As is often the case in late summer, DCFC has been focused on friendlies. Atlas’ visit was nothing short of historic, and while I’d like to say the same about the Philadelphia Fury it seems possible to me that even if NISA is a wild success maybe the Fury are less historic and more history.
But alas, DCFC is in the middle of a league. And while Le Rouge was hosting its friendlies, that league was still very much happening. You may recall that when we last saw our heroes play a competitive match, they were at the top of the Member’s Cup table very early in the season. After two weeks off, DCFC has somehow only fallen to 2nd, despite having played 3 fewer matches than 3rd-place Chattanooga. How did we get here? Let’s have a Cupdate.
1. New York Cosmos- 10 points, 4 matches played, 2.5 points per match, 3-0-1
Going into the Member’s Cup, I think you could have made a pretty reasonable prediction that it would come down to either City or the Cosmos, and based on current results that appears to be the case. The Cosmos started the Member’s Cup with a narrow 1-0 road win against Chattanooga FC. An away win in Chattanooga is nothing to sneeze at, but the cracks started appearing in the next match, a 2-2 home draw against Milwaukee, who was not projected to be in the competitions’ top half. Granted, that match was a little flukey. It was 2-0 NYC at 88’ when Milwaukee got the ball past a keeper that was playing way out, and scored the second four minutes later off of some confusion in the box. A 2-0 road win @ Stars is solid, and I would actually argue that more worrying than the Milwaukee loss is their performance in a win. Going into the match, Napa’s GD was -12, good for 4 goals against per match. The Cosmos scored 1 at home. One mitigating factor worth mentioning is that the Cosmos went down to 10 immediately after the goal, but not scoring at all in the first half is inconsistent with the results other teams have earned against Napa.
2. Detroit City FC- 6 pts, 2 MP, 3 PPM, 2-0-0
You may recall that DCFC beat Chattanooga 2-1 and then Napa 4-0. They remain perfect, and somehow have 8 full matches left in this competition.
3. Chattanooga FC, 5pts, 5 MP, 1 PPM, 1-2-2
Hoo boy. Chattanooga is clinging to third. Sure, third might be the natural place you would have expected Chattanooga to end up, but at this pace they are very much in danger of ending up a bottom-half team. Opening the competition with (discussed above) matches against NYC and DCFC is brutal, harder than any other club’s opening pair. But a home draw against Stars is a poor result. They did the thing everyone has done and thrashed Napa, but that just might not be enough to save their season. If they had gotten say, four points in their opening three matches a draw at Milwaukee probably would have been enough, but halfway through the competition it might have made them the first team out of the “Big Three” that almost certainly won’t touch the championship.
4. Milwaukee Torrent, 5pts, 3 MP, 1.67 PPM, 1-0-2
Listen, I get the risks in calling a team “the surprise of the tournament,” based on two draws, but when those draws are against Chattanooga and New York, Milwaukee is a strong candidate. I think tomorrow’s match in Milwaukee is a real chance for City to get its first non-win. Milwaukee may not have what it takes to win the competition, but they’ve held two of the Cup’s presumed powers to single points and have only given up three goals in three matches, with a clean sheet against Napa (like everyone else). If Milwaukee can get any sort of result off of City tomorrow, they’ll put themselves in great position to be worth watching out for during the rest of the Members Cup.
5. Michigan Stars FC, 1 pt, 2 MP, .5 PPM, 0-1-1
Stars held Chattanooga to a tie, and lost to New York at home. Technically, they have enough time to make up for it, but ultimately I think the most likely outcome is just barely edging Napa for fifth.
6. Napa Valley 1839 FC, 0 pts, 4 MP, 0 PPM, 0-4-0
Napa has four losses and a -13 goal differential. They have yet to score a single goal in the competition. In case you were wondering, Napa went 3-6-2 in regular season NPSL play, earning 11 points in 11 matches. Not great for the team that travels the most.
The big observation I have here is this: These standings meet the eye test. NYC and DCFC are on top, with Chattanooga, Milwaukee, Stars, and Napa following in that order. I think most NPSL observers would have predicted standings that look pretty close to this. The catch is that Chattanooga is in grave danger of ending the competition in fourth.
Another observation is that the table is going to be very confusing as long as everyone’s played uneven matches. Here is a table showing the remaining schedule for the top 4 teams, as well as how many matches ahead or behind DCFC each team will be once the listed match day is complete:
(In case you were wondering, the “long” break Chatta takes involves two weekdays, both of the Saturdays they have off they play NISA friendlies v. Stumptown Athletic. DCFC plays @ Philly on the 26th. The Cosmos do not appear to have anything scheduled for the 26th).
City’s schedule is packed from here on out. Everyone plays every Saturday, and City adds those two weeknight matches. I imagine we’ll see a lot of squad rotation for those weeknights, and we should thank our lucky… you know that they’re against a fairly weak team a short drive away.
Circle These Matches
DCFC @ Milwaukee Torrent, Saturday September 14th
DCFC can’t take the lead back from NYC, but can keep on pace to overtake them once they’re level on games. Milwaukee looks to prove this isn’t a fluke and deserves a seat at the big kids table.
New York Cosmos @ DCFC, Saturday September 21st
Once the Cosmos play this match, they’ll only have four to go, where City will still have six. A DCFC win likely means they have a commanding lead in points-per-match, and would give City enough breathing room that a loss in the New York leg wouldn’t be devastating. A New York win would set up a crucial away match for City in October.
Chattanooga FC @ New York Cosmos, Saturday September 28th
DCFC @ Chattanooga FC, Saturday October 5th
These will be matches 8 and 9 for Chattanooga. If Chatta even wants to challenge for second, they likely need 6 points. If they get those 6 as part of a more general late-season unbeaten streak, maybe they can keep their championship dreams on life support.
Detroit City FC @ New York Cosmos, Saturday October 12
The return trip. Whoever wins the first match, it is likely that at this second match someone has the opportunity to virtually clinch, if not literally clinch, the Championship.
Milwaukee Torrent @ Detroit City FC, New York Cosmos @ Napa Valley 1839 FC, Saturday October 19th
The last match for each of our main competitors, with the Torrent thrown in for good measure. While these aren’t actually the last matches of the Member’s Cup, chances are a Champion is crowned on this night, with the rest of the positions being close to solidified.
Milwaukee Torrent @ Chattanooga FC, Saturday October 26th
Only time will tell if this is a meaningless match on the last night of the season or if its a battle where the winner overtakes DCFC or New York and clinches second place.
Michigan Stars FC @ Napa Valley 1839 FC, Saturday October 26th
Unless Napa has already clinched, there is a very real chance that the winner of this last chance of the Member’s Cup avoids last place with the win.