Playoffs Scoreboard

Recap
Leg 1
11/23 FINAL
1LA
0SEA
RECAP
Recap
Leg 2
11/30 9:00pm
SEA
LA
ESPN
Western Conference Championship
Recap
Leg 1
11/23 FINAL
1NY
2NE
RECAP
Recap
Leg 2
11/29 3:00pm
NE
NY
NBCSN
Eastern Conference Championship

Climbing the Ladder: Fastest to three on the road

Despite playing on the road at Red Bull Arena last week, it only took 21 minutes for Real Salt Lake to put the game virtually out of reach for the home team with a near-immediate 3-0 lead.

As it turns out, that incredible start by Fabián Espíndola & Co. was the second-fastest time in league history an away team went go up by three goals. The quickest was last season, when Chicago jumped out the gates to score three within 19 minutes at the Home Depot Center against LA. That game was the Galaxy’s first after the home loss in the 2010-11 CONCACAF Champions League against Puerto Rico, as things went from bad to worse.

Fastest Three-Goal Lead on the Road
Minute Away Home Final Date
19 CHI LA 3-2 8-11-2010
21 RSL NY 3-1 9-21-2011
25 NE PHI 4-4 9-7-2011
26 KC CLB 4-0 5-14-2005
27 SJ LA 3-2 4-7-2001
30 LA COL 6-1 8-5-1998
31 NE DC 4-3 4-23-2005
34 LA DAL 5-1 5-18-2008
36 SJ LA 3-2 8-17-1997
36 DC NY 5-0 8-17-1997

Also making the top 10 (at right) is New England’s thrilling 4-4 draw against Philadelphia earlier this month, as well as several other memorable matches.

The losses by New York in 1998 and Dallas in 2008 immediately led to the firings of their head coaches, Alfonso Mondelo and Steve Morrow.

San Jose’s 2001 season-opening win over the Galaxy was Frank Yallop’s first game in charge, and a clear indication that the Earthquakes were no longer the basement-dwellers of previous years. It also marked the first MLS appearance for Landon Donovan, who came on as a substitute in the 73rd minute.

And who can forget Clint Dempsey’s “home plate” goal celebration at RFK Stadium after scoring the Revolution’s fourth goal in that 2005 New England-D.C. United encounter?

Only three home teams have jumped to earlier three-goal leads, the fastest of which came in Chicago’s 4-1 win over San Jose on May 14, 2000. The Fire went ahead by three goals in only 13 minutes thanks to Dema Kovalenko, Lubos Kubik and an own-goal from Mauricio Wright.

2. Galaxy defense at record-setting pace

Fewest Games Trailing, Season
  Year Team Games
  2011 LA 7
  2007 CHV 9
  2010 RSL 9
  1999 DAL 10
  2000 KC 10
  1999 DAL 10
  2000 KC 10
  2001 SJ 10
  2008 HOU 10
  2009 HOU 10
  2011 RSL 10
Fewest Minutes Trailing, Season
  Year Team Mins.
1 2011 LA 259
2 2000 KC 305
3 2006 DCU 325
4 2001 MIA 327
5 2008 SJ 328
6 2010 RSL 357
7 2004 KC 388
8 2004 COL 389

The LA Galaxy have compiled a record this season that’s up there with the greatest teams over the 16 years Major League Soccer has existed.

They’ve been led by their defense, which ranks first in MLS. Though they’re also near the top this year offensively, their ability to prevent scoring has been their strength, as their defense is among the best in league history.

The obvious way to compare defense performance historically is goals allowed. The Galaxy can’t quite match Real Salt Lake’s record of 20 from last season, as they’ve conceded 22 times already. They do have an outside chance of beating RSL on a per-game basis, if they were to finish the season with four more clean sheets.

However, the Galaxy are leading the all-time charts in several less noticeable categories.

First is the number of games in which they trailed at any point. They’ve only fallen behind in seven of 30 so far, which is two less than previous mark of nine games. That’s shared by 2007 Chivas USA and 2010 Real Salt Lake.

Also impressive is the total number of minutes they have spent trailing. Only seven previous teams have trailed less than 400 minutes in an entire season, led by the 2000 Kansas City Wizards at 305.

The Galaxy are currently at 259 with four games to play, so that’s also within reach.

3. Last week’s most important goals

It’s time to follow up on last week’s column, which dealt with how important each goal was by measuring the points per game for every minute and every scoring margin. To recap: By calculating the historical PPG before and after each goal, it’s possible to determine how many points a goal in any minute is worth on average.

Last Week's Most Important Goals
  Player Team Points Minute Score
1 Barrett LA 1.98 93+ CLB 0-1 LA
2 Cameron HOU 1.68 87 DAL 0-1 HOU
3 Montero SEA 1.13 64 VAN 1-2 SEA
4 Espíndola RSL 1.08 11 NY 0-2 RSL
5 Bravo SKC 0.92 56 KC 1-0 PHI
6 Moor COL 0.89 71 COL 1-1 SJ
7 De Rosario DC 0.82 39 DC 1-0 CHV
8 Ángel CHV 0.79 69 DC 2-2 CHV
9 Grazzini CHI 0.78 5 CHI 1-0 NE
10 Stephenson SJ 0.78 70 POR 1-1 SJ

Last week’s column only used numbers for the 2011 season. However, after more research (i.e. hours of data entry), the full numbers for all of MLS history can now be used. At right, here’s a ranking of the top 10 most important goals from last week.

This does not take into account the strengths of the respective teams or any red cards (being a man up is worth about 1.4 goals per 90 minutes). It does however include home-field advantage.

Of course the two late winners for LA and Houston top the list. It’s interesting that the second for RSL counted more than the opener, which wouldn’t be the case for a home team.

Meanwhile, Dwayne De Rosario’s hat trick was worth a total of 0.60 points, less combined than the opener he scored last Wednesday against Chivas.