The 2017 Major League Soccer regular season is coming to a close, with only two more Soccer Sundays.
FC Dallas currently sit in sixth place in the Western Conference, in the final playoff spot.
If you’re unfamiliar with the current MLS playoff system, the top 6 teams in each conference make the postseason. From there, the top two seeds get a bye for the first round, and there’s two game series between 3rd and 6th, and 4th and 5th.
The important thing to take from there is that you need to finish 6th or higher. No wild card.
Currently, FC Dallas are in an okay position. They’ve won 10 of their 32 games, and have 43 points in the standings. That puts them one point clear of both the San Jose Earthquakes and Real Salt Lake, and 3 points behind the Houston Dynamo. These four teams are the only ones who can make the playoffs in the West but have not yet clinched a spot.
So, every team in MLS has two games remaining. Dallas is playing the currently 4th place Seattle Sounders this Sunday, and hosting the currently 11th place LA Galaxy the following Sunday.
Here are the possible scenarios by which FC Dallas make the 2017 MLS Cup Playoffs:
- Win both games. With two wins and six points to finish the season, Dallas cannot be passed by either RSL or San Jose, and could actually finish as high as second in the west depending on what all happens. This is obviously the ideal strategy, because in sports, winning is generally the goal.
- Win one game, draw one game. This puts FC Dallas at 47 points. With that, we would need some luck, and for some dropped points by two of the other three teams fighting to get in. As long as none of the other three at-large teams win both, we’re in.
- Win one game, lose one game. This will put us more than a win ahead of San Jose and RSL. They would need a win and a draw minimum to bump us out.
- Draw both games, while RSL and San Jose draw or lose both. If we don’t win a game, and one of them do, we’re screwed.
- Lose both, if, somehow, Houston and/or San Jose and/or RSL also lost both remaining games That puts us in by default, but that’s a lot to ask for, and also is the far and away worst strategy.
Dallas has stopped losing for now, and is on a three game unbeaten streak. We also have the weakest opposition for the remaining two games out of the four at-large teams, so winning both isn’t out of the question. However, Dallas has only won once in Seattle, and that was a 1-0 win back in May of 2011. The previous two trips to Seattle saw a composite score of 0-8, and that’s about as bad as it gets. But, Seattle has some injured players, and Mauro Diaz looks a bit more confident on his feet, so it’s not an impossible feat.
Meanwhile, beating LA at home, that’s about as easy as it gets. We have a 4 game unbeaten run against LA, and the Galaxy haven’t won on the road since June. They’re also rocking a 6 game winless streak, with two 4-0 shutout losses. They’re an absolute mess this season, and that’s just perfect to make things as easy as possible for our final regular season game. I’m optimistic about our chances.
But really, we spent more than half the season in the top three, so the mere fact that we’re still fighting for a playoff spot is incredibly irritating.
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