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Magic Hate Ball: Playoff Possibilities

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What circumstances could get the Timbers into the playoffs?

Jaime Valdez-USA TODAY Sports

Thanks for nothing Seattle Sounders, Real Salt Lake, LA Galaxy, and FC Dallas. The Galaxy lost to Dallas, clinching a playoff spot for FCD and leaving the door open for a Sounders' Supporters' Shield win, Salt Lake beat the Chicago Fire and put themselves out of reach for the Timbers, and, most damning of all, the Sounders lost to the Vancouver Whitecaps, putting the Timbers back below the red line.

The weekend's results went about as poorly as could be for the Portland Timbers, leaving the Timbers with no choice but to earn as many points as possible and hope that their only remaining competition for a playoff spot, the Whitecaps, slip up.

The Red Line 10/12

(Points, Games Played, Points per Game, Wins, Losses, Ties, Goals For, Goals Against, Goal Differential, etc.)

Only a single point back from Vancouver, the Timbers have two matches in which to make up the deficit, one at home against Real Salt Lake and another on the road against Dallas. For their part, the Whitecaps have a match on the road against the San Jose Earthquakes and one at home against the Colorado Rapids.

Let's take a moment to break down the different scenarios and see just what could happen.

From two games a team can take zero, one, two, three, four, or six points.


VAN
POR 0 points 1 point 2 points 3 points 4 points 6 points
0 points VAN VAN VAN VAN VAN VAN
1 point POR* VAN VAN VAN VAN VAN
2 points POR POR VAN VAN VAN VAN
3 points POR POR POR VAN VAN VAN
4 points POR POR POR POR* VAN VAN
6 points POR POR POR POR POR* VAN

*Barring some extreme changes to the Timbers' and Whitecaps' goal differentials.

There is nothing surprising here. With both teams on eleven wins, a tie is going to go to the Timbers' superior goal differential.

The Whitecaps are arguably the hottest team in the league with a three game winning streak, including wins against each of the three teams already to have clinched a playoff spot in the West.

The 'Caps have had three-game winning runs before, but they have always topped out there. Around the league, however, there have been three five-win runs in 2014, two of which belong to the New England Revolution.

As mentioned over the weekend, the Timbers are not known for going on long game winning runs of their own, topping out at two regular season victories in a row since joining MLS. The best-case scenario for the Timbers, six points from the next two games and in total a four-win run, is much more common than what the Whitecaps are looking to achieve. In 2014 there have been nine runs of four wins or more across the league.

The Timbers' fate is not quite in their own hands, but it is about 42% in their own hands, which is pretty darn good for a team that only picked up five points from the first two months of league play.