As the Black & Gold enter a critical bye week following their loss to Sporting Kansas City last Saturday at home, the team currently sits in eighth place - just four points behind Philadelphia for the fifth and final playoff spot in the Eastern Conference.
While the team’s playoff hopes are out of their hands heading into this weekend’s MLS action, Crew Interim Head Coach Brian Bliss will definitely be scoreboard watching as his team’s aspirations of receiving a playoff berth will be on the line.
“We are holding hope that the D.C. United - Philadelphia result goes our way and that we are still playing for something come next Saturday,” Bliss said. “We have to watch the games closely this week and I think the Philly-D.C. game has the biggest magnitude on our part and we are hoping D.C. does us a solid.”
Outside of the D.C. United and Philadelphia Union match, the Crew will also be closely paying attention to the Houston Dynamo-Sporting Kansas City match tonight as well as the Montreal Impact and New England Revolution tilt slated for Saturday. A combination of a win or a tie by the Dynamo tonight and wins by the Impact and Union would result in the Crew being eliminated from playoff contention.
Although Bliss’ squad has been sidelined this week due to the bye and will be following the results of these games very closely in the coming days, the team has not stopped from competing hard in practice in meantime.
“I think on Monday there was a little residual on [the loss], but I think by the end of training there were no ill effects of it because the intensity, the drive, and how the guys approached training was phenomenal given the circumstances,” said Bliss. “I was very pleased with the work ethic and mentality … with no game on the weekend, they are still getting after it. I can’t ask for much more from my guys.”
The Crew concluded this week’s training earlier today and will be off Thursday through Sunday as the team -- and Black & Gold players Federico Higuain and Danny O’Rourke in particular – look to recover from some lingering injuries.
With just three weeks left in the regular season, playoff seeding in both conferences is up for grabs – especially in the Eastern Conference where five points separate five teams between fourth and eighth place.
“Just looking at the standings, if we could have reduced a couple of these losses to a couple of ties – two points as you can see is monumental,” said Bliss.
“We are where we are and we have to do the best we can.”