We’re in the thick of it now! There are two weeks left in the MLS regular season! In the Eastern Conference, six teams clinched their place in the playoffs but seeding is still up in the air. One open playoff spot remains, and five teams are battling for it! Let’s take a look at how we got here with two weeks left to play!
The East with 2 weeks to go:
Heading into the second-to-last week, there was another shakeup in the eastern conference standings. At the top, NYCFC took just a point from its only match to keep their lead of four points clear at the top. Atlanta took six points from two matches moving up to second; while Philadelphia lost their one match of the week moving down to third place.
DC won again to move back into fourth place. New York Red Bulls took six points in a week to move to fifth place, while Toronto FC drew against LAFC. All three of these teams clinched playoff qualification as a result!
New England failed to win again, and their hold on the last playoff spot is only three points clear. Chicago couldn’t take advantage of eliminated Cincinnati but still is only three points out. Montreal lost for a third straight week, Orlando hasn’t won in six weeks, and Columbus continues to stay alive; each of them are only four, five and six points out of the playoff spot.
Cincinnati took a point from two matches this past week, but they’re still a non-factor.
Could we see the playoff field be set, and could the seeds be locked at the end of this second-to-last week?
Will the race for 1st go down to the last weekend?
NYCFC Are in the driver’s seat to winning the conference, but their matches this week are tough. They welcome second-place Atlanta tonight and travel to a New England side fighting to solidify their playoff place on the weekend. Should they get four points this week they’d all but ensure the road to MLS Cup would go through Yankee Stadium; or Hartford Connecticut, we’ll see what happens with the Yankees in the MLB Playoffs
Atlanta may be without star striker Josef Martinez, but their sights are still on the top of the east. Should they be able to win on the road tonight at NYC or this weekend at Montreal they will feel that they’re still in the running. Tongihts match will be a massive indicator of where Atlanta will finish this season. Be sure to tune in!
Philadelphia lost their first match in over a month last week, and now make a cross country trip to face San Jose tonight, and then have to travel to Columbus for a match this weekend. They will most likely need to win their last three games to have a chance at the top of the east. They’ll have to start with getting a positive result this week with two away matches.
Three Teams clinched playoffs and duke it out for home-field advantage!
DC can clinch fourth place and a home-field advantage a week after securing a place in the 2019 playoffs. They take on New York Red Bulls in Jersey to do so. Wayne Rooney looks like he wants a real sendoff in his last few matches in MLS. This could be his time to shine and secure a home sendoff in the postseason.
New York seems to have remembered they can play good soccer. They won twice in a week, and are in the same boat as the team they play this week. The chance to beat DC to overlap them and possibly secure a home game in the playoffs makes this rivalry all the better!
Toronto went to LAFC and looked good. They split the points last week, and look to battle for that homefield advantage this weekend as they take on Chicago Fire. Toronto FC have the look of a team that also remembered it has potential to make a run in the playoffs. They should be able to win this weekend and snuff out a playoff contender!
Five Teams battle for that last playoff spot!
New England holds that last playoff spot but has not clinched it yet. They have a strong possibility to clinch it this week, as they play two matches. Tonight they go to Portland and then host NYCFC this weekend. While those are two tough opponents, if the Revs want to be taken seriously, then they’ll look to get two results and lock up the playoff spot!
Chicago is still alive, but after drawing Cincinnati it’s clear that this team will likely be on the outside looking in when the 2019 playoffs start. They host Toronto this weekend. It will either be Chicago’s time to shine, or the door shutting on their playoff hopes.
Montreal is somehow still four points out and therefore mathematically not eliminated yet. That could, and probably will change this weekend as they have to face Atlanta. Montreal takes on Toronto tonight in leg two of the Canadian Championship having won the first leg 1-0. They’ll throw all of their energy into winning that competition tonight, and will likely putter out of MS play this weekend.
Orlando needs to win out to make the playoffs. Being five points out with two matches to play doesn’t bode well for them. Can Nani help them win their last two matches, and could they get some luck and have the teams in front of them drop points? They have the most comfortable schedule of the lot playing Cincinnati this week and Chicago next week. Anything but a win this weekend against Cincy will knock them out of the playoffs
Columbus is on an interesting tear of four games unbeaten. I’ve said they have been done and dusted for over a month now, yet they just won’t die. They need six points from two matches, and also need New England, Chicago, Montreal, and Orlando all to stay at 41 points or below… Can they start that chain of events by beating Philly this weekend in their home finale?
Cincinnati is actually O-U-T, out.
Sorry, Cincinnati! I know I had Columbus with you for the past few weeks, but they are now unbeaten in their last four, so it made sense to put the mostly-dead in the teams’ still alive section, not with those who are fully-dead, like you. Here’s to your the 2020 season!
Two weeks left, every point matters; here are the matches happening this week
Wednesday, September 25th:
NYCFC vs Atlanta United – 7:00 PM
Minnesota vs Kansas City – 8:00 PM
Salt Lake vs LA Galaxy – 9:30 PM
LAFC vs Houston – 10:30 PM
Portland vs New England – 10:30 PM
San Jose vs Philadelphia – 11:00 PM
Sunday, September 29th:
Chicago vs Toronto – 5:00 PM
Cincinnati vs Orlando – 5:00 PM
Columbus vs Philadelphia – 5:00 PM
Montreal vs Atlanta – 5:00 PM
New England vs NYCFC – 5:00 PM
New York Red Bulls vs DC – 5:00 PM
Colorado vs Dallas – 7:30 PM
LA Galaxy vs Vancouver – 7:30 PM
Minnesota vs LAFC – 7:30 PM
Salt Lake vs Houston – 7:30 PM
San Jose vs Seattle – 7:30 PM
Kansas City vs Portland – 7:30 PM
It’s a jam-packed week where half the teams play mid-week and on the weekend! We’ll see if this many games in a short amount of time will muck up the standings even more!
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Mandatory Credit: Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports, Jason Getz-USA TODAY Sports, & Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports