The Playoff Picture | Three To Go


Despite Sunday night’s heartbreaking 2-2 draw against New England, Orlando City finds its situation largely stable from our last update. In fact, the Lions can wrap up a playoff spot on Wednesday night in Columbus under the following conditions:

Orlando City wins against Columbus AND

D.C. United and the New York Red Bulls draw AND

Atlanta United loses against Inter Miami

The Lions remain entrenched in fourth place, needing some help to move up into second but still in control of their own destiny with regards to hosting a playoff game. Here are last week’s results, along with our preferred outcomes:

Orlando City 2-2 New England Revolution

Columbus Crew 1-2 New York Red Bulls (preferred result: draw)

NYCFC 6-0 D.C. United (preferred result: draw)

Philadelphia Union 1-0 Nashville SC (preferred result: draw)

Toronto FC 1-1 CF Montréal (preferred result: Toronto win)

As you can see, things did not fall for Orlando nearly as nicely as they did Wednesday, with NYCFC, Philadelphia, and RBNY picking up crucial victories while Montréal at least avoided defeat against Toronto. Here are the updated standings:

2. Philadelphia Union - 49 pts, 13 wins, +11 GD

3. Nashville SC - 49 pts, 11 wins, +19 GD

4. Orlando City - 47 pts, 12 wins, +1 GD


5. New York City FC - 44 pts, 12 wins, +17 GD

6. New York Red Bulls - 43 pts, 12 wins, +6 GD (game in hand)

7. Atlanta United - 43 pts, 11 wins, +6 GD (game in hand)


8. CF Montréal - 43 pts, 11 wins, +3 GD

9. D.C. United - 41 pts, 12 wins, +1 GD

Columbus and Inter Miami both sit at 38 points with three to play, mathematically alive but on life support. Orlando will head to Field to take on the Crew on Wednesday night (7:30 p.m., FOX35 PLUS/LionNation TV) looking to bounce back and reach 50 points for the first time as an MLS club. Here are the other matches worth watching on Wednesday night:

Atlanta United (43 pts, 7th, game in hand) vs. Inter Miami (38 pts, 10th)

Wednesday 10/27, 7:30 p.m.

Atlanta United enjoyed the weekend off and now sit four points behind Orlando City for a home playoff match with a game in hand. The Five Stripes have a favorable schedule as well, playing three teams below the line over their last four games. Atlanta snuck past Miami 1-0 on September 29 thanks to a late Josef Martínez penalty.

Miami are technically alive, but a brutal September left them far behind the main pack of contenders, and they’ll need a miracle to sneak into the bottom of the playoff field. So while a win for the South Floridians would theoretically keep them breathing, it’s not a bad result for Orlando considering it would mean a loss for Atlanta.

FC Cincinnati (20 pts, 14th) vs. Nashville SC (49 pts, 3rd)

Wednesday 10/27, 7:30 p.m.

Is it too much to hope for a result here? Nashville hasn’t exactly been convincing recently. The Boys in Gold are winless in six and have seen their rock-solid playoff position slip, with Philadelphia going ahead of them into second on a tiebreaker after last weekend’s game. Hany Mukhtar remains a threat, but Nashville needs someone else to step up–they have just three goals total and have been shut out in four of the six games on their current winless run. That said, Cincinnati has just one win in their last 22 games.

D.C. United (41 pts, 9th) vs. New York Red Bulls (43 pts, 6th)

Wednesday 10/27, 7:30 p.m.

The Red Bulls have completely turned their season around in the past six weeks. Winners of four straight and 6-0-2 in their past eight games, New York has gone from dead in the water to above the playoff line. Center back Sean Nealis was the most recent hero, scoring in the 87th minute to lift the Red Bulls past Columbus on Saturday.

D.C. United will hope for a better performance against a New York team after what happened to them last weekend. NYCFC scored three times in the first 11 minutes and would go on to cruise to a 6-0 victory at Yankee Stadium last weekend, putting D.C. below the playoff line and in a scary situation going into the final few games. The Black and Red have just one point in four games in the month of October.

New York City FC (44 pts, 5th) vs. Chicago Fire FC (34 pts, 12th)

Wednesday 10/27, 7:30 p.m.

That 6-0 blowout had to feel good for NYCFC, who came into the match with a 1-5-4 record over their previous ten games. Maxi Moralez, Jesús Medina, Taty Castellanos (twice), and Thiago Andrade all found the scoresheet for the Pigeons. A home game is absolutely essential for NYCFC in the playoffs–they have a +20 goal differential in seven matches at Yankee Stadium this season compared to a -3 GD in 24 matches elsewhere. Fortunately for them, this game is also happening at Yankee Stadium, and it’s against a Fire team that’s already eliminated and looking to a new regime next season. Hope but don’t expect here.

Toronto FC (26 pts, 13th) vs. Philadelphia Union (49 pts, 2nd)

Wednesday 10/27, 7:30 p.m.

Same situation here, though Toronto did pitch in a bit by holding Montréal to a draw on Saturday, and this game takes place at BMO Field rather than in Chester. Nevertheless, the Union are red-hot, 5-0-2 in their last seven and now into second place in the Eastern Conference. They’d love to guarantee themselves two playoff games at home and they can do so if they win out.

In the Hunt Rooting Guide for Week 33

ATLvMIA: draw or Miami win
CINvNSH: Cincinnati win
DCvRBNY: draw
NYCvCHI: Chicago win
TORvPHI: Toronto win