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Eastern playoff matchups set; DC United the “winner” Saturday

Sporting KC v DC United

WASHINGTON, DC - MARCH 10: Head coach Ben Olsen of the D.C. United looks on before a game against the Sporting Kansas City at RFK Stadium on March 10, 2012 in Washington, DC. (Photo by Patrick McDermott/Getty Images)

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It’s so difficult to overestimate how valuable Lionard Pajoy’s goal was Saturday for D.C. United. Same for all the big saves Bill Hamid made in goal for United, which clinched second place in the Eastern Conference with a 1-1 draw at Chicago.

It’s not second place, per se. There’s no cash prize involved for finishing second best to Sporting Kansas City in the Eastern Conference.

It’s what Saturday’s result in Chicago does for D.C. United’s playoff route.

Rather than face a mid-week match, D.C. United will get a few more days to rest and prep for a weekend playoff opener against New York.

Further, Ben Olsen’s club gets to avoid Sporting Kansas City to open its first playoff account since 2007. Put those two elements together, here’s what you get.

They could have faced a mid-week elimination contest, followed by a quick turnaround and very difficult contest against a far-better rested Eastern Conference champion, Sporting KC.

So, here are your Eastern Conference playoff matchups, which are now set. (Houston’s match tonight against Colorado is suddenly irrelevant in the playoff picture.)

We will update the post with dates as times as soon as MLS sets those.

Midweek opening round:

  • Houston at Chicago


(First leg this weekend)

  • New York vs. D.C. United
  • Sporting Kansas City vs. Houston-Chicago winner