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Scenarios for 2018 MLS Cup playoffs

Zlatan Ibrahimovic

Los Angeles Galaxy’s Zlatan Ibrahimovic, center, of Sweden, and teammates celebrate a goal by Ibrahimovic during the second half of an MLS soccer match against the Los Angeles FC Saturday, March 31, 2018, in Carson, Calif. The Galaxy won 4-3. (AP Photo/Jae C. Hong)


Who’s in and who’s out? Well, that picture has become a lot clearer after the weekend slate of games in Major League Soccer.

[ MORE: All of PST’s MLS coverage ]

Four teams in the Eastern Conference have confirmed their place in the 2018 MLS Cup playoffs, while three teams in the West have made it ahead of the final few weeks of the regular season.

The scrap for the final four playoff places is set to go down to the wire with just two regular season games remaining for the majority of teams. And remember, the tiebreaker rules in MLS if teams finish on the same number of points are the following:

  • Number of wins
  • Goal Differential
  • Goals For
  • Fewest Disciplinary Points
  • Away Goals Differential
  • Away Goal For
  • Home Goals Differential
  • Home Goal For
  • Coin Toss (tie of two clubs) or Drawing of Lots (tie of three or more clubs)

So far, Atlanta United, New York Red Bulls, New York City FC and the Philadelphia Union have clinched their spots in the East, while FC Dallas, Los Angeles FC and Sporting Kansas City have made it from the West.

With the top six teams from each conference making the playoffs, the playoff knockout round consists of the third seed facing the sixth seed and the fourth seed facing the fifth in a single-elimination game.

The winners of those games will then advance to the conference semifinals to face one of the top two teams from the regular season standings.

Below are the scenarios for each conference listed out, plus the current standings, with so much to play for in the final days of the season.

Eastern Conference

  • Atlanta United clinch Eastern Conference title and Supporters’ Shield with two wins in their final two games
  • Columbus Crew need two points from final two games to secure playoff spot
  • D.C. United know two wins from their final three games will guarantee playoff spot
  • Montreal can pick up one point and make the playoffs, but D.C. United most lose all three of their remaining games.
  • New England Revolution eliminated from playoff contention
  • Toronto FC eliminated from playoff contention
  • Chicago Fire eliminated from playoff contention
  • Orlando City eliminated from playoff contention

Western Conference

  • Two wins and FC Dallas will seal top spot in the Western Conference
  • Sporting Kansas City must win at least two of their final three games to keep hopes alive of winning Western Conference title
  • Portland Timbers can clinch a playoff spot with a win against Real Salt Lake
  • Seattle Sounders can clinch a playoff spot with a win against Orlando City
  • LA Galaxy must win at least one more game and hope that Real Salt Lake fail to win either of their final two games.
  • If Vancouver Whitecaps fail to beat Sporting Kansas City, then the Portland Timbers will clinch a playoff spot without playing
  • Minnesota United eliminated from playoff contention
  • Houston Dynamo eliminated from playoff contention
  • Colorado Rapids eliminated from playoff contention
  • San Jose Earthquakes eliminated from playoff contention

MLS standings, Oct. 15

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