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RSL's playoff chances not completely gone, but don't get your hopes up

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Joe Camporeale-USA TODAY Sports

Since Saturday, we've been more or less mourning the loss of MLS playoffs — and we're probably right to, because the odds of our making them have been steadily decreasing.

The numbers back it up. Sport Club Stats lists us as having an absolutely outstanding 2.6 percent chance that we make the playoffs. That's down 5.5 percentage points after Saturday's loss, though, which makes the immediate mourning a little late coming.

Three points against Portland Timbers would certainly have helped the cause, but let's be honest with ourselves here: That match isn't the one that caused the problem, and even an 8.1 percent chance that we make the playoffs isn't particularly good.

It's been a long, grueling season, and our record is what's put us in this situation. Regardless, when or where the playoff dream died or potentially dies, it's kind of a non-issue. Saturday could really spell the beginning of a renewed run, or it could equally spell the a sense of finality to our playoff chances. Winning against Sounders could increase that percentage back up to around 5 percent — and that's nice, but then we go back to last weekend and, well. Yeah. You get the picture.

Anyway, we've painted ourselves into a nice little corner here. The best thing we could do Saturday — aside from just winning — might be to knock Seattle down a rung, giving us a greater chance to climb over them on our way up. Or, you know, we could lose, and that's certainly a possibility.

Regardless, reports of our playoff death are somewhat exaggerated — but not greatly. If we win six of our last nine games, we'll have a good chance. If we win five, we'll still have a chance, just less of one. If we win fewer, don't count on playoffs.

So, the big question: Should we gun it and go for the playoffs, or should we quietly accept our fate and turn our attention wholly toward CONCACAF Champions League? I'm not the sort of person to answer that question, because I'd rather win the nine remaining MLS matches as well as the three remaining CCL matches. But given how we've looked, can we count on that being even remotely possible?

The frustrating thing about all this is that, in a small way, we're victims of our conference growing in strength. With Sporting KC, we've had to contend with a Supporters Shield contender, as painful as that is to admit. With Houston Dynamo, we have another mid-level playoff team. And while that sounds a little excuse-mongering, it's also the case that we'd be in the playoffs in the Eastern Conference. We might not stay there (that's a big question mark) and there are plenty of teams with games-in-hand, but it's a little food for thought. How the rest of the season in the Western Conference shakes out might either lend value to that argument or invalidate it, but it's still a thought.