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MLS's Playoff Race

The matches that matter.....
Thursday: New York at Chicago, 9 (ESPN2)
Saturday: Kansas City at N.E., 7:30 (Direct Kick)
Saturday: RSL at Colorado, 9:30 (HDNet)
Sunday: DCU at Columbus, 5 (Comcast SportsNet, Direct Kick)

Let's start in the West:

If Real Salt Lake (39 points) defeats or ties Colorado (37), RSL is the No. 3 seed in the West and the Rapids are eliminated from contention. If Colorado wins, the Rapids are the No. 3 seed in the West and RSL falls into the wild-card race, in which it loses all the tiebreakers with teams from the East and is eliminated.

Okay, that was easy. Now let's move on to the very complicated wild-card segment of our discussion.....

*If New York (39) and Kansas City (39) win, the Red Bulls and Wizards secure the wild-card berths and DCU (37) is out.

*If New York and Kansas City lose and D.C. wins, United is No. 4 in the East and the Wizards edge out the Red Bulls for the final slot based on the head-to-head tiebreaker.

*If New York and Kansas City settle for ties and D.C. wins, all three teams will have 40 points. In a three-way tiebreaker, Kansas City is the No. 4 seed in the East and New York gains the last spot...unless D.C. wins by four goals at Columbus.

*If New York loses, K.C. ties and D.C. wins, the Wizards are No. 4 in the East and DCU is No. 4 in the West...unless D.C. wins by three goals, in which case, those two teams swap playoff positions.

*If New York ties, Kansas City loses and D.C. wins, the Red Bulls are No. 4 in the East and United is No. 4 in the West...unless D.C. wins by four goals, in which case, those two teams swap playoff positions.

*If D.C. loses or ties, New York and Kansas City are in the playoffs regardless of the outcome of their games.

By the way, if Toronto wins at San Jose and DCU loses, United finishes dead last in the East.

Got it? What do you think will happen? (Remember, either RSL or Colorado, not both.)

By Steve Goff  |  October 21, 2008; 11:00 AM ET
Categories:  MLS  
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Next: All Dressed Up

Comments

I hate to admit it but I honestly think DCU will not be in the playoffs this season.

Posted by: voyager | October 21, 2008 11:14 AM | Report abuse

Finally; MLS games that actually matter. A one-off between RSL and Colorado. Too bad all the regular season games weren't this important.

Posted by: Hacksaw | October 21, 2008 11:19 AM | Report abuse

That was harder than the GRE.

Posted by: I-270, Exit 1 | October 21, 2008 11:24 AM | Report abuse

For those who STILL think Angel was not offsides, here's proof:
http://img261.imageshack.us/my.php?image=angeloffsidesie0.png

Posted by: GoUnited | October 21, 2008 11:26 AM | Report abuse

---
For those who STILL think Angel was not offsides, here's proof:
http://img261.imageshack.us/my.php?image=angeloffsidesie0.png
---

he looks even to me.

Posted by: even is on | October 21, 2008 11:29 AM | Report abuse

also, the word is "offside" not "offsides."

Posted by: grammar police | October 21, 2008 11:30 AM | Report abuse

Goff,

Can you please clarify the following tie break rule:

"1) The highest position shall be awarded to the team with the better win/loss record in current regular season games against all other teams equal in points. (head-to-head competition)"

Emphasis on the "...ALL other teams equal in points."

Did you take this to mean that if Colorado wins or RSL ties, they would be factored into the "ALL" category (40 points), thus factoring into a NY/DC tie breaker? For the record, DC has a better record against both west coast teams than NY.

Thanks.

Posted by: Vamos United | October 21, 2008 11:31 AM | Report abuse

-------
Finally; MLS games that actually matter. A one-off between RSL and Colorado. Too bad all the regular season games weren't this important.
-------

all the games on the 30-game regular season are equally important. they each present an opportunity to win 3, 1 or zero points.

what highlights the "importance" of these games this week is their immediacy.

These games in the final week, DC@Columbus, NY@Chicago, KC@NE and RSL@Colorado are simply more in the now. but those games are/were no more "important" than the reverse fixtures earlier in the season, featuring those same teams (Columbus@DC, Chicago@NY, NE@KC and Colorado@RSL).

All games are equally important in the season-long "points" competition. But people just tend to notice the "games that actually matter" at the end of the season.

The MLS season "matters" and is "important," but many fail to see that.

Posted by: Perspective | October 21, 2008 11:34 AM | Report abuse

Finally; MLS games that actually matter. A one-off between RSL and Colorado. Too bad all the regular season games weren't this important.

Posted by: Hacksaw | October 21, 2008 11:19 AM

No, none of the games matter and neither does soccer.

Forget the playoffs and come watch the most exciting World Series ever between the Rays and Phillies, I'm sure every tv in America will be watching.

Posted by: Raw Fisherer | October 21, 2008 11:38 AM | Report abuse

OH! The drama!

Posted by: Amanda | October 21, 2008 11:42 AM | Report abuse

Too complicated. So the gist of it is that we need NY or KC to lose or tie and the United to win?

Posted by: Anonymous | October 21, 2008 11:44 AM | Report abuse

If we don't make the playoffs this year, I will be placing all of the blame on senor Jaime Moreno doesn't deserve it, but that is by far the most significant play of this season as it is now shaping up. That would have given us the win (2 extra points, and one less point for NY) and a tie-breaker advantage over NY.

With that being said, I hope Jaime leads us to victory and a very undeserved playoff spot!!!

VAMOS UNITED

Posted by: DudeAbides | October 21, 2008 11:47 AM | Report abuse

ouch, i have to learn to read before submitting.

"If we don't make the playoffs this year I will be placing all of the blame on senor Jaime Moreno, who doesn't deserve it; but that is by far the most significant play of this season as it is now shaping up. That would have given us the win (2 extra points, and one less point for NY) and a tie-breaker advantage over NY."

Posted by: DudeAbides | October 21, 2008 11:50 AM | Report abuse

In "games" that "matter" or are "important", MLS "teams", especially "DC" United get "lost" among the quotation "marks".

Posted by: Unsavory character | October 21, 2008 11:50 AM | Report abuse

Huh?

Posted by: RK | October 21, 2008 11:50 AM | Report abuse

"but that is by far the most significant play of this season as it is now shaping up."

That?

Posted by: RK | October 21, 2008 11:51 AM | Report abuse

Dude! Jaime's the "man". That was, however, quite possibly the worst "penalty shot" ever taken. Definitely hurts. I guess "all" games "matter".

Posted by: Fisch Fry | October 21, 2008 11:54 AM | Report abuse

The Dude is referring to the scoreless draw against NY, at the end of August, wherein Jaime tried to chip the keeper on a penalty kick. Not only did he fail to get the keeper to dive (they're on to Jaime's cheeky chip shot, now), Jaime missed -- way wide.

Posted by: Fisch Fry | October 21, 2008 11:59 AM | Report abuse

As for the Rays and Phils -- while it's hard to get excited about these teams (small markets, lame history, largely unknown players), they are both loaded with talent and this could be an incredibly exciting Series, for the few who actually watch.

Posted by: Fisch Fry | October 21, 2008 12:04 PM | Report abuse

I pains me to have to hope NE and/or Chicago win their games this week.

But for the sake of United being able to control their destiny on Sunday, I'll be a Fire fan on Thursday and (if needed) a NE fan on Saturday.

I'll never be a fan of Columbus.

Posted by: United in MLS Cup 2008 | October 21, 2008 12:08 PM | Report abuse

Philly is a small market??? What??? It's one of the biggest in the country.

Phillies have unknown players?? Ryan Howard is unknown? Are you kidding? He's one of the most popular players in MLB.

I will agree with the lame history.

Posted by: DCU UCD | October 21, 2008 12:09 PM | Report abuse

If DC doesn't make the playoffs this year, I plan to blame Rod Dyachenko.

Posted by: Another Amanda | October 21, 2008 12:09 PM | Report abuse

"It pains me" not "I pains me."

-- with the sign-in feature allow users to edit their comments once they've been posted?

Posted by: whoops | October 21, 2008 12:09 PM | Report abuse

bottom line, that missed pk was huge. Instead of being 2 points behind NY (and KC/RSL for that matter) we would be a point ahead. I would have been feeling alot better about going into this last week already in a playoff spot and with a more realistic shot at drawing columbus in the playoffs (I don't want anything to do with the defending champs at this stage).

Posted by: DudeAbides | October 21, 2008 12:09 PM | Report abuse

Philadelphia is the fourth largest TV market in the US. Tampa-St. Pete is 12th.

You make it sound like Milwaukee is playing Kansas City.

Posted by: Anonymous | October 21, 2008 12:11 PM | Report abuse

The World Series will be over by the time MLS Playoffs kick-off, correct?

Unless of course the MLB goes to 7 games, then that will be played on 10/30, directly up against the NE/Chicago MLS Playoff opener on ESPN2.

I'm hoping the World Series can play itself out in 6, 5 or ideally 4 games.

Posted by: Anonymous | October 21, 2008 12:12 PM | Report abuse

There's a lot of blame to go around for DC United players and staff this season, no matter the remaining results in Oct/Nov.

Posted by: but the fans were great | October 21, 2008 12:17 PM | Report abuse

Baseball is still going on?

Posted by: JSF | October 21, 2008 12:19 PM | Report abuse

There is only one thing I must say:

Without Marcelo Gallardo and David Beckham the playoffs will not be as exciting as I hoped!

And I am sorry (because I really like the team), but DC United will not make it to the playoffs. New York Red Bulls will.

Bye,
Jose Miguel
http://mlsenespanol.blogspot.com

Posted by: Jose M. Burgos | October 21, 2008 12:25 PM | Report abuse

I will blame Fenty, Greenbelt, and New Carrolton. And John's Hopkins.

Posted by: Virginia Blue Blood | October 21, 2008 12:25 PM | Report abuse

I think it's great how the 3 teams still in playoff contention in the East are playing on the road against the 3 teams in the East who have already clinched. It's like the playoffs start a week early!

As much as I hate to do this, I'll be cheering hard for old No Neck on Thursday night to beat NY.

Posted by: DCUMD | October 21, 2008 12:29 PM | Report abuse

I won't say DCU can't make it; but the odds are very slim. News from Cowlumbus is that Sigi will start the first team this game; I don't see this DCU team, as it exists right now, and with its near-league-worst road record, beating Cowlumbus at Cowlumbus.

Posted by: Bootsy | October 21, 2008 12:30 PM | Report abuse

Of course the odds are slim.

But the odds were also slim that DC could come back from a goal down to NE to win 2-1 last week.

If the opportunity presents itself on Sunday, I'll remain hopeful that DC United will get the 3 points and sneak into the playoffs.

Posted by: Fan | October 21, 2008 12:36 PM | Report abuse

re: "Philadelphia is the fourth largest TV market in the US. Tampa-St. Pete is 12th.

You make it sound like Milwaukee is playing Kansas City.


Posted by: Anonymous | October 21, 2008 12:11 PM"

In terms of national appeal, it might as well be Milwaukee vs. Kansas City. People not from Philly either don't care about of don't like Philly. There is even less national interest in the teams from Tampa/St. Pete.

Ask ten people on the street who is playing in the world series and I would be amazed if more than 1 out of the 10 know the correct answer. Look for WS ratings to be close to if not the lowest ever.

Posted by: Ron | October 21, 2008 12:47 PM | Report abuse

if dc united doesn't make the playoffs, this will be the worst socctober ever.

(yes, it's been 12 months and i'm still making rob stone 'socctober' jokes.)

Posted by: stairs | October 21, 2008 12:56 PM | Report abuse

I couldn't care less who cares who is in the World Series -- the Phils are finally back in it, and that's all that matters.

Posted by: RK | October 21, 2008 1:01 PM | Report abuse

I would think that NE and Chicago have home advantage to play for and Columbus has only pride. So, either NY or KC go down and we take the last prize.

Posted by: JMR | October 21, 2008 1:13 PM | Report abuse

Ron, you are wrong that "people not from Philly ... don't like Philly." I'm "from" Philly and I still don't like it (other than cheesesteaks -- I haven't had a decent one since I moved to Alexandria).

Posted by: Karen | October 21, 2008 1:14 PM | Report abuse

Colorado is at home, big advantage for them vs. RSL.

Posted by: Malaga CF fan | October 21, 2008 1:37 PM | Report abuse

You mean the Nationals aren't in the World Series this year?

Posted by: btwigg | October 21, 2008 1:38 PM | Report abuse

Cheesesteak! Yes! Had a Philly hoagie a few weeks back. Delicious.

As for United -- other than Jaime's missed PK, is there one specific game where we simply gave away 3 points? Any home matches that we dominated but only got 1 point (or none)?

Posted by: Joe Doc | October 21, 2008 1:49 PM | Report abuse

@Karen:

Further makes my point. Half the people who are from there don't even like it.

The fillies are going to lose anyway. And who cares about the cyber-rays or whatever they call themselves.

Posted by: Ron | October 21, 2008 1:56 PM | Report abuse

re:

Colorado is at home, big advantage for them vs. RSL.

Posted by: Malaga CF fan | October 21, 2008 1:37 PM

----------------------------

Yes indeed, all three Colorado fans are expected to be in attendance.

Posted by: Ron | October 21, 2008 1:57 PM | Report abuse

I'll volunteer the 1-0 loss @ Toronto for the giveaway game, or the blown 2 goal lead against NE.

For what it's worth, anyway, still on a post-lunch nap.

Posted by: Section 130 | October 21, 2008 2:01 PM | Report abuse

If any of the above occur:

Gallardo still gets paid.

Posted by: spike_2.1 | October 21, 2008 2:01 PM | Report abuse

If things work out, it's a big advantage for DCU to play the last game of the week, especially if they know a win gets them in the playoffs.

Posted by: tim | October 21, 2008 2:13 PM | Report abuse

Before I blame Jaime, I'll blame Emilio's form in the early games this season. Someone track down some footage, post a link to it, and back me up, thanks . . .

Posted by: gringo | October 21, 2008 2:17 PM | Report abuse

what highlights the "importance" of these games this week is their immediacy.

- - -

The importance of the immediacy steams the immediacy of the importance, like rice.

Posted by: eastern philosophy | October 21, 2008 2:20 PM | Report abuse

So, forget all about the Red Bulls and Wizards... Can DC United win in Columbus? The visiting team to win in Columbus was West Ham... in July.

Posted by: TCompton | October 21, 2008 2:34 PM | Report abuse

You have to imagine that MLS is pleased with this situation that the last week in the regular season has so many teams still in contention for a playoff spot. Obviously you can always play the blame game for why DCU finds itself in this position but the fact is there were many blown points during the course of the season. It is what it is. I hope that we make it in but realistically I don't think we will.

Posted by: sbg | October 21, 2008 2:45 PM | Report abuse

Colorado is at home, big advantage for them vs. RSL.

Posted by: Malaga CF fan | October 21, 2008 1:37 PM
====================

Definitely. Commerce City, CO is almost 1,000 ft higher than Salt Lake City. RSL will have trouble with the altitude. Add to that they refinery fumes and the Rapids will win by 3 goals.

Posted by: I-270, Exit 1 | October 21, 2008 2:53 PM | Report abuse

Every game in MLS may be equally important in terms of points but the players sure don't play like they do (because they know that the playoffs matter, the overall season doesn't). Depleted teams are playing hard now but back in July, when they had a full roster, they were going through the motions.

Posted by: Doug | October 21, 2008 4:10 PM | Report abuse

"For those who STILL think Angel was not offsides, here's proof:
http://img261.imageshack.us/my.php?image=angeloffsidesie0.png

Posted by: GoUnited | October 21, 2008 11:26 AM"

That's proof of the fact that Angel was onside, pal.

As I said in my earlier response elsewhere, there are three things to look at to determine offide.

1. The attacking player
2. The second to last defending player
3. THE BALL.

Even in your picture, you can see plainly that Angel is level with the ball, if not with the defenders.

If the ball is level/ahead of you when it is played, you are not offside.

That's those 2 on 1 breakaway goals, when a player runs at the keeper and cuts the ball back to an onrushing fellow attacker are not offside.

Sorry, you're just wrong about this. It's understandable, because it is a tricky point in the LOTG, but Angel was definitely onside. Now you know!

Posted by: Mastodon Juan | October 21, 2008 5:12 PM | Report abuse

Look at the players' feet. Angel is the only one whose feet are passed the line.

Posted by: GoUnited | October 21, 2008 5:20 PM | Report abuse

Dude, listen to me. THE OFFSIDE LINE SHOULD NOT HAVE BEEN DRAWN AT THE LINE OF THE LAST DEFENDER.

The BALL in this case marks the furthest extent of the attacking field. You should have drawn the line at the ball, not the defender. Look up LOTG XI: http://www.fifa.com/worldfootball/lawsofthegame.html

"A player is in an offside position if he is nearer to his opponents’ goal line than both THE BALL [emphasis mine] and the
second last opponent"

Posted by: Mastodon Juan | October 21, 2008 5:38 PM | Report abuse

In terms of national appeal, it might as well be Milwaukee vs. Kansas City. People not from Philly either don't care about of don't like Philly. There is even less national interest in the teams from Tampa/St. Pete.

Ask ten people on the street who is playing in the world series and I would be amazed if more than 1 out of the 10 know the correct answer. Look for WS ratings to be close to if not the lowest ever.

Posted by: Ron | October 21, 2008 12:47 PM

Ron speaks for me. Or, at least, he says what I meant. There is little appeal for these teams, outside of those limited markets.

Besides -- Tampa/St. Pete is 12th? I could swear the baseball in DC folks kept claiming that DC was 12th....

Posted by: Fisch Fry | October 21, 2008 5:45 PM | Report abuse

This is the perfect forum to start picking on Philadelphia . .. . . .may as well get some practice in for those SOBs. That's going to be a great rivalry. (Did the Nats even play the Phillies???)

Posted by: Curious | October 21, 2008 6:02 PM | Report abuse

Anybody going to the game in Mexico City? Columbus?

Posted by: Atl | October 21, 2008 6:40 PM | Report abuse

GoUnited = Zapruder?

Ignore the book depository. Angel was in line with the grassy knoll.

Posted by: I-270, Exit 1 | October 21, 2008 8:29 PM | Report abuse

-----
Every game in MLS may be equally important in terms of points but the players sure don't play like they do (because they know that the playoffs matter, the overall season doesn't). Depleted teams are playing hard now but back in July, when they had a full roster, they were going through the motions.
-----

You have proof that teams were "going through the motions" in July?

I think fans may think that, but I tend to doubt that is the case.

But yes, I see the general consensus that games in October in MLS "look" and "are" more lively and important than games in July (or earlier in the season).

Real professionals (and I argue most in MLS are) likely see the value of every match and every point during the season.

Of course others are free to look at it as just the final two weeks being the games that are important.

Posted by: to each his own. | October 21, 2008 9:44 PM | Report abuse

So...

Root against Red Bull?

*shrugs* That seems familiar...

Posted by: B.A. | October 21, 2008 9:51 PM | Report abuse

Dude, listen to me. THE OFFSIDE LINE SHOULD NOT HAVE BEEN DRAWN AT THE LINE OF THE LAST DEFENDER.

The BALL in this case marks the furthest extent of the attacking field. You should have drawn the line at the ball, not the defender. Look up LOTG XI: http://www.fifa.com/worldfootball/lawsofthegame.html

"A player is in an offside position if he is nearer to his opponents’ goal line than both THE BALL [emphasis mine] and the
second last opponent"

Posted by: Mastodon Juan | October 21, 2008 5:38 PM

I just drew the line there because I could connect the tick marks from the football field :P

Posted by: GoUnited | October 21, 2008 11:11 PM | Report abuse

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