MLS By the Numbers - Danger Zone

It seemed to take forever to get to this point, but we have finally reached the point in which teams are at the limit of mathematical eligibility into the playoffs. A majority of teams have three matches remaining, and every single team in the league is still in the realm of snagging a playoff spot...something unheard of in years past (Montreal, Chivas USA, and DC United in recent history were eliminated well before October in their respective slumps).

So which teams are in the most danger at the moment?

First, the team with the worst chances, followed by the next (keep in mind that the first tiebreaker is wins, so a tie in points may still equal elimination):

Vancouver Whitecaps

Yes, the Caps are only two positions away from obtaining the 6th seed, but the games in hand that both San Jose and Houston hold offer them a slight advantage over their Canadian water - that doesn’t mean the two teams are on solid ground, however. Vancouver can be eliminated this week under the conditions that they:

  • Lose to Seattle.

  • Draw with Seattle with a Portland draw or win.

  • Win over Seattle with a Portland win and a Sporting Kansas City win or draw

Chicago Fire

The Fire have better odds, but their days are also numbered severely short. They will be eliminated if they:

  • Lose to both Columbus and Seattle.

  • Lose to either Columbus or Seattle and draw the other, and DC United picks up at least one point in their two matches.

  • Lose to Columbus or Seattle (winning the other) with any combination of two of the following four:

    • Montreal picking up at least one point in their two matches (doing so could potentially remove the Orlando City option)

    • DC United picking up at least two points in their two matches

    • Orlando City winning both matches (doing so would remove part of the Montreal option)

    • New England winning over Sporting Kansas City

  • Draw with Columbus or Seattle (winning the other) with any combination of two of the following three:

    • Montreal picking up at least two points in their two matches (doing so would remove the Orlando City option)

    • DC United winning at least one match of the two

    • Orlando City SC winning both matches (doing so would eliminate part of the Montreal option)

  • Win over Columbus and Seattle, Montreal picks up four points in their two matches, and DC United wins both of their matches.

Houston Dynamo

The Dynamo scenario is heavily reliant on what happens in Cascadia. They are eliminated if they:

  • Lose to NYCFC with any combination of two of the three:

    • Portland winning

    • Seattle winning both matches

    • Sporting Kansas City winning or drawing

Columbus Crew SC

The Crew are in a tight battle for position, sitting 8th and only five points behind the 6th seed. However, they are out if they:

  • Lose to both DC United and Chicago, DC United draws or wins their second match, and Montreal wins at least one match of their two

  • Lose to DC United, draw with Chicago, DC United wins their second match, and Montreal picks up at least four points out of their two matches

San Jose Earthquakes

San Jose’s situation is similar to that of Houston’s, but at least the Quakes hold slightly control over their destiny than the Dynamo with more games played this week and two more points on the table. They are out if they:

  • Pick up only one point or less out of six against both Montreal and Real Salt Lake with any combination of the two of the three:

    • Portland winning

    • Seattle winning both matches

    • Sporting Kansas City winning or drawing

New England Revolution

With the best chance of survival, even the Revolution are out if they:

  • Lose to Sporting Kansas City, Montreal and DC United pick up all of their six points respectively, and Philadelphia win

There is a small chance that all six teams are eliminated, though incredibly small. The Fire and Crew match will likely determine which team survives until next week. However, remaining in contention heading into October is an admirable feat for teams that felt themselves out of the race long ago. The final week will prove to be exciting, as the possibilities of ending in an entirely different place on the table are countless even now!