Monday evening musings: A tight race looms ahead

Eric Hartline-USA TODAY Sports

Last Saturday's performance was something to be proud of, but other results mean that there will be little rest for the orange - and plenty of danger ahead in the coming weeks.

It's that time of year again, Dynamo fans. The win over Philadelphia on Saturday night put the Dynamo back into a spot in the postseason, but other results meant that the race as a whole actually got tighter. Columbus fell behind early, but came back to stun Montreal 2-1 and leave Stade Saputo with three points. New England and Chicago traded pairs of goals and looked to be headed to a draw that would have left the Dynamo with a little bit more breathing room, but a late Fire goal meant that the Dynamo now find themselves with two sides that could leapfrog them in the table were they to drop any points at home to Chivas USA this weekend.

(Eastern Conference table taken from MLS website)

# Club PTS GP PPG W L T GF GA GD HG HGD RG RGD
1 New York Red Bulls 48 29 1.66 14 9 6 46 36 10 26 14 20 -4
2 Montreal Impact 45 27 1.67 13 8 6 46 39 7 29 14 17 -7
3 Sporting Kansas City 45 28 1.61 13 9 6 41 27 14 28 14 13 0
4 Houston Dynamo 40 28 1.43 11 10 7 32 35 -3 18 5 14 -8
5 Chicago Fire 39 28 1.39 11 11 6 36 40 -4 26 7 10 -11
6 Philadelphia Union 39 29 1.34 10 10 9 37 39 -2 21 5 16 -7
7 New England Revolution 37 28 1.32 10 11 7 39 32 7 23 11 16 -4
8 Columbus Crew 35 29 1.21 10 14 5 33 39 -6 16 5 17 -11
9 Toronto FC 23 29 0.79 4 14 11 24 42 -18 17 -2 7 -16
10 D.C. United 15 28 0.54 3 19 6 18 46 -28 14 -9 4 -19

Tiebreakers: 1) Wins, 2) Goals For, 3) Goal Differential

Tiebreakers, I fear, are a problem. All four clubs behind the Dynamo still nursing postseason dreams are either tied with or one behind the Dynamo in total wins. More problematic, all but one of them (Columbus being the lone exception) have large leads on the Dynamo in goals scored. They fair slightly better when goal differential is looked at (who would've guessed that, given their recent form?), but chances are, that's not a tiebreaker that will be needed.

What does this mean, you ask? It confirms what we all know: the Dynamo may control their own fate right now, but this race is far from over. Luckily, no team trailing the Dynamo have matches in hand (indeed, two of the four have played more often), but that still leaves the men in orange with little margin for error.

Points must be collected at every opportunity - which gives even a match against the Western Conference cellar-dweller massive importance. With Philadelphia on a bye week and Chicago and Columbus fighting it out among themselves (New England plays host to DCU), it's a chance for the Dynamo to perhaps gain a little ground on those who trail them.

Win, and nothing else matters. Draw, and the worst we could see is fifth place. Lose, however - drop a second straight match at BBVA Compass for the second time this season - and the feats of last Saturday would be for naught. I like to say that there's no such thing as a given three points, and this weekend will be a perfect example of this. With the East as close as it is, the Dynamo can't afford to take a weekend off simply because of who they're playing. We need to hope that they give the opponent the respect they deserve, play their best, and prove that last week wasn't just a fluke. Because it really doesn't get any easier after this weekend. Not with so many other clubs breathing down their orange-clad necks.

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