TMLS By The Numbers: Playoff Races Heat Up

Approximately ten matches remain for each team in the Major League Soccer regular season. Ten chances still to claim enough points to nab a playoff spot; ten chances to secure the Supporters Shield; ten chances to fight for a CONCACAF Champions League spot; and ten chances to finish the season with dignity even if a spot in the postseason is not claimed.

The Supporters Shield race will almost undoubtedly fall in the hands of a Western Conference club. The three teams vying for the top spot - Colorado Rapids, LA Galaxy, and FC Dallas - will have to gauge each week how possible their chances are of acquiring more hardware until they reach the pivotal moment near the end of the season when health and rest become the top priority heading into the playoffs. The former two especially will have a more congested regular season schedule heading into autumn with two extra games to play that FC Dallas has already completed. However, outside of MLS play, the Frisco boys still have one more US Open Cup match remaining, and they have already begun the grueling gauntlet of time and travel that is the CONCACAF Champions League.

In the East, Toronto failed yet again to put away an opponent with a player down for an entire half. As a result, their hopes for a Supporters Shield have quickly dashed. The Reds are now eight possible points behind Colorado, the team with the best chance to secure the trophy. It is now a matter of claiming the top spot over 2nd place Montreal in the East for home field advantage, since the Canadian teams do not get a CONCACAF Champions League slot via MLS routes (TFC already owns next year’s Canadian position thanks to this year’s Canadian Championship).

This week’s magic number is 10.

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The aforementioned approximate ten matches is a factor, but 10 is also the combined number of points FC Dallas can win and Chicago Fire can lose in order for this season’s first mathematical elimination from the Supporters Shield race. The Fire travel to Montreal this week to face the Impact, a playoff hopeful and possible runner for a high seed. Meanwhile, Real Salt Lake, a team with a firm hold on a middle ground playoff position, hosts Dallas immediately before Dallas travels all the way to Nicaragua for face Real Esteli.