FRISCO, Texas — With Decision Day presented by AT&T less than two weeks away, the Audi 2019 MLS Playoffs are right around the corner. After Wednesday's games, four teams in the Western Conference have now clinched playoff berths — LAFC, Minnesota United FC, LA Galaxy and the Seattle Sounders. That means only three spots are left for five remaining teams in the hunt. All of the midweek games went FC Dallas' way as two teams in the west lost, and one other settled for a draw. Scroll to the bottom of the story for scenarios in which FC Dallas could clinch a playoff berth this weekend.
Since it looks like the playoff race will most likely be decided as late as Decision Day, presented by AT&T, we're going to keep track of everything going on in the Western Conference to keep the fans updated on what FC Dallas' situation would look like if the MLS Playoffs started today. FC Dallas' next match is against the ninth-placed Colorado Rapids, on Sunday, September 29 at Dick's Sporting Goods Park.
The new playoff format must be discussed. Not all fans know about the new format, and it will heavily affect the way teams prepare for opponents in the playoffs. This season will mark the first time MLS will have a fixed playoff bracket with a single-elimination format instead of a matchup with two legs in each round. The higher seed in each matchup will be the home team.
The playoffs will also start and finish earlier than previous seasons due to each matchup only having one game instead of two. The dates are subject to change, but the playoffs will last for about three weeks between the first match and the MLS Cup.
Now, let's get into some playoff scenarios for FC Dallas if the season ended today.
As it stands, FC Dallas would be in the playoffs as the No. 7 seed in the Western Conference, and the team would be matched up with No. 2 seed Minnesota United. FC Dallas is currently level on points with the sixth-placed Portland Timbers and just one point ahead of the eight-seeded San Jose Earthquakes, who lost Wednesday night to the Philadelphia Union at home. The winner of FCD and Minnesota United would go on to face the winner of the LA Galaxy-Portland Timbers match, and both would be on the road as FC Dallas would be the lowest seed in the playoffs.
Although FC Dallas caught a break with the midweek results, the match this weekend against the Colorado Rapids is a must-win game for both teams. The Rapids are still technically in the playoff race, even if they are in ninth place. They sit six points under the playoff line, and their season would end in they lose or draw against FC Dallas.
As for FCD, the team can clinch a playoff spot this weekend, but other results would have to go its way. Here are the three scenarios for a playoff berth:
1. FC Dallas beats Colorado, and San Jose loses to Seattle — Colorado would be eliminated and San Jose would be four points behind FCD with just one game remaining, eliminating them from overtaking FC Dallas.
2. FC Dallas beats Colorado, and Portland draws or loses to Sporting KC — Colorado would be eliminated and, best-case scenario (a draw in this situation) for Portland's rest of 2019 would be a win on Decision Day against San Jose. If Portland wins that game, it would finish with a maximum 49 points, and San Jose would finish with a maximum of 47 points, which would be one point behind FC Dallas with a Colorado win.
3. FC Dallas draws with Colorado, and San Jose loses to Seattle, and Portland loses to Sporting KC — Colorado would be eliminated, San Jose wouldn't be able to overtake FC Dallas with a loss, even if it beats Portland on Decision Day — the maximum number of points it could allocate with a loss this weekend would be 47, but that would mean the Timbers lose on Decision Day, eliminating them from playoff contention. If Portland loses Sunday night, the maximum number of points it could allocate would be 48, and a win on Decision Day would eliminate San Jose.
Buckle up. It's going to be a ride this weekend in MLS.