Eight. Points. That is what separates FC Dallas from their conference opponents after the first weekend in September.
With the FIFA International window open, there were only six MLS games in Week 26, and only five Western Conference teams in action - three of which faced Eastern foes.
FC Dallas maintained their year-long unbeaten streak at home with a 3-1 win over Portland. Vancouver dropped a 1-0 game at home to the New York Red Bulls. Colorado lost 2-0 away at New England. And the LA Galaxy beat Columbus at home, 2-1.
|#||Team||Points||Record||Games Rem.||Goal Diff.|
|2||Real Salt Lake||43||12-8-7||7||2|
|7||San Jose Earthquakes||32||7-8-11||8||-3|
|8||Seattle Sounders FC||31||9-13-4||8||-4|
What It Means:
With Colorado's loss on the road (and to an Eastern opponent at that), coupled with FCD's win at home, Dallas controls their own destiny with eyes on the top spot and the Supporters' Shield. Opening up a big four-day stretch at Toyota Stadium, the Rapids visit Frisco on Saturday night with a chance to close that gap or fall further behind.
The Galaxy earned their first win in weeks to make it a three-way tie for second place in the West at 43 points. The Rapids hold a game in-hand over LA and Real Salt Lake in the fight for a berth in the Conference Semifinal round, bypassing the Knockout Round games.
San Jose and Seattle had luck on their side with Portland's defeat this weekend, as they're now 3 and 4 points back of the Timbers, respectively, with two games in-hand down the stretch. Capitalizing on those games is crucial if either side is to make the playoffs. Vancouver, on the other hand, is right there in terms of points, but with just 6 games left, will need to make quick work from the rest of their schedule to keep playoff hopes alive after their loss this weekend.
The Week Ahead:
It's a double-match week for both RSL and LA as the two sides meet on Wednesday night. Either side could make a claim at the No. 2 spot by week's end with a couple positive results.
Sporting KC will host the Dynamo on Friday night in need of a result. SKC has one win in their last four games and has allowed the teams below them to close the gap on their 5th seed. A win over the lowly Dynamo would go a long way in their playoff hunt.
The biggest match of the week will undoubtedly be in Frisco, as FCD and Colorado meet for the final time in the regular season. Colorado needs to pick up some points with two-match weeks for LA and RSL.
RSL closes out the week with a trip to Portland on Saturday, where the Timbers need to win to maintain their current hold on the No. 6 seed. A loss this weekend could spell trouble in the Rose City for the defending champions.
Another big match-up on Saturday night will be underway in the Bay Area, as the Quakes host Seattle at the same time as POR-RSL. We'll have a whole new look at the playoff push come Sunday.
Finally this week, LA hosts Orlando City on Sunday with a chance to take three points against an Eastern Conference opponent.