MLS Playoff Race: Aug. 14

A sight Timbers fans have seen all too infrequently this year: Kris Boyd celebrating

That’s right, teams are finally gearing up for the playoffs, with most of them only having 10 matches left ’til the season ends. That being the case, we’re ditching the power rankings and going to the playoff race, just like we did last season. In yet another change, now the Top 5 from each conference makes the playoffs, with the No. 4 and No. 5 teams playing to see who gets to take on the No. 1 seed in the next round.

East

1. Sporting Kansas City (13-4-7, 43 pts). KC answered those who worried that they would mail it in the rest of the way, with a playoff spot all but assured and the U.S. Open Cup win sending them into the Champions League next year, with an impressive win over DC United. Three matches against the Red Bulls might determine who finishes first in the East – or wins the Supporter’s Shield. This week: Beat DC United 2-1. Matches left: @TOR, NY, TOR, HOU, @NY, @MON, CHI, @CLB, @NY, PHI

2. New York (12-5-7, 41 pts). A win over Houston ended their string of back-to-back defeats and pushed them back above the Dynamo into second. Whether they can win the Eastern Conference is largely dependent on whether Thierry Henry (2 goals in his last 9) returns to his scoring ways of earlier the season – or if Kenny Cooper (2 in his last 11) or Sebastien LeToux pick up his slack. This week: Beat Houston 2-0. Matches left: POR, @SKC, @DCU, CLB, SKC, @NE, TOR, CHI, SKC, @PHI

3. Houston (11-7-6, 40 pts). The loss to New York was disappointing, but prior to that, the Dynamo were undefeated in 8, so it was bound to happen sooner or later. They’re still in a good position to finish first in the East, if they can juggle MLS play and the Champions League. This week: Lost to New York 2-0. Matches left: CLB, TOR, @CHI, RSL, @SKC, @PHI, NE, MON, PHI, @COL

4. Chicago (11-5-7, 38 pts). The Fire have been won of the most consistent teams in the MLS this year, and are *this* close to securing their playoff qualification. Chris Rolfe has been a big boon to an offense that was really struggling earlier in the year. This week: Beat Philadelphia 3-1. Matches left: NE, @DCU, HOU, @TOR, MON, CLB, @SKC, PHI, @NY, @NE, DCU

5. DC United (11-3-8, 36 pts). Only one win from their last five now has United fighting for not the conference lead, but a playoff spot. You would think they have enough to hold off the challenge of Montreal and Columbus, especially with one of the easier remaining schedules, but what happened to the high-scoring attack of earlier this season? Is it Long Tan’s fault? This week: Lost to Kansas City 2-1. Matches left: PHI, CHI, @MON, NY, @RSL, NE, @PHI, CHV, @POR, @TOR, CLB, @CHI

6. Montreal (10-3-13, 33 pts). Montreal have done well to stay in the playoff race, and if they can pick up a few points on the road, they might sneak into the playoffs, though it’s hard to feel too confident about a team with four and six games in hand over its two nearest competitors. The match with DC will be a big one for both teams.  This week: Beat New England 1-0. Matches left: SJ, DCU, @CLB, @CHI, SKC, @HOU, @TOR, NE

7. Columbus (8-4-8, 28 pts). The Crew are probably the most intriguing team in the East right now – mainly because they have played at least two matches fewer than any of their competitors for the playoffs. Seven matches in their next three weeks will change that. They have been good lately, but they need to score more goals – they’re last in the conference with 20. This week: Didn’t play. Matches left: LAG, @HOU, TOR, NE, @PHI, MON, @NE, @NY, CHV, @CHI, PHI, SKC, @DCU, TOR

8. New England (6-5-12, 23 pts). Six matches ago, the Revs looked like possible playoff contenders. Since then, they’ve picked up one point. Can they avoid finishing last in the conference? Why have they been so bad the second half of the season? This week: Lost to Montreal 1-0. Matches left: @CHI, @CLB, CHV, PHI, CLB, @DCU, NY, @HOU, @PHI, CHI, @MON

9. Philadelphia (7-2-12, 23 pts). I’m not saying that the pointless midweek friendly with Aston Villa ruined the Union’s season, but prior to that match, they had picked up 9 points (3 wins, 1 loss) from their previous four. Since then, three points from their last four (1 win, 3 losses). Coincidence? This week: Lost to Chicago 3-1. Matches left: @DCU, RSL, CLB, @NE, @TOR, DCU, HOU, @CLB, @CHI, NE, @HOU, @SKC, NY

10. Toronto (5-4-13, 19 pts). Can Toronto make the playoffs? Well, they lost their leading scorer and could conceivably win all their remaining matches and still finish behind fifth-place DC, even if they lost six of their last 12. In other words, it’s not going to happen. But once again, they’re qualified for the Champions League, so yay for that, I guess. This week: Didn’t play. Matches left: POR, SKC, @CLB, @HOU, @SKC, CHI, PHI, @LAG, @NY, DCU, MON, @CLB

West

1. San Jose (14-5-5, 47 pts). A late victory over Seattle keeps the Quakes in the driver’s seat for both the Supporter’s Shield and first in the Western Conference. Even without Chris Wondolowski scoring – which is rare – they’re finding ways to win games. This week: Beat Seattle 2-1. Matches left: @MON, COL, CHV, @CHV, POR, @SEA, DAL, @COL, LAG, @POR

2. Real Salt Lake (13-3-9, 42 pts). RSL continue to be the biggest Jekyl and Hyde team in the conference, and their poor play on the road recently is startling. Last four away matchs: 0-0-4, 1 goal scored, 10 goals against. Yeesh. This week: Lost to Vancouver 2-1. Matches left: DAL, @PHI, DCU, @HOU, POR, @CHV, @LAG, @SEA, VAN

3. Seattle (10-7-6, 37 pts). The Sounders will be a playoff team, but their middling play most of this season has been troubling. Fredy Montero has yet to hit the late season run he usually does, and the defense has been poor. Without Eddie Johnson, they could be out of the playoff race. As ridiculous as it feels to say that. Amazing to think that at one point, this team was 7-1-1. This week: Lost to San Jose 2-1. Matches left: VAN, @CHV, @DAL, CHV, @POR, SJE, @VAN, POR, RSL, DAL, @LAG

4. Vancouver (10-7-7, 37 pts). Needing only a few more points to notch a playoff spot, the Whitecaps will be one of the teams that the top clubs wouldn’t want to face in the playoffs. Martin Rennie deserves credit for intelligent roster moves, especially if Kenny Miller ever gets fit and does anything. This week: Beat Real Salt Lake 2-1. Matches left: DAL, @SEA, @POR, @LAG, @DAL, COL, SEA, CHV, POR, @RSL

5. LA Galaxy (11-3-11, 36 pts). The crushing loss to Seattle aside, the Galaxy haven’t lost in six and only have two defeats in their last 12. We knew it was going to happen at some point. Can they play their way out of the play-in spot and challenge for 2nd or 3rd, especially withe the midweek Champions League matches? This week: Beat Chivas USA 4-0. Matches left: @CLB, DAL, VAN, COL, TOR, @COL, RSL, @SJE, SEA

6. Dallas (6-8-11, 26 pts). They’ve been stunningly poor all season, but Dallas isn’t out of the playoff race yet, though it would probably take going undefeated in their last 9 to have a shot, but with 6 of their last 9 matches away, it seems highly unlikely. This week: Beat Colorado 3-2. Matches left: @VAN, @RSL, @LAG, SEA, VAN, @SJE, @CHV, @SEA, CHV

7. Chivas USA (7-5-9, 26 pts). Chivas have four matches in hand over the Galaxy, but the way the other LA has pasted them the last two matches doesn’t bode well for the Goats’ chances of shrinking their 10 pt deficit. Neither does their inability to score: Chivas have been shut out 9 times in 21 matches, 7 at home. This week: Lost to LA Galaxy 4-0. Matches left: @COL, SEA, @NE, @SJE, @SEA, SJE, @CLB, @DCU, RSL, @VAN, DAL, COL, @DAL

8. Colorado (8-1-15, 25 pts). A catastrophic 12-match streak that has seen the Rapids pick up only six points out of 36 possible could result in coach Oscar Pareja being moved on after only one season. The Rapids can’t score or defend, and their propensity for throwing 1-3 points away every game stinks of poor game management. Also, by the sound of it, Omar Cummings is going to be dropped. This week: Lost to Dallas 3-2. Matches left: CHV, @SJE, @POR, POR, @LAG, @VAN, LAG, SJE, @CHV, HOU

9. Portland (5-5-12, 20 pts). Last week’s draw with Dallas earned the Timbers their first point in six matches. Players and fans alike are probably all ready for this season to end. The question for management is, how do they fix this team? I have ideas: Bring in Steve Nicol as coach. Get rid of Jack Jewsbury, Eric Brunner, Bright Dike, Diego Chara and Kris Boyd. Rebuild. Presto, playoff team in 2014! This week: Didn’t play. Matches left: @TOR, @NY, VAN, COL, @COL, SEA, @SJE, @RSL, DCU, @SEA, @VAN, SJE

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Posted on 2012/08/14, in America's game, Major League Soccer, Rankings and tagged , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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