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How D.C. United can qualify for the MLS is Back knockout round, explained

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Win and you’re in

MLS: New England Revolution at D.C. United Douglas DeFelice-USA TODAY Sports

Half of the teams in D.C. United’s Group C are done playing, and tonight we may (or may not) learn D.C. United fate regarding the MLS is Back knockout round. Two outcomes of the game between D.C. United and the Montreal Impact are easy: win, and they are through to the knockout rounds; lose, and they are out. If they draw? Then there are a bunch of permutations in which D.C. United has above a 50% chance to get into the knockout round, but they will need other results to go there way.

Let’s jump into the details:

D.C. United wins against Montreal Impact

The easiest way for D.C. United to get to the next round of the MLS is Back Tournament is just to win against the Montreal Impact. If United beats the Montreal Impact by two goals or more, they will actually win Group C on goal difference, jumping over Toronto FC and the New England Revolution. By doing so, they would play the 3rd place team from one of groups A, B, or F on July 26 at 8:30pm.

If they beat the Montreal Impact by 1 goal (and the score is less than 4-3), they will come in second place in Group C over the New England Revolution and behind Toronto FC on the third tiebreaker, goals for. If they happen to win by 4-3, they would edge out TFC again on the same tiebreaker. From the second slot, they would play the Philadelphia Union at 10:30pm on July 25.

D.C. United loses to the Montreal Impact

They’re out of the MLS is Back Tournament, fourth place in Group C. No more soccer until ???.

D.C. United draws the Montreal Impact

Here’s where it gets confusing. If D.C. United draws the Montreal Impact, they would either end up in 2nd position amongst the 3rd place teams (with a 0-0 draw) or first position amongst the third place teams (with a 2-2 or higher draw). If they draw 1-1, then it will come down to disciplinary points to break the tie between them and Sporting Kansas City.

But, D.C. United will have played all three of their games, while many others currently in third place have only played two. With that in mind, here is a rooting guide for games that would affect D.C. United if they tied the Montreal Impact

  • New York Red Bulls vs. FC Cincinnati: Best result for D.C. United is that either of these teams wins, and that there is not a draw. A draw would mean one of these teams would definitely jump above D.C. United.
  • Columbus vs. Atlanta United: Best result for D.C. United is for Columbus to win or draw against Atlanta United.
  • Real Salt Lake vs. Sporting Kansas City: Best result for D.C. United is for RSL to beat SKC.
  • Minnesota United vs. Colorado Rapids: Best result for D.C. United is for Minnesota to beat Colorado.
  • Vancouver Whitecaps vs. Chicago Fire: Best result for D.C. United is for the Whitecaps to beat Chicago by less than 4 goals.
  • LA Galaxy vs. Houston Dynamo: Best result for D.C. United is a draw or for the Galaxy to win by less than 5.
  • LAFC vs. Portland Timbers: Doesn’t matter, viewers choice.

If the best case scenarios don’t happen, D.C. United can still make it into the knockout round, but they could also get knocked out if everything goes against them.

So, all that said, it is really quite simple: win, and you’re in.