It was a rollercoaster weekend for the Houston Dynamo. First, D.C. United earned three points thanks to a major goalkeeping gaffe by Milos Kocic. Then, the Chicago Fire dismantled the New York Red Bulls 2-0 in front of a nationally televised audience to move into sole possession of second place.
Saturday night, the Dynamo took the field and came away with a 1-1 draw vs. Montreal. The game was not short on drama as the Dynamo saw a ball hit off the post, another one get saved off the line and had a last-second goal called back due to an offside call. On Sunday, Sporting Kansas City got out to an early lead in Columbus, but Eddie Gaven's stoppage-time equalizer gave the Crew a 1-1 draw and kept them one point behind the Dynamo for the fifth and final Eastern Conference playoff spot.
With only two game weekends to go in the regular season (MLS is off this coming weekend for World Cup qualifiers) the picture is clear as to what each team needs to do to be playing postseason soccer. Not only are teams looking to secure a playoff berth, but playoff seeding is up for grabs as teams look to avoide the one-game wild-card match that awaits the fourth and fifth place teams. Here is a look at the top six teams in the Eastern Conference and where they stand with two games to go.
Sporting Kansas City (at NY, vs. PHI) - SKC has already clinched a playoff spot and sits in first place in the Eastern Conference. With a three-point lead on the Chicago Fire, four points in their last two games would secure the top seed heading into the playoffs.
Chicago Fire (at NE, vs. DC) - The Fire clinched a playoff spot following the Crew's 1-1 draw vs. Sporting KC Sunday night. Chicago needs to win their remaining games to have a chance at the top seed in the Eastern Conference. The October 27 match against D.C. United will go a long way in determining playoff seeding.
Still in the hunt
D.C. United (vs. CLB, at CHI) - D.C. United has been on a torrid run since the injury to Dwayne De Rosario and can clinch a spot in the postseason with a win or a draw against the Crew. If United earns a positive result against Columbus, that could set up an October 27 battle with the Fire to determine final playoff seeding.
New York Red Bulls (vs. SKC, at PHI) - New York did itself no favors with a 2-0 home loss to the Chicago Fire on Saturday. The Red Bulls are still three points clear of the Dynamo and only a point behind D.C. United. New York has a tough schedule down the stretch, hosting a red-hot Sporting KC before traveling down I-95 for a date with the Philadelphia Union. With that said, if New York earns a win against Sporting OR if Columbus loses or ties D.C. United, the Red Bulls will clinch a playoff spot.
Houston Dynamo (vs. PHI, at COL) - The Dynamo would have loved three points against Montreal on Saturday, but it was not to be and that match is now behind them. With two games to go, Houston's playoff destiny remains in their hands. The only way the Dynamo can clinch a playoff spot on October 20 is with a win over Philadelphia AND a Columbus loss to D.C. United. If the Dynamo lose or tie against Philadelphia, their playoff destiny will not be determined until their regular season finale against the Colorado Rapids on October 27.
Columbus Crew (at DC, vs. TFC) - The Crew have some work left to do and that starts with a trip to RFK Stadium where D.C. United has not lost since March 10 (11-1-4 at home this season). Columbus has the benefit of not playing its final game until Sunday, October 28, so if the results go their way on October 20, they will know going into their final match what they need to clinch a playoff spot.
Eastern Conference Standings
|1||Sporting Kansas City||59||32||17||7||8|
|4||New York Red Bulls||51||32||15||9||8|