Wednesday October 17th, 2007

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MLS' perfect playoff scenario
Two weeks to go. Two playoff spots up for grabs. Five teams still in the mix. And one dream scenario still a possibility for MLS -- Chicago and Los Angeles in the playoffs. Yes, it's a longshot, but remarkably, it still could happen. Here's how: The Galaxy, currently on an improbable four-game winning streak to raise their point total to 30, must beat Toronto FC and New York over the next seven days. Chicago also must beat D.C. United to get to 39 points, all but guaranteeing its playoff spot. Meanwhile, if fading Kansas City (2-6-2 since Aug. 1) records one point or fewer in its final two games (both on the road, at New York and FC Dallas), the Wizards will finish with no more than 38. That sets up a massive regular-season finale between Chicago and Los Angeles ... and a Galaxy victory would send both teams into the playoffs on 39 points. Got it? Good. Many dominoes need to fall perfectly to get both Cuauhtémoc Blanco's and David Beckham's teams into the playoffs. Six weeks ago, it looked as if neither would make it. But it could be a fitting end to one of the best -- and most unpredictable -- regular seasons in MLS history.
The misery continues
There are three original teams left that have yet to play in the MLS Cup final: Columbus, FC Dallas and New York. Don't expect that to change by the time November rolls around. The Crew technically are still a part of the playoff race. But after its 3-1 loss to FC Dallas, Sigi Schmid's side sits five points behind Chicago for the eighth spot -- and end the season with road games at D.C. United and New England. It will mark the fourth time in five years the Crew will miss the playoffs -- and in MLS, that's almost impossible to do. The Hoops, meanwhile, ended their four-game winless streak and secured their playoff spot with that victory in Columbus, thanks to Abe Thompson's brace in the final four minutes. But FCD still has only one win (a 2-0 victory over Chivas USA on July 4) against the five other teams that already have locked up playoff spots. And, sure, New York has punched its playoff ticket for the fifth straight year. But with one win in their past eight games and a defense that hasn't looked good since May, the Red Bulls look like good bets for another one-and-done.
Ask the commish
Want to give the suits at MLS a piece of your mind? Here's your chance.'s Jonah Freedman has an upcoming interview with MLS commissioner Don Garber, but you're the ones who'll be asking the questions. New stars in the league? Future expansion cities? How (if?) MLS is going to take over America? Submit your questions for the commish here.
RankPrev. Team
D.C. United (16-6-6)
Have a league-best 9-1-3 record since the All-Star break
Chivas USA (15-6-6)
Three points clear of the Dynamo -- with a game in hand
New England Revolution (14-7-7)
One trophy (U.S. Open Cup) down, will a second follow?
Houston Dynamo (14-8-6)
Lost for first time in nine games without Clark in lineup
Chicago Fire (9-10-9)
The team nobody wants to face in first round of playoffs
FC Dallas (13-11-4)
Five goals in six games for Thompson in all competitions
New York Red Bulls (11-11-6)
Well, it took N.Y. until last day to clinch spot past 2 years
Kansas City Wizards (10-11-7)
Need one elusive win to secure 1st playoff berth since '04
Los Angeles Galaxy (8-13-6)
Zero road victories in five months, then three in 14 days
Colorado Rapids (8-12-8)
To keep hopes alive, must become first to win at Chivas
Columbus Crew (7-11-10)
Final four minutes vs. FCD were the final nail the in coffin
Real Salt Lake (5-14-9)
Findley: Seven goals in 2007 and a U.S. call-up vs. Swiss
Toronto FC (6-16-6)
Did Edu lock up Rookie of Year honors with goal vs. N.Y.?

1. Chad Barrett
Chicago Fire

2. Abe Thompson
FC Dallas

3. John Cunliffe
Chivas USA
Thursday, Oct. 11
Chivas USA 2, Dallas 1 (ESPN2) -- Two wins this week and Chivas gets West's top seed
Saturday, Oct. 13
D.C. 1, Chicago 0 (HDNet) -- Bad news, Fire: No team has won at D.C. since Opening Day
New England 3, Columbus 1 -- It has been a painful end to the season for Sigi's Crew
New York 2, Kansas City 2 -- Eleven combined goals in their first two meetings in 2007
Los Angeles 2, Toronto FC 0 (FSC) -- Five in a row: Galaxy's storybook run continues
Sunday, Oct. 14
Chivas USA 2, Colorado 0 (TeleFutura) -- Rapids miss playoffs for just 2nd time in 11 yrs.
Monday, Oct. 15
Real Salt Lake 1, Houston 1 -- RSL has played Houston tough; Dynamo are 0-2-1 in Utah

Last Week: 3-4; This season: 72-71

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