A bye week is no excuse for Crew fans to take the weekend off from watching Major League Soccer. In fact, this weekend’s slate of games is crucial with the Black & Gold still clinging to a chance to qualify for the 2013 MLS Cup Playoffs.
All three of Saturday’s matches – Montreal vs. New England, D.C. vs. Philadelphia and Dallas vs. Chicago – are important to the Eastern Conference playoff race, and two will determine whether the Crew enters next Saturday’s match at New England with hope to make the postseason.
Throughout the month of September and into October, the Black & Gold’s mantra has been to focus on one game at a time, so it only makes sense for fans to do the same on Saturday. Here’s your guide for who to root for on Saturday while waiting for next week’s game.
Montreal Impact (13-10-7, 46 points) vs. New England Revolution (11-11-9, 42 points) - Stade Saputo, 2:30 p.m. ET
Figuring this one out is going to require a little bit of math. Looking at the Eastern Conference standings, Montreal sits in fourth place, five points ahead of Columbus. New England is in seventh, just one point clear of the Crew.
Weighing-in the fact that the Crew and Revolution face-off the final two weeks of the regular-season in a home-and-home, there is no way New England can enter next Saturday’s match out of Columbus’ reach. The Revolution is going to need at least one draw against the Black & Gold to finish ahead of them in the standings.
Montreal, on the other hand, is dangerously close to becoming out of reach. A draw or win Saturday would make it impossible for the Crew to climb ahead of the Impact. The verdict: Crew fans need to root for a Revs win in Montreal. A draw works as well, but for different reasons, as it would keep the Revs mired in the middle of the Eastern Conference.
The only meeting between these two teams this season produced fireworks at Gillette Stadium, thanks in large part to New England goalkeeper Matt Reis’ sending-off in the fifth minute on a foul in the box. Montreal’s Patrice Bernier scored the ensuing penalty kick to give Montreal a 1-0 lead, and the Impact was able to see-off a 4-2 victory against 10 men.
The Revolution will be out for revenge Saturday with Reis back in the lineup. It may be a good opportunity to steal points on the road, as Montreal has failed to win in its last four matches. The Revs will also feel they had two points snatched away last Saturday at Red Bull Arena, where Diego Fagundez’s would-be winner in stoppage time was neutralized by an even later goal by New York’s Tim Cahill. The Crew badly needs the Revs to earn three points in Montreal, but it would be difficult to say the Black & Gold want that result any more than New England. It should make for an exciting match.
D.C. United (3-22-6, 15 points) vs. Philadelphia Union (12-10-9, 45 points) - RFK Stadium, 7:00 p.m. ET
If the Montreal-New England match does not go the Crew’s way, the Black & Gold must hold out hope that this one does.
Again, get out your calculators. Philadelphia sits in the East’s fifth and final playoff spot, four points ahead of Columbus. Anything short of a Philadelphia win on Saturday keeps alive hope of passing the Union over the last two weeks of the season.
Unfortunately, the only thing preventing that from happening is lowly D.C. United, which sits dead last in the Eastern Conference and has failed to win in its last nine MLS matches. While it may seem like Crew fans are rooting for the impossible, D.C. United has already beaten the Union once this season, though it was in the fourth-round of the Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup (United went on to win the tournament).
Philadelphia has won its last two matches 1-0, but that followed a four-game winless streak from Aug. 17-Sept. 14. If D.C. can manage to score multiple goals at home, it may just be able to see off a result against Philadelphia. In the end, that is all Crew fans are hoping for.
FC Dallas (10-10-11, 43 points) vs. Chicago Fire (12-12-7, 43 points) - Toyota Stadium, 8:30 p.m. ET
This one is the simplest of the bunch. Crew fans need their Pioneer Cup rivals to do enough to hold Chicago to a draw. This would give the Fire 44 points heading into the penultimate round of MLS play, allowing the Crew to pass their archrival with two Black & Gold wins over New England.
A Dallas victory doesn't hurt either, but we'll settle for a draw.
FINAL VERDICT: It's going to feel a little funny, but for one weekend, Crew Nation is rooting for New England, United and FC Dallas.