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Red Line Report: Playoff positioning is tight

Seattle can finish between 2nd and 5th.

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MLS: Sporting KC at FC Dallas
Sporks control the West
Kevin Jairaj-USA TODAY Sports

The MLS Cup Playoff teams are basically set. In both conferences five of the six teams are decided, so Decision Day is more about placement than determining who is in or out. On Decision Day every team plays at 1:30 PM, Sunday Oct 28 at 1:30 PM. Fox Sports 1 has the day’s biggest match between Sporting KC and LAFC.

Still to be determined

West: Real Salt Lake and LA Galaxy are competing for the final spot in the Western Conference.

East: Columbus Crew and Montreal Impact are competing for the final spot in the Eastern Conference.

Wooden Spoon

It’s clinched. The San Jose Earthquakes will, no matter how badly they lose to the Sounders, be the worst team in 2018. They eventually fired their coach. It took them a while. The Earthquakes are the worst team since 2013 D.C. United, who happened to win the Open Cup that year.

Those Above

1st: Sporting Kansas City - 59/1.79

The Sounders cannot take first. They can pass the Sporks, though. A Seattle win would put the Sounders tied on points and with the wins tie-breaker. Sporting will have a bye if they draw or win. The worst they can finish is 4th.

West Rulers: Sporting KC nabs top spot with 3-0 win at FC Dallas - The Blue Testament

Next week: hosting Los Angeles Football Club on FS1

2nd: Los Angeles FC - 57/1.73

LAFC are in a decent spot, though they go on the road. If they beat Sporting KC they nab 1st in the West. That’s a damn fine performance by an expansion team and they should thank Seattle for Tyler Miller, to a lesser degree Aaron Kovar and just for fun also Callum Mallace and Charlie Lyon. LAFC can finish as low as 4th.

Dropped points: LAFC 2, Vancouver Whitecaps 2 - Angels on Parade

Next week: at Kansas City on FS1

3rd: FC Dallas - 57/173

Once upon a time, Dallas controlled their own destiny. As is their habit they lost that opportunity. Dallas can take first, but only technically. They’d likely need to win by more than a dozen goals on Decision Day and the Sporting/LAFC match would need to end in a draw. Dallas, amazingly, can still finish as low as 5th.

FC Dallas stumbles to Sporting Kansas City 3-0 - Big D Soccer

Next week: at Colorado Rapids (good to be them)

4th: Seattle Sounders FC - 56/1.70

It’s pretty good to be the Sounders. The Sounders know they will be in the playoffs. They know that they control their hosting destiny. If Seattle wins (and FCD does not win) they will finish 2nd. With a draw or win they are assured of no worse than a home game in the play-in round. If Seattle loses and Portland wins, the Sounders would have to go on the road, to Portland or Dallas depending on the result in Colorado and then goal differential.

Sounders at Houston Dynamo, recap: Earn everything - Sounder At Heart

Next week: hosting the San Jose Earthquakes. If you’ve forgotten, they are the worst team since 2013. This is on JOEtv.

5th: Portland Timbers - 54/1.64

The best-case scenario for the Timbers is that they take 3rd, but it is much more likely, and nearly certain that they will be 5th. A draw, a loss and many scenarios with a win keep Portland in 5th. They need Seattle to lose and/or Dallas to lose while Portland wins and makes up the two-goal difference.

Portland Timbers beat Real Salt Lake 3-0 - Stumptown Footy

Next week: traveling to Vancouver for a match that is not part of the Cascadia Cup because the Sounders already won it. This will be on ROOT Sports NW.

6th: Real Salt Lake - 49/1.44

This is the only team that doesn’t play on Decision Day. It sucks. RSL is forced to hope that the LA Galaxy do not win. If LA ties or loses, the team from Utah advances. Every RSL player and fan will be stuck watching Zlatan do Zlatan things. It’s horrible.

Real Salt Lake falls to Portland 3-0, their playoff fate now in LA’s hands - RSL Soapbox

Next week: sitting at the pub and watching soccer.


Those Below

7th: LA Galaxy - 48/1.45

Zlatan has nearly Zlatan’d the Zlatan to Zlatan the team into Zlatan. Their win over Minnesota United and RSL’s failure means the Galaxy can advance to the postseason by beating the Dynamo.

LA Galaxy outlast Minnesota United 3-1 to stay alive - LAG Confidential

Next week: they host Houston.


Shield Hunt
Which ever team wins the Supporters’ Shield will beat the record of the greatest team in the history of MLS

  1. Atlanta United 69/2.09
  2. New York Red Bulls 68/2.06

The Maths of Seattle

Atlanta United qualified for the non-MLS Cup winner CONCACAF Champions League spot.

At last check, 538 had Sounders as 4th in West on pace for 54 points. They were 6th best defense and 14th best attack. Sagarin considered the Sounders 2nd in the West and 4th best overall.

538 now has the Sounders as 3rd best in the West, expecting them to finish with 58 points (they cannot finish with 58 points, the math leans towards a win). There is a 45% chance at a bye. Seattle’s defense is 5th best overall. The attack is 11th best.

Sagarin sees Seattle as the 2nd best in the West and 4th best overall. Only one team is significantly better against top 5 teams (Red Bulls). They are also the only side significantly better against top 10 opponents.


2018 Awards Snapshot

This is who I intend to vote for, for now. I’m nearly locked in with these votes.

MVP

  1. Josef Martinez
  2. At second it gets tricky. I’m currently leaning Wayne Rooney
  3. Zlatan could make a push back to 2nd.

Defensive Player of the Year

  1. Chad Marshall
  2. Graham Zusi

Goalkeeper of the Year

  1. Stefan Frei
  2. Luis Robles