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And then there were 10: MLS playoff teams set

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 The ten-team field for the MLS playoffs has been determined with a week left in the season, but while we know what all he match-ups are in the Western Conference, the East is still very much up for grabs.

All the playoff match-ups are set out West, with Vancouver qualifying as the No. 5 seed. They will face the No. 4 Los Angeles Galaxy in a one-game wild card playoff at Home Depot Center in two weeks. The winner of that wild card game will take on the No. 1 seed San Jose Earthquakes in a home-and-home series.

Real Salt Lake and the Seattle Sounders are tied on points heading into the final week and while they are still jockeying for the No. 2 seed, they already know they’ll be facing each other in the West semifinals for the second straight season.

The final week of the regular season will help determine all five Eastern Conference playoff seeds Sporting KC is a safe bet to secure the No. 1 seed, barring a rare home loss to the Philadelphia Union on Wednesday. Streaking D.C. United face the Chicago Fire with the winner securing the No. 2 seed.

Both the New York Red Bulls and the Dynamo will be doing their best to play themselves out of their current wild card slots (No. 4 and 5), but both will need a win and some help to make that happen. The Red Bulls can grab the No. 3 seed with a victory, while the Dynamo need a win and a losses by the Red Bulls and Fire.

Now that the 10-team field is set, which team do you consider the favorite to win the MLS Cup Final? Which West match-up are you most looking forward to? What East match-up are you most hoping to see end up on the schedule?

Share your thoughts below.


  1. Should be a very exciting post-season….

    As for pro-rel….You have to have a B league with which teams can be sent up or down. Is there anything remotely suitable even in existence? No, the other existing soccer leagues USL etc do not qualify. Could MLS establish a B league? Not anytime in the near future.

    The league was never structured with that model in mind. Ownership, and their millions of invested $, is never going to going to restructure without some serious financial incentives i.e. cash payments that would offset any actual relegation losses for a while. How many B league owners could sustain something like that? How many MLS teams are still struggling to turn a profit?

  2. How can you not call San Jose the favorites? Especially with home-field advantage. Anything can happen in 2-game series, but I see San Jose winning it all with Wondo/Gordon/Lenhart.

    • What is Seattle’s record against RSL this year? Last year? And you are picking them to be a favorite? They could beat RSL but considering history and the historic joke that is the Sounders’ post season, RSL advances.
      How the hell is RSL not a favorite?

  3. philadelphia union have as much to do with the seeding as any team. they have two games left against skc and red bulls. dc united still has a shot at the top spot if kc loses to union and dc united win at fire by more than three goals.

    this wild card game is a great idea and makes the end of the season, prior to the playoffs, much more interesting. its a long season, if a team is going in the wrong direction at the end of the season, but still make the playoffs, that should be ok. vancouver probably gets bounced in the wild west game anyway.

    union also have new york red bull and it is a nice sub plot to see how this team finishes out the season, with its plethora of young americans.

  4. -SIGH- NO…..

    Playoffs do not determine the best team of the season, they just reward the hottest team of the moment. What with the parity in this league I think it’s doubly so.

    Dear MLSers:
    Please lobby for a move to promotion and relegation. It’s so ironic to me that the brains-that-be think that the most “competitive/survival of the fittest” worshiping society on the planet would shy away from this model. Seems more like a move for owners who want some protection for their piss-poor clubs. It’s something that would be wholly unique in the landscape US sports and folks (many of whom already are sold on European soccer) and I think folks would really love it. Smaller clubs (and their fans) that really understand how to build a decent club and program could be rewarded with promotion to a more lucrative market. Similarly, disinterested and inept owners trying to get away with doing the bare minimum would be punished accordingly.

    Have a separate tournament at the end of the season that includes everyone where seeding is determined by record. Teams in danger of the drop save their skins if they win the tournament.

    • Your tournament idea is one I like. I don’t necessarily think prom/releg will work in the states, but a one table top team wins the championship while during the course of the season the entire league plays a league cup (MLS Cup) culminating in the final game of the season, is a good idea.

      • Sure it does.

        Playoffs are absolutely the best determinant of who is the better team, but you need

        1) to make making the playoffs an accomplishment, e.g. have fewer teams make it and

        2) increase the sample size in the playoff games to better reflect who is the better team.

        The notion that who beats Portland more times is a better method of determining who is best than having teams play against each other multiple times is laughable, your system might be the ‘fairest’ in the most literal sense of the word but it is most certainly not the best way of deciding who is the best team.

      • It depends how you determine what makes a good team. Personally, consistency and depth are as important as the talent of the first XI. Playoffs show who has the better starting lineup, but the full season shows who has the better team.

    • Why do you, or anyone, continue to delude themselves that pro/rel will ever happen? It will NEVER happen. Not with the leagues being structured as they are. I would apply the #DeadHorse hashtag if it would have any utility here.

    • I see the irony in MLS’ refusal to accept pro/rel. The US is among the most laissez faire nations on earth – economically and culturally – yet the idea of taking the drop is unthinkable.

      It comes down to traditions that became standard operating procedure. If baseball, football, basketball had adopted the European model during those leagues’ infancy, then it wouldn’t be such a controversial proposition for MLS today. I don’t think there’s any level of fan pressure that could cause MLS to create a multi-tiered league. When franchise owners buy into MLS, they take for granted the year-to-year stability that top flight soccer brings (ignoring typical fluctuations in attendance, success, etc.).

      It would be interesting if MLS proposed the idea of pro/rel to current MLS owners just to see who’s down with the idea, if anyone.

      • It comes down to $$$$ money, US sports are among the few in the world that are profitable, promotion/relegation doesn’t sustain profits like the US sports systems do. I realize Germany is profitable, but most other top leagues are not. Owners don’t want to build stadiums and invest capital that could go down the drains, its a pipe dream and frankly one that I don’t think would help US soccer.

    • We’ve heard this same drivel for years and we reply over and over why Pro/Rel is a bad idea in North America. For those in the slow class here’s another attempt:

      1) Relegation is a death knell for a relegated team. Single entity ownership means that you don’t want any teams to die.

      2) What kind of idiot owner would buy into a league and build a stadium when their investment can become worthless because of one bad season on the field?!?!

      3) What kind of fan would want to root for a team that was relegated since the financial hit they take will mean they have little hope of ever winning a championship in the first division. How many teams in the (EPL for example) have won the championship after having been relegated within the past 15 years?* *-without intervention from an oil barren

      4) Teams that finish at the bottom of the standings have difficulty retaining fans and generating enthusiasm for next year’s ticket sales. How would adding the insult of relegation to the injury injury of a last-place finish help with selling tickets? Remember that our fanbases are young and growing rather than a century old and passed down through the generations.

      5) In a salary-capped league, even the most successful teams will have bad years. Witness my favorite DC United. Also, the LA Galaxy have had bad years in 2006-2008. Do we want to relegate teams that have been icons of the league at various times?

      6) We will add more teams at some point in the future. Expansion teams tend to be weak as they figure themselves out. Why would you want to welcome a new team and fanbase to the league only to immediately punish that fanbase with relegation? You’d waste all that investment money by immediately killing your fanbase.

      7) In (England for example) fans of relegated teams will watch their team in the lower division. That would not happen in the U.S. or Canada. In North America, fans tend to only want to watch the top level of competition.

      Again, you may think that you had some genius revelation here but you’ve actually said the same uninformed thing that countless other uninformed individuals have already said.

    • Promotion from what and relegation to what? How anyone could expect promotion and relegation to work without large and thriving lower divisions is a mystery to me. Let’s agree to build up enough teams to form a decent sized pyramid before we complain that we don’t have a pyramid structure.

  5. Vancouver is probably fresh meat for the stronger Western teams, but they should get some credit for being the first Canadian playoff team in league history. TFC has been in the league a few years without success and it’s the Whitecaps who make it in year 2.

  6. How about Houston still being in the Eastern Conference? I understand it happening last season with Vancouver and Portland both entering the western conference but now that Montreal is in, what’s the point of Houston still being in the East?

      • Um, What? The East is the better of the two conferences this year, top to bottom. The East also has an aggregate winning record against the West.

      • We will never know for sure because we only played each team once and you would have to factor home court advantage. But taking the top 5 teams from the west and the top 5 teams from the east and their records against each other and my guess is the east would look weaker. The only team worth talking about is SKC. Not that any team can’t hit a stride going in to the playoffs and do well. Pound for pound, west is best.

  7. I think the San Jose Earthquakes and Sporting Kansas City have been the best teams in the West and East for most of the season so I am hoping to see those square off in the MLS Cup Final. I think SKC defense would be the difference and they could hold Wondo and Co. off to lift the cup.

    As for the Eastern match up I would like to see most in the first round, that would be a DC United vs New York Red Bulls. Nothing like a good rivalry match up in the post season.

  8. Ives,

    How can New York grab the number 2 seed? If New York wins, and DC ties, wouldn’t DC have one more point than New York? Please explain

  9. I’m a DC fan but the team that should be making people the most nervous is probably KC. I think they’re the favorite right now.

  10. I’m curious about DeRo’s injury. I recall some people saying that he could potentially come back for the playoffs, but even if that’s true, would Ben Olsen even play him given that the team is undefeated since he went down?

    • Olsen still really didn’t fill the need for some stability in the midfield even though they had a successful run at the close of the season…If DeRo can come back, who would you rather have out there, MVP DeRo or Saragosa/Neal? I think Olsen would jump at the chance to throw DeRo right back into the starting lineup for the playoffs. You just can replace that kind of big game experience.

  11. Vancouver’s record in their last 9 games: 1-6-2 with the win coming against Chivas. They lost at home to a team that had not won a road game all season. Can we just let Columbus have their spot please?

    • That is hillarious (and tragic)….The blasted, repeatedly, format of the previous playoffs, makes 100% sense right now. One of the top 11 teams do not belong in the top 10….and it ain’t Columbus.

      Every series is going to be very good.
      Go Sounders, please advance once before I die.

      • What about the system that allows them to play the east two times and the west once thus allowing them to gain more points? You can’t complain about the new playoff selection system without complaining about the new schedule. They both suck. But one plays against he Crew and the other is a benefit.
        Let’s be logical about this, folks.

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