Four games remain in the 2012 MLS regular season in a tightening Eastern Conference playoffs race. Currently, four teams are battling for the final three playoff spots in the East behind leaders Sporting Kansas City and the Chicago Fire. This is how the rest of the season shapes up in the race for the remaining three spots:
COLUMBUS CREW 45 points (13-11-6) 1.5 PPG | Last 5 matches: W-L-L-W-L
The Crew currently sits on the outside looking-in in sixth place on the Eastern Conference table. Three of the Black & Gold's remaining four matches come at Crew Stadium where the club is 9-3-2 this season. All of the Crew's remaining opponents will be familiar foes as the Columbus has faced each team left on its schedule twice already this season. The Black & Gold has split with one win and one loss with the Philadelphia Union, Sporting Kansas City, and D.C. United, and beat Toronto FC in both matches so far this season. The Crew's lone road match, October 20 at D.C. United could potentially be the deciding game in both teams' playoff hopes.
Remaining games: 9/29: vs. Philadelphia Union Purchase Tickets
10/7: vs. Sporting Kansas City Purchase Tickets
10/20: at D.C. United Pub Tour
10/28: vs. Toronto FC Purchase Tickets
HOUSTON DYNAMO 46 points (12-8-10) 1.53 PPG | Last 5 matches: D-L-W-D-L
At the moment, the Dynamo holds the fifth and final playoff spot. Like the Crew, Houston will play three of its final four matches at home. The Dynamo has yet to lose in brand new BBVA Compass Stadium, which plays to the club's advantage. Additionally, all of Houston's remaining opponents are in the bottom half of their respective standings.
Remaining games: 9/29: vs. New England Revolution
10/6: vs. Montreal Impact
10/20: vs. Philadelphia Union
10/27: at Colorado Rapids
D.C. UNITED 50 points (15-10-5) 1.67 PPG | Last 5 matches: D-L-W-W-W
United plays three matches on the road, traveling to Portland, Toronto, and Chicago in its last four matches. There has been no drop off for the Black-and-Red after losing reigning MVP Dwayne De Rosario to a knee injury, but D.C. will need to string road results together without the playmaker to stay in the playoff race. United's October 20 home finale against the Crew will be a must-win at RFK Stadium, where it hasn't lost since March 20. D.C. United finishes its season in Chicago against the Fire. Frank Klopas' side hasn't lost to an Eastern Conference opponent at Toyota Park all season.
Remaining games: 9/29: at Portland Timbers
10/6: at Toronto FC
10/20: vs. Columbus Crew
10/27: at Chicago Fire
NEW YORK RED BULLS 50 points (14-8-8) 1.67 PPG | Last 5 matches: D-D-W-L-D
Tied with D.C. United in third place, the Red Bulls have the luxury of playing its next three matches at Red Bull Arena where its lost just once this season. However, two of those home matches come against Eastern Conference frontrunners Sporting KC and the Chicago Fire. Hans Backe's side finishes the season with a trip down I-95 to face the Philadelphia Union.
Remaining games: 9/29: vs. Toronto FC
10/6: vs. Chicago Fire
10/20: vs. Sporting Kansas City
10/27: at Philadelphia Union