The Philadelphia Union is entering the home-stretch of their 2019 season. They are tied on points for 1st place in the eastern conference. With only six weeks left, the Union has their work cut out for them as they try to exceed expectations.
Before the season started, the club set its main goal as hosting and winning a playoff match. Now, the Union have all but secured that, and are close to greatly exceeding those expectations. With six weeks left the Union are in a position to contend for the top of the conference. The road ahead is not a bump-free road. Five of their last six matches are against teams currently in playoff position. To truly exceed expectations Philly will need to get results against the leagues best. Atlanta, LAFC, and NYCFC all come to Chester. From those three matches, seven points out of nine should be enough to prove this team is legit. If that happens, it’s likely the Union would take the top overall seed in the east for MLS playoffs, which would be a huge advantage.
MLS released its 2019 Playoff calendar today, and it shows the importance of finishing on top. The first-place team gets a first-round bye in the playoffs and will have home-field advantage throughout their conference playoff matches. Philadelphia is right there with Atlanta and NYCFC; all three clubs are vying for that spot. All three play one another down the stretch. Things are getting real, and it’s time to take a look at the road to the MLS Playoffs.
The East with 6 Weeks to go:
With six weeks left, there are three teams bucking for the top position. There are also seven clubs fighting for four playoff spots. To put a bow on where things stand in the east, we can see that Hell is definitely real with six games left to play for teams from Ohio.
Here’s a look into the eastern conference playoff picture for all 12 clubs!
A Three-Horse Race for the Top:
Atlanta United just lifted their second Cup in as many weeks. They won the US Open Cup last night, and the US-Mexico clash Campeones Cup a few weeks ago. They finally look like the best team in the eastern conference. They have seven games to break away from Philly and NYCFC who are on their heels.
The Union seems like the odd man out in this race, at least that’s how they are being treated. The Union has been in first place for the longest amount of time this season; they have exceeded expectations with six games to play. This weekend they take on Atlanta, which is shaping up to be the biggest game of the 2019 regular season, at least until their decision day match vs NYCFC.
NYCFC has had a major advantage all season. Since they play their home matches at Yankee Stadium, they had to schedule around the Yankee’s schedule. That means they played a back end heavy schedule. To their credit, City has been a very impressive side this season, and they are very much in the race for the top of the east. They have a league-most eight matches left to play in the final six weeks of the season.
7 Clubs Battling for 4 Playoff Spots
Remember when the Red Bulls were a constant threat to win the East? This year that’s not the case, but they still are a good team, and are in a position to get a home playoff match. Their pressing style is dangerous, and they’ll hope that they can use it to perfection in their last six games of the season.
DC United has fallen off a cliff since the start of August, as Union fans have seen first hand! The news of Wayne Rooney leaving the club at the end of the year, and poor results, mean DC are in for a fight to secure a home first-round playoff match. With five matches left, DC United will need to find their past good form to stop their slide.
New England Revolution made the move of the year bringing in Brue Arena to run the club. Since then, they have lost just once! New England is only three points away from fourth place and that home playoff game spot. With seven matches left, they have a really good shot at a home playoff game, which is baffling when remembering where they were early in the season.
Toronto FC is above the playoff line? No, seriously, they are! They have great talent and have greatly underperformed this season, but they are finally looking like a playoff team with six weeks left. They have seven games left to show they can hold down a playoff spot.
Montreal was once in first place this season; now they are under the red line and look to be trending down. With six games remaining, the Impact has to make an impact to prove that they can make the playoffs. However, their current form does not say that that will happen.
Orlando is still alive. Somehow the Lions are still roaring and could make the 2019 playoffs. Six games remain for Orlando, but their next two could signal the end to their playoff hopes as they play San Jose and LAFC in back to back weeks.
Chicago Fire has been anything but “fire” in 2019, yet they are still alive in the playoff hunt. Chicago only has five matches in these last six weeks. It’s safe to say, that a loss in any match would all-but-eliminate them from playoff contention.
To Hell with You; no Playoffs for
I say this, but Columbus is only seven points out of a playoff spot. However, with only five matches left, they will likely need to win out. If they don’t do that, then they will be watching the playoffs from their couches.
Cincinnati is officially out of the playoff race after a season that has been one of the worst expansion seasons in recent memory. They’ll have to wait for next season to make a push for the postseason.
This Weeks Matches:
Wednesday, August 28th –
Montreal vs Vancouver 8:00 PM
Saturday, August 31st –
New York Red Bulls vs Colorado 7:00 PM
Montreal vs DC 7:30 PM
Columbus vs Chicago 7:30 PM
New England vs Toronto 7:30 PM
Philadelphia vs Atlanta 7:30 PM
Dallas vs Cincinnati 8:00 PM
Kansas City vs Houston 8:30 PM
Vancouver vs New York City 10:00 PM
San Jose vs Orlando 10:30 PM
Portland vs Salt Lake 10:30 PM
Sunday, September 1st
Seattle vs LA Galaxy 6:30 PM
LAFC vs Minnesota United 10:30 PM
This week kicks off tonight, with Montreal and Vancouver taking center stage. When Saturday rolls around, 20 of the 24 teams face off. The Marque matchup is the battle for the top spot in the east as the Philadelphia Union host high-flying Atlanta United. As the week comes to a close, four teams from the top of the west are on display to battle for the positions behind LAFC.
Don’t miss any of the action, and come back next week to take a look at where everyone stands five weeks until the end of MLS’ regular season.
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Peace out Union fans!
Mandatory Credit: Bill Streicher-USA TODAY Sports
Philadelphia Union Editor of Soccer Content
A passion for the beautiful game drives me.