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The MLS Playoff picture still taking shape


While we now know which eight teams will be playing in the 2010 MLS playoffs, what we don't know is which teams will be facing each other in two weeks when the playoffs begin. The final week of the regular season games will help clear up a playoff picture that is still too tough to predict.

As things stand, here are the current playoff match-ups:


#1 New York Red Bulls vs. #4 San Jose Earthquakes

#2 Columbus Crew vs. #3 Colorado Rapids


#1 Los Angeles Galaxy vs. #4 Seattle Sounders

#2 Real Salt Lake vs. #3 FC Dallas


The seeds could shift any number of ways, with none of the eight seeds locked in yet. Here is where the eight playoff teams could wind up:


NEW YORK RED BULLS– Clinch No. 1 seed with a win vs. New England on Thursday OR a Columbus loss to Philadelphia. Othewise, New York will be the No. 2 seed.

COLUMBUS CREW– Clinch No. 1 seed with a win vs. Philadelphia and New York tie or loss to New England. Can also clinch No. 1 seed with tie and New York loss. Otherwise, Columbus will be the No. 2 seed.

SAN JOSE EARTHQUAKES– Clinches No. 4 seed in WEST with two wins in remaining games (Chivas USA and Kansas City) and Seattle loss to Houston. Clinches No. 3 seed in East with two wins or one win in either remaining game and Colorado loss. Otherwise, San Jose will be No. 4 in East.

COLORADO RAPIDS– Clinches No. 4 seed in Western Conference with win and Seattle loss. Clinches No. 3 seed in East with win and San Jose loss or tie in either remaining game. Otherwise, Colorado will be No. 4 in the East.


LOS ANGELES GALAXY– Clinches No. 1 seed in West with a win OR a tie and Real Salt Lake loss. Otherwise, Los Angeles will be the No. 2 seed in the West.

REAL SALT LAKE– Clinches No. 1 seed in West with a win AND Los Angeles loss or tie. Can also clinch  No. 1 seed in West with a tie and Los Angeles loss. Otherwise, Real Salt Lake will be the No. 2 seed in the West.

FC DALLAS– Clinches No. 3 seed in the West with win or Seattle loss or tie. Otherwise, FC Dallas will be the No. 4 seed in the West.

SEATTLE SOUNDERS– Clinches No. 3 seed in the West with a win and FC Dallas loss. Clinches No. 4 seed in West with win or tie, or Colorado loss or tie. Otherwise, Seattle will be the No. 3 seed in the East.


As you can see, there are too many playoff possibilities to really project what the match-ups will be, but it does seem pretty clear that the first round of the 2010 MLS Playoffs could be the most competitive in league history.

Which match-up would you love to see in the first round? Hoping for a Seattle-Columbus rematch? How about an LA-FC Dallas first-round series? What team do you absolutely not want your team to face in the first round?

Share your thoughts below.


  1. I either miss the game or leave my kids without a dad on the biggest night of the year.

    Not to mention my son missing the game.

    MLS Halloween has been on the schedule for a while now !!!

  2. I agree. The MLS can have conferences, but make the winner of the regular season the champion of that conference. After that, look to a 1 through 8 playoff format. Supporters shield winner gets first and down from there. The winner of the West and East is decided during the regular season. Playoffs are seperate. I don’t understand. Why do we have to even discuss this? It is so obvious! Shows you why our country has so much trouble making decisions. The no brainer has to be put though the ringer to figure out if it is the right decision. This should have been dealt with three or four years ago. It only makes sense. Making sense. The first road to explore.

  3. forgot to add…in a single table, winning the supporter’s shield would actually have significance. you won the league. you get the 1 seed in the mls cup playoffs. as to know where although you get a CCL spot it’s more like a pat on the back, since you’re supposed to focus on winning your conference to get home field advantage throughout the playoffs. only one team should get that distinction, the shield winner.

  4. the whole point of having conferences or divisions is to play more games against that select group of teams and the team with the best record represents them in the playoffs. like college football used to be when there were only a handful of bowl games (and not what, 50 now? crazy).

    but since mls currently has (and should always have, unless we get to 24+ teams) a balanced schedule, so the whole point of having separate conferences is moot. until mls grows to the size of the other major leagues–making a balanced schedule impossible–c’mon garber…common sense. balanced sched, single table, seed 1-8. go.

  5. Pretty annoying that the first playoff game at Red Bull Arena is on Thursday. I mean, it’ll be a great atmosphere, but there are no scheduling conflicts and because of wanting to reach a TV audience (which I do understand) it’s got to be a Thursday. Maaaybe Versus would be more flexible.

  6. The road to MLS champ leads through the West reguardless. Shouldn’t really matter when they play a team in the playoffs. If you want to be the best you’ve got to beat everyone else.

  7. I think Seattle is much better off with a home-and-away aggregate series against RSL than one winner-take-all Western Conference final at Rio Tinto.

  8. Two things…MLS scheduling sucks. They gave us (Seattle) a home match at 5 pm local time on Halloween. For any fan with a child we are pissed no matter who we play. Second the only team I think I would fear for us to play is RSL. A home and home to Rio Tinto sounds like a penalty shoot out in the best case scenario.

  9. i don’t like the time slots for the games on this weekend. RSL plays before LA. if RSL looses, then galaxy can take the night off. or did i miss something?

  10. Still keep the guaranteed spots for the top 2 teams per conferene but it should definately be 1 vs 8, 2 vs 7 and so forth…

    Also, I’m hoping for an LA vs NY final.

  11. Agreed. I HATE the conference system. Only in MLS is it possible to have New York be the Western Conference Champion and San Jose be the Eastern Conference Champion. What is the point of having conferences if this is how it’s going to work? This is really the only major issue I strongly disagree with the commissioner on in terms of how the league operates.

  12. Garber has spoken directly to this in the past…he wants conferences because it gives “moments” when teams are holding a tropy in front of their fans. Having been at one of those celebrations, I can attest to the fact that fans love.

    Agree or disagree, but it isn’t about “Fans who they thing cannot understand a non-conference setup”

  13. What was the system like before this. Wasn’t it top four from each conference. That was worse, wasn’t it? Wasn’t this changed when Beckham came in to help LA make the playoffs from a strong West?

  14. Of course in a way the likes of FCD and SEA were in better shape to assure they get sent East. After all, they wrapped up their spot in the playoffs early enough they could tank a few games and take their chances in the East while Colorado and SJ had to keep winning to garantee a playoff spot (so it was possible they would overcome Sea and FCD).

    Wouldn’t you rather be well rested and taking on a western conference team then tired and taking on an Eastern conference team? I mean, since the opening round is home and away maybe staying out west would help your long-term chanced anyway.

  15. This is a dumb playoff system. They should have went single table seeding 1-8 since every team played each other twice. Maybe Garber and the owners can have some faith in the fans and the so called casual american sports fans who they think can’t understand a non conference setup next year.

  16. So if you’re a wildcard team what you really want is to be the 3rd wildcard team and get sent East. If you beat New York and the 4th wildcard team beats Columbus, you get to host the Eastern Conference Championship.

    I’m not saying New York or Columbus are easier to beat then say LA or RSL, I’m just saying which path would you rather have:

    One game at home and away against RSL, then a one game winner takes all at LA


    one game home and away with Columbus and then a chance to be at home for the winner take all against a fellow western conference wild card.

  17. Too bad that the playoff format punishes the strong performances of Dallas and Seattle by making them play through the West and rewards SJE and Col by sending them East. Why not take the 8 playoff qualifiers and seed them 1 – 8 based on total points?

  18. Those are some great matchups in the West.

    Seeds 1-4 in the West, 5-8 in the (L)east

    Winner of the West should have a goal advantage to start MLS Cup.

  19. What if New York draws and Columbus wins? What’s the tiebreaker there? Columbus swept — would that give it to the Crew?

    (SBI-Columbus holds the tie-breaker, which is why I listed a Columbus tie and NY loss as a way the Crew wind up No. 1 in the East.)


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