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Saturday, October 22, 2011
MLS: K.C. wins East, RSL 3rd in West

By Scott French

HOUSTON -- Sporting Kansas City won the Eastern Conference title and Real Salt Lake claimed third place in the West -- and a berth in the main playoff bracket -- on the penultimate day of Major League Soccer's regular season.

Matt Besler's goal nine minutes into the second half sent K.C. (13-9-12) to a 1-0 victory at D.C. United and nailed down the top spot in East, with Philadelphia (11-8-15)  also securing a top-three finish when Columbus (13-13-8) lost at Chicago.

Real Salt Lake (15-11-8) finished third in the Western Conference despite a 1-1 draw against Portland and will meet Seattle in a home-and-home first-round series. FC Dallas, playing later, would have vaulted past the Utahns with a victory at San Jose, but the Earthquakes -- with Chris Wondolowski scoring his 16th goal to tie D.C.'s Dwayne De Rosario for the top spot in the league -- romped to a 4-2 victory.

That gives FC Dallas (15-12-7) the top seed among wild cards, and defending MLS Cup champion Colorado (12-9-13) is the No. 2 wild-card team after a 2-1 triumph at Vancouver.

Only one game remains in the regular season: The Galaxy plays Sunday at Houston. The Dynamo (11-9-13) would finish second in the East with a victory, with Philly third and Columbus and New York (10-8-16) taking the Nos. 3 and 4 wild-card berths. A draw would leave Philadelphia in second, Columbus third, and Houston ahead of New York for the No. 3 wild-card slot. If the Galaxy wins, New York remains in front of Houston.

Seattle-RSL is the only concrete postseason matchup. The Galaxy's first-round playoff opponent will be the No. 2, 3 or 4 wild-card team. Wild-card games are Wednesday and Thursday, and first-round series begin next weekend.

Here's what the postseason race looks like:

In the playoffs:
1. *W1-Galaxy 64 points (ceiling 70)
2. *W2-Seattle 63 (63)
3. *W3-Real Salt Lake 53 (53)
4. *WC1-FC Dallas 52 (52)
5. *E1-Sporting Kansas City 51 (51)
6. E2-Philadelphia 48 (48)
7. E3-Columbus 47 (47)
8. *WC2-Colorado 49 (49)
9. WC3-New York 46 (46)
10. WC4-Houston 46 (49)

11. Portland 42 (42)
12. Chicago 43 (43)
13. D.C. United 39 (39)
14. San Jose 38 (38)
15. Chivas USA 36 (36)
16. Toronto FC 33 (33)
17. Vancouver 29 (29)
18. New England 28 (28)

W -- Western Conference; E -- Eastern Conference; WC -- Wild card; * -- clinched position