Manic race for final playoff berths

Publish date:

Our weekly dose of Major League Soccer quick takes, plotlines to watch and Power Rankings.

Thirty-one weeks later and we still have no idea who will make up almost half the playoff picture. Chicago (42 points) is in with a tie and Colorado (40) with a win, but four teams -- D.C. United, FC Dallas, New England and Toronto FC -- have 39 points with a single match remaining, while Real Salt Lake finds itself just two behind the quartet. The tiebreaking scenarios are too complex to examine here (see this story for a complete breakdown), but it's possible all six could finish with 40 points. That situation would see TFC land in the eighth and final spot, no doubt cheering up fans north of the border and sending a chill -- literally -- through the rest of the squads in MLS.

Seattle defeated Kansas City on the road last weekend and that result -- combined with Chivas USA's home draw with San Jose and the Los Angeles-Houston scoreless draw -- thrust the first-year franchise back into the race for the No. 1 seed in the Western Conference. The Goats have to be the favorite as they boast a game in hand (and are the only squad capable of wresting the Supporters' Shield from Columbus), but there's an attitude about this Sounders team Free Kicks loves. Plus, two words: Sigi Schmid. This race is going down to the wire, folks. Or, perhaps more accurately, to around 5 p.m. ET on Sunday when the Houston-Chivas match concludes the West schedule.

The final week of the regular season features eight matches, and every one matters to at least one squad. The Fire open the Sunday-to-Sunday stretch when they play host to Chivas USA. Can Brian McBride & Co. alter their home woes and reach the playoffs? The highlight of Saturday's five matches has to be white-hot FCD invading the rocking Qwest Field pitch, but you could make a case for the Rapids-Real Salt Lake tilt as well. In addition to the Dynamo-Goats fixture on Sunday, the Revs take the pitch in Columbus knowing the result they need against a Crew side that's likely to be resting some regulars.