It was a strong weekend for Orlando City, with a victory for the Lions and three of the other four games ending in at least a somewhat helpful way for Orlando’s playoff designs. A quick recap:
FC Cincinnati 0-1 Orlando City
CF Montréal 2-2 Philadelphia (preferred result: draw)
D.C. United 0-0 Nashville SC (preferred result: draw or Nashville win)
Toronto FC 0-2 Atlanta United (preferred result: Toronto win)
New York Red Bulls 1-0 NYCFC (preferred result: draw or RBNY win)
City’s position was largely reinforced by the weekend’s results, with the Lions now three points ahead of Atlanta for fourth and five points above the playoff line with five to play. Let’s take a look at the standings, with the Columbus Crew added into the mix after a season-saving win over Inter Miami:
2. Nashville SC - 48 pts, 11 wins, +20 GD
3. Philadelphia Union - 46 pts, 12 wins, +11 GD
4. Orlando City - 45 pts, 12 wins, +1 GD
5. Atlanta United - 42 pts, 11 wins, +6 GD
6. D.C. United - 41 pts, 12 wins, +8 GD
7. CF Montréal - 41 pts, 11 wins, +3 GD
8. New York City FC - 40 pts, 11 wins, +11 GD
9. New York Red Bulls - 40 pts, 11 wins, +5 GD
10. Columbus Crew - 37 pts, 10 wins, -3 GD
Every team in the race is in action on Wednesday night except the Red Bulls. Orlando City will battle CF Montréal in a six-pointer at Exploria Stadium (7:30 p.m., FOX35 PLUS/LionNation TV), looking to put more distance between themselves and their northern foes while further cementing their top 4 status. Here’s what you need to watch on the scoreboard:
Atlanta United (5th, 42 pts) vs. New York City FC (8th, 40 pts)
Wednesday 10/20, 7:30 p.m.
Atlanta winning was the only result that went against Orlando City this weekend, and it moved the Five Stripes up three spots to fifth in the Eastern Conference table. Goals from Luiz Araujo and Marcelino Moreno were enough to see Atlanta eliminate Toronto from the postseason. The bad news: still no Josef Martinez, and Ezequiel Barco was sent off late against the Reds and will be unavailable for this game against NYCFC.
That’s great news for the Pigeons, who are in a full-on slump, 1-5-3 in their last nine games and suddenly below the playoff line for the first time since April. It was a 1-0 loss in the Hudson River Derby this Sunday that put them there, with NYCFC managing just two shots on target the entire game. Ronny Deila will have to cook up something different to get a result at the Benz.
D.C. United (6th, 41 pts) vs. New England Revolution (1st, 66 pts)
Wednesday 10/20, 7:30 p.m.
After a rather frustrating 0-0 draw with Nashville on Saturday night in which they outshot their opponents 14-6 but couldn’t score, D.C. welcomes in the presumptive Supporters’ Shield winners. Despite Bruce Arena’s protestations that it isn’t a focus, the Revs are looking to unseat 2019 LAFC for the most points ever achieved in an MLS regular season. D.C., with a trip to Yankee Stadium looming this weekend, will have to rebound against the league’s top side.
Minnesota United vs. Philadelphia Union (3rd, 46 pts)
Wednesday 10/20, 8:00 p.m.
Philadelphia plays a rare Western Conference opponent this week, heading to Allianz Field to battle former Orlando City Head Coach Adrian Heath and Minnesota United. The Loons are in the midst of a playoff battle themselves, sitting one point ahead of resurgent Vancouver for seventh place in the West. That should be all the motivation they need to bring it against Philly, who just narrowly missed out on winning their fifth game in six when Sunusi Ibrahim equalized for Montréal at the death.
Nashville SC (2nd, 48 pts) vs. Columbus Crew (10th, 37 pts)
Wednesday 10/20, 8:30 p.m.
As mentioned off the top, Columbus saved their playoff hopes on Saturday with a 4-0 beatdown of hapless Inter Miami. Gyasi Zardes, fresh from international duty with the United States, scored a brace to bring him to nine league goals on the year. There’s still a lot of work for the defending champs to get back to the postseason, though, with four points and three teams between them and the red line.
Nashville, meanwhile, are in an interesting spot with regards to Orlando City. With Saturday’s draw, Orlando are within three points of Nashville for second place, and the Lions play the Tennessee side at Exploria Stadium on October 31, so they don’t necessarily need Nashville to constantly drop points over the next few matchdays in order to catch them. A draw is ideal, but a Nashville win to knock Columbus back down would not be a bad result for Orlando, either.
In the Hunt Rooting Guide for Week 31
DCvNE: New England win
MINvPHI: Minnesota win
NSHvCLB: draw or Nashville win