Team celebrates Nick LaBrocca's goal vs NE
Bart Young / Colorado Rapids

It's a guessing game! Who will emerge from the West?

As we approach the end of August, the MLS playoff picture, in either of the two conferences, is not a great deal clearer.

Without a fixture at the weekend, the Rapids slipped from second to third in the Western Conference standings.

LA Galaxy, courtesy of a wonder striker from Landon Donovan, edged above the Rapids.

Seattle’s home win over Portland keeps the Timbers in fourth, while the Sounders moved into the playoff places.

Real Salt Lake have a five point cushion at the top of the West, though they have played more games.

In all, 11 points separate leaders RSL with San Jose Earthquakes, who are eighth. The Quakes are only three points off of fifth spot.

Here is an updated look at the playoff contenders, highlighting some of the games remaining:

  1. Real Salt Lake – 45pts (from 27 games)
    RSL are sitting pretty at the top of the standings, and have seven games remaining. Among those is a home and away meeting with Portland Timbers, plus trips to Seattle and Vancouver.
  2. LA Galaxy – 40pts (25)
    The Galaxy are beginning to move up through the gears, and have nine games to go, plus Champions League commitments. They are likely to be without key players during the first part of September – the time when the Rapids travel to California – due to World Cup qualifiers. Opponents include San Jose and Seattle (home and away), Colorado (H), Portland (A) and Montreal (H).
  3. COLORADO RAPIDS – 39pts (26)
    With eight games remaining, the Rapids have their destiny very much in their own hands. They have home games against FC Dallas, Seattle and Vancouver to come. They also face tough road trips, starting with this weekend at a wounded Sporting KC, as well as LA, Portland, San Jose and Vancouver.
  4. Portland Timbers – 39pts (25)
    Six points from the last six games maybe a sign of weary limbs due to fixture congestion, and there’s worse to come for the Timbers. They still have to face RSL twice (home and away), tackle Seattle, LA and the Rapids (all at home), and go to Vancouver.
  5. Seattle Sounders – 37pts (23)
    Although the Sounders have acquired Clint Dempsey and are beginning to build momentum, they must also guard against burn-out in the final weeks of the regular season, as they still have 11 games to play. These include a home game against RSL, home and away meetings with the Galaxy, as well as visits to the Rapids, the Timbers and Dallas.
  6. FC Dallas – 37pts (26)
    Dallas showed plenty of spirit to snatch a point at home to San Jose on Saturday, and they’ll need more of the same in the coming weeks, with trips to Commerce City, New York, Salt Lake City and San Jose to come, plus home games with Vancouver and Seattle.
  7. Vancouver Whitecaps – 36pts (25)
    Looking at the run-in for the Whitecaps, as well as their current form, and Vancouver fans may wonder whether they’ll be left looking on when the playoffs get underway. Four points from a possible 18 will be a cause for concern. To come, the Whitecaps have road games to Dallas, San Jose, Montreal, Seattle and the Rapids. They also face RSL, Portland the Rapids at home.
  8. San Jose Earthquakes – 34pts (26)
    The unpredictable Quakes have toyed with the idea of breaking into the top five in recent weeks. Time is slowly running out, and they face testing trips to LA Galaxy (twice) and RSL. They do have three home games in a row, against Philadelphia, Vancouver and Montreal, which could be their make or break. The Rapids go to San Jose on October 9.