The Path Ahead, Part 1
There are only nine matches left, including Saturday's at New England, for DC United in the regular season. Currently, they sit 4th in the East with 38 points, -4 points on New England, -3 points on KC (1 game in hand), -1 point on Chicago (2 games in hand), +5 on the Metros, and +14 on Columbus.
A few things to note: Only four of the nine matches left are against conference opponents, and only this Saturday's game against New England is against a team that's higher in the table. That makes Saturday's game critical, as it is the last chance for the hypothetical "6 point swing in the standings" that will probably apply to playoff seeding. Five games are on the road, four at home. There are only three games in September.
The teams remaining are:
New England (away), RSL (home and away), Colorado (home and away), FCD (away), Metros (home and away), Crew (home). Maximum yield: 27 points.
Looking at that schedule, I think DCU can, with a reasonable effort and luck in results, take a total of 18 points. That would be a 5-1-3 record, based on DCU only losing one of the games away at New England or Dallas and drawing the other, taking both from RSL, and 3 points at home, 1 on the road elsewhere. That would give DCU 56 points, at a clip of 1.75 points a game. By way of comparison, a 1.75 pt/game pace last year would have given DCU 52 points, first in the East. In 2003, it would have placed DCU 2nd. In other words, 18 points should be good enough for home field in at least the first round (second leg).
But how about this year? We'll need to look at the other teams to figure that out.