The Race for the Final Three Playoff Spots

Goal Celebration

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](

[Tie-breaking procedures](

[This week's MLS Schedule](


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  • If they don't win on Thursday there's no point of them even getting lucky and getting into the playoffs. It will most likely be 1st round and out. Seeing as we need only a tie, the genius that is Hamlett will probably play for one.

  • I guarantee you Hamlett's game plan will be to play for a 0-0 tie.

  • Given the winless streak in the last 2 months even if the fire make the play offs i'll be expecting an early exit from it.

  • While there are lots of combinations of wins and losses, I believe the Fire reach the playoffs with a loss under either of these two scenarios (tie-breaking assumptions listed below).

    A. DC fails to win
    B. Either FCD or Colorado fail to win

    1) MLS first determines the second seed in the East
    2) Fire wins three-way tie-breaker with TFC & NE
    3) DC wins three-way tie-breaker with Fire and either TFC or NE
    4) Neither NE nor TFC win three-way tie-breaker with Dallas & Fire

    Pretty confident the first two assumptions are correct, but the multi-team tiebreakers can be odd so I

  • Adding to the last post (KAR's) I can confirm A. and (unfortunately) discredit B.

    A. The Fire clinch the 2 seed in the east as long as DC fails to win this weekend (even if they lose Thursday night).

    B. In a 4-way tie for the east (Fire lose - TFC, DC, NE all win) NE wins the 2 seed in the east - so the Fire would need both Colorado and Dallas to fail to win to back in.

    On a positive note running through scenarios has beaten the heck out of doing real work today.

    In more positive news for many on thsi forum, in an article on MLS coahing candidates today Ives is stating Hamlett is out after this year even if the Fire take the Cup.

  • In reply to NaperSteve:

    Hamlett out after the year, think i will start the beers early tonight to celebrate

  • In reply to NaperSteve:

    Interesting Steve -- while I haven't done the full analysis (clearly I'm too lazy), part of your point B doesn't match w/ Sam's initial analysis above where a Fire DC TFC NE Dallas tie (Colorado doesn't win) ends up with DC, Dallas and the Fire making the playoffs . . .

    This may mean I actually have to break the whole things down. Guess I'll wait until after Thursday and only do it if the Fire makes me.

  • Proofreading is important.

    For clarity - my comment above on B. only pertains if all 3 East teams win.

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