For the first time since the middle of last season, Toronto FC has won two straight games. To say that it has pushed them into playoff contention would be tantamount to saying Luis Silva is in the Golden Boot race after his first three games with DC. However, the ever-present cloud of cynicism surrounding TFC may have lifted slightly over the past two weeks. The Reds are well on their way to salvaging some pride and making a strong case for 2014, but is it still possible for them to get things turned around in the final twelve games of this season?
Let’s look at the numbers from past seasons. As a general rule of thumb, roughly 1.5 points per game (PPG), or 51 points in total, has been enough to garner a coveted playoff birth. Things changed last year with five teams qualifying from each division. Houston was fifth in the East with 53 points (1.56 PPG), while Vancouver squeaked into the final playoff spot in the West with a mere 43 points (1.26 PPG). So that’s the kind of numbers we’re talking about.
As for TFC, through 22 games they’ve racked up 20 points (or 0.91 PPG). At this rate, they will finish with approximately 31 points – a big improvement from last season’s 23 points (0.68 PPG) but nowhere near a playoff spot. Although virtually impossible, they could mathematically obtain maximum points from their final twelve games. This dream-world scenario would give them 56 points, likely placing them comfortably in fourth or fifth in the conference. Now, like I said, that is totally unrealistic. However, if Mr. Payne can deliver on his lofty promises to bring in two high quality players, it is possible we notice a marked improvement in TFC’s form. In this incredibly optimistic scenario, let’s say TFC can muster 2 PPG for the rest of the season (win two, lose one, win two, lose one, etc.). They would finish with 44 points (1.29 PPG), well shy of the 1.5 PPG mark, but still above Vancouver’s total from last year. It would be unlikely but entirely possible to make the playoffs if it plays out in this way.
Overall, TFC has a small but definite probability of making the playoffs. I figure they need at least 2 PPG from their remaining twelve fixtures in conjunction with many of the right teams losing. If TFC can carry this momentum, I think we should root for New York, Sporting KC, and Montreal to run away with the top three spots, and cheer heavily against Philadelphia, Houston, New England, Chicago, and Columbus in hopes that we can squeeze into fourth or fifth.
It’s been a brutal season, but that doesn’t mean we can’t have a little hope. After all, if our boys can win on the road with 36% possession, anything’s possible.