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FC Dallas, D.C. United and TFC all win to stay alive in MLS playoff race

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The MLS playoff race was supposed to clear up after the past weekend's matches, but three teams won vital games to stay alive and keep the race as packed as ever.

FC Dallas, D.C. United and Toronto FC all won matches on Saturday to force a four-way tie for the final MLS playoff spot with one match to go.

New England lost its hold on the final playoff spot with a 0-0 tie vs. the Chicago Fire, while FC Dallas defeated the Colorado Rapids, 2-1, leaving the Rapids with just a one-point hold on its playoff spot.

Toronto FC defeated Real Salt Lake, 1-0, to drop RSL behind the playoff, while D.C. United scored a clutch 1-0 win vs. Columbus.

TFC currently holds the tie-breaker among the four teams tied, based on its 2-1-3 record against the other teams tied on 39 points. New England and FC Dallas are tied with 2-2-2 records vs. the other 39-point teams. D.C. United is in last among the tied teams, with a 1-2-3 record. The only team D.C. United holds a tie-breaker on is FC Dallas, while FC Dallas only holds a tie-breaker on Toronto FC.

The Seattle Sounders were the only team to clinch a playoff spot last weekend by way of their 3-2 victory against the Kansas City Wizards. The Chicago Fire still sit in second place in the Eastern Conference, and the automatic playoff spot that comes with it, but Chicago has yet to clinch the spot by virtue of D.C. United and FC Dallas still being within three points of the FIre and holding the tie-breaker advantage on the Fire.

One team trailing the pack, but still with a chance of grabbing a playoff spot, is Real Salt Lake, which needs to win its season finale against the Colorado Rapids and have FC Dallas lose, and have D.C. United, Toronto FC and New England all not win their season finales in order to grab a playoff spot. RSL holds tie-breakers on D.C., TFC and the Revs, and would hold the tie-breaker on Colorado if it beats the Rapids by more than two goals, or wins by two goals while scoring more than two goals on Saturday. RSL can get in with a win and a variety of other results, which we will list on Monday.

The race for the top spot in the West got even tighter after Chivas USA settled for a 2-2 tie vs. San Jose. Chivas USA sits one point ahead of Los Angeles and Houston for first place in the West, with the Galaxy and Dynamo playing today. Chivas USA still holds a game in hand on both teams.

What did you think of this weekend's MLS results? Which three teams do you see grabbing the final three MLS playoff spots?

Share your thoughts below.


  1. Has there ever been a bigger case for conspiracy than the league wanting the Sounders in the finals?

    Over the fact that they would sell out the game for sure. The Sounders would probably sell another 20k season tickets for next year. 10k would be a disappointment as they already have deposits on 6k for next year.

    It would be like adding another teams revenues for free. In fact even Houston fans should be rooting for that…for the good of the league.

  2. Ben: read chupacabra’s post, it explains it well, basically if more then two teams are tied then its head to head for all games played between all of the tied teams, so across the 4 teams TFC holds the best head to head but Dallas has a better head to head against TFC alone, so if they are the only teams tied then Dalls will make it in

  3. I think TFC will most definately win against NY and get in. That leaves COlorado to chose its own destiny, but sadly I see them only getting at best a draw against RSL. Dallas has to beat Seattle, tough game. My final playoff picks?









    East Finals: Columbus vs Toronto

    West Finals: Houston vs LA

    Finals: Columbus vs LA

    Champs: LA (that’s right, I picked the Galaxy!)

  4. HUH?

    For MLS sake you WANT Both DC United and Toronto to get in, why? they have a huge fan base and with play-offs it will creat some buzz in the city..might make the city of DC think twice about the world class stadium they want to build if DC United is winners and get more support and votes to build it.

    This what we should hope for


    LA Galaxy VS Seattle

    DC United vs Toronto

    Finals in front of 66,000 waves of Green

    Seattle Vs DC United

    Unless you want colorado a team that when they were near the top had more than half a home stadium empty in a SSS that they spent $131 Million to Built.

    or new Ebngland that gets the same or better yet 5,000 for the playoffs last year.

  5. Man I love this league, not many places in the world where a club as maligned as FCD can get back into the playoff race and potentially title contention. Awesome stuff!

  6. I don’t understand how you say Toronto holds the tie breaker against all teams they are tied with, but then in the same paragraph you say FCD holds the tie breaker over Toronto.

  7. So what if Chicago loses and is sitting on 42 points with the rest of the teams.


  8. I meant, does head to head count over goal differencial?

    (SBI-Head to head is the first tie-breaker in all scenarios, but if teams are tied head-to-head then goal differential head-to-head is the next tie-breaker.)

  9. Does head to head count over tie breakers?

    How do they determine home field advantage for the second round of the playoffs?

    If LA, Chivas, and Houston draw their last games and Seattle beats Dallas, we win the West. MLS is the most unpredictable of all soccer leagues.

  10. SO, Josh you’d rather have a 4 team playoff? Thats absurd! Thats like saying march madness should just be the top 4 teams. Without the the other 4 teams there won’t be a cinderella or a NYRB, I for sure love the playoffs!

  11. Conor Casey’s knee, have you thought about why we have divisions and conferences in American sports. This isn’t England or Holland where any team can be a few hours driving distance from each other. Travel strains here are enormous and having teams play teams closest to them more is a necessity until we develop hydraulic underground tubes or something

  12. This would be so much easier with a single table and the top 8 teams get into the playoffs.

    Posted by: Conor Casey’s knee | October 18, 2009 at 02:56 PM

    The same teams would still be contending for the last playoff spots. It would really not be any different.

  13. Ives, you’re giving the Revs too much credit. They drew 0-0 with the Fire, not 1-1. So many entertaining matches last night, and FSC ended up with that snoozer.

  14. Wow chupacabra;

    That’s ABOUT what I had in my head, but you laid that out beautifully. That’s exactly the kind of chart(s) that I’ve been waiting for someone to put out. Thanks so much!!!!

  15. Greg, it’s really not as confusing as it seems. Yes, if standings remain as they are and Dallas, DC, New England and Toronto all remain tied, Toronto goes to the playoffs based on its overall head-to-head results vs. Dallas, DC, and New England.

    Here is a breakdown of head-to-head results:
    DAL: DC (L,T), NE (L,W), TFC (T,W) = 8 points
    DC: DAL (W,T), NE (T,L), TFC (T,L) = 6 points
    NE: DAL (W,L), DC (T,W), TFC (L,T) = 8 points
    TFC: DAL (T,L), DC (T,W), NE (W,T) = 9 points

    Now lets say that Toronto and only one other team they’re tied with both end up with enough points for that 8th place spot. Individual head-to-head results for that scenario would be as follows:
    Toronto v.
    Dallas: T, L (Dallas has better hth record and advances)
    DC: T, W (Toronto has better hth record and advances)
    NE: W, T (Toronto has better hth record and advances)

    Dallas’ hth tiebreakers against everyone else is as follows:
    DC: L, T (DC advances)
    NE: L, W (hth tied, 2nd tiebreaker is overall league goal differential, Dallas advances with +4 compared to NE’s -5)
    TFC: T, W (Dallas advances)

    If all four teams win and Colorado loses, TFC and Dallas advance, TFC advancing by the head-to-head qualification and Dallas advancing by tying with NE in HTH and having a better goal differential than NE.

  16. right on KCB! the playoffs are a great thing.

    But the whole WORLD enjoys playoffs after league play. For example, the World Cup involves a “mini-league” of teams playing each other to decide who qualifies to the “playoffs”. And the World Cup Final is the last playoff game. MLS just has a slightly different version of what the world enjoys.

  17. Maybe I’m stupid, but I’m not understanding this 4-way tie. I know it’s head to head record, then goal differential, but Ives’ explanation of the tie just confused me more.

    So if all 4 remain tied, RSL loses/draws and Colorado stays in 7th, then TFC goes? And, for example, if TFC and FCD are tied for 8th, then FCD goes? FCD loses tie-breakers against everyone else? And who goes if all 4 win and Colorado loses? TFC and who else?

    My brain hurts.

  18. huricano,

    You do realize that every single weekend’s results were/are as important as any other right?

    If TFC had beaten Seattle way back in April, they would basically be in right now. They didn’t.

  19. Gotta love MLS, every match counts in the end. But 1 weekend will determine who moves on and who stays home.

    Who says MLS needs a promotion/relegation system, we got playoffs!
    Sure, it’s blatantly American, but what’s wrong with that? I take pride in that our league holds something unique compared to all other leagues in the world. (Exception maybe leagues like Mexico & A-League who also have play-offs).

    Making/Missing the playoffs is comparable to the excitement of a relegation race, and as the league expands this race will only get better and more intense. Just read about all the scenarios out there for next weekend. And it sucks to the be club that just misses out on the playoffs. Next weekend is gonna be Crazy-Psychotic!

    C’Mon Wizards! Knock out Handball United!

  20. since i’m too lazy figure it out myself (just woke up) what’re the chances Toronto and Columbus face each other in the first round?

  21. Damn parity…
    Posted by: The Perenial Contender | October 18, 2009 at 12:26 PM

    I agree with that haha.. I’m hoping Houston can get the right results to win the supporters’ shield

  22. Um, tony….they couldn’t do this at teh beginning of the season because their AM was still getting used to the team, and, well, their team then is not the same team now. (entirely different back line).

  23. Ives…How about some predictions for things like rookie of the year, comeback player of the year, coach of the year, MVP, etc.

    Also, I think a couple polls are in order before next week: “Who do you want to see get the final playoff spot?” “Who do you think will get the final playoff spot?”

  24. FC DALLAS does it again! The best and hottest team in the MLS….why couldn’t they have played like this in the beginning of the season.


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