As we head into the final week of the 2013 MLS regular season, LA Galaxy Insider Adam Serrano will break down the playoff chase from both conferences each week as we look ahead to the 2013 MLS Cup Playoffs.
CARSON, Calif. -- The LA Galaxy are through to the 2013 MLS Cup Playoffs for fifth year in a row and an MLS record 15th time in club history, but just where they’ll be seeded is anyone’s guess.
LA clinched a berth in the postseason with their scoreless draw against the San Jose Earthquakes on Sunday, but were eliminated from the chase for the Supporters’ Shield. The tie also helped Seattle Sounders FC qualify for the playoffs, despite their 2-0 defeat to FC Dallas, while the Colorado Rapids are all but assured of rounding out the field in the West.
Joining Seattle and LA in the playoffs will be the Portland Timbers and Real Salt Lake, who were able to clinch postseason berths after playing to a scoreless draw at JELD-WEN Field on Saturday. Portland’s qualification is their first in club history while RSL will be in the playoffs for the sixth year in a row, which is the longest current streak in MLS. The Galaxy’s draw with San Jose also essentially placed the fifth place Rapids in the postseason as the Earthquakes must win at home to Dallas on Saturday and hope that Colorado lose to Vancouver while also scoring at least 12 more goals than Colorado in order to sneak into the fifth spot in the playoffs.
Miracles aside, the five teams in the Western Conference playoffs are set, but with all five separated by just three points, the top spot in the West remains up for grabs.
First things first, the Galaxy can assure themselves a spot in the top three in the West if they earn a victory against Seattle at CenturyLink Field on Sunday. However, if LA draw they’ll need a Colorado loss or draw to avoid the Knockout Round game. Meanwhile, a loss to Seattle will see the Galaxy in the Knockout Round for a second consecutive season. If Seattle and Colorado earn victories on Sunday then the Galaxy will head to Commerce City for the Knockout Round as the fifth seed.
Despite the topsy-turvy nature of the season, the Galaxy still remain in the hunt for the top spot in the Western Conference, but would need some help from an unlikely source: Chivas USA. If the Rojiblancos are able to defeat or draw RSL at Rio Tinto Stadium on Oct. 23 and Portland on Oct. 26 at StubHub Center, and the Galaxy defeat Seattle, LA will clinch the top seed in the West as well as home-field advantage throughout the Western Conference playoffs. In case you were wondering, Chivas USA have won two straight games this year once this season, but that was back in late March when they managed victories against the Chicago Fire and Vancouver.
That scenario aside, if Portland and RSL earn victories against Chivas, they’ll clinch the first and second seeds respectively regardless of other results. Should either draw, they’ll risk being leapfrogged by the Galaxy in the result of an LA win over Seattle as the two-time defending MLS Cup champions would have more wins than both Portland and RSL, with wins being the first tiebreaker when deciding seeding in the MLS Cup Playoffs.
Out in the Eastern Conference, it gets far stickier as five teams remain alive for the bottom three playoff spots.
At the summit, the New York Red Bulls continued their push for the Supporters’ Shield with a 3-0 victory over the Houston Dynamo at BBVA Compass Stadium on Sunday. They can earn their first major trophy in club history if they can defeat the Chicago Fire this Saturday at Red Bull Arena. Should New York defeat or draw Chicago, it would allow the Dynamo to qualify for the postseason if they’re able to defeat D.C. United. Houston can also qualify for the postseason with a victory and losses or ties by the Montreal Impact and New England Revolution.
Currently in third place, Montreal is the club that needs the least amount of help heading into the final week as they can clinch their first ever postseason berth with a win over Toronto FC after they picked up a vital 2-1 victory against the Philadelphia Union this weekend. If Montreal were to draw, they’ll need victories from New England, Houston and a Chicago win where the Fire score six more goals than the Impact after Saturday’s game to miss out.
For fourth place Chicago, who defeated Toronto FC 1-0 this weekend to move into fourth place, the scenario is a simple one as they must derail New York’s Supporters’ Shield hopes with a victory in Harrison to qualify. If Chicago draw or lose to New York they’ll need some help by virtue of a Houston draw or loss, a New England Revolution draw or loss to the Columbus Crew or a Toronto victory over Montreal to return to the playoffs.
Meanwhile, after eliminating the Crew from postseason contention with a 3-2 victory last Saturday, the Revs need just a win over Columbus at Crew Stadium to earn their first postseason place since 2009. The Union remain alive for the postseason by the slimmest of margins, but will need to earn a victory against second-place Sporting Kansas City and hope for defeats by Houston along with New England.
If the season ended today:
Western Conference Knockout round: Seattle Sounders FC (Fourth seed) vs. Colorado Rapids (Fifth seed).
Western Conference Semifinals:
Semifinal No. 1: Portland Timbers (First seed) vs. Knockout Round winner (Lower seed hosts first leg)
Semifinal No. 2: Real Salt Lake (Second seed) vs. 3. LA Galaxy (Third seed)
Eastern Conference Knockout round: Chicago Fire (Fourth seed) vs. New England Revolution (Fifth seed).
Eastern Conference Semifinals:
Semifinal No. 1: New York Red Bulls (First seed) vs. Knockout Round winner (Lower seed hosts first leg)
Semifinal No. 2: Sporting Kansas City (Second seed) vs. 3. Montreal Impact (Third seed)
Adam Serrano is the LA Galaxy Insider. Read his blog at LAGalaxy.com/Insider and contact him at LAGalaxyInsider@Gmail.com