MLS Playoff Race: Sept. 25

Thierry Henry’s beard is hoping to impose itself on the rest of the Eastern Conference for the final month of the season.

Already In

East — none; West — San Jose, LA Galaxy, Real Salt Lake

Just a Formality

East — Sporting Kansas City; Chicago; West — Seattle

In Control of Their Own Destiny

East — DC United; New York, Houston; West — Vancouver

Still Got A Shot

East — Columbus; West — Dallas

Not Mathematically Eliminated, But Let’s Be Honest

East — Montreal; Philadelphia; West — Colorado, Portland, Chivas


East — New England, Toronto



1. Sporting Kansas City (16-7-7, 55 pts). This week: Drew 0-0 with Montreal. They need to: Beating Chicago at home should be enough to see them through to the No. 1 seed, barring a major collapse in their last three matches. They would qualify for the playoffs with a win or a draw and Columbus loss or draw. If they lose, things get complicated. Matches left: CHI, @CLB, @NY, PHI

2. Chicago (16-5-8, 53 pts).  This week: Beat Columbus 2-1; They need to: Keep not losing. A draw or win at Kansas City would put the Fire in a great position to finish in 1st, with matches coming up against Philadelphia and New England. Regardless, if Columbus fails to win this weekend, the Fire are basically in the playoffs no matter what happens against Kansas City. Matches left: @SKC, PHI, @NY, @NE, DCU

3. DC United (15-5-10, 50 pts). This week: Beat Chivas USA 1-0; They need to: DC looked down and out a couple weeks ago, particularly with Dwayne DeRosario out for the season. They have a tricky match at Portland coming up, but the Timbers have little to play for at this point, so maybe three points are there to be had? I guess we’ll find out, the MLS never really makes sense. Matches left: @POR, @TOR, CLB, @CHI

4. New York (14-8-8, 50 pts). This week: Drew 1-1 with New England; They need to: Pick up a win or two against mediocre teams. Coming into last week’s home match with Kansas City, the Red Bulls were on the verge of seizing first in the East. Then they lost and only managed a draw against the Revs. Now they’re still on the playoff bubble. With Toronto coming up, a failure to win could seriously put their playoff prospects in jeopardy, and rightly so. Matches left: TOR, CHI, SKC, @PHI

5. Houston (12-10-8, 46 pts). This week: Lost to Philadelphia 3-1; They need to: Beat New England, Montreal, Philadelphia and Colorado. Like New York, the Dynamo’s Supporter’s Shield dreams have fallen apart, but their remaining schedule couldn’t be much easier. Matches left: NE, MON, PHI, @COL

6. Columbus (13-6-11, 45 pts). This week: Lost 2-1 to Chicago; They need to: Win out. It’s not that desperate in Columbus, but some uneven results lately (and Houston having a super-easy schedule to end the season) means that Columbus need to avoid any mistakes in their final four matches. The Union should be a win. KC will be tough. At DC will be tough and Toronto should be a win. But it’s the “business end” of the season. (God I hate myself for using that phrase). Matches left: PHI, SKC, @DCU, TOR

7. Montreal (12-4-15, 40 pts).  This week: Drew 0-0 with Kansas City; They need to: Have fun out there. It’s highly unlikely the Impact, who’ve had a great first year and strong second half, will catch fifth place Houston. But who knows, if they win their final three and Houston completely falls apart, it could happen. Matches left: @HOU, @TOR, NE

8. Philadelphia (8-6-14, 30 pts). This week: Beat Houston 3-1; They need to: Regroup for next season, which should be a better one. I saw a news story on Yahoo that said “Union stay in playoff race with win against Dynamo.” Um…well, they’re 16 points back with six matches to play, but I suppose that’s still true, right? Matches left: @CLB, @CHI, NE, @HOU, @SKC, NY

9. New England (7-8-15, 29 pts). This week: Drew 1-1 with New York; They need to: Continue to play hard. The Revs aren’t making the playoffs, but one bad midseason run aside, they haven’t been THAT bad. A good finish will put them in a position to challenge for the playoffs next year. Matches left: @HOU, @PHI, CHI, @MON

10. Toronto (5-7-18, 22 pts). This week: Lost 4-2 to LA Galaxy; They need to: Rebuild the team. The nine losses in a row to start the season was bad, but Toronto have been almost as bad to end the season. If they want to keep some semblance of fan support, the team needs to find some stability and consistency to build on. Matches left: @NY, DCU, MON, @CLB


1. San Jose (18-6-6, 60 pts). This week: Beat Seattle 2-1; They need to: Match their regular season performance in the playoffs. Many a No. 1 seed has fallen apart come playoff time. Can the Quakes keep up their good play? Matches left: DAL, @COL, LAG, @POR

2. LA Galaxy (15-4-11, 49 pts). This week: Beat Toronto 4-2; They need to: See San Jose. The Galaxy have probably been the league’s best team the second half of the year, but it all goes out the window when the playoffs come. Can they keep it going? They should be able to, but we’ll find out. Matches left: @COL, RSL, @SJE, SEA

3. Real Salt Lake (15-4-11, 49 pts). This week: Beat Portland 2-1; They need to: End the season on a high. Despite being tied for second, RSL have had a poor season for the most part. They’re no longer invincible at home, Alvaro Saborio and Chris Schuler are injured, and Javier Morales and Kyle Beckerman have had disappointing years. But, anyone can win in the playoffs. Yes, another cliché. Matches left: @CHV, @LAG, @SEA, VAN

4. Seattle (13-9-7, 48 pts). This week: Lost 2-1 to San Jose; They need to: Find a way to avoid the Galaxy in the playoffs, though they have played well against them this season. That means either settling for 4th or both the Sounders and RSL finishing ahead of the Galaxy. No. 2 would probably be preferable, right? Matches left: @VAN, POR, RSL, DAL, @LAG

5. Vancouver (10-8-12, 38 pts). This week: Drew 2-2 with Colorado; They need to: Win a match against someone. I’ve documented the Caps’ second-half woes a bit, and I think all the changes in midseason really killed them. They still should be able to eke out a playoff spot, though, with Chivas and Portland still coming up at home. Matches left: SEA, CHV, POR, @RSL

6. Dallas (9-9-12, 36 pts). This week: Beat Vancouver 1-0; They need to: Play better on the road and pray things go their way. It stands to reason that if Dallas can notch five points from their matches against San Jose, Chivas and Seattle – all on the road, they would go into their finale with a winnable match against Chivas (at home) and Vancouver facing a tough road match against RSL, which would, if things went that way end with the two teams tied. I don’t know, maybe it’s a stretch. Matches left: @SJE, @CHV, @SEA, CHV

7. Colorado (9-3-18, 30 pts). This week: Drew 2-2 with Vancouver; They need to: Get rid of some players. I hate to say it, but it’s time to stick a fork in the Omar Cummings/Conor Casey partnership up front. In the past two seasons since winning the MLS Cup in 2010, the two have combined for 17 goals. Not good enough. And they’re not getting younger or less injury-prone.  Matches left: LAG, SJE, @CHV, HOU

8. Portland (7-8-15, 29 pts). This week: Lost 2-1 to Real Salt Lake; They need to: See Colorado. With Caleb Porter coming in and virtually no momentum or confidence the last, oh, 25 matches of the year, things can only get better for Portland, who still have great fan support and a couple decent young players in Darlington Nagbe and Danny Mwanga. Everyone else can go, though. Matches left: DCU, @SEA, @VAN, SJE

9. Chivas USA (7-7-15, 28 pts). This week: Lost 1-0 to DC United; They need to: Find a new stadium, rebrand, build around youth, stop bringing unproven foreign players in, in the hope that someone sticks. Chivas are rapidly becoming the Toronto of the West, and I can’t even say it’s a shame, because no one ever goes to their matches anyway. And it’s not as if the Home Depot Center is cavernous, sheesh. Matches left: RSL, @VAN, DAL, COL, @DAL

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Posted on 2012/09/25, in America's game, Major League Soccer, Rankings and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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