SPORTS

Toronto FC playoff hopes hang by a thread, Vancouver also in need of points

10/09/2014 12:58 EDT | Updated 12/09/2014 05:59 EST
TORONTO - Toronto FC's playoff hopes hang by a thread going into a weekend road trip to New York to face the Red Bulls.

In the West, the Whitecaps are also on the outside looking in, but with a game in hand over the Portland Timbers who sit on the playoff bubble.

Neither is sitting pretty. But of the two, Toronto will be squirming a bit more.

In the wake of a 1-0 loss to the Houston Dynamo on Wednesday, Toronto (11-13-7) sits in sixth place — one spot out of the playoff picture in the Eastern Conference — with three games remaining.

Five teams in each conference make the playoffs. All of the Eastern clubs have three games to play.

Toronto has 40 points, three less than the fifth-place Columbus Crew (11-10-10) and four less than fourth-place New York (11-9-11).

On Wednesday, Toronto coach Greg Vanney said Toronto had lost its margin for error with the Houston setback.

"We've got to be almost perfect from here on out," he said.

A loss or tie Saturday against the Red Bulls and Toronto would still be mathematically alive in the playoff hunt. But there would only be a tiny sliver of hope.

A Toronto loss, coupled with a Columbus win in Philadelphia, would be all but fatal.

That would put the Red Bulls, with 47 points out of reach. Columbus, at 46, would be six points ahead of Toronto with two games to play.

Toronto would then have to win at home against the Montreal Impact and on the road in New England and hope that Columbus not pick up a point at New York and at home to Philadelphia.

In the event of a tie, Toronto would have the tiebreaker edge over Columbus with more wins.

In the West, sixth-place Vancouver (10-8-13) has work to do after Portland's 3-0 win over San Jose on Wednesday.

The Whitecaps have 43 points, two behind the Timbers, but have a game in hand,

Vancouver visits powerful Seattle on Friday before playing at San Jose and hosting Colorado, two teams already out of the playoffs. Portland finishes at home to Real Salt Lake and away to FC Dallas.

Sportsclubstats.com, which tracks playoff races, estimates Toronto's chances of making the playoffs at 18.4 per cent, down 25.2 after Wednesday's loss. It has Vancouver at 37.8, down 15.7 after Portland's win.

Sporting Kansas City, third in the East with 46 points, is one of four teams that can clinch a post-season berth this week. The others are the New England Revolution (second in the East, 48 points), Real Salt Lake (third in the West, 49 points) and Dallas (fourth in the West, 48 points).

East leader D.C. United (52 points) has already qualified for the playoffs. In the West, No. 1 Seattle and No. 2 Los Angeles Galaxy (both 60 points) have booked their post-season ticket.

Two teams can be eliminated from post-season contention this weekend: Philadelphia and Houston.

Montreal, Chivas and Chicago have also already been ruled out.

Toronto, which entered the league in 2007, has never made the playoffs. Vancouver, which joined in 2011, qualified for the post-season in 2012.

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