Playoff Race Heats Up

Playoff Race Heats Up

  • Posted by Drew Epperley
  • On September 11, 2007
  • 2 Comments

With five weeks left in the MLS regular season, the playoff race is as hot as it has ever been in the short history of the league. Four automatic bids between the two conferences and a total of eight spots have made the regular season more meaningful and more exciting.

For the most part we can say that five clubs are as good as in at the time being. DC United, New England, Houston, Chivas USA and FC Dallas all look like they are well on their way to lock up a spot in this season’s playoffs. The last three spots are a little more of a mess, more importantly the eighth and final spot is the biggest mess of them all.

New York and Kansas City currently are in the sixth and seventh spots that will more than likely take on DC and New England in the opening rounds of the playoffs. Eight points separate the sixth spot and the two clubs tied below at the eighth and final spot. Here is a quick look at those spots:

  • 6 – New York Red Bulls (11-10-3) 36 pts.
  • 7 – Kansas City Wizards (9-9-6) 33 pts.
  • 8 – Chicago Fire (8-10-5) 29 pts.
  • T9 – Colorado Rapids (7-10-7) 28 pts.
  • T9 – Columbus Crew (6-8-10) 28 pts.

New York could be the safest of the clubs listed above but it wouldn’t be a total shock to my mind to see them miss out on the playoffs as well. Out of the last six games I believe the Red Bulls should be able to get at least 10 points if not even 12 points. Its just a matter of if the Red Bulls actually show up from game to game, something that I don’t think they’ve been doing for the last couple months.
No real shock to see Kansas City there either, the past two seasons the Wizards have collapsed at the end and look very much like it could turn into a third straight season. KC has a lot of work cut out for them as well even though they have some home games remaining. This weekend’s match with Columbus could be the start of either a sigh of relief or a lot of worry over not reaching the playoffs.

The heat is on in other words for the Wizards as much as it is for the clubs below them. Coasting along too much in the summer is starting to take its toll on the Wizards. Out of the remaining games on the Wizard’s schedule, three are on the road are against good home sides (Chivas, Dallas, and New York) and other home games with LA and DC. Out of those home games the Wizards must win at the very least their three home games to remain hopeful.
Columbus on the other hand could help the Wizards out thanks to their recent play. The Crew have been just about terrible in the last weeks or so. Columbus must go to KC without the services of two of their most key players, Guillermo Barros Schelotto and Frankie Hejduk. A win or a draw against KC would be big but thankfully for the Crew there are win-able games left with LA and Toronto. But with four road games and only two home games left the chances are very slim for the Crew.

Colorado should have taken the leap into the playoffs over the weekend against LA but fell back behind the Fire. A bad loss like that leaves me wondering if they have what it takes to reach the playoffs at all this season again. But out of their remaining games two are against rival RSL and one against Toronto. Getting points out of their two games with Chivas would go along way as well. In all out of their final six games I think eight or nine points are in there, which may be enough to get them in.

Chicago is a big mystery at this point and in a way are the best candidate to reach the playoffs and probably even contend to a certain degree in the playoffs out of these clubs. But the only thing I worry about with the Fire is their schedule. Four out of the last seven are at home but all six are against current playoff clubs. The road is tough but I question whether or not there is enough points in the remaining games to be able to make the playoffs over the Crew and Rapids (and even the Wizards).

Out of the five I have talked about here New York is the safest after that I believe you could almost toss a coin here. If Chicago can get through the schedule I say pencil them in and honestly I see the Rapids joining them over the Wizards. KC is in some very dangerous water right now and they need points and lots of them to save themselves. Their offense should do it but the defense has to come together. As for Columbus, it looks like my pre-season prediction of them reaching the playoffs is looking like it will not come true.

In all we wouldn’t even be at this point if the league hadn’t changed the playoff format at the beginning of the season. The old system we would be wondering if New York could hold off KC, Columbus and Chicago for that final spot, but with this system New York is safe and the others are battling more than ever.

Who do you think will reach that final spot or even the final two spots?

  • Bonji

    The Rapids are not going to get into the playoffs…this from a Rapids fan. While they have an easy remaining schedule they haven't won on the road since May 13th in New York when they actually looked like a good team. Beating Chivas USA this weekend at home will be tough due to Chivas' current form and the fact that Denver seems to be a hot bed for Chivas fans. In the stands this will look more like an away game for the Rapids. I think everyone can write off the Rapids now.

  • The Rapids are not going to get into the playoffs…this from a Rapids fan. While they have an easy remaining schedule they haven’t won on the road since May 13th in New York when they actually looked like a good team. Beating Chivas USA this weekend at home will be tough due to Chivas’ current form and the fact that Denver seems to be a hot bed for Chivas fans. In the stands this will look more like an away game for the Rapids. I think everyone can write off the Rapids now.