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So you mean to tell me that United could lose both of its final two matches and STILL have more than an 80% chance of making the playoffs? Let's take a look at the numbers.
Just like you, I've witnessed D.C. United missing the MLS playoffs on the last week of the season three of the past four years (other than the Year That Shall Not Be Mentioned). And after unimpressive results against weaker opponents, its understandable why some fans might be seriously concerned that the same might happen again in 2012.
But the odds disagree, and they disagree strongly.
According to sportsclubstats.com, United has a 98% chance of making the playoffs with two games remaining. This number is calculated based on a simulation of the remaining game in the season, taking opponents and home field advantage into account.
The simulation tells us that United has a 37% chance of finishing the season where the team currently sits in third place in the Eastern Conference. United has only a 3% chance of passing Sporting Kansas City for first place, with a 24% chance of finishing in second, a 27% chance of finishing in fourth to host the play-in game, an 8% chance of finishing in fifth, and only a 2% chance of missing out entirely.
If we look deeper into the simulation results, we also see that even if United were to somehow lose both of the next two matches against the Columbus Crew and Chicago Fire, we would still have an 81.6% chance of seeing our team return to the playoffs.