Five teams and three playoff spots.
That is what it is going to come down to in the final week of the MLS regular season. Five clubs fighting for the three remaining post-season berths, with four teams having the luxury of knowing that a win puts them into the playoffs.
The Kansas City Wizards, New York Red Bulls, D.C. United, Real Salt Lake and Colorado Rapids will make next weekend an exciting one as we find out who exactly rounds out the playoff field.
Real Salt Lake and Colorado will meet at Dick’s Sporting Goods Park on Saturday night with the winner guaranteed the No. 3 seed in the Western Conference playoffs. A tie would eliminate the Rapids from playoff contention.
Now, if RSL loses to the Rapids, Jason Kreis’ team would suddenly be eliminated from the playoffs.
Things in the East are a little more complicated. Let’s take a closer look at all the playoff permutations heading into the last week of the regular season:
Here is the final week’s schedule for playoff hopefuls:
- Thursday– New York Red Bulls at Chicago Fire
- Saturday– Kansas City at New England, Real Salt Lake at Colorado
- Sunday– D.C. United at Columbus Crew
Here is a rundown of what each team needs to happen in order to qualify for the playoffs (current point total included):
Kansas City Wizards (39 pts)
In with a win at New England, and would be the No. 4 seed in the East.
In with a tie if:
Red Bulls fail to win or D.C. United fails to win by three or more goals. If neither wins, KC would be the No. 4 seed in the East. If New York wins or D.C. wins by three or more goals, KC would be the No. 4 seed in the West.
In with a loss if:
New York loses to Chicago OR D.C. United ties or loses vs. Columbus. Would be No. 4 in East if Red Bulls lose and D.C. doesn’t win. Would be No. 4 in West if New York wins or ties and D.C. doesn’t win, or if D.C. United wins and New York loses. KC owns tie-breakers against New York and Real Salt Lake (head-to-head) and D.C. United (goal differential).
New York Red Bulls (39 pts)
In with a win at Chicago. Would be No. 4 seed in the East with win and KC loss or tie. Would be No. 4 seed in the West if they win and KC wins.
In with a tie if:
Kansas City loses or D.C. United ties or loses. Also in with a tie if Kansas City wins, even if D.C. United wins because the Red Bulls own the tie breaker vs. D.C. United (goal differential).
Would be No. 4 in East if KC loses and D.C. United ties or loses. Would be No. 4 in the West if KC wins and D.C. ties or loses, or if D.C. wins and KC loses.
If Kansas City ties and D.C. United wins, then both teams with be tied with Red Bulls at 40 points.
If all three teams wind up tied at 40 points, Red Bulls would fail to qualify for the playoffs (worst overall record head-to-head among the three teams). (I have been informed that the Red Bulls would, in fact, advance to the playoffs if all three teams finish with 40 points. KC would win the three-team tie-breaker, which would then leave the Red Bulls and D.C. United in a two-team tiebreaker that the Red Bulls would win on goal difference)
In with a loss if:
D.C. United ties or loses. I the Red Bulls lose, they can only qualify for the playoffs as the No. 4 seed in the West. Red Bulls owns tie-breakers against D.C. United (goal differential) and Real Salt Lake (head-to-head).
D.C. United (37 pts)
In with a win at Columbus if:
Kansas City or New York Red Bulls lose. Would be No. 4 seed in East if both KC and NY lose, otherwise D.C. would be No. 4 seed in West.
If Kansas City or New York wins while the other ties, D.C. United would need to win by three or more goals to beat out KC if the Red Bulls win and KC ties. D.C. would need to win by four or more goals to beat out the Red Bulls if KC wins and the Red Bulls tie.
D.C. is even on head-to-head vs. both KC and New York Red Bulls, and beats RSL on head-to-head.
Real Salt Lake (39 pts)
In with a win or tie at Colorado. If RSL qualifies, would be No. 3 seed in West.
Would be eliminate with a loss because KC and Red Bulls hold head-to-head tie-breakers.
Colorado Rapids (37 pts)
In with a win vs. Real Salt Lake. If Colorado wins, the Rapids will be No. 3 see in West.
Did you get all that?
What do you think of the playoff race? What three teams do you see taking the remaining playoff spots?
Share your thoughts below.