WASHINGTON, Oct. 5, 2012 — The MLS playoffs heat up this weekend. With just three games left on the season, D.C. United could push closer to earning a playoff spot for the first time since 2007 with a good result at Toronto FC on Saturday.
Four spots are still open in the tightly-packed Eastern Conference where only the Sporting Kansas City have sealed postseason soccer.
United have won on their last three visits to Toronto. In seven games all-time in Toronto, D.C. has won five.
If United beat Toronto and the New York Red Bulls (53 points) tie with Chicago (53 pts.), the D.C. outfit will be tied for second-place in the division.
Meanwhile, the Houston Dynamo (49 pts.), which hosts Montreal, and the Columbus Crew (48 pts.) home to Sporting Kansas, are breathing down United’s neck.
The Toronto FC 11-game winless streak is the longest in MLS this season, and the third-longest in club history.
“It’s been the worst season imaginable, to be honest,” defender Richard Eckersley said. “We’re simply not good enough for the minute and we want the season to end so we can regroup and start again next year, really.”
United is coming off a 1-1 tie on the road at the Portland Timbers.
“We have to find ways now to kill games off and we’ve done a pretty good job of that as of late, but it will help if we can find a way now to get the second [goal] when we do have the lead and teams are pushing,” said United head coach Ben Olsen.
In the Western Conference, the Vancouver Whitecaps FC are in pursuit of the final Western Conference playoff berth and helped their chances after defeating Chivas USA 4-0 in their last game. FC Dallas is the other team seeking that final spot.
The Portland Timbers, Colorado Rapids, and Chivas USA all are unable to overtake Vancouver’s current 42 points and are eliminated from playoff contention.
The teams secure in the playoffs are:
San Jose Earthquakes
Real Salt Lake
Seattle Sounders FC
Sporting Kansas City
ABOUT THE 2012 MLS CUP PLAYOFFS
The top five teams in points from each conference at the end of the regular season (10 total) will qualify for the 2012 MLS Cup Playoffs.
The fourth and fifth place teams in each conference will play a single knockout game, the winner of which will advance to the Conference Semifinals and face the first place team in the conference.
The four Conference Semifinals will be decided by two-game aggregate series, with the lower seed hosting the first leg and the higher seed hosting the second leg. If the aggregate score is tied after 180 minutes of play, two 15-minute extra time periods will be played in their entirety, followed by penalty kicks, if necessary.
The two Conference Championships will be decided by a two-game aggregate series, with the lower seed hosting the first leg and the higher seed hosting the second leg. If the aggregate score is tied after 180 minutes of play, two 15-minute extra time periods will be played in their entirety, followed by penalty kicks, if necessary.
MLS Cup will be a single championship match hosted by the higher seed. If the score is tied after 90 minutes of play, two 15-minute extra time periods will be played in their entirety, followed by penalty kicks, if necessary.
For 20 years John Haydon wrote a weekly soccer column for The Washington Times. He has covered two World Cups and written about Major League Soccer from the league’s inception in 1996.
Follow John on Twitter at @Johnahaydon
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