So I encourage you to read Times columnist Steve Kelley’s piece on Roger Levesque. Well done.
Now let’s look at the league’s preview of this week’s action.
Chivas USA vs. Chicago Fire, Thursday, Oct. 22, 8 p.m. ET (ESPN, Deportes)
Really, all seven games this week impact the playoff picture. But by taking place first, this one will greatly affect the landscape entering the final weekend of the regular season. Chicago can clinch a playoff spot with a win or a tie. A Chivas USA victory would not only narrow their margin on Supporters’ Shield leader Columbus, it would also leave the second automatic berth in the Eastern Conference up for grabs among four teams. At 10-7-12 with 42 points, Chicago sits in second place in the East, but three teams sit behind at 39 points hoping for them to slip up so they have a shot at the Eastern Conference automatic berth.
Impact Game 2 of the Week:
Colorado Rapids at Real Salt Lake, Saturday, Oct. 24, 9 p.m. ET (FSC, FSE)
Another tense encounter in a growing rivalry. When they met in last season’s finale, Real Salt Lake clinched a playoff berth while ousting Colorado from contention with a 90th-minute goal by Yura Movsisyan at Dick’s Sporting Good’s Park. The Rapids have a chance to return the favor, as a tie would eliminate RSL and could clinch Colorado’s postseason berth. Adding to the excitement, RSL likely needs to win by at least two goals to provide a great goal differential, which could be a deciding factor in playoff tiebreakers.
Seven Teams Contend for Three Spots in Tightest Race in MLS History
In the final week of the MLS regular season, seven teams will contend for the three remaining berths in the MLS Cup Playoffs.
It is easily the tightest playoff chase in MLS history.
Five teams have clinched passage to the postseason: Columbus, Houston, Los Angeles, Chivas USA and Seattle. Three teams have been eliminated from playoff contention: New York, San Jose and Kansas City.
The top seed in the Western Conference could be one by Chivas USA, Houston, Los Angeles, or Seattle. All the conference semifinal matchups are up in the air.
Below are some of the permutations of this week’s games. This list is not comprehensive, but rather is intended to simplify (somewhat) the scenarios facing each club on the bubble of the MLS Cup Playoffs.
Chicago Fire will qualify for the MLS Cup Playoffs IF:
· The Fire defeat or tie Chivas USA on Thursday
Note: Scenarios exist in which the Fire could qualify for the playoffs even with a loss on Thursday. In general, Chicago hopes that D.C. United and New England fail to win (see head-to-head chart below).
Colorado Rapids will qualify for the MLS Cup Playoffs IF:
– Colorado defeats Real Salt Lake on Saturday OR
– Colorado ties Real Salt Lake AND
The four teams on 39 points all lose or all tie OR IF
Only one of TOR, NE, DC and FCD win
Note: If Colorado loses to Real Salt Lake, it hopes to do so by less than a two-goal margin and it hopes that less than two teams with 39 points win this week.
Toronto FC, New England Revolution, D.C. United and FC Dallas (all tied with 39 points) essentially must win and hope the others among them fail to win. All of those teams hope that Chivas USA defeats Chicago, because that would leave the second automatic berth in the East up for grabs.
Real Salt Lake need to defeat Colorado on Saturday and hope that no more than one of the teams on 39 points wins. Unless all four teams with 39 points lose, RSL need to defeat Colorado by more than a one-goal margin because a win leaves them tied on points and in head-to-head (1-1-1), so goal differential could decide their fate.