The final weekend of the 2004 regular season is shaping up to be among the most riveting in recent years as all five games carry great significance with playoff or record-setting implications (Check the latest MLS regular season standings).
The order of tiebreakers follows below:
(1) head-to-head season series
(2) overall goal differential (against all teams)
(3) overall goals scored (against all teams)
No. 1 seed: The Columbus Crew (48pts) have clinched the No. 1 seed and will host Game Two of their Conference Semifinals in a match to be televised on ESPN2 on Sunday, October 31 at 5:00 p.m. ET. The Crew need a win against the Colorado Rapids to capture their first MLS Supporters' Shield, honoring the team with the best record in the MLS regular season. In order for the Crew to earn the Supporters' Shield with any other scoreline, the result of the Kansas City Wizards' final game (46pts) will be a factor.
The Crew will also be looking to extend their MLS-record unbeaten streak to 18 games with a positive result against Colorado.
No. 2 & No. 3 seed: The MetroStars and D.C. United know they will face each other in the first round of the Conference Semifinals. The only thing yet to be determined is seeding and that will be decided in the final game of the 2004 regular season on Sunday, October 17 (5:00 p.m. ET on ESPN2).
No. 4 seed: The final postseason berth in the Eastern Conference will be decided between the New England Revolution and defending Eastern Conference champion Chicago Fire when the two teams meet in their final regular season match on Saturday, Oct. 16 (7:30 p.m. ET). The Revolution need a victory at all costs to earn the No. 4 and final seed and the right to face the Columbus Crew in the first round of the playoffs. Two results (a win or tie) would suffice for the Fire, who are in the driver's seat ahead of the game at Gillette Stadium.
No. 1 & No. 2 seed: The Kansas City Wizards (46pts) and Los Angeles Galaxy (43pts) will face each other in Kansas City with the No. 1 seed in the Western Conference on the line. The Wizards know a win or a tie will give them home field advantage in a future Western Conference Championship game. The Wizards are also in pursuit of the MLS Supporters' Shield with the Columbus Crew (48pts). If the Wizards finish tied with the Crew for the best point total in the MLS regular season, goal differential would decide the Supporters' Shield winner (the season series between the Crew and Wizards is tied 1-1-1).
Meanwhile, the Galaxy must secure a win against the Wizards by a difference of two goals (2-0, 3-1, etc.) to finish with the No. 1 seed by virtue of the third standings tiebreaker - total goals (season series and goal differential would also be tied in that scenario). A Galaxy win by a difference of three or more goals would give Los Angeles the No. 1 seed by virtue of the second tiebreaker (goal differential). The season series between the two teams currently stands in favor of Kansas City (1-0-2).
No. 3 seed: The Colorado Rapids (40pts) are in the driver's seat toward clinching the No. 3 seed. However, a loss against Columbus in their final match would open the door for the San Jose Earthquakes (37pts) to catch the Rapids and land the No. 3 position on goal differential (season series between Rapids and Earthquakes is tied 1-1-2).
No. 4 seed: The Dallas Burn (35pts) and defending MLS Cup champion San Jose Earthquakes (37pts) will meet in Dallas on Saturday, October 16 (8:30 p.m. ET) to determine which of the two will earn the fourth and final playoff spot in the Western Conference. Only a win will give a postseason berth to the Burn while two results would do the trick for the Earthquakes.
At the end of the regular season four teams qualify from each conference and advance to the home-and-home, aggregate goal MLS Cup Conference Semifinals (No. 1 vs. No. 4 and No. 2 vs. No. 3). The two teams left standing in each conference will meet in a Conference Championship with the winners of each advancing to MLS Cup 2004 at The Home Depot Center on Nov. 14 (live on ABC Sports at 3:30 p.m. ET).
Individual tickets are now available for MLS Cup 2004, which will be broadcast live on ABC Sports at 3:30 pm (ET) on Sunday, Nov. 14, at The Home Depot Center in Carson, Calif. Individual ticket prices are as follows: $55 (sidelines), $40 (corners), $32 (upper deck) and $28 (goal line). For more information or group sales, contact the Los Angeles Galaxy toll-free at 1-877-3GALAXY or visit www.lagalaxy.com. To purchase tickets today, visit Ticketmaster or call at 1-800-366-8652.