MLS final week playoff scenarios and cheering guide for D.C. United fans

Can San Zusi save us again? - Kyle Rivas

Even though D.C. United has been out of the playoff picture for months, you can still find some enjoyment in Major League Soccer's final weekend.

While D.C. United's season has been a complete catastrophe, there has been an exciting Major League Soccer season going on around us. So, while we reveal in the misery that has been this season, let us turn our eyes to the rest of the league and see which teams and results might be interesting to D.C. United fans this weekend.

Supporter's Shield Race

As of today, there are four teams left in the hunt for the Supporter's Shield, and the team in the lead position is, unfortunately, the New York Red Bulls. The Metros have the easiest path to win their first ever major trophy: win this weekend against the Chicago Fire. However, a stellar performance from Mike Magee would solidify his case for MLS MVP, assure the Fire a place in the MLS Cup Playoffs, and receive the affection of D.C. United fans across the country.

The Red Bulls will know what they need to do to win the Supporters' Shield before their match even starts. Real Salt Lake has the most difficult path to the Shield: They would need the Red Bulls to lose and to do so while scoring no more than three goals more than Real Salt Lake does on Wednesday against Chivas. If RSL beat Chivas 1-0 and New York lost 5-4, New York would beat RSL based on the goals for tiebreaker. If they end up tied on goals for, RSL would win the goal differential tiebreaker.

The Portland Timbers also get to play Chivas USA in their last match of the season, but would also be eliminated should the Red Bulls tie Chicago. However, they don't have any of the tiebreaker madness should they win and New York lose: In that case, they would finish one point above New York.

Sporting Kansas City is the only team left that can win the Supporters' Shield in case of a New York Red Bulls' draw. If they win on Saturday against the Philadelphia Union, they force New York to have to win their game against Chicago. Hopefully San Zusi has one more trick  up his sleeve this month. So this week, if rooting against the Red Bulls is your cup of tea, you should be rooting for Real Salt Lake, the Portland Timbers, Sporting Kansas City, and above all else: the Chicago Fire.

Playoff Qualification Race

But if you like your final week action a little more desperate, then there is the race to get into the playoffs that may interest you as well. There are five teams reaching for three playoff spots in the Eastern Conference, with all the teams within three points of each other. For the Montreal Impact, the Chicago Fire, and the New England Revolution, a win would put them into the playoffs and lock up the playoff field. Out of these three teams, the New England Revolution have the easiest path, needing only to beat the already eliminated Columbus Crew. The Montreal Impact are attempting to prevent a slide completely out of the playoffs, which would be likely if they lose to Toronto FC, and the Chicago Fire are playing New York, making both of their roads more difficult.

Putting pressure on all three of these teams will be the Houston Dynamo, who play lowly D.C. United and are therefore likely to get three points. Nipping at all four of these teams heels, with only a faint chance of qualifying, are the Philadelphia Union. The Union would have to beat Sporting Kansas City, thus putting a dent into the best chance to defeat New York, and then get help from Columbus and D.C. United to get in.

The playoff situation is pretty much set in the Western Conference, as the San Jose Earthquakes' tie against the LA Galaxy allowed the Seattle Sounders to back into the playoffs even though they haven't won a game since September 13 and have lost all of their past four matches. San Jose isn't technically eliminated yet, but they would need the Colorado Rapids to lose and to beat FC Dallas while scoring at least 13 goals to get in.

I would like to see Montreal fall out of the playoffs and complete their epic collapse, but that is only possible with a Houston Dynamo win over United. Given that situation, I am hoping for the playoff picture to stay exactly the way it is right now.

That is a lot of information to digest, so just tell me this: What games are you most interested in this weekend? And who will you be rooting for in each of these matches?

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