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2012 MLS Playoffs: Previews and Seeding Scenarios for Each Team

Kevin LeeCorrespondent INovember 2, 2015

2012 MLS Playoffs: Previews and Seeding Scenarios for Each Team

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    It's that time of year again. With only a few matches left to be played in the regular season, the Major League Soccer Cup playoffs are quickly approaching.

    The new playoff format stresses the seeding of teams in each conference. The fourth and fifth seeds must play a single-elimination play-in game to advance to the Conference Semifinals.

    In addition, with the Conference Finals now being a two-legged, aggregate series, having home-field advantage in the second leg will be a boost for whichever team is seeded higher.

    Here's a team-by-team breakdown of current playoff seedings and how they may change in the final weekend of the season.

San Jose Earthquakes

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    Current Seed: 

    Western Conference No. 1 (65 points with one match remaining)

    Possible Seeds:

    Locked in at WC No. 1

    Final Week Match:

    at Portland Timbers

     

    Team Preview:

    The San Jose Earthquakes have already clinched the top seed in the Western Conference. They also have clinched the Supporters' Shield (most points in the regular season). 

    Say what you will about the unbalanced schedule helping out San Jose earn the Supporters' Shield. They were the most consistent team throughout the season and are deserving of the title.

    Their final game against Portland still has meaning, though, because with two more goals, Chris Wondolowski will surpass Roy Lassiter and his 27 goals to set a new record for goals scored in a single MLS season.

Seattle Sounders FC

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    Current Seed: 

    Western Conference No. 2 (56 points with one match remaining)

    Possible Seeds:

    No. 2 or No. 3

    Final Week Match:

    at L.A. Galaxy

    Seeding Scenarios:

    Remain No. 2 if 

    • Win at L.A. and Real Salt Lake Draw or Loss
    • Draw at L.A. and Real Salt Lake Loss
    • Same result (Win/Win, Draw/Draw, Loss/Loss)*

    Drop to No. 3 if

    • Draw at L.A. and Real Salt Lake Win
    • Loss at L.A. and Real Salt Lake Win or Draw
    • Same result (Win/Win, Draw/Draw, Loss/Loss)*

    * signifies a tie in points. The tiebreaker is "goals for" in the season. Seattle leads Real Salt Lake in GF 51-46. If goals scored is even, then season goal differential will be used. Seattle leads Real Salt Lake in GD 19-11.

     

    Team Preview:

    Seattle Sounders FC control their own fate at this point in the regular season. With a win against the Los Angeles Galaxy, they are virtually guaranteed the No. 2 seed in the Western Conference.

    The dynamic duo of Fredy Montero and Eddie Johnson have been terrific for Seattle. Seattle is a quality team but seem to just fall short in the playoffs every season.

    They have yet to reach the Conference Finals of the playoffs. In order to do so this year, they'll have to go through a strong Real Salt Lake team that they haven't beaten in three tries this season.

Real Salt Lake

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    Current Seed: 

    Western Conference No. 3 (56 points with one match remaining)

    Possible Seeds:

    No. 2 or No. 3

    Final Week Match:

    vs. Vancouver Whitecaps

    Seeding Scenarios:

    Remain No. 3 if 

    • RSL Draw and Seattle Win
    • RSL Loss and Seattle Win or Draw
    • Same result (Win/Win, Draw/Draw, Loss/Loss)*

    Rise to No. 2 if

    • RSL Win and Seattle Draw or Loss
    • RSL Draw and Seattle Loss
    • Same result (Win/Win, Draw/Draw, Loss/Loss)*

    * signifies a tie in points. The tiebreaker is "goals for" in the season. Seattle leads Real Salt Lake in GF 51-46. If goals scored is even, then season goal differential will be used. Seattle leads Real Salt Lake in GD 19-11.

     

    Team Preview:

    Real Salt Lake is once again a contender for the championship. With the likes of Fabian Espindola, Kyle Beckerman and Alvaro Saborio, the team has all the pieces it needs to make another successful run at the Cup.

    They surely will be playing with a vengeance after getting knocked out of the group stage of the CONCACAF Champions League just a few days ago.

    They will be facing Seattle in the Western Conference Semifinals to kick off their playoff run.

Los Angeles Galaxy

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    Current Seed: 

    Western Conference No. 4 (51 points with one match remaining)

    Possible Seeds:

    Locked in at WC No. 4

    Final Week Match:

    vs. Seattle Sounders FC

     

    Team Preview:

    After a very bad start to this season, the Galaxy seem to have found their way. As one of the hottest teams during the second half of the season, they have a good chance at making a deep playoff run since the MLS Cup playoffs are all about who's on a roll at the end of the regular season.

    But with minor injuries to Landon Donovan and David Beckham, will L.A. be able to repeat as champions? They've shown last week that without those two key players, they can keep up with the likes of San Jose.

    Also, the loss of injured center-back AJ DeLaGarza, who may be ready to play sometime during the playoffs, may really hurt L.A.'s defense.

    Although they should easily get past Vancouver in the play-in game, having a mid-week game with so many injured players is not at all ideal for the Galaxy. 

Vancouver Whitecaps

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    Current Seed: 

    Western Conference No. 5 (42 points with one match remaining)

    Possible Seeds:

    Locked in at WC No. 5

    Final Week Match:

    at Real Salt Lake

     

    Team Preview:

    In just their second season in MLS, the Vancouver Whitecaps have earned a spot in the MLS Cup playoffs. They are also the first Canadian team to appear in the postseason. 

    The addition of Scottish midfielder Barry Robson has made the team much more dangerous. With the Jamaican duo of Dane Richards and Darren Mattocks, the Whitecaps are just that much more potent on offense.

    The question now is whether or not they can beat the Galaxy when it counts. L.A. have yet to lose to Vancouver since the Whitecaps joined MLS.

Sporting Kansas City

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    Current Seed: 

    Eastern Conference No. 1 (63 points with no matches remaining)

    Possible Seeds:

    Locked in at EC No. 1

    Final Week Match:

    vs. Philadelphia Union (2-1 Win for SKC)

     

    Team Preview:

    Probably the most consistent team throughout the season besides San Jose was Sporting Kansas City.

    Known for giving Chad Johnson (Ochocinco) a four-day trial during the offseason, SKC has come a long way from those times.

    They started off the season with a perfect 7-0-0 record and also beat Seattle Sounders FC to win the 2012 Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup.

    Kei Kamara, Graham Zusi and CJ Sapong have all contributed to the success of the team so far. They were the top seed in the Eastern Conference last year and fell to the Houston Dynamo in the Conference Finals.

    A year has passed, and something tells me that SKC will make another deep playoff run.

D.C. United

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    Current Seed: 

    Eastern Conference No. 2 (58 points with no matches remaining)

    Possible Seeds:

    Locked in at EC No. 2

    Final Week Match:

    at Chicago Fire (Draw 1-1)

     

    Team Preview:

    D.C. United has had a surprisingly successful season. When you think of D.C., Dwayne De Rosario and Chris Pontius come to mind, but they don't really have any other star players.

    They will be playing rival club New York Red Bulls in the Eastern Conference Semifinals, which will make for a great game. 

    During the regular season, D.C. beat the Red Bulls 4-1 but also lost and drew to them. 

New York Red Bulls

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    Current Seed: 

    Eastern Conference No. 3 (57 points with no matches remaining)

    Possible Seeds:

    Locked in at EC No. 3

    Final Week Match:

    at Philadelphia Union (3-0 Win for NY)

     

    Team Preview:

    On paper, the Red Bulls have a phenomenal team and may even be better than the Galaxy. Their roster is filled with MLS talent and also players who have made names for themselves across the pond.

    Just to name a few, NY has players like Thierry Henry, Tim Cahill, Rafael Marquez, Sebastien Le Toux, Kenny Cooper, Dax McCarty and Heath Pearce. 

    The team is filled with talent, so I'm somewhat surprised that they didn't perform better this season. But now they have a chance to prove themselves and win their first MLS Cup, something that has been long in the making.

Chicago Fire

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    Current Seed: 

    Eastern Conference No. 4 (57 points with no matches remaining)

    Possible Seeds:

    Locked in at EC No. 4

    Final Week Match:

    vs. D.C. United (1-1 Draw)

     

    Team Preview:

    Chicago is another team that surprised me this season. With few big names on their roster, they managed to make the playoffs. Then again, the Eastern Conference isn't exactly filled with great teams.

    Dominic Oduro, Patrick Nyarko and Chris Rolfe have helped the team greatly. The additions of Alvaro Fernandez and Sherjill MacDonald have also benefited the team, but no one has really stepped up and stood out from the rest.

    Marco Pappa might be considered that leader, but he left for SC Heerenveen at  midseason. He played a huge role for the Chicago Fire (second in goals and assists for the team), so his departure may spell disaster for the Fire in the playoffs.

Houston Dynamo

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    Current Seed: 

    Eastern Conference No. 5 (53 points with one match left)

    Possible Seeds:

    Locked in at EC No. 5

    Final Week Match:

    at Colorado Rapids

     

    Team Preview:

    The Houston Dynamo have once again made the playoffs. After losing to the Galaxy in the championship match last year, they look to repeat their success.

    Again led by Brad Davis, Houston must first beat Chicago to get to the Eastern Conference Semifinals. Houston has not beaten the Fire this season, drawing twice and losing 3-1.

Playoff Picture

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    Western Conference Semifinals (Two Legs):

    • (1) San Jose Earthquakes vs. (4) Los Angeles Galaxy or (5) Vancouver Whitecaps
    • (2/3) Seattle Sounders FC vs. (2/3) Real Salt Lake

     

    Eastern Conference Semifinals (Two Legs):

    • (1) Sporting Kansas City vs. (4) Chicago Fire or (5) Houston Dynamo
    • (2) D.C. United vs (3) New York Red Bulls

     

    The MLS Cup playoffs are unique in that not many other leagues in the world use a playoff format to determine a champion.

    What's great about the playoffs is that anybody can win it—just look at the Colorado Rapids in 2010.

    Who will win it all this year? Will the Galaxy repeat as champions? Will it be the Supporters' Shield winners, San Jose? Or will it finally be the New York Red Bulls? Will the Western Conference continue to dominate the playoffs? Or will we see an underdog, such as Chicago or Vancouver, prevail?

    Leave your thoughts and comments below!

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