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MLS’s Western Conference playoff picture is set

Oct 28, 2013, 1:52 AM EDT

Caleb Porter's Portland Timbers would vault to second in the Supporters' Shield chase with a Sunday win over rival Seattle. (Photo: Getty Images.) Getty Images

Even though all five of the West’s playoff teams were decided before Sunday’s games, matches in Seattle and Vancouver left some doubt. Even though the Timbers and Real Salt Lake had claimed the conference’s top two spots, nobody knew where the Galaxy, Sounders and Rapids would end up.

Yet despite eventful games at BC Place and CenturyLink, the teams finished as they started. LA will go straight into the conference semifinals after claiming the third seed, while the Sounders are set welcome Colorado to Seattle mid-week. That four-five match will decide who meets the conference champion Timbers in the West’s semifinals.

Colorado’s fate was sealed by Camilo Sanvezzo, whose hat trick claimed the Golden Boot and relegated the Rapids to the five-seed. While Colorado certainly didn’t want to end their season with a 3-0 loss, they can content themselves with a 35th game few predicted they’d see.

[MORE: Hat trick allow Camilo to claim the Golden Boot.]

In the regular season’s last game, Seattle needed a win to claim the West’s third spot, a result they were 12 minutes away from after Clint Dempsey‘s first Sounders goal. But Robbie Keane’s volley off an attempted clearance kissed the turf before flying past Michael Gspurning, giving LA the result they needed (1-1) to skip this year’s four-five game.

[MORE: Seattle ends losing streak, but not without controversy.]

That leaves us with these postseason matchups:

Who: Seattle Sounders vs. Colorado Rapids
What: First Round (Four-Five game)
How: One-game, winner take all
When: Wednesday or Thursday

The teams split their three regular season meetings, leaving the series’ most dramatic result for last. Seattle won the season’s first match 1-0 in Colorado before the teams drew 1-1 at CenturyLink. On October 5, Colorado handed Seattle the loss that pushed them into this free fall, beating them 5-1 at Dick’s Sporting Goods Park. Either Seattle avenges that loss or Colorado exploits the vulnerability they exposed.

Who: Real Salt Lake vs. LA Galaxy
What: Conference Semifinal
How: Two-legged series, RSL hosting game two
When: Saturday or Sunday; then Nov. 6 or 7

A huge matchup between teams that haven’t met since August. Los Angeles has won two of three meetings, outscoring RSL 7-5 along the way. With Jason Kreis likely to approach leg one looking to limit damage on the road, scores are unlikely to be that high. Still, this is an MLS Cup final-caliber matchup in the conference semifinal round – the cost of living life in the Western Conference.

Who: Portland Timbers vs. Seattle/Colorado
What: Conference Semifinal
How: Two-legged series, Portland hosting game two
When: Saturday or Sunday; then Nov. 6 or 7

A Portland-Seattle semifinal would produce the atmosphere MLS has tried to showcase since Pacific Northwest soccer came to the league.  That matchup would feature two teams who split their season series, Portland winning the last derby at JELD-WEN after taking one point from two games in Seattle. If Colorado comes through, the Timbers will meet a team who’s only taken one point from the teams’ three-game series.

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