Impact's road to the playoffs: Taking a closer look at the standings

Will Felipe Martins #7, Marco Di Vaio #9 and Matteo Ferrari #13 earn their invitation to the MLS playoffs? (Photo by Jamie Sabau/Getty Images)

After the loss to Columbus, it seems that the playoff hopes amongst those in Impact nation are disappearing. Not so fast!! While the task is not easy, it isn’t impossible either. There are no guaranteed spots for the MLS playoffs just yet. That’s right, even the first place SKC are not a sure bet. Any sports fan knows how wacky and wild a playoff race week can be. A good week here, a bad week there sprinkled with a disaster week here and there and the playoffs landscape can change dramatically in the blink of an eye! Let’s breakdown the standings (as they are on Sunday, Sept. 2nd):

1st place: Sporting Kansas City

50 points

27 games played

Remaining games: Houston, at New York, at Montreal, Chicago, at Columbus, at New York, Philadelphia

Analysis: SKC could be set for a huge fall from grace as they have the most difficult schedule the rest of the way, including 3 road games in stadiums that are known to be extremely difficult to earn points in (New York twice, Montreal). This is the perfect example of ‘It’s easy to get to the top but it’s even harder to stay there’.

2nd place: New York Red Bulls

46 points

27 games played

Remaining games: Columbus, Kansas City, at New England, TFC, Chicago, Kansas City, at Philadelphia

Analysis: New York, in my opinion, is a lock for the playoffs. 5 of their 7 remaining games are in their home fortress and the 2 road games are against non-playoff teams. The Soccer Gods are smiling at the Big Apple.

3rd place : Houston Dynamo

42 points

26 games played

Remaining games : at Chicago, Real Salt Lake, at Kansas City, at Philadelphia, New England, Montreal, Philadelphia, at Colorado PLUS 2 CONCACAF Champions League games.

Analysis: The Soccer Gods hate Houston. There are no easy games on this schedule. The last 2 games against Philadelphia and Colorado will also be tricky as those teams will try to end their bad seasons on positive notes and will love the chance at playing spoiler. Roster management will be key as their manager Dominic Kinnear must pray that all his men remaining healthy and disciplined. Houston should not feel safe.

4th place: Columbus Crew

42 points

26 games played

Remaining games: at New England, at New York, Chivas, at Chicago, Philadelphia, Kansas City, at DC United, TFC

Analysis: How long will this run last? All the other teams in the MLS are looking at Columbus as an inspiration on how to play for the remainder of the year. If they can keep this pace, they should punch their ticket to the post season. The only concerns here would be their defense and making sure that Higuain and Gaven remain healthy.

5th place: DC United

41 points

27 games played

Remaining games: New England, at Philadelphia, Chivas, at Portland, at TFC, Columbus, at Chicago

Analysis: They just suffered a tight loss to Real Salt Lake. Once they come back from the international break, they will play 4 games in about 14 days. That is a tough schedule for any team. De Rosario and friends also get no break as their last two games are against teams that are directly involved in the playoff race.

6th place: Chicago

41 points

25 games played

Remaining games: Houston, at TFC, Montreal, Columbus, at Kansas City, Philadelphia, at New York, at New England, DC United PLUS 1 game against Santos Laguna

Analysis: Chicago is on the outside looking in and just may stay there. They not only have a difficult schedule with 6 games remaining against teams in the playoff hunt but with a total of 10 games left to play in a short schedule, many wonder if Chicago have both the depth and the talent to make it to the playoffs.

7th place: Montreal

39 points

29 games played

Remaining games: at Chicago, Kansas City, at Houston, at TFC, New England

Analysis: The games against Chicago and Houston will be the toughest. With only 2 games in the comfort of Stade Saputo, the Impact will have to be more aggressive and find that killer instinct on the road. The cliché ‘6 point game’ no longer applies. Every game is now a 9 point game (have I ever mentioned how much I hate that cliché?). With the fewest amount of games remaining and most of the games being on the road, the Impact’s task is extremely difficult but not impossible. All they can do is handle their business and if the Soccer Gods decide to smile at the team from La Belle Province, they will be invited to the post season tournament.

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