With the expansion Seattle Sounders booking their ticket to the MLS Cup playoffs over the weekend, only three spots remain in the postseason bracket.
If the current standings hold up, the Fire (who currently holds the second seed in the Eastern Conference), Colorado and Toronto would qualify for the postseason. However, a lot could change for the Fire over the next week and I'm here to break it all down for you. Here we go...
**What the Fire needs to clinch on Thursday night:**
1) A home win against Chivas USA
2) A tie against Chivas USA
**Should the Fire lose to Chivas:**
Should the Fire lose to Chivas (who are tied with the Galaxy and Houston for the Western Conference lead) they can still advance but the situation is complex. There are currently five teams that could catch the Fire should they falter Thursday night. Here they are, in order of the current standings:
1) Colorado - 40 points
2) Toronto FC - 39
3) New England - 39
4) D.C. United - 39
5) FC Dallas - 39
The Fire and the Rapids can't end the season tied, so I won't deal too much more with Colorado. As for the teams that could end the year tied with Chicago, the Fire holds the individual tiebreaker over two: New England and Toronto. Should the last playoff spot come down to a two-way tie between the Fire and New England/Toronto, the Fire would advance.
However, two teams that are on 39 points hold the individual tiebreaker over the Fire: FC Dallas and D.C. United. Should the eighth and final playoff spot come down to the Fire and either of FCD/D.C. the Fire would be the odd team out.
If Toronto, D.C., New England, and Dallas all win this weekend, there would be a five way tie of teams with 42 points. If there is a five-way tie, who makes the playoffs would depend on what Colorado does at Real Salt Lake.
If Colorado wins, D.C. would make the playoffs as the East's second seed and FC Dallas would get in as the fourth wild card.
If Colorado loses or ties, D.C. and Dallas would still get in but they would be joined by the Fire - who (in this situation) would be the eighth seed.
These are just a few of what seems like a million combinations that could either put the Fire into - or keep them out of - the postseason. Unfortunately, I don't have the time to get into every single possibility but if you are interested in a specific scenario, post it in the comments section and I'll gladly figure out where the Fire stand in it.
Really the Fire shouldn't have to be dealing with this right now though. The fact that they have yet to clinch their spot in the playoffs is a little absurd to me and they really should take care of business on Thursday night and put themselves (and all of us...) at ease for the rest of the weekend.
[Current MLS Playoff standings](http://web.mlsnet.com/standings/)
[This week's MLS Schedule](http://web.mlsnet.com/mls/schedule/)