Following this past weekend’s slate of action in which the Black & Gold sat out because of a scheduled bye week, the Crew still remains in contention for the 2013 MLS Cup Playoffs ahead of Saturday’s tilt against the New England Revolution.
To recap last week’s movement in the Eastern Conference playoff picture…
· New England picked up three points in a road win at Montreal Impact
· Philadelphia gained one point from a 1-1 draw on the road with D.C. United, and
· Chicago was able to take over the fifth and final playoff spot in the East thanks to a 3-2 win over FC Dallas and a much needed three points in the standings
Moving forward, only five points separate seeds four through eight in the East with the Crew sitting in eighth and two games against the Revolution left to be played in the next two weeks.
Crew wins in both of those contests with New England would cap them at 47 possible points, meaning the Revs would be out of the playoff picture if the Black & Gold do their job. As far as the rest of the teams are concerned, at least two of three teams ahead of the Crew in that scenario (Montreal, Chicago, and Philadelphia) can only pick up one point over the next two weeks in order for Columbus to clinch a playoff berth.
For Columbus, it is simple – win or go home.
As for the rest of the League, here is the mathematical breakdown of the games in Week 34 of MLS action that weigh the most on the Crew’s playoff chances.
Montreal Impact (13-11-7, 46 points) at Los Angeles Galaxy (14-11-6, 48 points) – UPDATE, FINAL: LA 1 - MTL 0
Dating back to September 14 when the Black & Gold defeated the Impact 2-0 in at Stade Saputo, the Impact have gone 1-5-1 in their last seven contests and are sliding out of playoff contention in the East.
Montreal is the only team in the playoff picture that has three games left on their schedule heading into this week’s action, but they will catch up to the rest of the Eastern Conference with two games this week versus the Galaxy (October 16) and the Union (October 19).
If the Impact pick up a win against the Galaxy who are trying to stay alive in the Western Conference playoff race it would not mean the ‘end of the world’ for the Black & Gold’s playoff hopes as Montreal currently has a hold on the fourth spot in the East.
That said, a combination of an Impact loss or tie Wednesday against the Galaxy could go a long way in improving the Crew’s chances.
Philadelphia Union (12-10-10, 46 points) at Montreal Impact (13-11-7, 46 points) – Saturday, October 19, 2:00 p.m. ET
Regardless of the result of Wednesday’s game between Montreal and Los Angeles, the Crew needs the Impact and the Union to tie in Saturday’s contest.
If the Galaxy helps the Black & Gold's cause and defeats the Impact Wednesday and then Montreal and the Union go on to tie Saturday, that would put both teams at 47 points apiece.
That scenario would bode well for the Crew especially if those teams were to remain tied at 47 points in the standings at the end of the regular season as Columbus would assume the tie-breaker due to a higher total in the win column.
That said, if Montreal wins Wednesday and loses Saturday, the Black & Gold would be eliminated from playoff contention – so a lot rides on the results of the Impact’s two games this week.
Toronto FC (5-16-11, 26 points) at Chicago Fire (13-12-7, 47 points) – Saturday, October 19, 8:30 p.m. ET
Toronto FC will head into this matchup with the opportunity to play spoiler as they have already been eliminated from the 2013 MLS Cup Playoffs.
As far as the possible results are concerned, the Crew needs Toronto to win on the road at Toyota Park in order for the Black & Gold to have a chance to catch the Fire in the standings next week.
Similar to the how things go with Montreal, if the Fire pick up a win or a tie against Toronto FC or next week at New York, it would not mean the end of Columbus’ playoff aspirations.
In the end, someone has to have the fourth seed and if the Fire accumulates any additional points in the standings before the end of the regular-season, they could be that team.
The key for the Crew moving forward will be how they fare in relation to that critical fifth and final playoff spot – not the fourth seed.
The Black & Gold need some help if they are going to make it into the playoffs, but all of that can be thrown out the window if they do not take care of business against the Revolution in New England on Saturday.