As the tail end of the MLS season approaches it’s time to bring back “What We Want to Happen.” For those that are new to The Blue Testament, or my writing for the last few years, around this time of year when positioning and playoff seeding comes into play I start to take a look at all the MLS games and how they’ll affect Sporting and their playoff seeding and league positioning. Since Sporting Kansas City is off this weekend it felt like a good time to start this year’s version. At this point of the season every team in MLS has 11 or fewer games remaining in their 2021 regular season. No teams have clinched a playoff berth yet, but as the weeks go by spots will start to be filled by teams in both conferences. With that said, here’s this year’s first “What We Want to Happen” for today’s slate of MLS games.
DC at Atlanta
What we want to happen - Draw
Both teams currently occupy a playoff spot in the Eastern Conference, but DC is currently 12 points behind KC while Atlanta is 13 points back with both teams having played one fewer game than Kansas City. The only reason this game matters for Kansas City is in terms of a potential MLS Cup match up against either team and who would host. So with that in mind, the best for KC is for neither team to pick up all three points.
Columbus at New England
What we want to happen - Columbus win
The Columbus Crew sit 16 points behind Kansas City with nine games left to play. The New England Revolution sit nine points ahead with nine to play. Kansas City catching New England seems as likely at this stage as Columbus catching Kansas City in a potential chance to host MLS Cup should they meet. So with that in mind a Columbus win to close the game to 13 points while keeping New England within nine points is probably the best for KC at this point.
NYCFC at Cincinnati
What we want to happen - Cincinnati win
FC Cincinnati would have to take 26 of their final 33 points to catch Sporting KC’s current point total to finish ahead of Kansas City in the Supporters Shield standings. So put another way, that’s not going to happen. So pretty much any time going forward that Cincinnati plays they’re very likely going to be the team that Sporting fans are going to want to root for.
Nashville at Toronto
What we want to happen - Toronto win
Toronto cannot catch Sporting on points the rest of this season. With 15 points through 24 games, Toronto’s point maximum is now 45, one behind Sporting’s 46 current point total. So this is an easy pick going with the team that can no longer catch KC.
San Jose at Austin
What we want to happen - Austin win
For Austin, the bottom team in the Western Conference to catch Kansas City, they need to take 27 of the final 30 points while Kansas City lose out. So with that in mind hoping for an Austin win is the easy choice here even though San Jose’s chances of catching KC aren’t much better. And despite KC’s draw last year in the playoffs, a potential playoff match up with San Jose in not a big worry come the playoffs.
Los Angeles at Minnesota
What we want to happen - Minnesota win
I could easily be argued in favor of a draw for this game instead of a Minnesota win, but I’ll go with a Minnesota win right now. A win for Minnesota today would still leave them 12 points behind Kansas City with 10 games left to play, not an insurmountable stretch, but a stretch that wouldn’t be easy to top Kansas City.
Dallas at Houston
What we want to happen - Houston win
This is close to being the first “doesn’t matter” of the season. FC Dallas sit in 10th place, 19 points behind Kansas City with nine games left to play. Houston sit 23 points behind KC with nine games to play. Houston’s maximum points is 50, four points ahead of KC’s current total. So for now I’ll vote for Houston as it is harder for them to catch KC. Plus given KC’s recent form against Dallas, not facing them may work better for Sporting.
Seattle at Salt Lake
What we want to happen - Salt Lake win
This result would keep Sporting ahead of Seattle and atop the Western Conference for another week. An argument can be made for a draw, which would keep RSL 12 points behind Kansas City with nine games to play for them and keep Kansas City in first place in the West on the goals scored tie breaker ahead of Seattle. For now though I’ll go with an RSL win to not give Seattle any points with the expectation that RSL will drop points elsewhere.