MLS Cup Playoffs Race Update - Week of Oct. 1

NEW YORK (Updated 10/1/07) – Following their loss at New England on Saturday your Colorado Rapids enter this coming weekend's MLS action four points out of the eighth and final playoff spot.
Your Rapids can help their playoff positioning with a win and three points on Sunday vs. Toronto. They can leapfrog Columbus (31 points) and pull within 1 point of Chicago (33 points) with a Rapids win coupled with losses by both of those clubs this week.
The only way the Rapids can be eliminated from playoff contention this weekend is with a loss to Toronto coupled with a Chicago win vs. New England.
In other MLS news four teams so far have clinched playoff berths while the remaining four spots are up for grabs in a tightly-contested race to the finish. FC Dallas Kansas City and New York can punch their tickets to the playoffs this week while Real Salt Lake was eliminated and Toronto FC’s chances hang by a thread.
Heading into the last weekend of September FC Dallas and New York had a chance to clinch a playoff berth but could not overcome tough opponents as FC Dallas lost 3-0 to the Western Conference-leading Houston Dynamo and the New York Red Bulls tied Real Salt Lake – a team eliminated from playoff contention but trying to end the season on a strong note.
The Red Bulls travel to face Toronto FC on Thursday Oct. 4 in the ESPN2 primetime match at 5 p.m. MT and they could clinch a playoff berth with a win or if Columbus and Los Angeles fail to win over the weekend.
FC Dallas will clinch a spot with a win or tie over Columbus on Saturday as Columbus are the only team that could catch them in the overall standings with 40 points. The Crew sit in ninth place with 31 points but can earn a maximum of 40 points if they win the remainder of their games. The Wizards are the only other team that can clinch a spot this weekend but they need to win and hope that the Crew and the Los Angeles Galaxy both fail to win.
When the regular season ends on Oct. 21 the team with the most points will win the Supporters’ Shield and will qualify for the 2008 CONCACAF Champions Cup. Ten MLS teams have three games remaining and three teams have four games left including the Los Angeles Galaxy who are 3-0-1 in their last four games.
Below are the scenarios in which teams could clinch or be eliminated this week:

THIS WEEK'S SCENARIOS
FC Dallas will clinch a playoff spot IF:
-FC Dallas tie or defeat Columbus on Saturday
Kansas City Wizards will clinch a playoff spot IF:
-Kansas City defeat D.C. United on Friday AND
Columbus Crew fail to win on Saturday AND
Los Angeles Galaxy fail to win on Sunday
New York Red Bulls will clinch a playoff spot IF:
-New York defeat Toronto FC on Thursday OR
-Columbus fail to win versus FC Dallas on Saturday AND
Los Angeles fail to win versus Houston on Sunday
Toronto FC will be mathematically eliminated from playoff contention IF:
-Toronto FC fail to win against New York on Thursday OR
-Chicago tie or defeat New England on Saturday OR
-Toronto FC fail to win against Colorado on Sunday

CURRENT PLAYOFF POSITIONS (AS OF 10/1/07)
Team Points Games Left Max Pts.
*D.C. United 53 3 62
*NE Revolution 49 3 58
*Chivas USA 48 4 60
*Houston Dynamo 48 3 57
FC Dallas 40 3 49
NY Red Bulls 39 3 48
Kansas City Wizards 36 3 45
Chicago Fire 33 3 42
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Columbus Crew 31 3 40
Colorado Rapids 29 3 38
LA Galaxy 27 4 39
#Real Salt Lake 24 3 33
Toronto FC 21 4 33
Key:
*Have clinched a playoff spot
#Eliminated from playoff contention
Top 4 teams – Automatic berths in MLS Cup Playoffs
Next 4 teams – Wildcard berths in MLS Cup Playoffs
Beneath line - Currently not in playoff position
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 in two-game aggregate goals playoff series:
Eastern Conference Semifinals
D.C. United vs. Kansas City Wizards
New England Revolution vs. New York Red Bulls
Western Conference Semifinals
Houston Dynamo vs. Chicago Fire*
Chivas USA vs. FC Dallas
*As the fifth team to qualify from the Eastern Conference Chicago would shift over to become the fourth seed in the Western Conference playoff bracket. Full qualification and seeding procedure is below.
MLS CUP PLAYOFF SCHEDULE
EASTERN CONFERENCE SEMIFINALS:
Game 1: Thurs. Oct. 25 – Sun. Oct. 28
Game 2: Thurs. Nov. 1 – Sun. Nov. 4
WESTERN CONFERENCE SEMIFINALS:
Game 1: Thurs. Oct. 25 – Sun. Oct. 28
Game 2: Thurs. Nov. 1 – Sun. Nov. 4
CONFERENCE FINALS :
Thurs. Nov. 8 teams and site TBD (ESPN2)
Sat. Nov. 10 teams and site TBD
MLS CUP 2007
Sun. Nov. 18 10am MST (ABC) at RFK Stadium in Washington D.C.
QUALIFICATION AND SEEDING
-Eight teams qualify for the 2007 MLS Cup Playoffs
-Playoff berths will be determined by points in the standings upon the completion of the regular season on Oct. 21; all 13 teams will have played 30 games.
-If two teams are tied on points the first tiebreaker is head-to-head results the second tiebreaker is goal differential and the third is goals scored for the season.
-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 those finishing lower than fourth in their 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.
MLS GAMES THIS WEEK
(All times Mountain)
Thursday October 4
New York Red Bulls at Toronto FC 5:00 p.m. (ESPN2)
Friday October 5
D.C. United at Kansas City Wizards 6:00 p.m.
Saturday October 6
FC Dallas at Columbus Crew 5:30 p.m. (FSC FSE)
New England Revolution at Chicago Fire 6:30 p.m.
Chivas USA at Real Salt Lake 7:00 p.m. (HDNet delayed 8 PM)
Sunday October 7
Los Angeles Galaxy at Houston Dynamo 1:00 p.m. (TeleFutura)
Toronto FC at Colorado Rapids 6:00 p.m.