FRISCO - We're hitting the final run of the 2017 MLS regular season and the playoff picture is starting to shape up in the Western Conference. FC Dallas got a little help from the teams chasing them to remain in the sixth spot after Week 27.
Starting at the top, Portland leap-frogged Seattle and Vancouver moved past Sporting KC, while the rest of the conference maintained position for another week.
The Timbers earned the full three points in a 1-0 win over NYCFC, while the Sounders rallied late to earn a 1-1 draw against the LA Galaxy and Vancouver handled business against RSL, 3-2, to climb closer to a playoff rebirth. Houston lost their first match at home in 2017 to Colorado, 1-0, off a late tally, Dallas dropped a 3-0 decision in Atlanta, San Jose took a 4-0 thrashing from league-leading Toronto and Minnesota earned a 1-1 draw with Philadelphia.
With a race developing around spots 5-8 for the final two playoff positions as the Cascadia teams continue to soar, FCD - on paper - appears to have the easiest road to stake their claim at a fourth straight postseason berth. With one and two games in-hand over the teams below them and just two games left against teams in playoff positions (Seattle twice). Houston and San Jose each have four games left against teams above the red line, while three of RSL's last five are against playoff teams at the moment.
One month from today, every team will sit even on 32 games played with two weeks of simultaneous kickoffs on deck leading into the MLS Cup Playoffs. It's going to be a crucial race for clinching and seeding every week between now and then.