So here's your updated table going into the final weekend of the MLS regular season. MLS HQ must be doing backflips that 4 of this weekend's 6 matches will carry playoff implications. Kevin Stott did his best to keep the Beckspiracy alive, with Angel contributing his fair share of missed chances as well. Stott did show pretty good judgement in ditching the "reject from a 'Grease' casting call" look that he had been sporting for most of the season, and though he did seem to be tilting the field in LA's favor, I'm not as convinced as the sages in the ESPN booth that the Bulls' penalty claim was that much of a certainty. The contact was there, but minimal. Combine that with Stott not being in the best position to make the call and that goes down as 50/50 in my book. Then again, I'm not a hair-obsessed egotist, a loonball "tourist" Irish idiom-machine with limited understanding of the game, or a college-rock, fratboy cheerleader either, so my "insights" may not be as incisive as some . . .
Playoff Prattle--Who Goes Home?
With the Thursday night result out of the way, the playoff picture has become a little more clear. Let's take a look at what the playoff contenders have to do in order to book their passage to the promised land.
- Chicago (LA): The Fire control their own destiny. Win and they're in. A draw also puts them in unless both KC and Colorado win, in which case KC go above them and Colorado get in on goal difference. Even if they lose, thus losing out to LA on head-to-head, they can still get in if KC loses and Colorado loses or draws.
- KC (@ Dallas): The Wiz are also in full control of their fates. Win and they're in. If they draw, they'll need either a Chicago loss or a Colorado loss, draw, or win by less than three goals. If they lose they'll need Colorado to lose or draw and LA to lose or draw against Chicago.
- Colorado (RSL): Colorado needs a win to give themselves a chance. If they win, they need one of the following scenarios: (1) Chicago failing to win, (2) KC losing, or (3) KC getting a draw combined with a Rapids victory by at least 3 goals.
- LA (@Chicago): LA also need to win to give themselves a chance. Should they do so, they'll move ahead of Chicago on head-to-head and will need either a KC loss or a Colorado loss or draw in order to advance.
The playoff picture in the East is fairly well set. We know that New York and New England will face of in the "New Derby" or whatever they want to call it. DC has home-field advantage throughout and will open against Chicago, KC, or LA. Colorado can only get in as the fourth seed in the West, thus making it impossible under the high-order mathematics calculations of the MLS Conference Playoff structure for them to face DC in the opening round.
Yet More Playoff Prattle--The West is the Best?
The West is still up for grabs as the only club with a fixed position at the moment are FC Dallas, who will finish third no matter what happens this weekend. A Houston win against the Chivas will give them the first seed, while any other result will see them finish second behind the Goats. The second-placed side faces Dallas in the opening round, while the Western Conference champs could potentially face any one of Chicago, KC, Colorado, or LA.