The Full 90

The Playoff Picture: What does it all mean?

I've stared at the

MLS playoff standings

and the upcoming MLS fixtures for a few days now, trying to make sense of it all.

Here are the things we know: Three teams have a realistic shot at the Supporter's Shield (Los Angeles, Real Salt Lake, Columbus) and two teams are relatively secure in planning for the playoffs (New York and Dallas). If Houston loses tonight, they are are out of contention. D.C. United has been out of contention since March.

This is where it gets confusing: Six teams (Colorado, San Jose, Seattle, Toronto, Kansas City and Chicago) are all in the hunt for the last three spots and two teams (Chivas and Philadelphia) are in a position to play spoiler -- and possibly sneak into the playoff picture themselves.

How about some more confusion: Three teams (Columbus, New York and Dallas) will likely start building for playoff depth/tinkering with their starting lineup. Which could mean "weakened" sides for those three teams over the next few weeks.

What does this all mean?

The next four-to-five weeks will be fairly interesting.

MLS Single Table Standings

Category I: The eight playoff teams that are in if the playoffs started today:

1. Los Angeles Galaxy-x: 50 points (25 GP, +19 GD)



2. Real Salt Lake-x: 47 points (25 GP, +22 GD)



3. Columbus Crew-y: 44 points (25 GP, +6 GD)



4. FC Dallas: 42 points (24 GP, +12 GD)



5. New York Red Bulls-y: 41 points (25 GP, +5 GD)



6. Colorado Rapids: 37 points (24 GP, +8 GD)



7. San Jose Earthquakes: 36 points (23 GP, +2 GD)8. Seattle Sounders: 36 points (25 GP, +1 GD)



x -- Automatic qualifiers from Western Conference; y -- Automatic qualifiers from Eastern Conference. Category II: The three teams within 10 points of the last playoff spot if the playoffs started today:

9. Toronto FC: 31 points (25 GP, -4 GD)



10. Kansas City Wizards: 30 points (23 GP, 0 GD)



11. Chicago Fire: 26 points (23 GP, -3 GD)



Category III: The four teams that haven't been eliminated yet but are a banana peel away from it:

12. Chivas USA: 25 points (24 GP, -6 GD)



13. Philadelphia Union: 24 points (24 GP, -12 GD)



14. New England Revolution: 24 points (24 GP, -17 GD)



15. Houston Dynamo: 23 points (24 GP, -11 GD)

Category IV: The team that is already eliminated from contention:

16. D.C. United: 18 points (25 GP, -22 GD)

Schedules of the teams in the playoff chase Colorado Rapids

• Games Remaining: 6



• @ Real Salt Lake (9/25), Philadelphia (9/29), D.C. United (10/2), @ FC Dallas (10/9), @ Los Angeles (10/16), Real Salt Lake (10/23)

Seattle Sounders*

• Games Remaining: 5



• @ Chicago (9/25), Toronto (10/2), Columbus (10/05),

@ Kansas City (10/9)

, Chivas USA (10/15), @ Houston (10/23)

*Also has three CONCACAF Champions League group games -- including a game with Monterrey tonight -- and a friendly against Chivas de Guadalajara on Oct. 12.

San Jose Earthquakes

• Games Remaining: 7



• @ Toronto (9/25), Chicago (9/29), @ Columbus (10/2), @ D.C. United (10/9), Houston (10/16), Chivas USA (10/20),

@ Kansas City (10/23) Toronto FC*

• Games Remaining: 5



• San Jose (9/25), @ Seattle (10/2), @ Chivas USA (10/9), Columbus (10/16), @ D.C. United (10/23)

*Also has two more CONCACAF Champions League group games. They drew with Cruz Azul last night.

Kansas City Wizards

• Games Remaining: 7



• Houston (9/22), FC Dallas (9/25), @ New York (10/2), Seattle (10/9), @ Chicago (10/12), @ New England (10/16), San Jose (10/23)

Chicago Fire

• Games Remaining: 7



• Seattle (9/25), @ San Jose (9/29), @ FC Dallas (10/2), Columbus (10/8),

Kansas City (10/12)

, D.C. United (10/16), @ Chivas USA (10/23)

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