Jordan Harvey - Josef Martinez - aerial dual
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FiveThirtyEight: Many can qualify for playoffs, but few can win MLS Cup

At roughly the three-quarter pole of the MLS season, the probability specialists at FiveThirtyEight still give 19 teams at least a puncher's chance at making the 14-team field in the 2019 MLS Cup Playoffs.

As far as teams likely to end the season with a title? That cohort is much, much smaller.

Only LAFC have officially punched their ticket by clinching a postseason spot, and yet only four teams in the running have more than a 3% chance to capture the 2019 MLS Cup, according to FiveThirtyEight's most recent projections. That's led by LAFC, of course, who are odd-on favorites to hoist the Philip F. Anschutz Trophy at the end of the season with a 54% chance.

The other three teams in that category come from the East. In order? Atlanta United are given a 13 percent chance at becoming back-to-back MLS Cup champs. New York City FC (12 percent) and the Philadelphia Union (6 percent) are the next likely to end the season winning their clubs' first-ever silverware.

It's not entirely clear how much the new playoff structure — in which every round is a single-elimination match at the higher seed's stadium — plays into these projections.

Meanwhile, in terms of the overall 14-team field, those four clubs virtual locks in the eyes of FiveThirtyEight, and 19 teams are given at least a 19 percent shot at making the field. The last of those is Sporting Kansas City, who picked up a crucial 2-1 home victory over the San Jose Earthquakes in Week 24.

As far as which conference is more open in those final three spots? It's definitely the East. In order, D.C. United (79 percent chance of playoff qualification), the Montreal Impact (63 percent), Toronto FC (54 percent), the New England Revolution (50 percent), Orlando City (40 percent), and the Chicago Fire (22 percent) are the six teams most likely to be battling for those last three positions.


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