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MLS Playoff Race Closer Than Ever

Some interesting matchups and nail-biting wins shook up the MLS playoff hunt even more last weekend. With just six games to play, some teams took an important step towards qualification while others foundered and foolishly threw away a chance to seize control of their own destiny.

Safe:

Columbus got a tie and New England posted a big win. Both teams appear certain to qualify barring a run of 6 straight losses. Chicago lost, but also looks to be safe. Houston managed a tie at San Jose and, barring a huge let down, will make it to the playoffs.

Surging:

It ain’t over until it’s over for Onalfo’s Wiz. A huge 2-0 win over the Galaxy pushed them within four points of the final wild card seed. They will need to avoid mistakes down the final stretch, but with more home games left than their competitors, it isn’t time to throw in the towel yet in KC.

The Red Bulls got three points in a must-win against RSL. With Angel starting to look like his old self and veteran Dave van den Bergh leading this scrappy bunch, New York has opened up a nice lead in the wild card race, but need to maintain their pace down the stretch to make post-season play a certainty. First up will be a difficult matchup with table-topping CMB.

Colorado also got a nice win at home. Their defense has been good, and the scoring seems to be coming easier for them. First things first though, they need to get three points this weekend at the Dick against a nasty Revolution team.

Capsizing:

Chivas didn’t just lose to the Revs on Thursday, they were embarassed. Though they are tied for the final spot in the West, their poor goal differential means they will need to be the outright third place finisher to make it to the post-season. Based on recent results and their multitude of injuries, it looks like Preki and his pals may miss the big dance. A road win against RSL (who is undefeated at home) would go a long way towards qualification though.

L.A. also dropped a very important game over the weekend to the Wiz. It wasn’t just that they lost though, it’s also that they looked inept doing so. With six games left, Beckham and Co. will need a fantastic run to close out the year if they hope to avoid missing the playoffs for the third consecutive year. I’m not saying it couldn’t happen yet, but LAG must, and I mean must, win @ the HDC this Saturday if it wants to keep its post-season dreams alive.

Dallas and DC United battled to a 2-2 tie @ RFK Stadium, which is really more like a loss for DC at this stage as teams that want to make the playoffs need to pick up Ws at home. While DC would still technically make the playoffs if the season ended today, they will need more down the stretch to secure their spot. Ditto for Dallas who looked happy to escape from the nation’s capitol with a tie. Dallas now needs a road win against the Fire though, which is no easy task.

RSL suffered a disappointing loss as well, but then again they always seem to lose on the road (one win, nine losses, two ties on the season). Though currently entrenched in the #2 spot in the West, it seems it won’t really matter even if RSL makes the playoffs as they won’t be able to beat anyone on the road to move on.

The Quakes got a point in their battle with Houston and are perched one point away from third in the West, but SJE really needed to secure a win at home. With a tough stretch run ahead, San Jose’s fairy tale season looks like it unfortunately could have a nightmare ending. First though, they need to beat Houston in Texas, which only one team has managed to do so far this year.

Toronto also managed only a tie at home and their playoff chances are quickly slipping away. Six points behind in the wild card, TFC will need an inspired finish to qualify for their first post-season.  First, they will have to beat KC at home, which should be tough. All in all though, it looks like TFC may have thrown away their early success and will be dwelling in the cellar of the Eastern Division for a second straight year.

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