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Digging deep into the messy Western Conference playoff race

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FC Dallas may control their destiny but its in muddy waters.

MLS: Seattle Sounders FC at FC Dallas Matthew Emmons-USA TODAY Sports

The home stretch is here for the 2017 Major League Soccer season. The majority of the league has two games to go as the next two Sundays will reveal who will be in and who will be getting an early start to their offseason shopping.

We won’t dive into the Eastern Conference playoff race since all six teams that are going to the post season have already clinched and we know Toronto FC will hold the home field advantage throughout the post season thanks to their Supporters’ Shield win.

The Western Conference used to be the stable one in MLS but this season has been nothing short of a mess.

Just to recap you all, here is what our current standings look like at the moment before Houston and SKC kick off tonight:

So. Damn. Tight.

There isn’t a lot of room for error for the teams 2-8. Minnesota, Colorado and LA are already eliminated so we won’t focus on them much.

Here is what each team has left and how I think things will be in the end.

Vancouver Whitecaps

Remaining Matches (2): Oct 15 vs. SJ, Oct 22 at POR

The Caps are in the playoffs, that much we know. But now it will be all about getting that top seed locked down. Their three points gap actually feels like a lot at this point but they’ll still need all the points they can get in these final two.

Estimated points from final games: 4

Sporting Kansas City

Remaining Matches (3): Oct 11 at HOU, Oct 15 vs. HOU, Oct 22 at RSL

Tonight’s game at Houston is a make up game for the Hurricane Harvey weekend a little while back. That will resolve the games-in-hand for both sides and if SKC wins or draws they are then officially into the playoffs.

SKC failed to clinch a spot last week and now will have to figure how to do it without keeper Tim Melia. They get Houston twice this week before going to RSL.

Estimated points from final games: 5

Portland Timbers

Remaining Matches (2): Oct 15 vs. DC, Oct 22 vs. VAN

Portland is another team that failed to clinch last weekend but now they have two straight home games to wrap up the regular season. One should be straight forward with DCU coming into town this weekend, the other won’t be as easy with Vancouver looking to lock up a top seed in the West.

Estimated points from final games: 4

Seattle Sounders

Remaining Matches (2): Oct 15 vs. DAL, Oct 22 vs. COL

A running theme here as Seattle too was a team that could have clinched last week and failed to do so. They host FCD this weekend before hosting Colorado in the finale. I would argue they have the easiest path to a top seed out of the three clubs around them. At the least they should be a team that holds down home field advantage in the Knockout Round.

Estimated points from final games: 6

Houston Dynamo

Remaining Matches (3): Oct 11 vs. SKC, Oct 15 at SKC, Oct 22 vs. CHI

Houston has the double-dip with SKC this week before wrapping things up with a tough Chicago team that will be looking to secure a home field advantage in at least the Knockout Round in the East. They do have an important advantage on FCD at the moment in the goals differential department but that could end up not mattering with these three games.

Estimated points from final games: 2

FC Dallas

Remaining Matches (2): Oct 15 at SEA, Oct 22 vs. LA

We know this group screwed the pooch last weekend by not picking up a win in Colorado. This weekend won’t be an easy out in Seattle, a place that this club has rarely seen success in. A draw would be fantastic but we know that could be a stretch. The home finale against LA is an absolute must-win.

Estimated points from final games: 3

Real Salt Lake

Remaining Matches (2): Oct 15 at COL, Oct 22 vs. SKC

RSL has been a team on a mission these last couple of months. Right now they’re a point behind us and Houston the standings so they know everything matters here. Going to Colorado won’t be easy as the Rapids would love to play spoiler. That SKC game at the end of the season won’t be a picnic either.

Estimated points from final games: 2

San Jose Earthquakes

Remaining Matches (2): Oct 15 at VAN, Oct 22 vs. MIN

Somehow San Jose is still in this thing here but their schedule isn’t easy either at this point with their trip to Vancouver this weekend. They’re keeping pace though each week and that is what makes them dangerous. I don’t think they’ll get points this weekend but they’ll get help.

Estimated points from final games: 3

So my best guess final standings should look something like this:

  1. Vancouver - 55 points
  2. Seattle Sounders - 53 points
  3. Sporting KC - 53 points
  4. Portland Timbers - 51 points
  5. FC Dallas - 46 points
  6. San Jose Earthquakes 45 points
  7. Houston Dynamo - 45 points
  8. Real Salt Lake - 44 points

Seattle and San Jose would then hold the tiebreakers to edge out the KC and Houston respectively (its number of wins, then goal differential).

No matter what the West is super messy. It wouldn’t shock me to see any number of different orders to this final standings come October 22. After this weekend we’ll have a better understanding of all the playoff scenarios. We’ll bring those to you as soon as they are made available to us.

How do you see the final two weeks playing out?