With most teams in our domestic league having only two games remaining, it’s time to start doing what any respectable fan of the league would do at this point in time: start making predictions about the playoffs. What makes me an expert and gives me the right to make these wild assumptions? Absolutely nothing. Perhaps the Wikiepedia access and the podium that SoccerPro occasionally gives me might give me a slight edge, but I wouldn’t read too much into that either.
With 32 games gone (33 for a few, 31 for fewer) the season is over for a few teams. Chicago Fire continue to head as far away from their successful history as they can. Toronto FC is making sure that Steve Nash still has a shot for his men in Whitecaps jerseys to bring the first championship to Canada (although they will be missing out on this season’s playoffs as well). San Jose is proving that a decent midfield needs a decent strike-force and a decent defense to succeed. New England Revolution are still trying to discover their identity in the post-Twellman era. Almost sneaking in, but definitely ruled out mathematically, are Chivas USA. The only thing that they seem to be playing for is trying to snag Juan Pablo Angel a bigger paycheck.
So who is in for sure? The rampant L.A. Galaxy and the green monster that is Seattle. So far, these are the only two teams that have guaranteed a slot in their division and have made sure that they will go straight into the conference semi-finals. Real Salt Lake and FC Dallas have the points to guarantee themselves a playoff spot, but whether that spot is directly into the semi-final or straight into the wild-card draw depends on the final two games of the season.
Every other team in the league within the next week or so has the possibility to either find themselves into the playoffs or start their FIFA 12 campaign mode early. Colorado Rapids and Portland Timbers are hoping that their Eastern Conference counterparts falter at the finish line so that they can snag some of their play-off spots (don’t ask me to explain how teams get into MLS playoffs…just know that it’s more confusing than figuring out any food at an Outback Steakhouse is Australian). The entirety of teams in the Eastern Conference that haven’t been mentioned earlier (Philadelphia, Houston, Kansas City, Columbus, New York, and D.C.) can still find themselves playoff bound. The path is easy for some: Philadelphia only needs one win in their last two games to secure the top spot in the conference; harder for others: D.C. needs two wins and a draw in their last three games or else they’ll be heading home early.
Some of these teams have a lot more to prove than others, and some of these teams don’t have much more on their mind than just getting in. Whatever teams situation you look at, these playoffs are going to be good. Whether the Galaxy finally shows that spending can count, Seattle shows that fan support wins games, or Philadelphia ushers in an age of expansion team dominance, it’s definitely going to be an exciting post-season. Keep your eyes peeled for my take on every team’s motivation and chances this year, if Senor Wall chooses that you are worthy enough to read them.
Written by: Andrew McCole, MLS correspondent, soccerprose.com
Recent posts in MLS