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Handicapping the Eastern Conference schedules

New England Revolution v Houston Dynamo

HOUSTON, TX - SEPTEMBER 29: Ricardo Clark #13 of the Houston Dynamo celebrates with Brian Ching #25 after scoring in the second half against the New England Revolution at BBVA Compass Stadium on September 29, 2012 in Houston, Texas. Houston wins 2-0. (Photo by Bob Levey/Getty Images)

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Only Sporting Kansas City has clinched a playoff spot in the East, leaving New York, Chicago, D.C. United, Houston and Columbus to compete for the remaining four spots.

The MLS Eastern Conference standings are here.

Through highly unscientific and completely subjective methodology, here is how I would rank the five teams still in playoff contention in strength of schedule remaining (easiest to hardest):

  • 1. Houston
  • 2. Chicago
  • 3. New York
  • 4. D.C. United
  • 5. Columbus

Here’s the important thing to know: Houston has the clearest part ahead by a long way. Two home games and one on the road, and none against teams destined to make the playoffs. It’s all there for Dominic Kinnear’s side.

Chicago is surely next because the Fire has four matches (one extra), including two at home. One of those is against already eliminated Philadelphia and another against a D.C. Untied side that is markedly better at home than on the road. Plus, Frank Klopas’ team finishes at New England, and who knows what frame of mind the Revs will be in by Match Day 34?

Honestly, after that it’s pretty much a grab bag.

Neither New York, D.C. United nor Columbus have an easy time ahead. Plus, United and Columbus meet on Oct. 20, destined to pick points off one another.

Best guess: what we have all thought for a few weeks now, that New York, Chicago and Houston will find a way in, leaving Columbus and D.C. United will scrap it out for that final spot.

Here are the remaining matches for each side:

East skeds