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Western logjam will go down to final day
by Ridge Mahoney, October 21st, 2009 7AM
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[MLS] Four Western Conference teams have qualified for the playoffs, and which ones will earn the top two seeds is anybody's guess. Tied at the top with 45 points are Los Angeles, Houston and Chivas USA and Seattle follows at 44.

They are listed in that order because that's how they currently stand as per the MLS tiebreaker formula, which separates tied teams by (a) head-to-head results; (b) goal difference; and (c) total goals scored.

The tiebreaker standings among the three tied teams are: Los Angeles (3-0-2, 11 points), Houston (1-1-1, 3 points), and Chivas USA (0-3-1, 1 point). The teams will not finish with an equal number of games because the Galaxy and Chivas USA played an extra game against each other. The Galaxy holds head-to-head tiebreakers against Houston (1-0-1) and Chivas USA (2-0-1).

Close behind is Seattle, which can win the conference title if it beats FC Dallas at home Saturday and its Western rivals fail to win, which is possible, since Chivas USA hosts Houston in their final game Sunday, after the Galaxy plays San Jose at Home Depot Center Saturday night.

This scenario can change pending Chivas USA's visit to Chicago Thursday night (TV: 8 p.m. ET, ESPN2). Chivas USA will take over first place in the West with a win or tie, and the tiebreaker standings could change, too, when it plays Houston.

Chivas USA will take over first place by beating the Fire, and a subsequent loss to the Dynamo would leave both teams with 48 points. In that scenario, Houston would have also won the head-to-head tiebreaker, since it beat Chivas USA, 1-0, in their previous meeting. However, if Chivas USA loses to the Fire but beats the Dynamo, the Western teams would again tie with 48 points, and would also be tied in head-to-head results with a win apiece. That would necessitate additional tiebreakers to separate the teams.

Seattle would win tiebreakers against the Galaxy (1-0-1) and Houston (1-0-1) but not against Chivas USA (0-2-1). Unless Chivas USA beats the Fire, the Sounders will enter the final weekend of play as one of four teams that could finish first, fourth, or somewhere in between.

Western Contenders:

Los Angeles
Chivas USA

*Columbus 13 6 10 41 30 49 +11
Chicago 10 7 12 38 34 42 +4
Toronto FC 10 10 9 37 41 39 -4
New England 10 10 9 32 37 39 -5
D.C. United 9 8 12 41 42 39 -1
+Kansas City 8 13 8 31 40 32 -9
+New York 4 19 6 22 47 18 -25
*Los Angeles 11 6 12 34 31 45 +3
*Houston 12 8 9 36 27 45 +9
*Chivas USA 13 9 6 32 27 45 +5
*Seattle 11 7 11 36 28 44 +8
Colorado 10 9 10 42 35 40 +7
FC Dallas 11 12 6 49 45 39 +4
Real Salt Lake 10 12 7 40 35 37 +5
+San Jose 7 13 9 36 48 30 -12
*=Clinched playoff berth.
+=Eliminated from playoff contention.

Thursday, Oct. 22
Chivas USA at Chicago Fire, 8:00 p.m. ET
(TV: ESPN2, ESPN Deportes)
Saturday, Oct. 24
Toronto FC at New York, 7:30 p.m. ET
D.C. United at Kansas City, 8:30 p.m. ET
Colorado at Real Salt Lake, 9:00 p.m. ET
FC Dallas at Seattle, 10:30 p.m. ET
San Jose at Los Angeles, 10:30 p.m. ET
Sunday, Oct. 25
Houston at Chivas USA, 3:00 p.m. ET
(TV: TeleFutura)
New England at Columbus, 5:00 p.m. ET
(ESPN2, Deportes)

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