MLS Spotlight: A Look At The Eastern Conference Playoff Race


Staff Writer

Nine points separate first from sixth in both conferences in probably one of the most competitive playoff races in league history. Add in extra fixtures from the US Open Cup as well as the CONCACAF Champions League and the playoff race gets as complicated as it does competitive.

In order to make sense of the noisy playoff race, let’s use some math. Don’t worry – the math isn’t complicated – just some adding, multiplying and subtracting.

For this, we are going to multiply the sixth placed team’s total remaining games by three to determine the maximum points they can get, add that total to their current points total and then subtract the sum from the current point totals of each team, first through fifth. Add one to that difference because equaling the points total could potentially lead to tie-breakers being factored in.

Eastern Conference

The Philadelphia Union are in sixth right now with 39 points. They have five games remaining meaning 15 possible points to gain. That means the most points they can get is 54. That makes 55 points the total necessary to guarantee a playoff berth in the East.

The New York Red Bulls lead the Eastern Conference with 48 points. To clinch a playoff berth, they will need seven points from their final five games. Their remaining schedule: FC Dallas (Home), Seattle (Away), New England (Home), Houston (Away), Chicago (Home). If the Red Bulls can’t get seven points from three home games, then they don’t deserve their current standing.

The Montreal Impact are in second with 45 points. To clinch a playoff berth, they will need ten points in seven games. Their remaining schedule: San Jose (CCL, Away), Vancouver (Home), Heredia (CCL, Home), Chicago (Away), Houston (Away), New England (Home), LA Galaxy (Away), Philadelphia (Home), Toronto FC (Away). While not necessarily a gauntlet, there is no easy game until their last game at Toronto. The four game stretch starting from tomorrow to the 28th will make or break their CCL and supporters shield chances.

Sporting Kansas City are level with the Impact on points but sit a place behind because of goals for. That still means they need ten points to clinch a berth with only six games to get that total. Their schedule: Real Esteli (CCL, Home), Toronto FC (Away), Philadelphia (Home), Columbus (Away), Houston (Away), DC United (Home), Olimpia (CCL, Home), Philadelphia (Home). The two games against the Union can be enough for SKC to clinch because if they win each game, they are in the playoffs because the combined total of points won by SKC and lost by the Union will be 12.

The Houston Dynamo and the Chicago Fire are in fourth and fifth but since they are only one point ahead of the Union, any mathematical look at their chances to clinch have limited bearing.

  • ElMetrofan

    Yeah, looks like Top of the East is going to come down to KC and NY.