Los Angeles Football Club come into MLS Decision Day in an interesting situation as an expansion side. LAFC currently sit in second in the Western Conference, two points behind leaders Sporting Kansas City.
With one match to play, LAFC has the chance to leapfrog SKC and take the top spot in the West in their inaugural year. The caveat to this? LAFC has to go to Kansas City to play Sporting on MLS’s final day of the regular season.
Since every team except for Real Salt Lake (due to the unbalanced number of teams in the league) plays on Sunday, it is worth looking at two more teams in the West as LAFC wonder where they will finish.
The Seattle Sounders, a team who put together one of the hottest runs of all time in MLS, take on the San Jose Earthquakes, the bottom team in the Western Conference and the team with the fewest points in the league. Seattle currently sit in fourth place, one point behind LAFC.
FC Dallas, meanwhile, who sit in third behind LAFC, are level on points with the Black-and-Gold, but are behind on goal difference. Dallas will travel to Colorado for a Decision Day matchup with the Rapids.
Given that the top four in the West are a total of three points apart, LAFC can finish in a variety of places when action is over on Sunday. LAFC could be on top of the conference, with a bye in the first round of the playoffs and home-field advantage throughout the playoffs. They could also end up dropping to fourth, which would mean they would host a knockout round match at Banc of California Stadium.
Here are the scenarios for LAFC heading into Decision Day:
- LAFC Win: A win against SKC would put LAFC in first place, outright. LAFC would sit at 60 points and have a bye. This is the easiest scenario for Bob Bradley’s side: a win means first place.
- LAFC Draw: A draw with SKC would mean LAFC can finish no higher than second. This is where things get tricky. SKC would be on 60 points, and LAFC would be at 58. LAFC would then be at the mercy of Seattle and Dallas’ results against San Jose and Colorado. In the case that Seattle and Dallas both draw, everyone stays right where they are.
- LAFC draw, Seattle win, Dallas win: LAFC drop to fourth (Seattle third, Dallas second)
- LAFC draw, Seattle draw, Dallas win: LAFC drop to third (Seattle fourth, Dallas second)
- LAFC draw, Seattle win, Dallas draw: LAFC drop to third (Seattle second, Dallas fourth)
- LAFC Loss: An LAFC loss at SKC is essentially the worst-case scenario for Bob Bradley and his men. SKC would lock in the top seed with 62 points, and LAFC would remain at 57, hoping that neither Dallas nor Seattle get a result.
- LAFC loss, Seattle win, Dallas win: LAFC drops to fourth (Seattle third, Dallas second)
- LAFC loss, Seattle draw, Dallas win: LAFC drops to third (Seattle fourth, Dallas second)
- LAFC loss, Seattle win, Dallas draw: LAFC drops to third (Seattle fourth, Dallas second)
- LAFC loss, Seattle draw, Dallas draw: LAFC drops to fourth (Seattle third on number of wins, Dallas second)
To put it in terms of standings...
- LAFC finish top in the West if they win against SKC, straight up.
- LAFC finish second in the case of:
- An LAFC draw, Seattle draw, and Dallas draw
- An LAFC loss, Seattle loss, and Dallas loss
- LAFC finish third in the case of:
- An LAFC draw, Seattle draw, and Dallas win
- An LAFC draw, Seattle win, and Dallas draw
- An LAFC loss, Seattle draw, and Dallas win
- An LAFC loss, Seattle draw, and Dallas draw
- LAFC finish fourth in case of:
- An LAFC loss, Seattle win, Dallas win
- An LAFC loss, Seattle draw, Dallas draw
That is a lot of information and a lot of different permutations. Basically, if LAFC wins, they are in the clear. They control their own destiny. A draw gives the team a bit of wiggle room, because they still have a chance of finishing second. A loss would be brutal for LAFC and would make the trip to the MLS Cup much more difficult. The easiest thing to do for everyone involved is for LAFC to win, avoid the Knockout Round, and prepare for a playoff series.
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