Let’s suspend reality for a moment and pretend MLS just completed the regular season with a single table. Here is how it would look:
1. San Jose Earthquakes 66 points
2. Sporting Kansas City 63
3. D.C. United 58
4. New York Red Bulls 57 (more goals scored than RSL and Chicago)
5. Real Salt Lake 57 (better goal difference than Chicago)
6. Chicago Fire 57
7. Seattle Sounders 56
8. Los Angeles Galaxy 54
9. Houston Dynamo 53
10. Columbus Crew 52
11. Vancouver Whitecaps 43
12. Montreal Impact 42
13. FC Dallas 39
14. Colorado Rapids 37
15. Philadelphia Union 36
16. New England Revolution 35
17. Portland Timbers 34
18. Chivas USA 30
19. Toronto FC 23
Of note: Three of the top four are from the Eastern Conference. … Based on overall points, the DCU-New York playoff pairing is the best of the four conference semifinals. … The only top-10 team in the overall standings not to make the playoffs was Columbus, so the East-West format almost mirrors the full campaign. The complication is the unbalanced schedule — United, Chicago, Kansas City and Columbus claimed nine points apiece against lowly Toronto.
Despite the presence of playoffs, the single table does serve important purposes. San Jose won the Supporters’ Shield for the second time and earned an automatic berth in the 2013-14 CONCACAF Champions League (not to mention hosting rights if the Earthquakes advance to MLS Cup).
It also looms large for United. Assuming the criteria to determine the four U.S. representatives in the next Champions League is retained, DCU is in position to enter international play for the first time since 2009. Here’s how:
San Jose is in. Kansas City (U.S. Open Cup champion) is in. Two slots are reserved for the MLS Cup finalists. So if either the Earthquakes or Sporting reaches the championship, the single table comes into play to determine at least one CONCACAF berth. Kansas City finished second to San Jose but would have already secured passage. Who’s next? United, followed by the Red Bulls.
A few tidbits to share:
*Chivas USA entered its finale Sunday averaging one goal every 135 minutes — and then scored twice in the last four minutes to draw at Dallas, 2-2. Nonetheless, San Jose scored three times more goals than the Goats this season (72-24) and Golden Boot winner Chris Wondolowski outscored them himself (27-24).
*The only players to win the Golden Boot and MLS Cup in the same year? Technically, none because MLS did not begin formally awarding the Golden Boot until 2005. But top goal scorers to raise the trophy were Jaime Moreno in 1997 with DCU, Roy Lassiter in ’99 with DCU and Carlos Ruiz in ’02 with Los Angeles.
*Sebastian Le Toux, then with Vancouver, scored the first of the 854 regular season goals way back on March 10. Mike Magee scored the last in the Galaxy’s 1-0 victory over Seattle late Sunday. MLS averaged 2.64 goals per game — a slight rise from last year (2.58). The last time the league averaged three goals was in 2002. English Premier League matches are at a 2.84 clip through two-plus months.
*The two best sides in MLS’s regular season were the highest-scoring team by a wide margin (San Jose, 72 goals for) and the stingiest club by a wide margin (Kansas City, 27 goals against).
*A good omen? A day after United completed the regular season on a seven-game unbeaten streak, DCU investor Will Chang celebrated a second World Series title in three years as one of 32 principal partners of the San Francisco Giants. Whitecaps investor Jeff Mallett also has a stake in the Giants.