mls cup

The MLS Cup playoff race picture in the East

Three big points for the Impact with just five games to go

Mission accomplished in Philadelphia. After conceding a set-piece goal, Montreal rolled up its sleeves and found weaknesses in the Union’s defense, scoring four times to bring back a crucial victory from Talen Energy Stadium. And considering the results of the Impact’s closest pursuers, who all dropped points, the Impact cemented itself in sixth, while getting closer to the teams above it in the standings.

Just as we suspected, the MLS Cup playoff race is very tight in the East, but for now, the Bleu-blanc-noir has its destiny in its own hands and will play the majority of its remaining games at Stade Saputo. Rémi Garde mentioned it after Saturday’s game: “I hope the stadium will be full next Saturday, with supporters who are happy with what we’re achieving at the moment. We’ll need them.” We’re waiting for you for the game against NYCFC, Saturday night at 7:30pm (TVA Sports).

1. Atlanta United (x)
Games remaining: 6 (3 home, 3 away)
Points: 57

What?! Josef Martinez didn’t score in Colorado? No worries, since Atlanta has its fair share of dangerous attacking weapons, in this case Miguel Almiron and Tito Villalba. With a one-point lead in the MLS general standings and a game in hand on its closest pursuers, it’s hard to see anyone other than Tata Martino’s team lift the Supporters’ Shield at the end of October.

2. New York Red Bulls (x)
Games remaining: 5 (3 home, 2 away)
Points: 56

For a team fighting for the highest honours the league has to offer, we found the Red Bulls to be a little…wingless. They needed an incredible performance from striker Bradley Wright-Phillips in front of the opposing goal to come away with one point against their D.C. United rivals, but with six goals conceded in two games, the New York team has work to do before the playoffs start.

3. New York City FC
Games remaining: 5 (2 home, 3 away)
Points: 49

Not much has changed for the Impact’s next opponent, and it may be better that way for them. It’s time to look in the mirror for a team that’s only managed two points in its last five games, even with David Villa’s return to the starting 11. But there should be no underestimating the Citizens, even if success on the road is rare for them in 2018.

4. Columbus Crew SC
Games remaining: 6 (3 home, 3 away)
Points: 44

A scoreless draw in Dallas is a positive result considering the circumstances, especially before a tricky road game against the Timbers on Wednesday. The Crew continues to roll at a respectable rhythm of two points per game in its last seven games. With a favourable schedule following their trip to Providence Park, it would be surprising to see Gregg Berhalter’s men fighting for survival.  

5. Philadelphia Union
Games remaining: 6 (2 home, 4 away)
Points: 40

How things can change in just a game. In good position following a six-game unbeaten streak, Philadelphia crumbled at home against a direct rival – and its closest pursuer. No break in sight to heal the Union’s wounds: the team is heading to the West Coast for a game against the Sounders, who are beating records at the moment, before returning to Pennsylvania for a game against the Western Conference leaders. After that, it’s the U.S. Open Cup final in Houston that awaits Jim Curtin and his troops…The Union’s heavy schedule is certainly a handicap.

6. Montreal Impact
Games remaining: 5 (3 home, 2 away)
Points: 39

We asked the question last week: did everything finally click for the Impact in that convincing win against the Red Bulls? It certainly seems so. Another attacking outbreak from Montreal allowed the Impact to beat the Union in Philadelphia, but also climb to within a point of the Pennsylvania team in the standings. If there was any worry concerning Nacho Piatti’s production in front of goal, the maestro found a way to put those fears to rest, recording two (maybe even three) assists last Saturday. We’re obviously biased, but it’s difficult to see the Impact miss the playoffs at this pace. 

7. D.C. United
Games remaining: 6 (5 home, 1 away)
Points: 35

We’ve finally reached this incredible moment: D.C United cannot mathematically reach the Impact with its game in hand. It’s BWP’s fault, who scored a hat-trick in the Atlantic Cup rivalry, bringing his team back into the game not once, not twice, but three times. It can be said that the Black and Red dropped two vital points on its home field, and will come storming out in its next game, which is the Impact’s visit to Audi Field on September 29.

8. New England Revolution
Games remaining: 6 (3 home, 3 away)
Points: 34

That point in Los Angeles isn’t exactly what the doctor ordered for the Revs, but when we look at the number of chances generated by former New England player Lee Nguyen and his new teammates, and the equalizing goal for the visitors in the 82nd minute, it can be said that Brad Friedel and his team got away with one. There’s not much wind in the Revolution’s sails at the moment, having managed just one win since the beginning of July.

9. Toronto FC
Games remaining: 6 (3 home, 3 away)
Points: 30

The Zlatan circus made its way to BMO Field on Saturday, and it didn’t disappoint: the big Swede’s 500th career goal was scored in spectacular fashion in Toronto, but didn’t prevent the hosts from winning a festival, 5-3 against the Galaxy. What will be more important for the Reds now? Fighting for a playoff spot, which seems more and more improbable as the games go by, or the first Campeones Cup against the LigaMX champion, Tigres UANL, this Wednesday?