UPDATE (10/20): I've updated everything below to reflect our new understanding from MLS as to how tiebreakers would be used if New York, Kansas City and United all end the season with 40 points.
The results didn't exactly go our way this weekend. Both New York and Kansas City won and leapfrogged United in the standings. Each has 39 points to D.C.'s 37.
In the West, Colorado also won and has the same number of standings points as the Black-and-Red, but with Salt Lake's 3-1 win over FC Dallas, there will only be three teams advancing to the playoffs out of the Western Conference. That means five teams are guaranteed to come out of the East, with the fifth place team sliding over to the Western Conference as the fourth seed. D.C. is in sixth place right now. Got it so far?
So, the team will need a little help ahead of it's final regular season game with the Columbus Crew next Sunday. Here are the games that matter to United fans in the last week of the regular season:
NYRB @ Chicago (9 p.m. ET)
Kansas City @ New England (7:30 p.m. ET)
Real Salt Lake @ Colorado (9:30 p.m. ET)
D.C. United @ Columbus (5 p.m. ET)
If Kansas City and New York win, we'd be eliminated from playoffs and Sunday's game would be rendered meaningless. On the other hand, if either New York or Kansas City draw or lose, we're alive.
If we were to be tied in standings points after all games - say if New York and Kansas City played to draws and we win - the first tiebreaker is head-to-head standings points versus all tied teams, but because KC has only played four games and United and New York have both played five, it is calculated by points-per-game instead. Here's how that shakes out for D.C.:
vs. NYRB: 1-0-1
vs. United: 1-1
vs. NYRB: 1-1-1
vs. Wizards: 1-1
vs. United: 1-1-1
vs. KC: 0-1-1
Our understanding from MLS Communications is that only KC wins a playoff spot with that initial tiebreaker. Once they're in, the tiebreaker reverts to the original head-to-head series between the Red Bulls and United. As previously written, each team has four points from the 1-1-1 record in this year's series. So, then the tie-breaker would go to goal differential which remains:
So, if we get to Sunday following draws by both KC and NYRB, we'd need a four (or more) goal win over Columbus to ensure advancement. If we win by exactly four goals, we'd be tied on goal differential with NYRB, but would advance on the third tie-breaker which is total goals.
If you want to read up on all EIGHT tie-breakers, you can find them at the bottom of this page
So, for the next week, if you're a United fan you'll be cheering - just this once! - for the Fire and Revolution.
Did I miss anything?