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The Playoff Race
by Ridge Mahoney, October 17th, 2008 7AM

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[MLS] With its win over New England on Thursday, D.C. United climbed on top of a very tight group behind the five qualifiers: Columbus, Houston, New England, Chicago, and Chivas USA. Here's the current standings, with teams tied in points listed in order of tiebreaker superiority, if any, and remaining games. ...

6. Real Salt Lake (3rd in Western Conference), 36 points. FCD Dallas, @Colorado.
7. D.C. United, 37 points. @Columbus.
8. Kansas City, 36 points (wins head-to-head vs. New York). San Jose, @New England.
---------------------------------
9. New York, 36 points Columbus, @Chicago.
10. FC Dallas, 35 points. @Real Salt Lake, @Los Angeles.
11. Colorado, 34 points. @Chivas USA, Real Salt Lake.
12. Toronto, 32 points. Chicago, @San Jose.
13. Los Angeles, 32 points. @Houston, FC Dallas.
14. San Jose, 30 points. @Kansas City, Toronto FC.

If Real Salt Lake doesn't finish third, it may be in trouble, as it loses tiebreakers to New York and Kansas City and holds the edge over only San Jose. If New York and Kansas City tie, the Wizards get the slot.

How does D.C. stack up against its foes in tiebreakers? Not so well. It has lost the season series to Dallas and the only team it beats outright head-to-head is Toronto. Believe it or not, it has finished the regular season tied with the other six teams, either at 1-1 or 1-1-1.

The next tiebreaker is goal difference, and it is near the bottom at minus-7. Only TFC is worse at minus-8.

New York is the only team to have won the season series against three of its eight rivals: San Jose, Los Angeles and Real Salt Lake. But it has lost head-to-head against Colorado and Kansas City, and its minus-5 goal difference ain't great.

The good news for FC Dallas is a plus-6 goal differential and a head-to-head edge vs. United. The bad news is both of its remaining games are on the road and it needs to win one of them. Two ties probably won't get it done.

San Jose is not officially eliminated but it will be this weekend unless it beats Kansas City, New York loses to Columbus, Dallas loses in Salt Lake City, and Colorado doesn't beat Chivas USA.



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