FanPost

Seba Finds Scoring Touch As Must-Win Matches Loom

The Philadelphia Union have 5 games left in the regular season - 2 at home and 3 away.  Away teams have only won 13 of the last 73 Major League Soccer matches dating back to the end of July. During that stretch, Eastern Conference teams have combined for a total of 4 road wins while the Seattle Sounders and Chivas USA each account for 3. In their 2-year existence, the Union are 12-4-14 at home (11-4-13 at PPL Park) and 5-18-6 on the road. 

Will home points alone be enough to secure a playoff berth?  Can Sebastien Le Toux continue his recent run of form and match last year's scoring output?  Hit the jump for a few stats and a look at how Philly's remaining schedule stacks up compared to the rest of the Eastern Conference...

Overall Union Stats After 29 Games:
9 wins, 7 losses, 13 draws - 40 points
37 goals for, 31 against, 347 shots taken, 115 on goal.
345 fouls committed, 348 fouls suffered.

2011 Union Results:
WWLWDWLDLWWDDLDWDDWLDDDLLDDWD

Sebastien Le Toux leads the Union in the following categories:
Goals (8) - just 5 behind the league leader and 6 off of last year's MVP-worthy total
Assists (8) - 7th in the league
Shots (73) - 6th in the league
Shots on Goal (25) - 13th in the league
Minutes Played (2,610) - Le Toux is the only field player in MLS to have played every minute of every game this season

Another interesting Seba stat from the Philadelphia Union's Twitter account:

@PhilaUnion: Since the '10 season began, no @MLS player has more combined goals/assists than @SebastienLeToux (41). Donovan/De Rosario tied for 2nd (38).

Is Another Slump Going Unnoticed?
Danny Mwanga scored 5 goals in his first 656 minutes on the field this season, but he has played 816 scoreless minutes since the end of June.  Mwanga is currently 2nd on the team (active players only) in goals, assists, shots, and shots on goal.  Unfortunately, while 15 different players have scored for the Union, only 5 active players have scored more than 1... and Justin Mapp scored both of his against Toronto FC on May 28th.

Suspension Watch:
Carlos Valdes was fined $250 and forced to serve a one-match suspension for yellow card accumulation a few weeks ago.  Valdes has since earned two more yellows, which means he's only one card away from a second suspension and a $500 fine.  There aren't enough games left in the season for it to happen, but 3 more cards would mean a third suspension / $750 fine, and additional suspensions / $1,000 fines would follow every 2 cards after that.

Brian Carroll, Danny Califf, Danny Mwanga, and Sheanon Williams have each earned 4 yellow cards, but they have been card-free for at least 3 games and are now 2 yellows away from suspension.  Sebastien Le Toux, Gabriel Farfan, and Zac MacMath are the only cardless Union players with over 100 minutes played. 

Sheanon Williams leads the team in fouls committed (32) and fouls suffered (39).

Remaining Eastern Conference Team Schedules:
42 pts Houston Dynamo - vs CHI, @ POR, vs LA 
41 pts Columbus Crew - @ KC, vs DC, @ NE, @ CHI
41 pts Sporting Kansas City - vs CLB, @ KC, vs NY, @ DC
40 pts Philadelphia Union - vs DC, @ CHV, @ SEA, vs TOR, @ NY
39 pts New York Red Bulls - @TOR, vs LA, @ KC, vs PHI
38 pts DC United - @ PHI, @ CLB, @ VAN, vs CHI, vs POR, vs KC
33 pts Chicago Fire - @ RSL, @ HOU, vs FCD, @ DC, vs CLB
30 pts Toronto FC - vs NY, @ PHI, vs NE
------------------------
27 pts New England Revolution - vs SEA, vs SJ, vs CLB, @TOR

The top 3 teams in each conference earn an automatic spot in the Conference Semifinals and four more teams (based on points regardless of conference) enter a Wild Card Play-In round.  After today's road loss to Chicago, New England has been eliminated from playoff contention.  Toronto FC will join them very soon, as the best they can do is match the team currently in the last playoff spot (New York)... and their -23 goal differential won't help them win a tie breaker.  While the 4th and 5th spots in the Eastern Conference would be playoff-bound if the season ended today, there is no guarantee that will be the case by the end of the season.  The worst the Union can do is finish 7th in the East.

In the Western Conference, Los Angeles Galaxy, Seattle Sounders, and Real Salt Lake have already secured a spot in the playoffs, and the Galaxy will be crowned Supporters' Shield winners barring an epic collapse.  The Vancouver Whitecaps are the only ones officially out of playoff contention in the West.

Playoff Match-Ups If Season Ended Today:

Wild Card Play-In Games (single elimination):
1 FC Dallas vs 4 New York Red Bulls
2 Colorado Rapids vs 3 Philadelphia Union

Eastern Conference Semifinals (two-game aggregate series):
1 Houston Dynamo vs highest-seeded wild card winner
2 Columbus Crew vs 3 Sporting Kansas City

Western Conference Semifinals (two-game aggregate series):
1 Los Angeles Galaxy lowest-seeded wild card winner
2 Seattle Sounders vs 3 Real Salt Lake

Conference Finals & MLS Cup are single games rather than two-game aggregate series.

The Union are 3-5-8 against the 9 other teams currently in line to make the playoffs.

With 3 points separating the top 5 in the East, how do you see the rest of the season and post-season playing out?  Is there anyone you hope to face/avoid in the playoffs?  Leave your thoughts below!

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