Dissecting MLS teams: Is it luck or is it skill?

With the Major League Soccer playoffs fast approaching, 15 teams still have a shot at the 10-team postseason – with only a few games to go. With so much parity in MLS, we take a look at what teams are for real, and what ones are just lucky to be there. This week, we start in the Eastern Conference.

D.C. United: First in the Eastern Conference, great physical team. The team’s main striker Eddie Johnson has been on fire as of late. However, he has been known to get into foul trouble on the field.

New England Revolution: Right behind D.C., the Revs are quick and very well balanced from defense up to attack. Designated Player Jermaine Jones has been a welcome addition to the club, playing in the holding midfield role.

Sporting Kansas City: The defending champions are certainly way better than third place. SKC has dominated parts of the season. Expect this team to go very far into the post-season.

New York Red Bulls: Sitting four points above the last playoff spot, New York will be in serious trouble. Loaded with talent like Thierry Henry and Tim Cahill, the club has not managed to pull away like people expected.

Columbus Crew: In the fifth and final playoff spot in the East, Columbus will be in a dogfight in the final days. Lead by a core group of guys, it will be interesting to see how they turn out with only three matches left.

Toronto FC: On the outside looking in, the Reds will need big wins against New York and Montreal to make that crucial playoff push. Those are winnable games for the club, since Jermain Defoe has come back from injury. Besides, the team has a game at hand on some of these clubs as well.

Philadelphia Union: One point behind TFC (and with one extra game played) the Union will need some results to go their way if they want to have a shot. They have showed some serious skill this year, being the only team not in playoff contention to still have a positive goal differential at +1.

Houston Dynamos: These guys are in serious trouble. Nine points out of a playoff spot with four games to go (three points for a win), Houston fans probably won’t have much to cheer for when they take on New England on October 16.

Incredibly, D.C. United is the only team to clinch a playoff berth with three matches left. The team, along with New England and Kansas City, will be the toughest set of teams to come into thee playoffs.

On the other end, Toronto and New York will make it through due to the skill level on both teams. Columbus, Philly and Houston don’t have the depth or skill to push through this interesting set of games in MLS.