York relieved
Los Angeles, FC Dallas and Colorado all made changes in 2008 but couldn't make any playoff headway that year. (All three sides have prospered in the years since under the managers subsequently named.) A midseason change at the top in 2007 wasn't enough to break the playoff seal at Real Salt Lake, although
In the case of
Which brings us back to Toronto and interim man
Well, yeah. Teams that can't defend set pieces are going to lose. Even a short-term interim manager knows that.
There's always a lot to talk about around Qwest Field, from
Zakuani's ability to go at defenders one-on-one from the left was a major reason the Sounders bounded into Tuesday's final; he was bright in the team's 3-1 semifinal win over Chivas USA. And Zakuani's contributions are a big reason the Sounders keep winning despite Montero's fall in production over the last month or so. Schmid certainly isn't concerned about Montero.
"I'm not going to worry about that right now," the coach said after Saturday's win. "I thought Fredy had some good looks. Today he had a couple shots blocked, there were a couple times he should have shot and a couple times he should have played where he tried to shoot. Right now the team's flowing. His timing will come. He's a goal scorer, he'll get his goals in the future and if he saves them all for the Open Cup and the playoffs, I'm OK with that too."
Every year the Rookie of the Year race looks a lot different in June than it does in October. That's because some young bucks are brought along slower than others, so we don't see them until the summer. Here, then, is a new-and-improved 2010 Rookie Power Ranking: