FRISCO - For the first time since June, FC Dallas is not occupying a top-two spot in the Western Conference as the regular season enters its final week.
After Sunday's loss to Sporting KC, it is the Kansans who hold a two-point lead on the West and Dallas finds itself tied with LAFC at 57 points, with the expansion side holding the goal-differential tiebreaker by an eight-goal margin.
FCD's hopes of a Western Conference regular season crown are all-but gone, but there's a very simple way the team can clinch a coveted first-round bye on Decision Day in Colorado: win.
ON THE LINE
This weekend can only end one of two ways. Dallas could win, clinch a top-two seed and take the entire week to prepare for a road game to open up the Western Conference Semifinals. Or it could be scrambling to prepare for a mid-week Knockout Round game on Wednesday or Thursday of next week, before going through the same scramble ahead of the same opener in the West Semifinal - one it'd be hosting as a lower seed, should the team advance.
It's not guaranteed that the Knockout Round game would be played at home either..
The Decision Day chaos will not disappoint this year. Depending on results in three other matches than Dallas', the team could finish anywhere from first to fifth when all is said and done on Sunday. Here's how each would happen:
- No. 1: Unless FCD can earn a 9+ or 15+ goal victory in Colorado - depending on the outcome of #SKCvLAFC - the No. 1 spot is out of reach this weekend.
- No. 2: If Dallas wins in Colorado, regardless of the result in #SKCvLAFC, it'd clinch the No. 2 seed. Also, if FCD draws, SKC beats LAFC and Seattle doesn't win vs. San Jose, Dallas would earn a bye.
- No. 3: Because Seattle holds a goal-differential advantage going into Decision Day, the only way FCD can earn the No. 3 spot is if the Sounders drop points vs. San Jose. Dallas would clinch No. 3 with a Seattle loss or draw and a draw in Colorado. If both Seattle and FCD lose, Dallas would clinch third unless Portland wins by more than two goals (which would tie the Timbers on points with Dallas and earn the goal-differential tiebreaker for third)
- No. 4: The second most-likely scenario to Dallas finishing in No. 2, is dropping to No. 4 because of Seattle's game against San Jose and ownership of two tie-breakers. A Dallas draw would secure a mid-week home game and a loss would do the same as long as Portland doesn't win by two or more goals.
- No. 5: This would be absolute worst possible outcome on the weekend. It would need three things to happen in exact fashion: Dallas loses to Colorado, Seattle wins vs. San Jose and Portland beats Vancouver by two or more goals.
GAMES TO WATCH
- Oct. 28: Sporting KC vs. LAFC - In all reality, what happens between the current top two doesn't matter for FCD because a win gets the job done. But if Dallas draws, an SKC win would also put them in the No. 2 seed
- Oct. 28: Seattle Sounders FC vs. San Jose Earthquakes - If Dallas falters on Sunday, Seattle would jump into third with a result. A Quakes win would secure a home playoff game for FCD
- Oct. 28: Portland Timbers vs. Vancouver Whitecaps FC - Portland winning big is the only way in which Dallas could drop out of a guaranteed home playoff game.