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The Big Seven and the Amazing Race: Big matches could shape playoff picture

It’s the Wild Western Conference.

MLS: Real Salt Lake at Portland Timbers Jaime Valdez-USA TODAY Sports

I’m just going to start this by saying that no, I have never watched The Amazing Race. (I think.) I’m not completely opposed to it, so don’t think I’m just a hater, even though I might be if I had the opportunity.

Anyway, moving on from that: The MLS playoff race is now truly underway, and Real Salt Lake might just start bouncing around the standings like a pinball being smashed against a target repeatedly. It might be exhausting. Here goes.

Key takeaways

  • The Big Seven: San Jose, RSL, FC Dallas, Seattle, LA Galaxy, Minnesota, Portland. These seven teams are separated by just four points.
  • The fringes are slightly interesting, too, but the fringes are actually just Sporting Kansas City. Sporting Kansas City have a staggering five matches against teams in the race. They may be out of it as things stand, but a few good results, and they’re back in it. That’s a good thing for us, actually, unless we lose all our games. Let’s hope it doesn’t come to that.
  • Colorado Rapids are nearly eliminated from the playoffs, but they have three matches remaining against the big seven. That could be extremely interesting for us.
  • RSL plays one of the big seven just three times in our remaining six matches. Is that a good thing? Well, our final two matches should be easy, facing Houston and Vancouver. Houston should be out of playoff contention by the time we face them, and Vancouver already is. Two of our next four matches are at home against San Jose and LA Galaxy. One is on the road against Minnesota United. One is on the road against a playoff-hopeful New England. Should be something.

Matches

Closing out Week 28

Sept. 1: Seattle Sounders vs. LA Galaxy

As things stand, Real Salt Lake is in third place in the Western Conference, but there can be no doubt that they’ll end it in fourth. A single point from Seattle Sounders or two points from LA Galaxy would push them into third, and they play each other tomorrow. Wacky, isn’t it? I think we should be aiming for a draw here; that would take us down, of course, but it would be a more recoverable position.

Sept. 1: LAFC vs. Minnesota United

I mean, it won’t happen, but Minnesota winning this one (against a team that hasn’t lost at home) would put them into second place. That won’t happen, right? Right? Ah.

Week 29 key matchups

Sept. 7: Colorado Rapids vs. Seattle Sounders

I hate it when we have to root for the Rapids. A loss could see the Rapids eliminated from playoff contention. A win — well, it’s still a long shot. They’ll probably lose to spite us.

Sept. 7: Portland Timbers vs. Sporting KC

Sept. 11: Houston Dynamo vs. Minnesota United

Sept. 11: LA Galaxy vs. Colorado Rapids

Technically, this is a Week 30 match for Colorado and a Week 29 match for LA Galaxy. Oh well. We still want the Rapids to win.

Sept. 11: RSL vs. San Jose Earthquakes

It’s hard to overstate the importance of this match. A win and we’re up over the ‘Quakes. A loss, and we’re looking mighty worried.

Week 30 key matchups

Week 31

Week 32

  • FC Dallas vs. NYCFC
  • Real Salt Lake vs. LA Galaxy
  • Minnesota United vs. Sporting KC
  • Portland vs. New England
  • D.C. United vs. Seattle Sounders
  • San Jose vs. Philadelphia

Week 33

  • Colorado Rapids vs. FC Dallas
  • LA Galaxy vs. Vancouver
  • Minnesota United vs. LAFC
  • Sporting KC vs. Portland
  • Real Salt Lake vs. Houston Dynamo
  • San Jose vs. Seattle Sounders

Week 34

  • Sporting KC vs. FC Dallas
  • Houston vs. LA Galaxy
  • Seattle Sounders vs. Minnesota United
  • Portland Timbers vs. San Jose Earthquakes
  • Vancouver Whitecaps vs. Real Salt Lake