Who is most likely to win MLS Cup? Liviu Bird offers his MLS Playoff Power Rankings for the 12 teams remaining in contention.
The Major League Soccer playoff race should be as tight as any, despite two more teams getting in than last year with the format change. The matchups in the knockout round in particular should provide some drama, as some of the teams from higher up the table in the early season will now face elimination in a one-off game.
Each conference’s favorites seem easy to call, as the New York Red Bulls and FC Dallas finished with a seven-point gap between them and their nearest competitors. Still, if MLS has taught fans anything in its playoff past, it’s that having a great regular season doesn’t mean much once the playoffs begin.
As the No. 1 seed in the East last year, D.C. United didn’t even make it out of its first pairing. In fact, a top-ranked team hasn’t been conference champion since the LA Galaxy did it in 2011. D.C.’s slide down the table this year has it opening up the playoffs in a midweek wildcard one-off against the New England Revolution.
The Galaxy find themselves all the way down in fifth, traveling to play the fourth-placed Seattle Sounders on Wednesday; those teams were once favored to face off in the Western Conference final. A Montreal Impact-Toronto FC rivalry game should be explosive, while the Portland Timbers will be keen to capitalize on their late-season momentum in a home match against Sporting Kansas City.
Here’s how MLS’s remaining teams stack up heading into the 2015 postseason: