The new math: What the Union need to make the playoffs
With three weeks left in the regular season, the equation comes down to six teams vying for three spots in the playoffs (with New York already having clinched a spot and assuming Kansas City is essentially safe). Here’s what it would take for each team to reach postseason paydirt.
(Listed are all the relevant stats, including the top three tiebreakers, in order, of wins, goals scored and goal differential.)
Let’s start with the Union:
Union (12-10-9, 45 points); 38 goals scored, even
Remaining schedule: at D.C. United, at Montreal, vs. Sporting KC
The line for playoff qualification could be drawn by the Union. If they could somehow get two wins, then there’s really no way I see a team with 51 points missing out on the top five. They’ve managed results against each of the three teams they have left, twice beating D.C. (we’ll throw out the lackadaisical performance in the U.S. Open Cup), drawing at home with Montreal and beating SKC at home two weeks ago. If they could even get five points, they might be good, though two draws on the road and needing a win at home in the season finale against KC is quite the predicament. Could three points get them there? Conceivably. But two wins in the next three would all but guarantee it.
Houston (13-10-8, 47 points); 39 goals scored, plus-2
vs. Sporting KC, vs. Red Bulls, at D.C. United
Every MLS team’s worst nightmare is the Dynamo going into the playoffs with a head of steam. The Union, though not in a position to be picky, probably wouldn’t want to see a team that they’ve lost to twice this season and that eliminated them from their only playoff appearance in 2011. The Dynamo are 3-0-1 in their last four, but they don’t have a win against either of their next two opponents this season (0-3-1). Kansas City has a chance to clinch a playoff spot this week with a win, but New York is already in, so we’ll see how hard they push in a trip to BBVA Compass Stadium. Houston could run the table, but realistically two wins and a draw put them out of the reach of the teams behind them.
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