Now that the international “break” is over, the home stretch of the MLS regular season commences! With only four weeks to go, it’s do-or-die time! Let’s take a look at where the east is headed with a month left in the regular season!
The East with 4 weeks to go:
Even though there were only five teams in action this past week in MLS, there was still some shakeup in the standings. NYCFC claimed first place, Toronto moved up to sixth place and are only a point out of hosting a playoff spot. Orlando drew LAFC and kept their playoff hopes alive. What does all this mean for the eastern conference and each team’s playoff hopes?
It’s leapfrog again for the top three:
NYCFC took over first place this past weekend by beating the New England Revolution. They had to score two goals while being up a man for around 80 minutes, and just barely squeaked out the win. This coming week they have two difficult matches, that will finally take away the absurdity that is the number of games they had in hand over the rest of the conference.
Philadelphia didn’t ply an MLS match this weekend, but they remain in the thick of the race for the top of the East. This weekend they take on the league’s best team LAFC. The Union is brimming with confidence, will that translate to taking all three points on their home field against what could be the best team in MLS’ history?
Atlanta United also had the week off but fell further off the pace for first place due to NYCFC’s win. The club could, and should, get back to their winning ways this coming weekend as they welcome underachieving Columbus Crew. A win will help them keep pace with the two other horses in this race!
Are things clearing up for these “Playoff” sides?
DC United seems to have solidified themselves in the playoffs, after struggling to get results through most of August, DC demolished Montreal two weeks ago. Now they have Rooney and Acosta back to full form, and they are looking to make the stretch run to host a playoff match. They take on Portland this Sunday to try to keep their spot.
Red Bulls didn’t play last week, and the results fell so they are still only a point out of hosting a playoff game. New York plays Seattle this weekend with the chance to win more points in this up-and-down season they are having. A win would end a two-game skid they have been on over the past three weeks.
Toronto moves up again after beating FC Cincinnati this past weekend. TFC has great talent but has lacked the killer instinct they once had. However, they are peaking at the right time this season, and are in a position to secure a playoff spot and even a home playoff game! They have two games this week; winning both would send them even further up the table.
New England will feel shafted after losing to NYCFC this past weekend. They went up inside of the first five minutes, they went down a man due to a VAR induced red card. After playing down a man for 80 minutes NYCFC was able to find two goals and all three points. The Rev’s are still in the race for a home playoff match and look to gain ground on that front this weekend against Orlando.
Could a fringe team legitimately make a playoff run?
Montreal Impact is not looking like a true playoff team. Two weeks ago they were thrashed by DC United, and now are two points out of the last playoff spot. They take on Cincinnati this weekend, which could help them get closer or even above the playoff line!
Orlando City almost beat LAFC last weekend. They drew the powerhouses of the Western Conference, and are four points out of the playoffs. They take on New England this coming weekend with a chance to close that gap to make the playoffs.
Chicago Fire is still alive, somehow. They didn’t play last weekend but are ready to get back in the swing of things this week vs FC Dallas. Chicago has four games left and are five points out of the playoffs. They’ll need a miracle to make the playoffs, but they still have a chance!
Ohio; Goodbye, yo:
Columbus still isn’t officially eliminated, but they’ve been out of the playoff hunt for some time now. They are eight points out with four matches to play, should they fall this weekend at Atlanta they’re done-zo.
Cincinnati lost again, this time to a Toronto FC side who badly needed the win and goals for that they got by playing the MLS cellar dwellers. Dear future expansion sides, do not follow the FC Cincinnati model as a new side in MLS… looking at you Nashville.
Matches, Matches, Matches!
After a week where most teams were on the international break, the MLS action ramps up with four weeks to go!
Wednesday, September 11th:
NYCFC vs Toronto – 7:00 PM
Houston vs Minnesota – 8:30 PM
Colorado vs LA Galaxy – 9:00 PM
Real Salt Lake vs San Jose – 9:30 PM
Saturday, September 14th:
NYCFC vs San Jose – 12:30 PM
Chicago vs Dallas – 3:30 PM
Atlanta vs Columbus – 7:00 PM
Montreal vs Cincinnati – 7:30 PM
Orlando vs New England – 7:30 PM
Philadelphia vs LAFC – 7:30 PM
Vancouver vs Houston – 10:00 PM
Sunday, September 15th:
Portland vs DC – 3:30 PM
Toronto vs Colorado – 5:00 PM
Minnesota vs Real Salt Lake – 5:30 PM
Seattle vs NY Red Bulls – 6:00 PM
LA Galaxy vs Kansas City – 10:00 PM
That’s 15 matches this week! Be sure to tune into all the action to see how this historic and fun season plays out!
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Mandatory Credit: Noah K. Murray-USA TODAY Sports
Philadelphia Union Editor of Soccer Content
A passion for the beautiful game drives me.