A closer look at the MLS Playoff Race

A closer look at the MLS Playoff Race

Major League Soccer

A closer look at the MLS Playoff Race

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Four teams. One playoff spot.

That is where the 2011 MLS playoff race stands as we enter the final week of the regular season. Nine playoff berths have been clinched, and while there is still plenty to be figured out as far as match-ups and final places, the real drama will be the race to see who will be the last team to squeeze into the playoffs.

The New York Red Bulls had a chance to lock up that final playoff spot, but watched as a Thierry Henry red card spoiled those chances in a 2-0 loss to Sporting Kansas City. That defeat has kept the door open for the Portland Timbers, D.C. United and Chicago Fire, with Wednesday's match between Portland and D.C. United serving as a veritable elimination game, with the loser knocked out of the playoff race (a Portland win vs. D.C. would also eliminate Chicago from the playoff race).

There is plenty for other teams to play for as well. In the East, you have four teams who all have a chance of winning the regular season conference title. Sporting KC and Philadelphia are currently tied for first (with Sporting KC currently holding the slimmest of tie-breaker edges) while Columbus is just one point back.

Out West, Real Salt Lake can clinch the No. 3 spot in the conference standings with a win or FC Dallas loss, but the consolation prize for whichever of those teams finishes fourth is a likely path through the weaker Eastern Conference come playoff time.

Here is a look at the current MLS Playoff Standings heading into the final week of the season:

MLS PLAYOFF STANDINGS

EAST

1. Sporting KC……..48 pts……33 games……..at D.C.

2. Philadelphia…….48 pts……33 games……..at NYRB

3. Columbus……….47 pts……33 games……. at Chicago

WEST

1. LA Galaxy………67pts……33 games……. at HOU

2. Seattle…………60 pts……33 games……. at Chivas USA

3. Real Salt Lake….52 pts……33 games……. vs. Portland

WILD CARD

1. FC Dallas……….52 pts……33 games……. at SJ

2. Colorado………..46 pts……33 games……. at VAN 

3. Houston…………46 pts……33 games……. vs. LA

4. NY Red Bulls…….43 pts……33 games……. vs Philly

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5. Portland……….40 pts……..32 games……..at D.C. United, at RSL

6. Chicago……….40 pts……..33 games……. vs. Columbus

6. D.C. United……38 pts……..31 games……..vs. Portland, vs. SKC

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Current Projected Playoff Match-ups:

Wild Cards

FC Dallas vs. New York Red Bulls; Colorado Rapids vs. Houston Dynamo

Eastern Conference

Sporting Kansas City vs. Highest remaining Wild Card, Philadelphia Union vs. Columbus Crew

Western Conference

Los Angeles Galaxy vs. Lowest remaining Wild Card Seed; Seattle Sounders vs. Real Salt Lake

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Which of the four teams still alive in the race for final playoff spot do you see breaking through? Who do you see finishing first in the East? Think Real Salt Lake holds on for third place in the West?

Share your thoughts below.

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