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MLS Playoff Scenarios For D.C. United

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I'm not over it yet. And I don't fault you if you're not either. A win on Saturday night against the Chicago Fire would have put D.C. United in almost absolute control of the final playoff spot. With 41 points, United would be just behind the New York Red Bulls with an additional game to play.

But we didn't win. So with that behind us, you can grovel in disappointment all you want, but for information's sake, let's at least do ourselves the solid of reviewing the MLS playoff scenarios that would get United into the playoffs.

Here's what we know for sure:


We've thrown the term "must-win game" around before. This time we mean it. A loss and we're out. A tie and we're out.

Even with a full six points though against the Portland Timbers (who are themselves fighting for the same playoff spot) and Sporting Kansas City (who sure would like to pass the Philadelphia Union for first place in the Eastern Conference), D.C. would still need some help.

The only realistic scenario would involve winning twice, and watching the Union beat the Red Bulls on Thursday night in Harrison. This scenario has United passing NYRB for 10th place, and playing either Real Salt Lake or FC Dallas in the wild card round. If the Union win and we win both games, nothing else matters. We're in.

There is another scenario though, as off-the-wall as it may seem. Two wins would give United 44 points. A tie between New York and Philadelphia would give the Red Bulls 44 points as well. And since we split the season series with the Red Bulls, the final playoff spot would come down to goal differential.

D.C. is currently -2. New York is currently +5.

So if the Red Bulls tie the Union and United wins its two games by a differential of seven goals (i.e. 3-0 and 5-1 or something), we're in.