The Eastern Conference saw its first team punch a ticket to the 2016 playoffs this past weekend. Toronto FC drew New York Red Bulls 3-3 in dramatic fashion, and in doing so secured one of the six playoff spots. Along with a the playoff spot being claimed, there was some major movement at the bottom of the table this weekend. New England won another league game, while DC drew and Orlando lost. So now New England moves just above the redline, and seems to have the momentum in that three team race. The middle of the pack stayed the same in the East this past weekend. New York Red Bulls stay the two seed after giving up a two goal lead late in Toronto, NYCFC stay the three seed after drawing supporters shield leaders FC Dallas, The Union stay the four seed even though they lost in Portland, and Montreal stays the five seed after a loss to the hot New England team. Theres only six weeks until the playoffs starts! Here’s your guide to the Eastern Conference playoff race Part 2!
The three team race for the six seed:
DC United and Orlando City both had opportunities to move up in the table this past weekend; both teams fell short. Coming into their games,Orlando had an edge over both teams. But a 4-1 loss to irrelevant Columbus, knocked moved them below DC United. United had played a Chicago team that just wont quit at home. The Fire were down to DC but fought to tie the game, and sent their fans home happy. DC gained a point and moved ahead of Orlando on goal difference. New England was in eighth place coming into their match at Montreal. They put together a good team win over Montreal, and with the three points jumped both Orlando and DC!
New England remaining games:
DC United remaining games:
Orlando remaining games:
@ DC United
vs DC United
New England is now in the driver’s seat for the six seed. They have favorable away matches and if they can take care of business against good teams at home then they will get the six seed. If New England screws up, and loses the opportunity in front of them, then it will be a competition between DC and Orlando. They play each other twice in their last five games, and either/both of those matches could help decide who gets the six seed and who falls under the red line!
The top five teams:
Toronto, NYRB, NYCFC, Philly and Montreal are the top five, and chances are they are going to stay in the top five; but where will they be seeded. Toronto has already punched their playoff ticket, and showed great resilience against Red Bulls after being down by two. Jozy Altidore has taken the scoring torch from the injured Sebastien Giovinco, and the Reds look to be a force to be reckoned with.
New York Red Bulls lost a two goal lead, and have made losing late a trend in recent weeks. NYCFC tied FC Dallas, but lost the ageless wonder Frank Lampard for three-four weeks. They still haven’t made that next step in the east. Philly lost 2-1 in Portland. Their normally flawless rookie Keegan Rosenberry had rookie moments resulting in both Portland goals. Montreal lost to the rising revolution and looked weak in their defeat at home. Team defense plagued them yet again! There was no movement this past week in the top five!
Toronto remaining games:
vs DC United
Red Bulls remaining games:
NYCFC remaining games:
@ DC United
Philadelphia remaining games:
@New York Red Bulls
vs New York Red Bulls
Montreal remaining games:
@ New York Red Bulls
vs San Jose
@ New England.
Toronto’s remaining schedule is an easy one; four home games, and close away game. TFC has Jozy Altidore, who has score eight goals in his last nine games. If he can keep the scoring up when Giovinco returns from injury, then Toronto will become the power house they wanted to be after singing the attackers two years ago.
NYRB have a tough schedule to end the year playing Philly back to back. The Union will be fighting for their spot at the top of the East, and the recent streak of points dropped by the Red Bulls should be alarming to those claiming NY is red. NYCFC have a favorable schedule coming up, but will have to finish strong without Lampard. David Villa will need to find some more goals if they want to take one of the top two spots in the East.
The Union are on a bit of a slump after losing at Chicago, drawing Montreal, and losing at Portland. This surprise team of 2016 has a brutal schedule to end the year. If they can get at least one win from their last two road games , and take care of business at home, then they could wind up near the top of the East. Montreal are also slumping, and a loss at home to New England last weekend won’t make them feel any better.The rest of their games are now playoff games for the Impact in 2016.
The East is heating up! There is intensity throughout the conference. Each game matters so much for the teams competing to stay above the red line now more than ever. With six weeks to the beginning of the playoffs, there still can be so major moving pieces.
Here are this weeks important Eastern Conference fixtures:
New England @ Columbus
Orlando @ DC United
Philadelphia @ Toronto
Montreal @ Red Bulls
Chicago @ NYCFC
Who will be where this time next week? Be sure to come back to Philly Sports Network to find out!
Mandatory Credit: Jaime Valdez-USA TODAY Sports