Since there were no MLS games over the weekend nothing has changed for the Crew other than bringing sharper into focus what is ahead as training resumed Monday after a few days off.
The Crew goes into Saturday’s match at D.C. United in a precarious position: They can’t clinch a playoff berth with a win but a loss could potentially eliminate them before the season finale on Oct. 28.
That’s because a tie with Sporting Kansas City on Oct. 7 ensured they must get help to qualify for the postseason for a team-record fifth straight season.
“Going on the road to get a win is tough,” midfielder Eddie Gaven said. “It would have been nice to win that last one at home. It would have taken some of the pressure off. We didn’t, so we’re going in there with the mindset we’re going to get all three points.”
His answer earlier in the season might have been that a tie on the road is a good result.
While it’s true that all points are created equal – a win two months ago is worth just as many points as a victory in October – there wasn’t the sense of urgency when the Crew faced D.C. in RFK Stadium on Aug. 4. The Crew lost that night to drop a spot to seventh but they still had 14 matches left and games in hand on all the teams above them.
It’s a different scenario now. The Crew (14-11-7, 49 points) is sixth and trails fifth-place Houston by one for the final spot. New York is fourth at 53 and D.C. United is third with 54. All three also have a pair of games left and they hold the tiebreakers over the Crew.
So, is the match vs. D.C. United the proverbial “must win”?
A loss or tie would end any chance of catching D.C. or New York and the Crew’s playoff hopes would remain viable only if Houston does not win at home against Philadelphia the same night.
Crew coach Robert Warzycha said there will be no settling for a point if the opportunity arises, “We have to win the game.”
A Crew victory opens the possibility of finishing as high as third if New York (hosting Sporting Kansas City) and Houston do not secure three points on Saturday.
That’s when it would get really interesting because D.C., New York and Houston end the regular season on the road Saturday, Oct. 27. By the time the Crew kicks off the next afternoon against Toronto FC their fate may have already been decided or they will know exactly what they need to do continue into the postseason.