Three quarters of the regular season are finished, and more teams are finding themselves in unfavorable positions. The Vancouver Whitecaps found themselves as high as third place overall in May and June, but have since slipped to 9th in the West after a string of costly losses. Meanwhile, in the East, D.C. United have gone unbeaten in their last six matches, compiling ten points to push themselves back into a playoff position.
The real story this week, is the first mathematical elimination from the chance at a trophy.
The New England Revolution have officially removed themselves from the Supporters' Shield race by picking up only one point in a possible five last week, and FC Dallas claiming all available three. The Revs could win out and tie FC Dallas’ current point total, assuming FC Dallas lose out for the remainder of the year and a series of outcomes so convoluted, it would take another couple days to compile, to occur. However, Dallas already has fourteen wins this season. New England can only possibly win thirteen. As this is the first tiebreaker for the Shield, the Revs are no longer in contention.
Next on the chopping block are the Houston Dynamo and Chicago Fire. Houston clings onto an unrealistic hope by one point, and Chicago, two. Their games in hand are the only reason New England has been pushed out first.
On the high end of the table, Toronto FC’s failure to finish off an opponent with a player down for an entire half (this sentence is beginning to become something of a broken record, as this occurrence has happened three times now in little over a month’s time) pushed their chances at a shield to a six point difference from the Colorado Rapids. The loss against Montreal has also effectively cemented the top five playoff teams in the East as well. The 6th seed may be the only available space left for D.C. United, Orlando City SC, or - surprisingly - Columbus Crew SC to claim. Decision Day in the East, as it stands now, would be entertaining primarily because of seed placement.
In the West, four teams - Sporting Kansas City, Portland Timbers, San Jose Earthquakes, and even Seattle Sounders - are pushing to control two available playoff spots. Given Seattle’s woes and the Timbers’ four recent losses, the possibility that no Cascadia team makes the playoffs this year is a very real possibility. If Sporting maintains consistency and San Jose pick up another ten points in six games (their current form), the Northwest will have zero representation in this year’s postseason.
This week’s magic number is 14. Houston Dynamo can not afford to lose 14 more points on 6th place, otherwise they’re eliminated from the playoffs.