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A closer look at the MLS Western Conference Playoff Picture

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The MLS Western Conference Playoff race has been similar to that of the Eastern Conference with LAFC leading the pack, Austin FC and FC Dallas sealing their playoff berths, and many others trying to follow suit.

Only four points separates fourth-place Nashville SC and eighth-place Real Salt Lake while the Vancouver Whitecaps, and Seattle Sounders, are all still alive. The Sounders have three matches remaining out of the eligible playoff teams, meaning crucial victories over the next week could prove important once Decision Day arrives.

Only LAFC has clinched the No. 1 seed the West, but Steve Cherundolo’s side are still in the hunt to edge the Philadelphia Union to the Supporters’ Shield. Austin FC is one point away from sealing up the second spot, while FC Dallas is in third place, three points clear of Nashville SC with both teams having two matches left apiece.

The Seattle Sounders are the biggest watch during the final two weeks as the current Concacaf Champions League winners are in danger of missing the postseason for the first time in their MLS history. Brian Schmetzer’s squad have been dismal away from Lumen Field, winning only three of their 16 road matches to date.

Here is a closer look at what every Western Conference club has remaining on their schedule:


LAFC

Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports

Current Place: 1st, 64 points.

Remaining Schedule: @ Portland Timbers on Sunday, vs. Nashville SC 10/9.

Overview: LAFC has endured a few hiccups this summer, which has allowed the Philadelphia Union to draw level with the Western Conference leaders in the Supporters’ Shield race. Steve Cherundolo’s squad have two more victories than the Union this regular season, but have suffered four more defeats than the Union overall. Tough showdowns with Portland and Nashville won’t be easy compared to the Union’s final two matches against Charlotte FC and Toronto FC.


Austin FC

Scott Wachter-USA TODAY Sports

Current Place: 2nd, 55 points.

Remaining Schedule: @ Vancouver Whitecaps on Saturday, vs. Colorado Rapids 10/9.

Overview: Austin FC stopped its losing run in league play at an important time with the MLS Cup Playoffs right around the corner. Josh Wolff’s squad can still end the regular season on a high note with matches left against the Whitecaps and Rapids respectively. They cannot catch LAFC for the No. 1 seed, but will try and hang onto the No. 2 seed over in-state rivals FC Dallas.


FC Dallas

Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports

Current Place: 3rd, 50 points.

Remaining Schedule: @ Colorado Rapids on Saturday, vs. Sporting KC 10/9.

Overview: FC Dallas’ playoff status has already been secured this summer and now it’s time for Nico Estevez’s squad to finish strong. A four-match unbeaten run, including wins over Minnesota United and LAFC, have FC Dallas riding high in recent weeks, setting the stage for two winnable matches against the Colorado Rapids and Sporting KC.


Nashville SC

Scott Wachter-USA TODAY Sports

Current Place: 4th, 47 points.

Remaining Schedule: vs. Houston Dynamo on Sunday, @ LAFC 10/9.

Overview: Nashville SC has yet to clinch its playoff berth yet, but confidence will be high in Gary Smith’s group with the Western Conference club riding a six-match unbeaten run into their final two matches. Geodis Park will host Nashville SC’s upcoming weekend clash with the Houston Dynamo before a Decision Day trip to current West leaders LAFC.


LA Galaxy

Christopher Hanewinckel-USA TODAY Sports

Current Place: 5th, 46 points.

Remaining Schedule: vs. Real Salt Lake on Saturday, @ Houston Dynamo 10/9.

Overview: Back-to-back wins over the Colorado Rapids and San Jose Earthquakes have quieted the noise surrounding the L.A. Galaxy for now, but their playoff status isn’t secured yet with two weeks to go. A home showdown with RSL, who is currently outside of the top-seven won’t be easy, before a tricky trip to the already-eliminated Houston Dynamo on Decision Day.


Portland Timbers

Trevor Ruszkowski-USA TODAY Sports

Current Place: 6th, 46 points.

Remaining Schedule: vs. LAFC on Sunday, @ Real Salt Lake 10/9.

Overview: The Portland Timbers have once again boosted themselves into the playoff picture during the final weeks of the regular season, but final matches for Giovanni Savarese’s squad against LAFC and RSL will be tough. Can the Timbers pull another late escape and get themselves back into the playoffs?


Minnesota United

Matt Krohn-USA TODAY Sports

Current Place: 7th, 45 points.

Remaining Schedule: @ San Jose Earthquakes on Saturday, vs. Vancouver Whitecaps 10/9.

Overview: Out of all of them teams in the top-seven, Minnesota United is the most worrying with two weeks to go. The Loons have lost four of their last five matches, with a 1-1 draw vs. LAFC standing out as the only positive. Adrian Heath’s side have been outscored 12-2 during their winless run and are in desperate need of a victory in San Jose on Oct. 1, regardless of how it happens.


Real Salt Lake

Darren Yamashita-USA TODAY Sports

Current Place: 8th, 43 points.

Remaining Schedule: @ L.A. Galaxy on Saturday, vs. Portland Timbers 10/9.

Overview: Real Salt Lake’s winless run has come at the worst time of the season and despite a strong first-half under Pablo Mastroeni, RSL is in danger of falling out of the playoff picture. Three defeats from their last four matches have bumped RSL into eighth place and needing victories over the Galaxy and Timbers to return to the playoffs.


Seattle Sounders

Joe Nicholson-USA TODAY Sports

Current Place: 9th, 40 points

Remaining Schedule: @ Sporting KC on Sunday, vs. San Jose Earthquakes 10/9.

Overview: For the first time in franchise history, the Seattle Sounders are in danger of missing the MLS Cup Playoffs. Brian Schmetzer’s squad might have become the first MLS club to win the Concacaf Champions League this year, but that is a distant memory with the Sounders on the outside of the West’s top-seven. Final matches against eliminated sides in Sporting KC and the San Jose Earthquakes won’t be gimme results either, as both teams try to spoil the Sounders hopes.


Vancouver Whitecaps

Bob Frid-USA TODAY Sports

Current Place: 10th, 40 points

Remaining Schedule: vs. Austin FC on Saturday, @ Minnesota United 10/9.

Overview: The Vancouver Whitecaps need victories over Austin FC and Minnesota United to truly propel themselves into the top-seven. Back-to-back wins over the L.A. Galaxy and Seattle Sounders have added needed confidence in the squad, but any slip-ups against Austin FC at BC Place will end the Whitecaps playoff quest.


Already Eliminated From Playoff Contention: Colorado Rapids, Sporting KC, Houston Dynamo, San Jose Earthquakes

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