Kitbag.com is pleased to present the latest in our series of guest features from our friends in Silicon Valley, as Fanatics.com preview the 2016 Major League Soccer playoffs. For more US sports coverage, visit the Fanatics blog today at WeAreFanatics.com
The regular season portion of 2016 Major League Soccer season came to a conclusion on Sunday, with FC Dallas winning the Supporters’ Shield (given to the team with the most league points) by 3 points from the New York Red Bulls.
New York City FC qualified for the post season for the first time, in only their second season of existence, and the Colorado Rapids improved their year over year points total by 21, to go from last in the West last year, to 2nd, and a 1st round playoff bye game.
Dallas finished in 1st in the West despite only being the 8th highest scoring team with 50 goals, the same number that the Columbus Crew SC, who finished 9th in the East scored.
New York City were the highest scorers in the league, yet finished one position below the Red Bulls, who scored one goal fewer. The overall average for the league was 1.4 goals per game, which was slightly higher than the English Premier League last season (1.35 gpg in 2015/16).
The rest of the 2016 MLS season stats, as sourced from mlssoccer.com:
24 Bradley Wright-Phillips (New York Red Bulls)
23 David Villa (New York City FC)
17 Sebastian Giovinco (Toronto FC)
17 Ignacio Piatti (Montreal Impact)
16 Dom Dwyer (Sporting KC)
Most Shots on Goal
68 David Villa (New York City FC)
59 Sebastian Giovinco (Toronto FC)
56 Bradley Wright-Phillips (New York Red Bulls)
44 Dom Dwyer (Sporting KC)
42 Ignacio Piatti (Montreal Impact)
Most Team Shots on Goal
175 Vancouver Whitecaps
174 New York City FC
174 New York Red Bulls
169 FC Dallas
167 Philadelphia Union
19 Sacha Kljestan (New York Red Bulls)
15 Sebastian Giovinco (Toronto FC)
13 Mauro Diaz (FC Dallas)
13 Benny Feilhaber (Sporting KC )
13 Justin Meram (Columbus Crew)
118 Jake Gleeson (Portland Timbers)
114 Joe Bendik (Orlando City)
113 Brian Rowe (LA Galaxy)
112 Steve Clark (Columbus Crew)
110 David Ousted (Vancouver Whitecaps)
11 Marcelo Sarvas (DC United)
10 Roger Espinoza (Sporting KC)
9 Cristian Higuita (Orlando City)
9 Brek Shea (Orlando City)
9 Luciano Acosta (DC United)
Most Fouls Committed
507 DC United
479 Vancouver Whitecaps
458 Colorado Rapids
457 Orlando City
450 New York Red Bulls
Least Fouled Teams
341 Colorado Rapids
373 Vancouver Whitecaps
376 Columbus Crew
392 FC Dallas
393 New York City FC
105 Columbus Crew
95 DC United
88 Chicago Fire
79 Toronto FC
78 New York Red Bulls
The 2016 MLS Playoffs
After a long season of 34 league games, the dust has finally settled, and a full eight teams have been eliminated from the MLS playoffs, leaving 12 to compete for the championship.
While many MLS fans won’t be shocked by the Chicago Fire and the Houston Dynamo going home early, not many would have expected both of last year’s finalists to be sitting on a tropical beach in late-October, with the Columbus Crew finishing six points outside the playoffs and the reigning champions, the Portland Timbers, just missing out on the last day thanks to a 4-1 drubbing at the hands (or feet) of the playoff-less Vancouver Whitecaps.
In the East, both New York teams earned byes to the next round, with Frank Lampard coming on in the 73rd minute of NYC FC’s game against Columbus, when the score was tied at 1-1, to push the team to a 4-1 win and finish one point ahead of 3rd place Toronto.
In the West, Dallas and last year’s bottom team Colorado got some additional rest time, as they finished in the top two.
As for the first round matches… here’s a preview of each of the one-off, winner take all games, which are to be played midweek this week.
Wednesday 27 October
Toronto FC vs Philadelphia Union
With only one win in the last six matches of the regular season nobody can accuse Toronto of being the in-form team, that solo win being a 3-2 squeaker against basement-dwelling Chicago Fire in the last game of the season. One extra win in that period would have leapfrogged them above NYC FC, but it wasn’t to be. so they get to face a Philadelphia Union team that’s on an even worse streak than them, winless in seven. On paper, Toronto should go through, they have the better team, have performed to a higher standard over the course of the season, and have home advantage, but in a one game scenario anything can happen.
Wednesday 27 October
LA Galaxy vs Real Salt Lake
The star studded LA Galaxy may have recently welcomed Landon Donovan back to the fold, but there is speculation that Steven Gerrard has announced his farewell to the team through an Instagram post. Real were sitting in 4th place, prior to their last game, but a loss to Seattle meant that both they and Sporting KC leapt above them, meaning that they now have to take on an LA team they’ve been unable to beat in both meetings this season.
Thursday 28 October
DC United vs Montreal Impact
DC United were the form team in the Eastern conference, with 4 straight wins, before the final day loss to Orlando, propelling them from just outside the playoff picture to a 4th place finish, and home field advantage against a Montreal team who’ve only won two of their last eight games, and have an upset star in Didier Drogba who was recently fined for refusing to be named as a substitute. In the two games that they played against each other this season, neither team was able to register a win, in this game one of them has to win.
Thursday 28 October
Seattle Sounders vs Sporting Kansas City
Seattle rocketed into the playoffs with five wins out of their last seven games, and thanks to Salt Lake losing on the last day, they took 4th place, and a home tie against a Sporting Kansas City team that’s beaten them twice this season, although the last time was when Seattle were going through a bad patch of form in July. Now, it’s Sporting that’s stuck in a rut of poor results, with only two wins in their last nine league games (both over the, now vacationing, San Jose Earthquakes). DG