Before we get into my planned analysis of possible playoff opponents here's a bit of player news from today. Reports are linking the Rapids with Irish striker Daryl Horgan. He's 24 years old and has been a pro in the League of Ireland since 2010. Seems like the Irish pipeline between the Emerald Isle and the Mile High City is getting stronger.
Now, onto the playoff analysis. I figured going into the weekend we should take a look at who we want to play and who we might avoid. To do that I looked at all our games against the 6 other possible Western opponents, both home and away (since both Western Conference playoff rounds we could be in are 2-legged affairs).
As things stand right now, barring an upset either this weekend (giving us the Shield) or in the wild-card round (knocking off LA) we will play the Galaxy in the Western semifinal round. This year we beat LA 1-0 at home and tied them 0-0 and 1-1 on the road. That would be good enough to win the playoff series.
If its not LA then it could be any of the other 4 teams. FSL, Seattle, KC, and Portland can all finish anywhere between 4th and 7th (out of the playoffs). Our records this season:
FSL: 1-0 win at home, 0-1 and 2-1 losses on the road. Those results would be good enough to get us through on the away goals tiebreaker, or at least get us into an overtime at home.
Seattle: 3-1 win at home, 1-0 win on the road. A great set of results
KC: 1-0 wins at home, 2-1 win on the road. Due to the away goals rule, this would be our best set of results
Portland: 0-0 draw and 1-0 win at home, 1-0 loss on the road. This would be the only set of results that could eliminate us, or at best force us into an overtime.
So we really want to face Seattle or KC, LA would be ok, FSL and Portland we'd like to avoid.
Assuming we get past the semifinal round, the Western final would most likely be against Dallas. Results this weekend would determine which order the home and away game would go in. Overall this year we had a 1-1 draw at home and a 1-0 win on the road, which would get us through to MLS Cup. Not that I'm confident in a scenario when we're playing Dallas but history does favor us. :D
Should we make it as far as MLS Cup we could face any of 6 teams from the East. There's a slight chance (if RBNY wins and we lose this weekend) that we could go to Red Bull Arena for the game, otherwise we'd play it at home. We only played half the Eastern playoff teams at home this year, including Red Bull. Our results:
RBNY: 2-1 win
Toronto: 1-0 win
Philly: 1-1 draw
The other 3 we played on the road, but they would come here in the case of MLS Cup:
NYCFC: 5-1 loss
Montreal: 2-2 draw
DC: 1-1 draw
If you assume that the home advantage would help us and going on the road to RBNY would hurt us then we want to avoid going to New York and we want to avoid Philly and NYCFC coming here. We should feel pretty good about RBNY and Toronto coming here and we should like our chances getting the home advantage against Montreal and DC.
So bottom line, we'd like to see FSL, Portland, and NYCFC eliminated quickly (of course we want that every year with FSL) to avoid our biggest challenges based on our regular season results.