July 20, 2009

WPS-The Homestretch

We're down to the last three weeks of the regular season and the race for 2nd through 4th places have tightened considerably. Most of the contending teams have four games left, except Saint Louis which has five. Let's look at the playoff chances for each team.

Los Angeles-They're going to finish first, no doubt about it. They need just one point or a tie or loss by Saint Louis and it's a done deal. In a nutshell...37 points, 3 games remaining (at FCGP, at Chicago, at Boston). They will clinch 1st by the end of this week.

Boston-The Breakers have moved into 2nd place on the strength of two 1-0 victories over the bottom two teams last week. The schedule gets a lot tougher from here on out. In fact, Boston may have the hardest schedule of all of the contenders. Their next game is at home against their nemesis, Sky Blue, next Saturday. Then the Breakers face two road contests against fellow contenders, Washington and Saint Louis. They finish up at home against Los Angeles. At 24 points, they have a 4 point cushion over 5th place, but their schedule is very difficult. They are the only one of the contending teams which still has to play the Sol. In a nutshell...24 points, 4 games remaining (SBFC, at Washington, at Saint Louis, Los Angeles). They have the inside track for 2nd place, but a tough schedule could make this a close call. I would put their chances at a playoff spot at about 85% right now.

Saint Louis-There's no way to sugarcoat this, they simply shot themselves in the foot with an uninspired effort on Saturday. They could have been playing Wednesday with a chance to clinch a playoff spot. Instead, they will be trying to fend off red hot Sky Blue. The one thing going in their favor is the schedule. They are the only one of the contenders that has 5 games left. They have two games against bottom dwelling Gold Pride and a home game against Chicago. But they would like to go into those games in a position of strength and not make them must win games. A victory over Sky Blue on Wednesday would put them on the verge of a playoff spot. In a nutshell...23 points, 5 games remaining (SBFC, FCGP, Boston, Chicago, at FCGP). More games and an easier schedule give them a pretty good chance, in spite of Saturday's effort. I'd put them at about 90%.

Sky Blue FC-They are the hottest team in the league with a 3-0-1 record over their last 4 games, but their schedule the rest of the way is not easy. They play each of the other three contenders and all of those are on the road. Their 2-4-1 road record doesn't exactly inspire confidence in them getting the job done. This week will make or break them. They travel to Saint Louis on Wednesday and then to Boston on Saturday. Two victories would put them in 2nd place. Two losses and they will be battling Washington and maybe others for 4th place. If tiebreakers come into play, they have won the season series over Boston, but lost the season series to Saint Louis. After this weekend, they get 10 days off before their final two games. In a nutshell...22 points, 4 games remaining (at Saint Louis, at Boston, FCGP, at Washington). They are going to have to be road warriors to do it. The game at Washington on the final weekend could be for a playoff spot. They are playing well, but I would put their chances at 60% given their schedule.

Washington-The victory over Saint Louis on Saturday got them right back in it. They have the advantage of playing two of the other contenders at home, Boston and Sky Blue. Their two road games are against Chicago and Gold Pride. Outside of Athletica, they have the most advantageous schedule, but they start in a hole, trailing Boston by 4, Saint Louis by 3, and Sky Blue by 2. One would think it will take 8 or 9 points out of their final four games for the Freedom to make the playoffs, especially since the three teams in front of them all play each other, meaning that someone is going to get points in each of those games. In a nutshell...20 points, 4 games remaining (at Chicago, Boston, at FCGP, SBFC). They start from behind, but their schedule works in their favor. As long as they stay close to Sky Blue, they can go into that last game with a chance. I would put them at just above 50-50 right now.

Chicago-It looked like they were going to make one final run at the playoffs, but the 1-0 loss to Sky Blue has almost finished them. They have just three games left and they have to win all three to have a chance and then pray for help elsewhere. Their schedule isn't very favorable either, with games against Washington, Saint Louis, and LA. In a nutshell...17 points, 3 games remaining (Washington, Los Angeles, at Saint Louis). It would take a miracle. I would put their chances at virtually nil, less than 1%.

FC Gold Pride-They still have 5 games left, but they have so much ground to make up, it will be nearly impossible for them to have a chance. They would have to win all 5 games and get help. Considering they haven't won a game since mid-May, I would say it's over. In a nutshell...12 points, 5 games remaining (Los Angeles, at Saint Louis, Washington, at SBFC, Saint Louis). They need an even bigger miracle than Chicago's. Too small of a chance to even measure.


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