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The Path to the Playoffs: Five Games to Go

Roscoe Myrick

The Portland Timbers may have had a rough time of it in their midweek CONCACAF Champions League match against Deportivo Saprissa, but they remain above the red line in Major League Soccer as the final weeks of the season continue to pass.

With only a handful of games left on the docket, let’s take a look at the playoff pack in the Western Conference and the group of five teams that are still clustered tightly around the red line.

5. Sporting Kansas City

39 Points, 29 Games Played

Results Last Week: 3-3 tie against Houston Dynamo

vs. LA Galaxy (1.62), at San Jose Earthquakes (1.22), at New England Revolution (1.14), at Real Salt Lake (1.52), vs. San Jose Earthquakes (1.22)

Average Opposition Points Per Game: 1.34 (Up 0.07)

Looking at SKC’s final slate of matches, much of their season could be decided by their upcoming match against the LA Galaxy. A win at home against the high-flying Californians would position SKC nicely on the table as they head into a three game road trip against some tough, but not overwhelming opposition.

6. Portland Timbers

38 Points, 29 Games Played

Results Last Week: 1-0 win over Real Salt Lake

vs. Philadelphia Union (1.41), at Houston Dynamo (0.96), at Colorado Rapids (1.70), vs. Colorado Rapids (1.70), at Vancouver Whitecaps (1.17)

Average Opposition Points Per Game: 1.39 (Down 0.01)

The Timbers’ ability to quickly turnaround from their CCL loss to Deportivo Saprissa will be all important as the side needs to continue their dominance at Providence Park if they want to stay above the red line. Beyond just winning at home, however, the Timbers find themselves in a position where both the Sounders or Quakes could potentially pass them up even if they finish out the season perfectly, so road points will be imperative if they want to hold off a late push from the teams below them on the table.

7. Vancouver Whitecaps

34 Points, 29 Games Played

Results Last Week: 3-1 win over Columbus Crew

at Seattle Sounders (1.19), vs. Colorado Rapids (1.70), vs. Seattle Sounders (1.19), at San Jose Earthquakes (1.22), vs. Portland Timbers (1.31)

Average Opposition Points Per Game: 1.32 (Up 0.07)

At this point the Whitecaps seem to hold the entirety of this playoff race in their hands with four of their remaining five matches being six-pointers against the Sounders (twice), Quakes, and Timbers. Add that to the fact that the Whitecaps have suddenly remembered how scoring works — and are doing so on the road — and suddenly you have a team that looks like it still has a move to make.

8. San Jose Earthquakes

33 Points, 27 Games Played

Results Last Week: 1-1 tie against Seattle Sounders

at Colorado Rapids (1.70), vs. Sporting Kansas City (1.34), at Montreal Impact (1.36), vs. Real Salt Lake (1.52), at Colorado Rapids (1.70), vs. Vancouver Whitecaps (1.17), at Sporting Kansas City (1.34)

Average Opposition Points Per Game: 1.45 (Up 0.04)

The Quakes dropped two big points at home last weekend in their tie against the Sounders, leaving the side with a slate of games against strong teams and teams looking to secure their place in the playoffs. Not only does San Jose have perhaps the strongest schedule remaining, they also have the most motivated. Games in hand are nice, but with plenty of road games mixed in there, this will be a difficult end of the season for San Jose.

9. Seattle Sounders

32 Points, 27 Games Played

Results Last Week: 1-1 tie against San Jose Earthquakes

vs. Vancouver Whitecaps (1.17), at LA Galaxy (1.62), vs. Chicago Fire (0.96), at Vancouver Whitecaps (1.17), vs. Houston Dynamo (0.96), at FC Dallas (1.76), vs. Real Salt Lake (1.52)

Average Opposition Points Per Game: 1.31 (Up 0.01)

The Sounders would have loved to get all three points from San Jose, but a road point still helps them inch their way toward the playoffs and, with four of their last seven at home, the Sounders are positioned well to pass up some of their opposition in the standings in the coming weeks. Of course, the Sounders’ away matches are perhaps the most difficult in the league as they head to Vancouver, Colorado, and Dallas, and if they find themselves in need of points away from home they could be in a difficult spot, putting the onus on the teams above them on the table (*cough* Timbers *cough*) to pick up points on the road.