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2013 MLS playoff finish much tighter than last year

Every MLS season is different, and looking at the playoff finishes in the West from last year to this it's clear that points were more evenly distributed leading one of the tightest finishes to the regular season. The Portland Timbers had biggest year to year MLS turnaround.

Joe Nicholson-USA TODAY Sports

Every MLS season is different, and looking at the playoff finishes in the West from last year to this it's clear that points were more evenly distributed leading one of the tightest finishes to the regular season in MLS history. Whereas in 2012 twenty three points separated first from fifth in the West, this year there were only six.

2012
Team Points
San Jose Earthquakes 66
Real Salt Lake 57
Seattle Sounders 56
LA Galaxy 54
Vancouver Whitecaps 43

2013
Team Points
Portland Timbers 57
Real Salt Lake 56
LA Galaxy 53
Seattle Sounders 52
Colorado Rapids 51

The biggest drop off the table is in the case of the San Jose Earthquakes. The bay area squad went from a goal differential of +29 to -7. It's telling that San Jose gave up almost the exact amount of goals as last year, but scored 27 fewer. Wondolowski had a 16 goal drop-off, but he wasn't the only reason San Jose sunk this year.

Elsewhere the finishes were quite similar. RSL, LA, and Seattle all finished within a point or two from their total last year. San Jose's drop corresponded with Portland's rise. The Timbers had better than a forty goal switch in differential from year to year which is fairly incredible. Whereas San Jose was similar defensively without the goal mania to overcome it, Portland essentially swapped their for and against columns.

The lack of a top heavy San Jose this season means the playoffs are likely to be more closely contended than they were last season. In matches between playoff teams during the month of October, draws have been the norm. The Rapid's recent result in Vancouver doesn't lend encouraging signs for their future, especially with Seattle getting to stay at home while Colorado has to travel back and forth to Cascadia.

The Western Conference Semi-Finals, with a Cascadia matchup and a LA-RSL matchup with lots of recent history, should be great theatre.