Week 27 helped to sort out the playoff picture for a few teams, while ending the postseason aspirations of others. The Philadelphia Union fell into the latter category this past Saturday.
At this point, five teams are in, including the LA Galaxy, Real Salt Lake, New York Red Bulls, Columbus Crew and FC Dallas.
Eliminated are Philadelphia, Chivas USA, Houston, New England and DC.
Barely alive are Toronto, Kansas City and Chicago, but I don’t like their chances. The stronger West again looks like they will have the abundance of teams in the postseason with all four wild card berths coming from the Western Conference.
Highlights from the weekend include:
Jeff Cunningham scoring career goal number 132, tying him for the all-time lead with Jamie Moreno. Cunningham doesn’t get the credit he deserves. He has hit this milestone playing for several different clubs. Whether he starts or comes off the bench, the man has a knack for scoring goals.
More credit should go to FC Dallas and Coach of the Year candidate Schellas Hyndman. When they lost star goalkeeper Kevin Hartman to injury, the team didn’t miss a beat. They are now unbeaten in 18 consecutive games, having lost just twice the entire season. Midfielder David Ferreira is an MVP candidate.
Who would want to meet this team in the playoffs?
Philadelphia has an MVP candidate of their own in Sebastien Le Toux, who scored yet another goal Saturday in a 1-1 draw vs Houston, bringing his total up to 13 in this incredible storybook year for the second year MLS forward/midfielder.
The Union went with a different lineup vs Houston that surprised everyone, as Danny Califf, Fred, Justin Mapp, and Stefani Miglioranzi did not suit up. The new lineup gave the spotlight to others, with Roger Torres showing his skill with the assist on Le Toux's goal.
Philadelphia's strategy going forward
With Philadelphia officially out of the playoff race, you wonder what Manager Peter Nowak will do with his lineup in the final three games. Will he stay with Brad Knighton as his number one goalkeeper or will Chris Seitz get another game before the close of the 2010 campaign? Will some of the younger players get more minutes the next few games?
Philadelphia will have some decisions to make for next year in terms of strengthening the team. They will have to decide who they can protect in the expansion draft. Will they extend the loans they currently have on players like Roger Torres and Michael Orozco Fiscal, or maybe purchase their contracts instead?
The decision-making continues on Thursday as the Union host the LA Galaxy in a nationally televised game on ESPN2. I was in Los Angeles on Sunday for the Galaxy vs Chivas USA game, which is always an entertaining matchup. LA had a terrific first half, but lost their way in the second 45 and were fortunate to come away with all three points.
The Galaxy come into Philly with the talented trio of Landon Donovan, David Beckham, and Edson Buddle. Winners of three of their last four, the Galaxy hope to finish up strong after a recent slump which saw them play at a .500 level over a ten game stretch.
They have their eyes set on winning the Western Conference, and winning the Supporters Shield.