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RSL Playoff Watch after Wk 30

A full slate of midweek games with plenty of playoff implications.

MLS: Colorado Rapids at Real Salt Lake Jeffrey Swinger-USA TODAY Sports

So far only two teams have punched their ticket to the playoffs (Seattle Sounders and New England Revolution). Four teams have been eliminated, three from the East and one in the West. Both top and bottom will likely see additions after Wednesday.

Real Salt Lake remains 5th in the West, tied on points with LA Galaxy, but ahead on goal differential. Minnesota United sits one point back in 7th, and Vancouver Whitecaps two points back in 8th - out of the playoffs.

So where do we stand? RSL has 5 games remaining, with only two of them at home. Our maximum point total would be 57, while our projected points based on home & away PPG is 48. That is firmly in 6th with Minnesota United one point ahead, and LA Galaxy one point behind in the final playoff spot. It would also see us play the Colorado Rapids once again in the first game of the playoffs.

Austin is the only team mathematically out of playoffs, but FC Dallas, Houston Dynamo and San Jose Earthquakes are all close. Dallas and Houston would be eliminated with a loss on Wednesday, while San Jose would be one game away form being out if they lose.

So let’s take a look at this week’s games and see what would be the best results for RSL.

RSL has a bye on Wednesday, so going into the weekend we may see ourselves out of playoff position with a game in hand.

Wednesday, Oct. 20th

  • FC Dallas (11th) vs Los Angeles FC (9th) - A win for FCD would be our best result. It will keep LAFC five points below us and out of the playoff picture, and it would mean Dallas avoids elimination for one more week. A tie wouldn’t be bad for us as it still keeps the Angels below us, and it would also see Dallas knocked out of the playoffs.
  • Minnesota United (7th) vs Philadelphia Union (East 3rd) - Root for Philly! A loss for Minnesota would be one less team that could knock us out, and it would move us up to 5th in the projected final position (with tiebreaker). A tie would keep us in 5th going into the weekend (if LAG loses), and remaining in 6th for final projection.
  • Houston Dynamo (12th) vs LA Galaxy (6th) - C’mon Dynamo! I generally don’t like rooting for the Texas teams (given RSL’s long running problems playing there...), but Houston winning gives us the best result. A tie does us little favors since it would drop us to 6th, but would see Houston eliminated from the playoffs.
  • Colorado Rapids (3rd) vs Seattle Sounders (1st) - This game really holds little implication for us. Seattle has already qualified, and the Rapids could join them with a win (or tie if both Vancouver and LAFC lose...). Mathematically RSL could still pass the Rapids if they go on a losing streak, and we have a tremendous finish (however unlikely...), as such I’ll say a Sounders win would be the best result for RSL just to keep Colorado from clinching for a bit longer.
  • Portland Timbers (4th) vs Vancouver Whitecaps (8th) - Being a Timbers fan at this point should be easy enough, they’ve swiped enough of our players over the years anyway... We definitely want Vancouver to stay below the line. A win would put them one above us, and combined with both Minnesota and the Galaxy winning we would be down to 8th. A tie would also serve to help us remain, but puts the ‘Caps a mere one point below us. Portland sits 4 points above us, and it’s still possible we could pass them with a good run.
  • San Jose Earthquakes (10th) vs Austin FC (13th) - This one has little implications for us, but the Quakes still could pass us mathematically if they win all but one remaining game. Austin winning would reduce that chance significantly, and may knock San Jose out as well.

So after Wednesday we could be anywhere from 5th to 8th. Personally I think the Loons have a slight home-field edge over Philly; Houston’s humidity advantage is reduced this time of year which will give LA hope, but I think the Dynamo will pull out a narrow win. Portland also has the strong home-field edge over the Whitecaps. That would put us 6th going into the weekend match on the road vs Chicago Fire.

Current projected Western Conference Final Points

  1. Seattle Sounders: 67
  2. Sporting Kansas City: 61
  3. Colorado Rapids: 60
  4. Portland Timbers: 54
  5. Minnesota United: 49
  6. Real Salt Lake: 48
  7. LA Galaxy: 47
  8. Vancouver Whitecaps: 46
  9. Los Angeles FC: 42
  10. San Jose Earthquakes: 38
  11. FC Dallas: 35
  12. Houston Dynamo: 34
  13. Austin FC: 31 (Eliminated)