1022PlayoffPicture

I bring good news and bad news. The bad news is that Orlando City did not earn all three points in Week 31, drawing 1-1 with CF Montréal. The good news, which far outweighs the bad in terms of playoff qualification, is that not a single team currently fighting for Eastern Conference playoff positioning won their game on Wednesday night:

Orlando City 1-1 CF Montréal

Atlanta United 1-1 NYCFC (preferred result: draw)

D.C. United 2-3 New England (preferred result: New England win)

Minnesota United 3-2 Philadelphia (preferred result: Minnesota win)

Nashville SC 1-1 Columbus Crew (preferred result: draw)

In every other match, Orlando City got their preferred result, meaning that even with a draw they actually gained a bit of ground on D.C. United and Philadelphia. Here are the standings going into the final four games:

2. Nashville SC - 49 pts, 11 wins, +20 GD

3. Philadelphia Union - 46 pts, 12 wins, +10 GD

4. Orlando City - 46 pts, 12 wins, +1 GD

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5. Atlanta United - 43 pts, 11 wins, +6 GD

6. CF Montréal - 42 pts, 11 wins, +3 GD

7. D.C. United - 41 pts, 12 wins, +7 GD

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8. New York City FC - 41 pts, 11 wins, +11 GD

9. New York Red Bulls - 40 pts, 11 wins, +5 GD (game in hand)

10. Columbus Crew - 38 pts, 10 wins, -3 GD

Orlando City faces a big test this Sunday night, welcoming in the New England Revolution (7:30 p.m., FS1). The Revs barely escaped the Lions last month at Gillette Stadium after American international goalkeeper Matt Turner saved a penalty, but Orlando will have home field advantage this time around. New England has already clinched the top seed in the Eastern Conference playoff field. Here are the other games to keep an eye on this weekend:

Columbus Crew (38 pts, 10th) vs. New York Red Bulls (40 pts, 9th)

Saturday 10/23, 6 p.m.

After drawing in Nashville on Wednesday, the Crew are up against it, needing to leapfrog three teams over the final four games to secure a chance to defend their title. Fortunately for them, one of those three teams is coming to Lower.com Field on Saturday. The red-hot New York Red Bulls, fresh off a Hudson River Derby win that catapulted them back into the playoff picture, are coming to town after getting the mid-week off.

For Columbus, things seem to boil down to the form of their big-name attackers, Lucas Zelarayán and Gyasi Zardes. Zelarayán scored the Columbus goal against Nashville, marking his first goal contribution in seven appearances, while Zardes recorded a brace in the Crew’s previous game against Miami. The Red Bulls, meanwhile, have gone 5-0-2 in their last seven on the back of a furiously stingy defense, allowing just two goals in that stretch of seven games. All five of their wins in the streak have been shutouts.

New York City FC (41 pts, 8th) vs. D.C. United (41 pts, 7th)

Saturday 10/23, 7:30 p.m.

It can’t really get much bigger than this, a game between the two teams straddling the playoff line–straddling it via a tiebreaker, I might add. D.C. United held an early lead on Wednesday against New England but squandered it, eventually falling 3-2 to the Supporters’ Shield leaders. The Black and Red have dropped five points in their last two and have seen themselves fall from third to seventh in the table.

It’s been way worse for NYCFC, who were able to salvage a point in Atlanta but have just one win in their last 10. If there’s an upside for the Pigeons, though, it’s that they’ll play three of their last four games at Yankee Stadium, where they have gone 30-4-10 over the past four years, including a 4-1-1 mark in 2021 (NYCFC is 4-3-3 at their “other” home of Red Bull Arena, including road games against RBNY).

Philadelphia Union (46 pts, 3rd) vs. Nashville SC (49 pts, 2nd)

Saturday 10/23, 7:30 p.m.

Here’s a major opportunity for Orlando City. The two teams directly above the Lions in the table play each other this weekend, meaning at least one of them is guaranteed to drop points, though a draw is obviously the preferred result. Nashville has seen their fair share of draws this season, with four in a row and 16 total, easily the most in the league and just two shy of the single-season record of 18. MVP candidate Hany Mukhtar scored his 14th goal of the season on Wednesday to save a point against the Crew.

Philly, meanwhile, had the lead in Minnesota before the Loons rallied for their hometown fans and took all three points. The loss was the first for the Union in the league since September 3. A strong defense that propelled them up into third place has suddenly gone leaky, conceding five times in the last two matches. However, the Union haven’t conceded multiple goals in a home game since May 1.

Toronto FC (25 pts, 13th) vs. CF Montréal (42 pts, 6th)

Saturday 10/23, 7:30 p.m.

It may be too much to ask for much help from Toronto, who were unable to get a helpful result against Atlanta last weekend and who fell 3-0 at Inter Miami in mid-week action. Montréal, having secured a valuable point at Exploria Stadium, will look to get all three at BMO Field on Saturday night. Montréal has beaten the Reds twice this year by a combined score of 7-3, but the first of those games took place in Fort Lauderdale and the second at the Stade Saputo.

In the Hunt Rooting Guide for Week 32

CLBvRBNY: draw

NYCvDC: draw

PHIvNSH: draw

TORvMTL: Toronto win