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2. MLS: The Playoff Implications
September 22nd, 2006 2:34AM

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All 12 MLS teams, each with four games left in the regular season, take the field on Saturday. The top four teams in each six-team conference qualifying for the playoffs. Here's how the six games could affect the playoff race:

Saturday, Sept. 23
D.C. UNITED-NEW YORK
TV:
7:30 pm ET, Fox Soccer Channel, Direct Kick, Comcast Mid-Atlantic, MSG.
D.C. United has already clinched a playoff spot and will clinch first in the East and home-field advantage (should it reach the one-game semifinal) if it beats New York on Saturday.
New York is one point out of a playoff spot, trailing fourth-place Kansas City, which it plays in its season finale.

NEW ENGLAND-KANSAS CITY
TV:
7:30 pm ET, Direct Kick, KC Metro Sports, WLVI-TV 56 Boston (CW 56).
Third-place New England, last year's runner-up, has a five-point lead over East rival Kansas City, which has a one-point lead over New York. The Wizards are trying to avoid missing the playoffs for a second-straight season. New England can clinch with a win if New York losses to D.C. United.

FC DALLAS-REAL SALT LAKE
TV:
8:30 pm ET, Direct Kick, FSN Utah.
Dallas, which is hosting MLS Cup, will clinch a playoff spot with a tie or a win. Salt Lake is three points behind fourth-place Colorado but would loss the head-to-head tiebreaker with the Rapids.

CHICAGO-LOS ANGELES
TV:
8:30 pm ET, HDNET.
Chicago clinches with a win. Defending Los Angeles is in dire straits, in last-place, six points out of the playoff zone, and will lose the head-to-head tiebreaker with Colorado.

CHIVAS USA-COLORADO
TV:
10 pm ET, Direct Kick, FSN Prime Ticket.
The two teams are tied on 39 points in the West's bottom two playoff spots. A tie or win would give Chivas USA the head-to-head edge were they to end up tied on points with Colorado. Chivas USA must cope with loss of Francisco Palencia to a knee injury.

COLUMBUS-HOUSTON
TV: none.
Columbus, MLS's worst team on 26 points, will be eliminated from playoff contention if it loses and New York beats D.C. United or Kansas City beats New England. Houston qualifies for the playoffs with three wins in its last four games regardless of other results.


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