The Playoff Push

The Playoff Push

  • Posted by Drew Epperley
  • On October 20, 2008
  • MLS Cup Playoffs, Playoff Push

A fairly predictable weekend in Major League Soccer. Three open spots left in the playoff picture are still being chased by five clubs now that Dallas, LA, San Jose and Toronto are all eliminated from contention.

However, the Kansas City Wizards, New York Red Bulls, D.C. United, Real Salt Lake and Colorado Rapids are going to make this one of the best finishes to any season in recent memory here.

It all comes down to one final week of games, just how MLS dreamed it up for this season. I honestly don’t think they expected the new playoff format to work this well this season. Most argued that it wasn’t good enough but now we can see that it may just be what the league needs if they are going to keep the playoff format.

Now that one week has a lot of “if’s” surrounding it. If this club wins they are in as long as this club loses or ties their game. Yeah, there are plenty of them and I will run down what each club still in contention has left to do or not to do here this week. I spent some time this morning figuring out the possible scenarios that need to happen for each club. If for some reason I am wrong about something, just let me know and it will be corrected.

Here is the final week’s schedule for playoff hopefuls (no need to add the other games until the predictions later this week since they aren’t in contention):

  • Thursday– New York Red Bulls at Chicago Fire
  • Saturday– Kansas City at New England, Real Salt Lake at Colorado
  • Sunday– D.C. United at Columbus Crew

Here is a rundown of what each team needs to happen in order to qualify for the playoffs (current point total included):

Kansas City Wizards – 39 pts. – Currently 4th in East

The Wizards are in probably the best spot of any of the clubs. But if they do drop their game at New England it makes things very complicated. A win and some help puts them in.

KC will be in with a win at New England, and would be the No. 4 seed in the East.

KC will be in with a draw if:

New York or DC fails to win. IF neither wins, KC would be the 4th seed in the East. If New York or DC wins and the other fails to win, KC would be the No. 4 seed in the West.

KC will be in with a loss if:

New York loses to Chicago OR DC ties/loses to Columbus. KC would be the 4th seed in West if New York wins or ties and DC doesn’t win, or if DC wins and New York loses.

Biggest thing KC owns:

KC owns tie-breakers against New York and Real Salt Lake (head-to-head) and D.C. United (goal differential).


New York Red Bulls – 39 pts. – Currently 4th seed in West

The Red Bulls make this a bit interesting but they too are in a decent position to get in as a wild card.

New York will be in with a win at Chicago. Would be No. 4 seed in the East with win and KC loss or tie. Would be No. 4 seed in the West if they win and KC wins.

New York will be in with a draw if:

KC loses or DC ties or loses. New York would be the 4th seed in East if KC loses and DC ties or loses. New York would be the 4th seed in the West if KC wins and DC ties or loses, or if DC wins and KC loses.

If Kansas City ties and D.C. United wins, then both teams with be tied with Red Bulls at 40 points. New York would then be in based on their tie-breaker with DC.

New York would be in with a loss if:

DC ties or loses. If the Red Bulls lose, they can only qualify for the playoffs as the 4th seed in the West.

Tie-breakers the Red Bulls own:

Red Bulls owns tie-breakers against DC (goal differential) and Real Salt Lake (head-to-head).


DC United – 37 pts. – Currently Fifth in East

DC has a lot of work to do here. Winning is one thing but they need plenty of help. Their chances are very slim right now. No tie-breakers to help themselves out either.

DC would be in with a win at Columbus if:

Kansas City or New York Red Bulls lose. DC would be the 4th seed in East if both KC and NY lose, otherwise DC would be No. 4 seed in West.


Real Salt Lake – 39 pts. – Currently 3rd in the West

Just as I thought it would a few weeks back, it comes down to the final game of the year against their Mountain Cup rivals. Its pretty simple, they just need a point but if they drop this game they will enjoy another long winter.

RSL will be in with a win or draw at Colorado. The win or draw will put them as the 3rd seed in the West.

RSL can’t lose because:

They would be eliminate with a loss because KC and Red Bulls hold head-to-head tie-breakers.


Colorado Rapids – 37 pts. – Currently 4th in West

Simple as it is, win and they are win. Anything less and its a long winter.

Colorado will be in with a win vs. Real Salt Lake. If Colorado wins, the Rapids will be No. 3 seed in the West.