What just happened?! Union drop to sixth place


The results were not in the Union’s favor this past weekend. A 3-2 loss to Red Bull, and every other contending Eastern Conference team winning saw the Union drop two spots to sixth place.

Now with two games remaining, Philadelphia sit just three points ahead of seventh place New England. The redline is now closer to the Union and many are panicking that they could in fact lose a playoff spot in the last two weeks of the season. However when looking at the Eastern Conference playoff odds, you can see that the Union would have to flop big time in their last two games to miss the playoffs in 2016.

For every playoff-seeking team there is something called a magic number. This is a number that dictates how many more points a team needs to get into the playoffs. The current MLS Eastern Conference magic numbers look like this:

The Union have a 93% chance of making the playoffs, and have a magic number of four. That however is only one part of the Union’s playoff scenario. The Union can still climb up the table and get a knockout-round home game. Heres how they can do it!

The remaining games for the four teams battling for the last three playoff spots (MTL, DC, NE & PHI) look like this:

MTL: vs Toronto Oct. 16th 3:00 PM. @ New England Oct. 23rd 4:00PM.

DC: vs NYCFC Oct. 16th 3:00 PM. @ Orlando City Oct. 23rd 4:00PM.

NE: @ Chicago Oct. 16th 3:00 PM. vs Montreal Oct. 23rd 4:00 PM.

PHI: vs Orlando City Oct. 16th 3:00 PM. vs New York Red Bulls Oct. 23rd 4:00PM.

Montreal sits at 44 points, and has a difficult schedule to end their year. Toronto wants to get that top spot in the east after already clinching the playoffs. New England may still be alive in the their season finale, which could prove to be a tough road game for Montreal. Even with a tough schedule, the Impact have a magic number of two; two points will see them into the playoffs. Montreal has tough games, but are in a win-and-in situation. For the Union to top Montreal in the standings, Philly would need to either:

Win one game and have MTL lose both.
OR Win both games and have Montreal lose both games.
OR Win both games and have Montreal win one game and tie one game.

DC United has jumped up the table in recent weeks. They currently sit in fifth place with 43 points. Their last two games are difficult as well. Playing their home finale against an NYCFC team determined to reach the top of the East could be humble this high-flying United team. There last game at Orlando City will be difficult as well. Jason Kreis will have Kaka and the rest of OCSC raring to have other teams join them in a postseason-less November/December. DC’s magic number is three. They only have to win one game to be assured a playoff spot, which would complete an astounding midseason turnaround. The Union only sit one point behind DC United, so here’s how they can jump their I95 rivals:

Tie both games and have DC lose both.
OR Win one game and have DC lose both.
OR Win Both games and have DC win one game.

New England have the easiest schedule but the longest shot of making the 2016 playoffs. Currently sitting in seventh place with 39 points New England plays at long-since eliminated Chicago. Then finish their season at Montreal, which if some crazy things happen could be a win-and-in game for New England. New England’s magic number is 10 which actually doesn’t mathematically eliminate them. If the can get wins, and have other teams lose by huge margins then they can make the playoffs. As for the Union, here’s how the can keep the revolution at bay:

Win one game and have New England lose one game.
OR Tie both games and have New England lose one game.
OR Both teams win out.

The Union can make moves to get a home playoff game!To do so, they will have to face a Orlando team who would love to play spoiler to the Philly playoff hopes; and also, play Red Bulls who could be playing for the top spot of the East in the last game of the season. So with the Unions magic number of four how do they make the playoffs? Like this:

Win one game and tie one game.
OR Win one game and have New England lose one game.

How can the Union move up to fourth, and get that important home knockout-round game? like this:

Win both games and have Montreal and DC lose one game.
OR Win a game and tie a game and have Montreal and DC lose both games.
OR Win win a game and tie a game and have Montreal lose both games and have DC lose and tie one game.

All in all the Union are looking to stay above the red line, but if the soccer God’s could shine down on Philadelphia and help them move to fourth place, then they could have a better chance at being the dark-horse in the Eastern Conference. That being said, they could shock everyone and be a sixth-seeded surprise team that makes a run. For now though we need to look at the probability at making the playoffs. 93% are very good odds, and it’d take some pretty crappy soccer to screw the Union out of the playoffs in 2016!