PLAYOFF PICTURE | Crew SC poised to host Knockout Round as push heats up

COLUMBUS – The Black & Gold’s 1-1 draw against the likes of Sporting Kansas City on Sunday afternoon in Columbus was crucial to solidifying Crew SC’s 2017 playoff hopes with only five matches remaining on the schedule.

The Black & Gold currently sit in fourth place with a record of 13-12-4 (43 points) — meaning that, if the season ended today, Crew SC would host a Knockout Round Match in late October at MAPFRE Stadium.

Six other Eastern Conference clubs with playoff hopes played over the weekend and, with the exception of Atlanta United, the results favored the Black & Gold.

1. Toronto FC — qualified for postseason

The Reds currently sit atop the Eastern Conference standings with a record of 17-3-8 (59 points) after becoming the first Major League Soccer team to clinch a playoff berth.

Toronto FC rolled over the San Jose Earthquakes, 4-0, on Saturday evening and appear poised to win the Supporters’ Shield with their nine-point lead over second-place New York City FC.

2. New York City FC

A close 1-0 loss to the Portland Timbers did not bode well for New York City FC’s chances to catch Toronto for the top spot in the East. NYCFC took the loss to move their record to 15-8-5 while standing pat in second place with 50 points.

3. Chicago Fire

The team currently jockeying for third place with Crew SC is the Chicago Fire. The Fire tied with the New York Red Bulls 1-1 on Saturday in a result that was favorable for the Black & Gold. Standing at 13-9-6 (45 points), the Fire and third place remain in Crew SC’s sights with just two points separating them.

5. New York Red Bulls

The other half of that 1-1 Chicago draw was the team trailing Crew SC in fifth place, the New York Red Bulls (12-10-5, 41 points). The draw aided the Black & Gold, denying the Red Bulls the opportunity to tie Columbus.

6. Atlanta United FC

The sixth and final spot above the Red Line in the playoff race belongs to Atlanta United FC. Atlanta, the only Eastern Conference team to play after Crew SC over the MLS weekend, played to a 3-0 victory over FC Dallas on Sunday evening to up their point total to 39 points with a record of 11-8-6.

7. Montreal Impact

The Montreal Impact (10-11-6, 36 points) currently sit on the outside looking in after losing to the New England Revolution 1-0 on Saturday. If Crew SC can finish with five points in the remaining five matches, Montreal will be given the difficult task of finishing the season with no more than one loss to unseat the Black & Gold above the line.

Columbus Crew SC will travel north to take on the Vancouver Whitecaps on Saturday, September 16 at 7 p.m. ET before returning home to MAPFRE Stadium to battle the New York Red Bulls on Saturday, September 23.