Monday Musings – MLS Playoff Picture

We’re getting down to the wire in the Major League Soccer Season with 4 teams still in the running for a playoff spot. The Eastern Conference is closer to locked up, with only 2 teams vying for the final slot. The Western Conference has 2 teams fighting for the final spot. There are only two teams left competing for the Supporters Shield, and it’ll be a battle between Atlanta United (69) who have been rampant this season averaging almost 2.1 points per game, but NY Red Bulls (68) are hot on their tail. The Western Conference is almost a full 10 points behind either of these teams with their closest competitors.

Here is a little about each team and what their chances are for making the post season:
Locks (Eastern Conference by place):
Atlanta United – They have a ridiculous +29 goal differential, in part due to the record setting season of Josef Martinez, who has 30 goals on the season to date. With 69 points, they’ve already tied the all-time record for points and still have one more game to go.

NY Red Bull – The Red Bull’s were in very good form too, they won the same number of games as Atlanta United, but they lost one additional game (where Atlanta drew).

NYCFC – NYCFC are some way off the pace of the conference leaders (15 points to be exact). They will definitely be looking to take advantage of the opportunity for postseason play, and hoping for a better outcome.

Philadelphia Union – Union finishes almost 20 points behind the first place team showing the relative strength of the division — but also gap between the top two and the rest.

D.C. United – D.C. United’s form has turned miraculously around after the acquisition of Wayne Rooney in the Premier League summer window. On the date Rooney joined (June 29) they were the bottom of the league and have since rocketed into playoff contention.

Eastern Conference Contenders:
Columbus Crew – The Crew are as close to being in the playoffs as you can be without physically having punched your ticket. The Crew will advance with a win or a draw (as long as Montreal doesn’t win by 2+). Things would get interesting for the Crew with a loss.

Montreal Impact – Since Rooney joined their Eastern Conference Rivals, they have made a similar run towards the playoffs, but they have dropped below the cut line in the last game week. They are down, but still have a shot of making the playoffs if they play well. They have a hope of making the playoffs with a win in their final game and either a Crew loss or a draw. The draw scenario (if Montreal wins) would come down to goal differential (so Montreal would need to win by 2 or more goals).

Locks (Western Conference by place):
Sporting KC – Sporting Kansas City has basically been on top of the world since week 1, their postseason hopes were never really in doubt.

LAFC – After securing the most points in an inaugural season in MLS history (57) they are locked into the playoffs.

FC Dallas – Tied for 2nd-place with LAFC (on points) but dropping to 3rd on goal differential.

Seattle Sounders FC – Seattle didn’t have one of their greatest seasons in team history, but they are safely in the playoffs by 7 points.

Portland Timbers FC – Timbers punched their ticket with a 3-0 victory over Real Salt which could have the ramification of making RSL miss the playoffs.

Western Conference Contenders:
Real Salt Lake – Real Salt Lake have the unenviable position of just having to wait and see. They’ve played all 34 games and are in a playoffs by a mere point. Real Salt Lake also have a negative goal differential so they will need the Galaxy to lose in order for them to advance.

Los Angeles Galaxy – LA Galaxy Trail Real Salt Lake by one in the standings; however, they have a game in hand. They also play Houston who I expect will probably start close to a first team squad to end the season on a high note.

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