We've reached the final week of the season with, of course, two games on deck. Both are crucial in very different ways and right now we take a look at what the playoff picture looks like with just one game left.
One aspect of things is pretty simple. FC Dallas will either be the #3 seed in the West and get a Wild Card round bye, playing their first playoff game either next Saturday or Sunday at Pizza Hut Park against Seattle Sounders. That is obviously the most simple option. For that scenario to take place, Dallas will need to better whatever result Real Salt Lake gets at home against Portland. If FCD can get more points in their game at San Jose than RSL gets at home against Portland, Dallas is the number 3 seed in the West and will face Seattle in a two-legged playoff, then the winner of LA/Lowest remaining seed.
There are pros and cons to this playoff track as it is much more difficult overall for Dallas, especially with the spectre of a leg 2 playoff game in a raucous Century Link Field looming with the winner of that game likely traveling to the Home Depot Center. However, that would allow Dallas to skip the wild card round, getting some much needed rest and taking out the danger that a one-game playoff round presents.
Keep reading for the much more muddled scenario of the #4 seed
The much more likely scenario, if Dallas fails to beat a San Jose team that has lost twice in its last 8 games, is falling to the #4 seed, and #1 wild card seed. If this happens, Dallas will(according to the MLS website) play at home on Wednesday night against the #10 overall seed. Should they win that game, they will then face the Eastern Conference #1 seed and potentially after that the winner of #2E vs #3E.
It's looking like the #10 seed will be the New York Red Bulls. They sit 3 points behind #9 and 3 points ahead of #11, though Portland has two games left to make up the 3 1/2 points(New York holds the tiebreaker). Should New York beat Philadelphia and Houston/Colorado lose next weekend, I really have no clue who would be the #10 seed and I'm not sure MLS does either. Still, the most likely scenario is that FC Dallas hosts New York on Wednesday night.
After that, a potential Eastern Conference Semifinal against the #1E could be literally one of four teams as SKC leads Philly on tiebreaker, Columbus by a point and Houston by two points. I'm sure a mathmetician could work it all out, but there's probably about 1,000 scenarios for Dallas should they lock into the #4 overall seed.
For a full look at the table, head to the excellent Setting the Table website.
Your dream playoff scenario?
So if you had your way, what is your preferred playoff scenario?
Personally, I would hope for FCD to finish #4 overall. It's a longer road, but with two weeks between conference finals and MLS Cup, it's something I think Dallas can handle. I would want a New York team in disarray for the wild card round as I simply don't think they can beat a Dallas team with its swagger back.
From there, I hope Dallas faces Columbus in a two-legged series that I believe Dallas would be favored in. The Crew are playing fair well right now with Mendoza leading the way, but I think Columbus would be an easier place to travel than Philadelphia or Kansas City.
In the Eastern Conference Final, I dream of a game at Sporting KC park. How great would a caravan of FCD fans up to Kansas City to play in what would be an amazing atmosphere be? I really just hope Dallas plays KC somewhere along the way so I can take another trip up to that beautiful stadium.