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Path to the Playoffs: How the Timbers Can Clinch the Conference

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In the final week of the season we take a look at just what needs to happen for the Timbers to come out on top.

Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

The 2013 MLS season has been unbelievably close with only two teams qualifying in the 32nd week. Now, in the final week of the season, the standings are still a mess with the Timbers able to finish anywhere from 1st to 4th in the Western Conference and 1st to 6th in the Supporter's Shield Standings.

So, who should Timbers fans be rooting for tonight?

Tonight's Game

Chivas USA at Real Salt Lake

Wednesday, 6:00 pm, MLS Live

Root For: Tie.

Why? This one is not quite as straight forward as you would think. On the one hand, the Timbers do not want a Salt Lake win as it would require that the Timbers win to clinch the division. On the other hand, a Chivas win could give the goats a little shot of confidence as they hope to upset the Timbers in their final match of the season in front of their surprisingly diehard supporters. So, the best that we can hope for here is a brutal, exhausting, low-scoring, confidence-sapping draw.

Playoff Road Map

What needs to happen for the Timbers to clinch a top three seed?

The Timbers can win, tie, or lose and still get into the playoffs.

If the Timbers win or tie (55-57 points):

  • It doesn't matter what anyone else does.

If the Timbers lose then one of the following two things must happen (54 points):

Or

What about a first place finish in the West?

The Timbers can win, tie, or lose.

If the Timbers win (57 points):

  • It doesn't matter what anyone else does.

If the Timbers tie (55 points):

  • Real Salt Lake must lose to or tie Chivas USA. (53-54 points)
  • The LA Galaxy must lose to or tie the Seattle Sounders. (52-53, 52-54 points)

If the Timbers lose (54 points):

  • Real Salt Lake must lose to Chivas. (53 points)
  • The LA Galaxy must tie the Seattle Sounders. (53,52 points)
  • The Colorado Rapids must lose to or tie the Vancouver Whitecaps. (51 points)

What needs to happen for the Timbers to win the Supporters' Shield?