With the playoff race fully underway, several MLS clubs are ready to push for a spot in the homestretch of the season. Houston, Chicago, Portland, and Colorado are all within striking distance of the fifth seed in their respective conferences. Can they secure a spot come September?
Will Bruin of the Dynamo was quoted recently by MLSsoccer.com about his club, summing things up perfectly: “We are not a team that should have 25 points.” Houston has not played up to their potential this season. They’ve looked sharp at times, but overall the Dynamo have underwhelmed in their performances. But the Dynamo have a history of making the playoffs by narrow margins. In 2012 and 2013, they made it by just one point. The new additions of Demarcus Beasley and Luis Garrido will strengthen their squad, and the club’s ability to turn things around late in the season will drive them to a fifth seed.
Prediction: 5th place, two above current spot.
The Chicago Fire have had a difficult season. They’ve struggled to score goals consistently all year and at times the defense has lapsed completely. The worst performance of the past month has been to bottom-table SJ Earthquakes, who beat the Fire lost 5-1. Other than that, the defense rarely concedes more than a goal. A bright spot has been the performance of Harry Shipp, a rookie from Notre Dame, who’s netted six goals at CM this summer. For the Fire to make a successful playoff push, they must improve their attack.
Prediction: Finish 7th, two above their current position.
After winning the MLS Cup in 2010, the Colorado has stagnated. Their 30 points in 24 games should be higher, but the Rapids have had a problem with competing with top teams all year. They take care of business against teams outside of the playoff picture, but lose a step when facing clubs like Seattle or Kansas City. They need to find a way to perform consistently, or they likely will miss the playoffs this year.
Prediction: 8th, one above current place.
We have seen what Caleb Porter and the Timbers can do. When they are playing their best soccer, Portland can be a top team in the league. But consistency has been a problem this year. Diego Valeri has been great all year along with Donovan Ricketts, but the club needs a new player to step up to make the playoffs. Next week’s match against Rival Seattle Sounders will be an indication of what we’ll see from the Timbers the rest of the season.
Prediction: Finish at current spot, 6th place.