MLS playoff picture breakdown: East’s a beast (at least in terms of making it)

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One conference’s playoff race is a whole lot more wide open than the other’s, and that’s where we’ll begin this week’s MLS playoff picture breakdown.

The Eastern Conference has seen dramatic rises from New England and Columbus, cluttering up a table that has watched as Sporting KC dropped out of the running for the Supporters Shield, and now the division.

[ MORE: MLS weekend preview | Sporting visits White House ]

Let’s dig in.

THE EAST:

We’ve still yet to see our first formal playoff spot clinched, though DC United is mighty close. Sixth-place Toronto FC and eighth-place Houston each max out at 55 points and, with those two playing each other on Oct. 8, both won’t get there (And if one does, it will come at the expense of fifth-place New York). So a win for DC and they are undoubtedly in.

New England and Sporting KC both face the daunting tasks of keeping their eyes on the East’s top seeds while not playing with abandon. Neither are assured playoff spots, though fairly safe. The Revolution does get the chance to take points away from DC, but Sporting KC will still square off against United.

Wins from both KC and New England would really congest things at the top and bottom of the Top Five. As it stands now, the SportsClubStats.com site says it’ll likely be two of New York, Columbus and Toronto seizing the final spots (just as looking at the standings would say).

Philly needs crazy help after last night’s heart-wrenching home tie with Chicago.

Team GP W D L GF GA GD Home Away PTS
D.C. 30 15 6 9 46 34 12 10-3-2 5-3-7 51
New England 30 14 3 13 44 42 2 9-2-4 5-1-9 45
Sporting KC 30 13 6 11 45 37 8 5-6-4 8-0-7 45
Columbus 30 11 10 9 43 36 7 8-4-4 3-6-5 43
New York 30 10 11 9 48 46 2 8-4-2 2-7-7 41
Toronto FC 29 11 7 11 42 45 -3 7-2-6 4-5-5 40
Philadelphia 31 9 12 10 46 45 1 5-8-2 4-4-8 39
Houston 29 10 6 13 35 50 -15 8-4-3 2-2-10 36
Chicago 30 5 17 8 38 46 -8 3-10-2 2-7-6 32
Montreal 30 6 6 18 34 54 -20 6-3-6 0-3-12 24

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THE WEST:

source: APIt’s win and in for Real Salt Lake and FC Dallas, while the real drama is whether Vancouver or Portland will find the fifth spot. The Whitecaps are hosting Dallas, while the Timbers travel to San Jose.

It’s pretty straight-forward for the playoffs, though the Supporters Shield is another story. Seattle has more wins than Los Angeles, and they’ll face each other in back-to-back matches to finish the season. The Sounders lead up to those encounters with matches against Colorado and Vancouver, while the Galaxy have Toronto and Dallas.

Schedule says Seattle. Form says Los Angeles. Should be awesome.

Team GP W D L GF GA GD Home Away PTS
Seattle – x 30 18 3 9 57 46 11 11-1-3 7-2-6 57
Los Angeles – x 30 16 9 5 63 31 32 11-3-1 5-6-4 57
Real Salt Lake 30 13 10 7 50 38 12 9-5-1 4-5-6 49
FC Dallas 30 14 6 10 52 40 12 11-1-3 3-5-7 48
Vancouver 30 9 13 8 38 40 -2 7-5-3 2-8-5 40
Portland 30 9 12 9 54 51 3 4-8-3 5-4-6 39
Colorado 30 8 8 14 41 54 -13 6-5-4 2-3-10 32
San Jose 29 6 11 12 34 42 -8 5-5-5 1-6-7 29
Chivas USA 30 6 6 18 25 58 -33 3-2-9 3-4-9 24