September slog

God damn it, I was gonna write about this.

I suppose I still can. "There are five games left, and it's time to change into the brown underwear" is a fairly obvious topic.

But first.

Shawn tries to tell me the Crew haven't clinched.

Well, I'll be damned. This is actually true - and even weirder than it seems, because the four way tie necessary would be Columbus, Chicago, New York, and Kansas City. That's the only scenario that cancels out the Crew's head-to-head advantage over Kansas City, because - in this case - the Wizards would have better records against the Fire and Red Bulls, and finish third. Chicago would finish fourth, New York fifth (and thus, would eventually win MLS Cup), and the Crew would be out.

But it has to be New York AND Chicago, otherwise, the Crew would finish ahead of either Chicago or Kansas City, depending. (The West is irrelevant to this thanks to Saturday's results, DC can't finish at 47 points, and New England can't finish at 47 points in a way that doesn't eliminate either Kansas City or Chicago.)

You might ask, isn't this a lot of time to spend wondering if a team that hasn't lost since August 2nd would suddenly go five games without a point?

....

Shut up.

Anyway, let's break down the various races.

SUPPORTERS SHIELD:
Columbus Crew remaining games: @NE, LA, @NY, @CHI, DC
New England Revolution remaining games: CLB, RSL, @KC, @DC, KC
Houston Dynamo remaining games: @TOR, @COL, DC, SJ, LA, @CUSA
Chicago Fire remaining games: LA, @KC, CLB, @TOR, NY

Realistically, anything more than six points for the Crewligans puts the Shield in their hands, and the only reason six makes it close is because the other three teams have some real cupcakes down the stretch. The Dynamo look like they could easily take fifteen out of their last eighteen, for example. Problem is, Houston would pretty much have to, otherwise they fall short.

THE WEST RACE:
Houston's gonna finish first. The rest of the division could conceivably finish behind effin' Toronto, which would treat us to a full off-season of cries for a single table. Too freaking bad. You want a single table, go to Crate & Barrel.

Chivas USA remaining games: KC, @DC, @SJ, COL, HOU - six if they're very lucky
Salt Lake remaining games: @SJ, @NE, NY, DAL, @COL - six is being awfully generous
San Jose remaining games: RSL, @DAL, CUSA, @HOU, @KC, TOR - nine at the very least
Colorado remaining games: @NY, HOU, @LA, @CUSA, RSL - call it six
Dallas remaining games: DC, SJ, TOR, @RSL, @LA - could easily be nine or more
Los Angeles remaining games: @CHI, @CLB, COL, @HOU, DAL - six, maybe seven

So. Quakes home and home against - hell, it doesn't matter - and hosting the final after Houston gets upset in the first round by whoever finishes fifth in

THE EAST RACE:
The Crew are gonna finish first. It doesn't matter where the Revolution and Fire finish, thanks to home-and-home in the first round. Which leaves:

New York remaining games: COL, TOR, @RSL, CLB, @CHI - ooh, got ugly there for them at the end. Seven, maybe nine, though
DC United remaining games: @DAL, CUSA, @HOU, NE, @CLB - holy CRAP. And they stink right now, too. Gotta be in a real forgiving mood to give them anything more than four or five
Kansas City remaining games: @CUSA, CHI, NE, SJ, @NE - well, they've got some tough games at the ballpark. Six, seven, maybe?
Toronto remaining games: just kidding, they're meat

Schedule pretty much sends the Wizards past DC United, and back into the Western bracket. Unless the Red Bulls are smart enough to throw their last four games. MLS Cup is at stake, after all.