Final Rapids Playoff Race Scenarios!

COMMERCE CITY CO (Updated Oct. 23) – For the third consecutive year your Colorado Rapids enter the final game of the regular season against rivals Real Salt Lake with their postseason fate on the line.
After falling to FC Dallas over the weekend the Rapids' final opportunity to solidify their playoff position will come this Saturday Oct. 24 when they travel to Rio Tinto Stadium to take on their Rocky Mountain Cup rivals.
In the final week of the MLS regular season six teams will contend for the two remaining berths in the MLS Cup Playoffs.
It is easily the tightest playoff chase in MLS history.
Six teams have clinched passage to the postseason: Columbus Houston Los Angeles Chivas USA Chicago and Seattle.
Three teams have been eliminated from playoff contention: New York San Jose and Kansas City.
The top seed in the Western Conference could be won by Chivas USA Houston Los Angeles or Seattle. All the conference semifinal matchups are up in the air.
The Rapids (10-9-10 40 points) are currently fifth in the Western Conference and in position for one of the two remaining wildcard spots in the playoff race. Real Salt Lake are just three points behind Colorado and would need to win this Saturday and get help with other MLS results to earn their second consecutive playoff nod.
Colorado could still clinch a playoff spot with a draw or loss against RSL depending on the other MLS results in Week 32.
The Rapids are 1-0-1 against Real Salt Lake this season posting a 2-0 win on May 2 at Dick’s Sporting Goods Park and earning a 1-1 draw on June 6 at Rio Tinto Stadium.
This marks another tense encounter in this growing rivalry. When they met in last season’s finale Real Salt Lake clinched a playoff berth while ousting Colorado from contention with a 90th-minute goal by Yura Movsisyan at Dick’s Sporting Goods Park. The Rapids have a chance to return the favor as a minimum of a tie would eliminate RSL and could clinch Colorado’s postseason berth.
Adding to the excitement RSL likely need to win by at least two goals to overcome the goal differential with Colorado which could be a deciding factor in playoff tiebreakers.
If the MLS Cup Playoffs started today Columbus would qualify as the top team in the East with the Chicago Fire taking the second automatic berth. Los Angeles and Houston would be the automatic qualifiers from the Western Conference.
The Rapids would capture the fourth wildcard position in the West sending them to the Eastern Conference bracket and a match-up vs. Columbus. Chivas USA earn the first wildcard while Seattle garners the second wildcard spot. Toronto FC currently are in position to earn the only wildcard berth in the East.
If the season were to end today five teams out of the Western Conference would qualify for the playoffs.
Below are some of the permutations of this week’s games. This list is not comprehensive but rather is intended to simplify (somewhat) the scenarios facing each club on the bubble of the MLS Cup Playoffs.
The Colorado Rapids will qualify for the MLS Cup Playoffs IF:
Colorado defeat Real Salt Lake on Saturday OR
Colorado ties Real Salt Lake AND
The four teams on 39 points all lose or all tie OR IF
Only one of TOR NE DC and FCD win
Note: If Colorado lose to Real Salt Lake they hope to do so by less than a two-goal margin and that less than two teams with 39 points win this week.
Real Salt Lake need to defeat Colorado on Saturday and hope that no more than one of the teams on 39 points wins. Unless all four teams with 39 points lose RSL need to defeat Colorado by more than a one-goal margin because a win leaves them tied on points and in head-to-head (1-1-1) so goal differential could decide their fate.
If two or more teams tied on 39 points win or if two or more tie on 40 points along with RSL (in the case of an RSLwin) there are some concurrent results that will favor them based on tiebreakers. This is a brief overview of what will help each team:
D.C. United
If DC is the only team tied on 39 points to win they will qualify
If DC wins and Colorado wins AND New England OR Toronto win they cannot qualify (unless DAL DC AND TOR win – decided by goal differential)
In the case of a tie on 40 points (RSL win DC tie) DC will qualify ONLY if FC Dallas AND DC tie or if DAL AND DC AND TOR tie
FC Dallas
If FC Dallas is the only team tied on 39 points to win they will qualify
If FC Dallas wins and Colorado wins FC Dallas must hope that DC or New England do not win as this lessens their chances
In the case of a tie on 40 points (RSL win DAL tie) FC Dallas must hope that DC does not also tie

New England Revolution
If New England is the only team tied on 39 points to win they will qualify
If New England wins and Colorado wins New England must hope that Toronto does not also win (unless ONLY DAL and NE win)
If New England wins and Colorado loses or ties the ONLY way New England will NOT qualify is if DAL AND NE AND TOR (ONLY) WIN
In the case of a multiple tie on 40 points (RSL win NE tie) New England must hope DC ALSO ties or TOR does not tie (unless all four on 39 tie)
Toronto FC
If Toronto is the only team tied on 39 points to win they will qualify
If Toronto wins and Colorado wins TOR must hope FC Dallas does NOT win – unless ALL four teams on 39 points win (DAL AND DC AND NE AND TOR)
If Toronto wins and Colorado loses or ties Toronto is all but assured of qualifying
In the case of a multiple tie on 40 points (RSL win TOR tie) TOR is all but assured of qualifying UNLESS DAL NE AND TOR all tie
First tie-breaker: The highest position shall be awarded to the team with the better win/loss record in current regular season games against all other teams equal in points. (head-to-head competition) If two teams are tied in points-per-game atop such a tiebreaker the top team is determined by goal differential. Below are the records of each of the teams vying for a playoff spot. As an example Toronto FC would prefer to finish the season tied on points with D.C. United and New England than it would with Chicago and FC Dallas.
HEAD-TO-HEAD RECORDS (W-L-T) OF SIX "BUBBLE" TEAMS
vs vs vs vs vs vs
TEAM COL DAL DC NE RSL TOR
Colorado Rapids --- 1-1-1 1-1-0 0-0-2 1-0-1 1-1-0
FC Dallas 1-1-1 --- 0-1-1 1-1-0 1-1-0 1-0-1
D.C. United 1-1-0 1-0-1 --- 0-1-1 0-1-1 0-1-1
New England Revolution 0-0-2 1-1-0 1-0-1 --- 1-1-0 0-1-1
Real Salt Lake 0-1-1 1-1-0 1-0-1 1-1-0 --- 1-1-0
Toronto FC 1-1-0 0-1-1 1-0-1 1-0-1 1-1-0 ---
CURRENT PLAYOFF POSITIONS AS OF 10/23/09
(Rank Team Current Points Remaining Games)


Eastern Conference:
1. y - Columbus (49) [1]
2. x - Chicago (45)
3. Toronto FC (39) [1]>
---------------------------------------
4. New England (39) [1]
5. DC United (39) [1]
6. z - Kansas City (32) [1]
7. z - New York (18) [1]

Western Conference:
1. x - Los Angeles (45) [1]*
2. x - Houston (45) [1]#
3. x - Chivas USA (45) [1]
4. x - Seattle (44) [1]
5. Colorado (40) [1]^
---------------------------------------
6. FC Dallas (39) [1]
7. Real Salt Lake (37) [1]
8. z - San Jose (30) [1]

Key:
Above dotted line=currently in playoff position
x: clinched playoff berth
y: clinched conference championship
z: eliminated from playoff contention
-Teams under the dotted lines are not currently in playoff position
-Top 2 teams in each conference receive automatic berths in MLS Cup Playoffs
-Next 4 teams in points regardless of conference get wildcard berths in MLS Cup Playoffs
> Toronto holds four-way tie-breaker over N. England DC and Dallas (points per game).
* LA holds three-way tie-breaker over Houston & Chivas (points per game).
# Houston holds tie-breaker over Chivas (head-to-head).
^ Colorado becomes the #4 seed in the Eastern Conference bracket.
IF THE SEASON ENDED TODAY
If the season ended today the eight teams below would qualify for the playoffs. They are listed according to their would-be opponents. The first round is a two-game aggregate goals playoff series.

Eastern Conference Semifinals
#1 Columbus Crew vs. #4 Colorado Rapids
#2 Chicago Fire vs. #3 Toronto FC

Western Conference Semifinals
#1 Los Angeles Galaxy vs. #4 Seattle Sounders FC
#2 Houston Dynamo vs. #3 Chivas USA
The Conference Championship is a one-game winner take all match played at the home stadium of the team with the better regular season record.

MLS CUP 2009
Sun. Nov. 22 6:30pm MT (TV: ESPN & TeleFutura) at Qwest Field in Seattle WA
QUALIFICATION AND SEEDING RULES
- Eight teams qualify for the 2009 MLS Cup Playoffs.
- Playoff berths will be determined by points in the standings upon the completion of the regular season; all 15 teams will have played 30 games.
- The top two teams in each conference qualify and are seeded 1 & 2 in their respective four-team playoff conference brackets.
- The four MLS teams with the next most points regardless of conference receive "wildcard" berths.
- The four wildcard teams will be seeded according to conference first.
- If more than four teams qualify from one conference the team finishing lower than fourth in its conference will shift over to the other conference bracket.
- A team switching conference brackets will be seeded below all other teams in its new conference playoff bracket.
For complete MLS playoff qualification guidelines and tiebreaking procedures click here.
MLS GAMES THIS WEEK
(All times Mountain)
Thursday October 22
Chivas USA 0 at Chicago 1
Saturday October 24
Toronto FC at New York- 5:30
D.C. United at Kansas City- 6:30
Colorado at Real Salt Lake- 7:00
San Jose at Los Angeles- 8:30
FC Dallas at Seattle- 8:30
Sunday October 25
Houston at Chivas USA- 1:00
New England at Columbus- 3:00
RECENT RESULTS
Sunday October 18
Houston 0 vs Los Angeles 0
Saturday October 17
Toronto FC 1 vs Real Salt Lake 0
New England 0 vs Chicago 0
D.C. United 1 vs Columbus 0
FC Dallas 2 vs Colorado 1
Seattle 3 at Kansas City 2
Chivas USA 2 vs San Jose 2
Wednesday October 14
Real Salt Lake 2 vs New York 0
PLAYOFF TICKETS
Ticket information and on-sale dates for potential Rapids playoff games will be announced soon; for questions regarding season tickets or for any of the remaining Rapids regular season home matches please call the Rapids Ticket Hotline at (303) 825-GOAL.