Blog Archives

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

Eliminated

East — New England, Toronto

Standings

East

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

West

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

MLS Playoff Race: Aug. 31

This week: Philadelphia 0, Real Salt Lake 0; Montreal 3, DC United 0; Columbus 4, New England 3; Houston 1, Toronto 1; Chivas 2, Seattle 6; Portland 2, Vancouver 1; San Jose 4, Colorado 1; LA Galaxy 2, Dallas 0; Kansas City 1, New York 1; New England 3, Chivas 3; DC United 2, New York 2; Philadelphia 1, Columbus 2

Coming up: Portland v Colorado; Columbus v Montreal; New England v Philadelphia; Kansas City v Toronto; Real Salt Lake v DC United; LA Galaxy v Vancouver; Dallas v Seattle; Chicago v Houston; San Jose v Chivas

East

1. Sporting Kansas City (14-5-7, 47 pts). This week: Drew 1-1 with New York. A late, perhaps unfair draw with New York leaves Sporting only 1 point ahead of the Red Bulls with 8 to play. They do have upcoming home matches with Toronto and Houston, which should be winnable. Matches left:  TOR, HOU, @NY, @MON, CHI, @CLB, @NY, PHI

2. New York (13-7-7, 46 pts). This week: Drew 2-2 with DC United; Drew 1-1 with Kansas City. If they still have hopes of winning the East and the Supporter’s Shield, New York must pick up six points from home matches with Columbus and Kansas City. Matches left: CLB, SKC, @NE, TOR, CHI, SKC, @PHI

3. Houston (11-9-6, 42 pts). This week: Drew 1-1 with Toronto. It seems like Champions League matches are starting to take a toll on Houston, who have three tough league games remaining before ending the season with a run of matches against teams that are mostly out of the playoff picture. Matches left: @CHI, RSL, @SKC, @PHI, NE, MON, PHI, @COL

4. Chicago (12-5-8, 41 pts).  This week: Didn’t play. After getting hammered by DC United last week, the Fire have a couple winnable matches coming up to solidify their playoff spot, especially with the Crew so hot. Matches left: HOU, @TOR, MON, CLB, @SKC, PHI, @NY, @NE, DCU

5. DC United (12-5-9, 41 pts). This week: Drew 2-2 with New York; Lost 3-0 to Montreal. DC doesn’t have a particularly difficult schedule left, but they have to pick up some points and pray that Columbus cools off, which doesn’t look likely. Matches left: @RSL, NE, @PHI, CHV, @POR, @TOR, CLB, @CHI

6. Columbus (11-6-8, 39 pts). This week: Beat Philadelphia 2-1; Beat New England 4-3. The league’s hottest team continues to win, picking up six points (and scoring six goals) this week. The match with Montreal could go a long way toward pushing the Impact out of the playoff picture and helping the Crew leapfrog DC or Chicago into a playoff spot. Matches left: MON, @NE, @NY, CHV, @CHI, PHI, SKC, @DCU, TOR

7. Montreal (12-3-13, 39 pts).  This week: Beat DC United 3-0. The Impact’s late surge is impressive, but four of their last six are on the road, where they’ve been terrible this year. Matches left: @CLB, @CHI, SKC, @HOU, @TOR, NE

8. Philadelphia (7-4-13, 25 pts). This week: Lost 2-1 to Columbus; Drew 0-0 with Real Salt Lake. The Union finally conceded defeat in the playoff race. The question is, what changes are needed to make the team competitive next year? Matches left: @NE, @TOR, DCU, HOU, @CLB, @CHI, NE, @HOU, @SKC, NY

9. New England (6-6-14, 24 pts). This week: Drew 3-3 with Chivas; Lost to Columbus 4-3. Blowing a three-goal lead to the lowest-scoring team in the league (two of the goals from a player they traded a couple weeks ago) was probably the lowest point in a poor season. I do think the Revs will be good next year if their fans (and management) are patient. And they get some defenders… Matches left: PHI, CLB, @DCU, NY, @HOU, @PHI, CHI, @MON

10. Toronto (5-6-15, 21 pts). This week: Drew 1-1 with Houston. Since Aron Winters left, Toronto have been a marginal playoff team in terms of point total. If they can have some sort of solidity going into next year, maybe they can actually reach the playoffs? Nah, not likely. Matches left: @HOU, @SKC, CHI, PHI, @LAG, @NY, DCU, MON, @CLB

West

1. San Jose (15-5-6, 50 pts). This week: Beat Colorado 4-1. Not only are the Quakes still winning, but they’re doing it without Chris Wondolowski scoring goals. Matches left: CHV, @CHV, POR, @SEA, DAL, @COL, LAG, @POR

2. Seattle (12-7-6, 43 pts). This week: Beat Chivas USA 5-2. Finally, Fredy Montero and Seattle can’t stop scoring. They might be too far behind to catch San Jose, but they look like one of the best teams in the league again after a so-so year. Matches left: @DAL, CHV, @POR, SJE, @VAN, POR, RSL, DAL, @LAG

3. Real Salt Lake (13-4-10, 43 pts). This week: Drew 0-0 with Philadelphia. RSL are slowly backing their way into the playoffs, but should be a relatively dangerous team once they get there. Matches left: DCU, @HOU, POR, @CHV, @LAG, @SEA, VAN

4. LA Galaxy (12-4-11, 40 pts). This week: Beat Dallas 2-0. Only three points behind Seattle and RSL, the Galaxy could end up second in the West, which would likely mean they’d take on, well, Seattle or RSL in the playoffs. Matches left: DAL, VAN, COL, TOR, @COL, RSL, @SJE, SEA

5. Vancouver (10-7-10, 37 pts). This week: Lost 2-1 to Portland. At this point, with a very tough schedule remaining, it looks highly unlikely the Whitecaps will be a playoff team, which is disappointing, considering how good they’ve been at times this season. Too many midseason changes? Matches left: @LAG, @DAL, COL, SEA, CHV, POR, @RSL

6. Dallas (8-8-12, 32 pts). This week: Lost 2-0 to Los Angeles. It won’t be easy, but if Dallas can get three points against Vancouver (and maybe a point against Seattle), they’ll be in excellent position to make the playoffs. Matches left: SEA, VAN, @SJE, @CHV, @SEA, CHV

7. Chivas USA (7-7-10, 28 pts). This week: Drew 3-3 with New England; Lost 5-2 to Seattle. Coming back from three goals down against the Revs was heartening, but Chivas needs more than a point to make up their playoff deficit. Matches left: @SJE, @SEA, SJE, @CLB, @DCU, RSL, @VAN, DAL, COL, @DAL

8. Colorado (8-2-16, 26 pts). This week: Lost 4-1 to San Jose. The Rapids are playing out the string at this point. What a terrible, terrible season for fans in Denver. Matches left: @POR, POR, @LAG, @VAN, LAG, SJE, @CHV, HOU

9. Portland (6-6-13, 24 pts). This week: Beat Vancouver 2-1. A little bit of optimism resurfaces in Portland, with news that Caleb Porter will be the new coach and a win over Vancouver. Now to offload some dead wood and not finish last. But not in that order. Matches left: COL, @COL, SEA, @SJE, @RSL, DCU, @SEA, @VAN, SJE

MLS Playoff Race: Aug. 24

Timbers fans rue the teams struggles in front of goal, in midfield, at goalie, in defense and on the sideline.

This week: Wins for Kansas City and New York kept them neck and neck in the race for first in the East. DC United finally found some form in routing Chicago, which temporarily puts them 4 points ahead of Montreal and 7 ahead of Columbus going into this weekend. In the West, losses for San Jose and Real Salt Lake allowed Seattle to pull a little closer, though they’re still 7 points behind the Quakes. Meanwhile, Dallas continues to surge, and if they can navigate a road match at the Galaxy this weekend with a win or draw, they might be able to edge out the Whitecaps and get in the playoffs.

Coming up: Kansas City hosts the Red Bulls in the battle for first in the East. DC United visits Montreal in the battle for fifth. With two matches yet to go in New York, KC will hope to get a full three points here. United have been poor on the road, but a win for them should all but sew up a playoff spot. In LA, the Galaxy host Dallas. A win for the defending champs would put them 8 points ahead with home matches against Vancouver, Colorado and Toronto coming up.

East

1. Sporting Kansas City (14-4-7, 46 pts). This week: Beat Toronto 1-0. No matter whether they finish first in the East (or overall), Kansas City looks like they will be a very dangerous team come playoff time. Could they do the double? Matches left: NY, TOR, HOU, @NY, @MON, CHI, @CLB, @NY, PHI

2. New York (13-5-7, 44 pts). This week: Beat Portland 3-2. It’s hard to have faith in a Red Bull team that can’t defend to save their lives, but they sure can score goals. Matches left: @SKC, @DCU, CLB, SKC, @NE, TOR, CHI, SKC, @PHI

3. Houston (11-8-6, 41 pts). This week: Drew 2-2 with Columbus. The Dynamo have yet to lose at home. With five more matches in Houston, the question is, can they pick up enough points on the road to finish atop the East? Matches left: TOR, @CHI, RSL, @SKC, @PHI, NE, MON, PHI, @COL

4. Chicago (12-5-8, 41 pts).  This week: Lost to DC United 4-2; Beat New England 2-1. The loss at DC was disappointing, but with five of their last 9 at home, the Fire should be a playoff team. Matches left: HOU, @TOR, MON, CLB, @SKC, PHI, @NY, @NE, DCU

5. DC United (12-4-8, 40 pts). This week: Beat Chicago 4-2; Drew 1-1 with Philadelphia. DC finally played a complete match in beating Chicago. Can they hold off the threat of Montreal and Columbus? Matches left: @MON, NY, @RSL, NE, @PHI, CHV, @POR, @TOR, CLB, @CHI

6. Montreal (11-3-13, 36 pts).  This week: Beat San Jose 3-1. Having played three more matches than DC, it remains to be seen whether the Impact have enough left in the tank to catch them, particularly with four matches on the road. But at least they’re making them sweat. Matches left: DCU, @CLB, @CHI, SKC, @HOU, @TOR, NE

7. Columbus (9-6-8, 33 pts). This week: Beat Toronto 2-1; Drew 2-2 with Houston; Drew 1-1 with LA Galaxy. The Crew are about as average as a team can be, but given that 53 percent of teams make the playoffs, that isn’t necessarily a bad thing. Frederico Higuain looks like a great signing, by the way. Matches left: NE, @PHI, MON, @NE, @NY, CHV, @CHI, PHI, SKC, @DCU, TOR

8. Philadelphia (7-3-12, 24 pts). This week: Drew 1-1 with DC United. Now 16 points out of the final playoff spot, I think it’s time for the Union to start building toward next season. Matches left: RSL, CLB, @NE, @TOR, DCU, HOU, @CLB, @CHI, NE, @HOU, @SKC, NY

9. New England (6-5-13, 23 pts). This week: Lost to Chicago 2-1. Only Toronto and Portland’s battle of ineptitude is currently keeping the Revs out of last place in the league. They could be a playoff team next year – if they don’t change things too much. Except for bringing in a good defender. Carlos Bocanegra maybe? Matches left: @CLB, CHV, PHI, CLB, @DCU, NY, @HOU, @PHI, CHI, @MON

10. Toronto (5-5-15, 20 pts). This week: Lost to Columbus 2-1; Lost to Kansas City 1-0; Drew 2-2 with Portland. I feel like I say this every week, but enjoy the Champions League again, Toronto fans. Matches left: @HOU, @SKC, CHI, PHI, @LAG, @NY, DCU, MON, @CLB

West

1. San Jose (14-5-6, 47 pts). This week: Lost to Montreal 3-1. One loss doesn’t make a crisis, particularly since the Quakes have four matches coming up against non-playoff teams and they’ve already crossed my imaginary “enough points to get in” threshold. Matches left: COL, CHV, @CHV, POR, @SEA, DAL, @COL, LAG, @POR

2. Real Salt Lake (13-3-10, 42 pts). This week: Lost to Dallas 2-1. It’s conceivable that RSL could finish as low as fourth. All in all, it’s been a disappointing season, but they still should be a danger come playoff time. Matches left: @PHI, DCU, @HOU, POR, @CHV, @LAG, @SEA, VAN

3. Seattle (11-7-6, 40 pts). This week: Beat Vancouver 2-0. The Sounders have a somewhat reasonable schedule left, so if Fredy Montero can put on his usual late-season flurry, they might threaten San Jose for first. Maybe. Matches left: @CHV, @DAL, CHV, @POR, SJE, @VAN, POR, RSL, DAL, @LAG

4. LA Galaxy (11-4-11, 37 pts). This week: Drew 1-1 with Columbus. They still need a few more wins to secure a playoff spot, but the Galaxy are playing like arguably the best team in the West, as much as I hate to say that. Matches left: DAL, VAN, COL, TOR, @COL, RSL, @SJE, SEA

5. Vancouver (10-7-9, 37 pts). This week: Lost 2-0 to Seattle; Lost 2-0 to Dallas. An unexpected home loss to Dallas now leaves the Caps with three straight difficult away matches, including a trip to Dallas, who could very well leapfrog them into the playoffs in that match. Matches left: @POR, @LAG, @DAL, COL, SEA, CHV, POR, @RSL

6. Dallas (8-8-11, 32 pts). This week: Beat Real Salt Lake 2-1; Beat Vancouver 2-0. Now almost back in the playoff race, Dallas are left to wonder where they’d be if Blas Perez hadn’t spent much of the season injured. Or if they hadn’t been so terrible early on. Matches left: @LAG, SEA, VAN, @SJE, @CHV, @SEA, CHV

7. Chivas USA (7-6-9, 27 pts). This week: Drew 1-1 with Colorado. What’s left unsaid in the “Oh, Dallas are playing great!” talk is that Chivas are only five points behind with FIVE matches in hand. Unfortunately, they have yet to string together enough solid play to really worry anyone. Matches left: SEA, @NE, @SJE, @SEA, SJE, @CLB, @DCU, RSL, @VAN, DAL, COL, @DAL

8. Colorado (8-2-15, 26 pts). This week: Drew 1-1 with Chivas USA. The Rapids have nine matches left in Operation Save Oscar Pareja’s job. Matches left: CHV, @SJE, @POR, POR, @LAG, @VAN, LAG, SJE, @CHV, HOU

9. Portland (5-6-13, 21 pts). This week: Lost 3-2 to New York; Drew 2-2 with Toronto. Thinking optimistically, the Timbers have five home matches left, so should be able to pick up 10 points there. Maybe. Well, maybe that’s being too optimistic. Matches left: VAN, COL, @COL, SEA, @SJE, @RSL, DCU, @SEA, @VAN, SJE

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

Galaxy vs. Houston in MLS Cup final

Ho-hum. The Galaxy beat Real Salt Lake and Houston surprised Sporting Kansas City in the Eastern Conference final to advance. The Galaxy match was fairly by the book, but Houston lucked out a bit with what looked to be a definite penalty for KC getting waved off. They did manage to win the game without Houston winger Brad Davis, who was injured in the match and will likely miss the final.

All the stars are aligned for the Galaxy to claim their first title with Beckham on the team, before he leaves for France, England or Mexico, presumably. Will it happen? We shall see.

MLS Playoffs: Seattle Sounders 2, Real Salt Lake 0 (Real Salt Lake wins 3-2 on aggregate)

Local boy Lamar Neagle scored the 2nd goal for Seattle, likes his fade tight.

Goals: Osvaldo Alonso (1), Lamar Neagle (1)

Seattle takes 26 shots against Real Salt Lake, but fail to find the breakthrough until the second half and eventually run out of steam. It wasn’t a terrible performance from the Sounders, but they were a bit wasteful in the first half, and Real Salt Lake was always going to  sit back and defend and soak up all the pressure, which they did very well. Osvaldo Alonso got the first goal on a penalty, and when Lamar Neagle scored around the 63rd minute, there was hope for Seattle, but they never found a third. Real Salt Lake, who played quite well in this matchup, move on to face either LA or New York. Probably LA.

MLS Playoffs: Sporting Kansas City 2, Colorado Rapids 0 (KC wins 4-0 aggregate)

CJ Sapong only likes song with "swag" in the title.

Goals: Aurelien Collin (1), CJ Sapong (1)

Kansas City becomes the first team to advance to the “conference semifinals” with a fairly easy win at home against Colorado. The Rapids were always going to be up against it having lost 2-0 at home to Kansas City and dealing with a ton of injuries, but they created virtually nothing in the match. The impressive Aurelien Collin scored the opener to basically put it away, and then CJ Sapong, who I interviewed in June, added the second. Kansas City takes on the winner of Philadelphia and Houston.

MLS Playoffs: Philadelphia Union 1, Houston Dynamo 2, first leg

Goals: PHI – Sebastien LeToux (1); HOU – Andrew Hainault (1), Calen Carr (1)

A pretty action-packed, but not necessarily quality-packed first leg in Philadelphia. Probably the most notable thing about the first half is how poor the Union were – probably because it is their first year in playoffs. Houston scored twice and probably could’ve had another goal or two by halftime. For the Union’s part, LeToux’s goal was probably a bit fortuitous. The Union were significantly better in the second half, but failed to find the equalizer, though Brad Davis should’ve been whistled for a handball in the box for Houston. The Dynamo have the edge, but only just.

MLS Playoffs: Colorado Rapids 0, Sporting Kansas City 2, first leg

Teal Bunbury: Sure he was born in Canada, but they don't have a soccer team. Do they?

Goals: Teal Bunbury 2 (2)

A miserable day for Colorado, who lose three players through injury, have Tyrone Marshall sent off and manage, I think, only one shot on goal. Teal Bunbury was just too fast and powerful for the Colorado backline, and hopefully performances like this will get him called up to the national team again, so we don’t have to see Edson Buddle any more. I don’t see Colorado beating Kansas City by two goals in Kansas City. Could KC be a dark horse contender for the Cup?

MLS Playoffs: New York 0, LA Galaxy 1

Girl, I didn't score in this game, but I will later tonight with you

Goal: Mike Magee (1)

The Galaxy’s typical defensive solidity proves too much for the Red Bulls in the first leg of their playoff series. Mike Magee scored the long goal. In truth, the Galaxy could’ve won by a couple more goals, but Frank Rost made some nice saves for New York, and Robbie Keane was wasteful. It’ll be interesting to see if Keane plays in the second leg as he is clearly not match-fit. At the end, there was some fighting initiated by New York’s increasingly useless Rafa Marquez. I wouldn’t be surprised if he were suspended for the second leg. LA definitely has the edge, but as the MLS playoffs have shown before, a one goal lead heading home doesn’t mean a team is going through.

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