FRISCO - We have a little bit of a clearer picture of what FC Dallas needs to do to make the Audi 2017 MLS Cup Playoffs.
As the Houston Dynamo earned a come-from-behind win over Sporting KC Wednesday night in the final game in-hand across the league. Heading into Week 32 this weekend, every team is sitting on 32 games, and it’s a dead sprint to the final.
With Houston now three points up in fifth position, Dallas likely is looking at a sixth-seed-or-bust scenario in their playoff hunt. Although with games on the road in SKC and at home vs. Chicago, the Dynamo could fall back into reach.
As it stands now, Dallas simply needs to equal or exceed the point totals that Real Salt Lake and San Jose pick up over each’s final two weeks to hold onto their one-point lead. That is a difficult road with a match in Seattle this weekend before closing out the season against LA at home.
RSL travels to Colorado on Sunday having taken both Rocky Mountain Cup meetings this season - 2-1 in Commerce City in April and 4-1 hosting the Rapids in late August. They will finish the season on the road against a Sporting KC club suddenly winless in their last three. The Claret and Cobalt are making a late-season run as well, unbeaten in five of their last six including four wins and a 10-man draw two weeks ago against the LA Galaxy.
San Jose have slipped slightly in form over the last few weeks with three losses and two wins in their last five, and travel on the road Sunday to face the conference-leading Whitecaps, who will have a chance to clinch the top spot in the West with a win. The Quakes will finish the season at home against Minnesota, who have points in four of their last five despite their near mathematical elimination from the playoffs.
My take: if FCD can come away with at the very least a point in Washington and win their final game at home against the lowly Galaxy, the chances of making the playoffs are high. RSL could conceivably run the table, and in that situation four points wouldn't be enough alone, but if Houston goes 0-fer as well (which is entirely possible) four would do it. I just don't see San Jose winning both in Vancouver and against a red-hot Loons.
It might not come down to Decision Day either. If both RSL and SJ lose this weekend and Dallas were to win, FCD would clinch this weekend and all scenarios would be moot.
More simply though, the road is obviously easier and non-dependent on the other results if Dallas can earn two big wins down the stretch. Either way, buckle up because it’s going to be a crazy 10 days.