Meanwhile, back in MLS

The Rapids just sent out a press release with the header, "A Special Message From Conor Casey." Swear to God, I thought it was going to be him rapping, "Tell me, how my ass taste?"

Also sent out today - a press release reminding the world that nine teams are still vying for the playoffs. Add nine to the four teams that have qualified, and all but TWO teams in MLS still have an interest, with two weeks to go.

Do you realize how much work and effort New York and San Jose had to put into being out of the playoffs? The Quakes had to bust Huckerby and replace him with nobody - or worse, Bobby Convey. And the Red Bulls had to flirt with history - how many "is this the worst MLS team ever?" articles do you remember?

But here we are. I hate to belabor this point, but this isn't a bug, it's a feature. I don't want to say the league will never change this, but why should they?

In fact, if and when MLS gets to twenty teams, the real battle will be to keep the playoff pool at eight teams. And the best way to keep them from expanding it to twelve? Wait for it...parity.

Sorry to bum you guys out. Let's look at which mediocre teams will sneak into the playoffs, upset higher-seeded teams, mislead their coaches and fans into thinking they're better than they actually are, then setting up a diastrous fall back to earth and below in 2010.

Forgive me for cutting and pasting, but all this information isn't readily obvious on the MLSnet site, or the playoff standings page. (The nude DC United picture? Easy to find.)

In other words, the sky would have to fall for Chicago to miss the playoffs, and if New England is as ineffective as they were on FSC last Saturday, this will pretty much be settled at halftime.

Yeah, that Rapids-Burn game Saturday is going to be pretty important. FCD and Colorado tend to have a lot of turnover, roster-wise, but there should be some institutional memory...and besides, Dario Sala is still around even if Freeman and Kirovski are gone from Colorado. Which is a long way of saying this would be a good matchup even if there was nothing at stake.

Which is also a kind way of saying this could be a tight, ugly match agonizingly tense for those teams' fans, and merely agonizing for neutral observers. The brawls should be fun to watch, though.

In other words, handing over all three at home to the Crewligans was just about the stupidest thing this team has done since the Joe Public game. Sports Club Stats graphs tend to get very extreme this time of year, since we're down to win or else scenarios, and thus swings of 100% down to zero...but the chart says the Revs went from better than even to worse than even odds...and they get the Fire and visit the Crew to close it out.

On the bright side, DC United, Toronto, Real Salt Lake and Colorado have all proven they too can bungle important games.

In other words, the Sounders are pretty much in. Hell, they're playing Kansas City this week.

Speaking of whom:

The Wizards could still be alive in the final week? How sadistic is that? Talk about the sports equivalent of taking the Band-Aid off as slowly as possible.

Fair enough. It would have been pretty tough to project every possible scenario for this particular trainwreck, and a league press release isn't going to predict winners.

That doesn't mean we can't.

Chicago goes to New England and hosts CUSA. I'm intrigued by that last Toyota Park game - the Fire have been proverbially awful at home, but they will probably have clinched a spot already and be sorely tempted to rest their starters. Let's give 'em one more point, for 42.

New England will draw against the Fire and lose to the Crew. 39.

DC United stink. But Kansas City stinks worse. 39 points. New England holds the tiebreaker over them, and have since May. That may be a tie for ninth, though.

Toronto closes out hosting RSL and going to Giants Stadium. They've also been playing like pure, creamery garbage, having won all of three times since Canada Day. I think they lose out. 36.

Kansas City is a brain in jar.

Meanwhile, in the West:

Houston will take care of the Southern California frauds. 50 points.

Looks like Chivas USA will finish second, the Galaxy third, and the two will meet in the first round. Sweet glory-holing Christ. Well, we'll burn that bridge when we come to it.

Seattle will beat Kansas City...which is good, because you don't want any part of Dallas right now with something at stake. 44 points.

Thinking Dallas wins out. 42 points.

The Rapids finish at Dallas, then go to Utah. On the bright side, they'll lose Conor Casey for a big chunk of next season. Wait. 40 points.

Real Salt Lake - see, they could win out, too, except, here's the thing. That Chivas friendly banged up Javier Morales and nearly shelved Grabavoy. If the Lakers make it, it'll be on adrenaline. Don't be fooled by their seventh place standing - they're only two below .500 and have a positive goal differential. They haven't won since August, and they haven't won three in a row all year, but I think they can get six of nine. 40 points, and I'll be damned if I know who will have the tiebreaker, because in this scenario, they'll have gone 1-1-1 against the Pids.

...actually, in this scenario, the final game of the Rocky Mountain Cup will decide the final playoff spot. And, of course, the Rocky Mountain Cup.

Oh, right.

The Crew hold the tiebreaker over Houston and the Galaxy, and have a significant goal differential lead over Chivas USA.

So...if Chivas wins out, Columbus has to win one of their last two.

If Chivas wins two and ties one, Columbus has to tie twice (unless CUSA wins those two games by 5-0 or something like it, since goals scored as well as goal differential favor the Crew)

If Chivas wins twice, Columbus will only have to tie once (well, unless the Crew get biblically worked over in their loss - we're talking 7-0 or so).*

And, if Chivas wins once and ties twice, then Columbus just has to avoid losing either of those games by that 7-0 scoreline.

In other words, the Crew have still won the Shield. Soccer gods? I mock them with great mockery.

*EDIT - No, I don't think the Crew will give a one-day contract to Curtis Spiteri.