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MLS Standings 2012: With playoffs clinched, D.C. United still needs good performance in last game

D.C. United could finish as high as first in the Eastern Conference, but could also end up in fourth place and need to win a Knockout Round game against the Houston Dynamo if they don't perform in their final MLS regular season matchup.

Ned Dishman

With a playoff berth clinched, D.C. United's opponent will be decided in the MLS' last week of regular season play.

United's last matchup, a road game against the Chicago Fire, is of utmost importance. They can clinch the second seed in the playoffs with a draw or win, which is important because the second and third seeds go directly to the Eastern Conference semifinals. However, if United lose they lose and the New York Red Bulls win their match against the lowly Philadelphia Union, United would fall behind the Fire in the standings and end up tied in points with the Red Bulls, who would win a tiebreaker with more goals scored on the season. That would drop them into fourth place and force them into the knockout round, a one-match playoff against the Houston Dynamo.

United can also take the top seed with a win, as they have a tremendous advantage in the goals column over Sporting Kansas City, but Kansas City can clinch the top spot with a win. The top seed also advances straight to the Eastern Conference Semifinals and has the added benefit of playing the winner of the knockout round matchup.

Here's a look at the top of the conference standings. The rest of the Eastern Conference has already been eliminated entering the last week of play.

  1. Sporting Kansas City - 60 points
  2. D.C. United - 57 points
  3. Chicago Fire - 56 points
  4. New York Red Bulls - 54 points
  5. Houston Dynamo - 53 points