"We have eight games left, so that’s eight more finals that we need to play -- like it is our last game."
That was the sentiment shared by Sporting Director and Head Coach Gregg Berhalter following a road loss to the last-place Montreal Impact on Saturday as the Crew battles to qualify for the MLS Cup Playoffs for the first time since 2011. Thanks to a 2-0 D.C. United win over the New York Red Bulls, the Black & Gold remain in playoff position, tied on 33 points with Toronto FC and two points ahead of sixth-place New York.
However, the Crew knows it cannot rely on other teams to falter in a tighlty contested Eastern Conference. Instead, Columbus' fate lies in its own hands -- with seven out of its eight remaining opponents coming from the East. What's more, the Crew's final eight foes have a combined 43-70-37 record, and none of the teams boast a winning percentage over .500. Only the Revolution holds a higher place in the standings, thanks to its win Wednesday against Sporting Kansas City. New England is also the only side on the Crew's remaining schedule with a higher points-per-match average (1.38) than Columbus (1.27).
|New England Revolution (36 pts.)||11||12||3|
|Philadelphia Union (33 pts.)||8||9||9|
|New York Red Bulls (31 pts.)||7||8||10|
|Houston Dynamo (28 pts.)||8||13||4|
|Chivas USA (24 pts.)*||6||13||6|
|Montreal Impact (20 pts)||5||15||5|
*Western Conference opponent
In addition to facing six different opponents over an eight-match span, the Crew plays against the Revolution and the Union twice with a match versus each coming at home and another on the road. The double-fixtures against New England and Philadelphia -- having beaten each club once already in 2014 -- build even more importance with both teams fighting for postseason life just like the Crew.
Though the schedule may be in the Black & Gold's favor, the parity in MLS -- as the Impact showed on Saturday -- is sure to make the final eight matches in the Crew's postseason quest all the more interesting.
*Highlighted dates denote home matches. Click date for ticket information.