(W)Revs Wrap: Fearing Columbus; Preseason Pain

As I threatened to do a couple of days ago, I expanded on my theory that the Columbus Crew could have a decent year, which, in turn threatens the New England Revolution's shot at one of the same. That's posted on The Offside and, given that I'm ostensibly that site's Revolution blogger, it probably contains too much commentary on the Crew.

There's one wrinkle in that post, this one regarding the changes made between 2006 and 2007 to the Major League Soccer's playoff format. Now, the majority of these rules are pretty straightforward - see seeds #1, 2, and 5-8. It's seeds #3 and #4 where things get a little wacky:

"3) Conference runner up with highest point total."
"4) Conference Champ runner up with the point total lower than the other Conference Champ runner-up"

And then there's seed #4a, which invalidates the rule on the fourth seed in the case that said team's roster contains more than five left-footed players....

I kid, I kid. I think I see what they're going for here - e.g. preserving some meaningful separation between the conferences - and that it's the language necessary for seeding the two conference runners-up that it read so clunky. But, if I'm reading this correctly, it's pretty straightforward: the top two teams from both the Western and Eastern Conferences, 1) make the playoffs, and 2) get seeded above the rest, which, again, if I'm reading this right, offers potential for only one free ride (e.g. the runner-up from one of the conferences could have a sucky record - worse in fact than one or more teams seeded below them - but not only still make the post-season, but place high within the bracket).

But, in concrete terms, it's hard to know whether this hurts or helps the Revs. I'm about to do a season-preview freak-out, which (I hope) will better familiarize me with the ramifications of this - e.g. how they stack up in the East and against the Western Conference teams who can pip them on points if New England fails to finish either first or second.

P.S. I like the new playoff format thus far. It should make people nervous and that's a good thing.

In other Revolution news, the Boston Globe ran a rare piece on the Revolution, this one looking at who's likely to play in tonight's friendly against AC Inter Playa del Carmen. To save you the read, it looks like Adam Cristman, who has impressed the Revs' coaching staff, will get a shot at forward while James Riley will (gulp) start in central defense. That's less a shot at Riley, who I like well enough elsewhere on the field, as it speaks to an uneasiness about him playing central defense in a three-man defense.

But, as the article points out, Revs coach Steve Nicol has faith...we'll see if it's justified later.

The new guy - and the new-ish guy - owe their breaks to a pretty scary injury bug making the rounds through the Revolution locker room. The missing include Pat Noonan (surprise), Daniel Hernandez, and Michael Parkhurst.

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