Armchair Analyst: Matt Doyle

Armchair Analyst: New York is Blue, no D in Dallas & more from Week 22

"New York is large, glamorous, easygoing, kindly and incurious, but above all it is a crucible."Ford Maddox Ford

Run This Town

It is fair to say that NYCFC vs. RBNY has become a true rivalry. Even the ball kids are getting into it:

The Rapids had the lion's share of possession and, generally speaking, the better of the run of play right up until they took a deserved 2-1 lead in the 54th minute. Then they just dropped deep into a shell, invited Vancouver forward and eventually conceded the inevitable equalizer in a 2-2 draw at Commerce City. They had over 65 percent of possession in building a 2-1 lead, and down around 40 percent in squandering it.

"Possession" is not a substitute for "quality" and it's far from a given that the team dominating the ball is the team dominating the game. But in this one Colorado brought more quality when they had the ball than when they didn't. They didn't "dominate" the game per se, but they controlled it when they had the ball then lost control when they didn't.

So this a perfect example of a team winning by doing one thing, then utterly abandoning it as the game state changed.

Vancouver now have seven points from their last three road games, and are hanging in there in the Western Conference playoff race.

7. Probably out of the Western Conference playoff race are the LA Galaxy, who saw their hopes go up in smoke 33 minutes into what became a 3-1 loss at Portland as Diego Valeri lasered home the game-winner.

The most disappointing thing for Sigi Schmid & Co. has to be that this came after a half hour of very solid play that should've seen the Galaxy on top (Gyasi what are you doing????). Instead, they're nine points below the playoff line and just lost to one of the teams they had to pass in order to get a postseason spot.

It's hard to see a path to the playoffs for LA.

6. Anthony Jackson-Hamel's late goal rescued three points for the Impact in their 2-1 win over visiting Orlando City. Ninth-place Montreal (27 points) still have games in hand on Philadelphia (29 points), Orlando City (30 points) and Columbus (32 points). Only one of those teams – or maaaaaaaybe 10th-place New England (26 points), but probably not – will make the playoffs out of the East.

Dropping that game, or even dropping points, would've been a crushing blow for the Impact.

5. New England are probably done because of their inability to stop anybody defensively. They got worked 4-1 at Chicago, the sixth time in seven games the Revs have conceded multiple goals. 

4. Real Salt Lake generated 21 shots against a bunkered-in Houston team, but could only come away with a scoreless draw. That's because this is a map of their on-target shots:

Armchair Analyst: New York is Blue, no D in Dallas & more from Week 22 -

A lot has gone right for RSL since Mike Petke took over (except for the freakin' printer), and there's not a soul in the world who could make a legit case that this team isn't better off now than they were two or three months ago. They're young and hungry and skillful, and they're getting better – they're unbeaten in five.

But they're also winless in three, and it's largely because they're leaving goals on the board with not-so-great finishing.

3. Atlanta United are remarkable. They went to Sporting KC without their best player (Josef Martinez), and with Greg Garza hurt, and they got mostly played off the field for 90 minutes. They probably shouldn't even have been in the game.

Then they pushed the tempo just a little bit, put the SKC backline under some pressure, and walked away with a 1-1 draw. There aren't a lot of teams overall – and only one expansion team since the 1998 Fire – who could go on the road and play so much less than their best but still claim a point in that scenario.

It's probably safe to assume that LAFC and every other upcoming expansion side will be looking hard at the way Tata Martino et al built that roster.

2. More and more the Western Conference looks like seven teams vying for six spots. San Jose held up their end of the bargain by getting the required 2-1 home win over visiting Crew SC on Saturday night, completing a two-game homestand with six necessary points.

Starting next Saturday, the Quakes head out on the road for four of five in a make-or-break portion of their schedule. Recall that the last time they left the cozy confines of Avaya Stadium, they dropped three straight games (at Atlanta, at RBNY, at Seattle) by a combined score of 12-3. If they're anywhere near that leaky defensively over the next month it won't even matter that they finish the season with three-of-four at home, because their season will already be over.

"It's not easy. Let's know what we're up against," head coach Chris Leitch said afterward. "Obviously before this game started we knew we had three games in a week and all three of them are really important. One of them was a home game, the next is a [US Open] Cup semifinal [Wednesday at Sporting KC], which you better believe we're going to take serious. And then the last is an away game at a really tough place to play against a really tough team at their home. So it's a good little gut-check time for us, knowing that it's an important part of the season where there's a lot on the line."

1. And finally, our Pass of the Week goes toClint Dempsey for finding the right touch to turn a 2-v-5 into a goal, with some help from the Minnesota United central defense (volume up for analysis):

Seattle won 4-0 only because they didn't finish as well as they should've – this game could've seen eight or nine goals all told. 

Regardless, nobody in the West is as hot as the Sounders. They're unbeaten in seven, have won four of their last five and have now pitched three straight shutouts. They're up to fourth in the conference in the standings, and tied for second in points per game with a fairly friendly schedule the rest of the way.

That they've done most of the above without Ozzie Alonso, who's been injured, and without minutes from at least one of their transfer-window signings (I think by Wednesday that number will be two) speaks to the quality they were able to find within the league and from outside of it this winter. Gustav Svensson, who's been locking it down at defensive midfield in Alonso's absence, has been particularly crucial during this recent run.