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The MLS Cup playoff race picture in the East

mls cup decision day

The Montreal squad has only one game to play in the 2018 MLS regular season and the question remains: will the Impact qualify for the MLS Cup playoffs? Decision Day promises to be intense for the Bleu-blanc-noir, who needs to beat the New England Revolution at Gillette Stadium, this Sunday, October 28 at 4:30pm (TVA Sports, TSN, 98,5fm, TSN Radio 690), but who also needs the Columbus Crew SC to lose or draw against Minnesota United FC in Ohio.

The Impact is amongst the last two protagonists of the Eastern Conference playoff race that remain ahead of Decision Day. Who would’ve thought so, after a tough start to the season that saw the team take only 12 points in the first 15 games? Even if their destiny is not in their own hands anymore, we must hail this turnaround: in the next 18 games following this gloomy run, the Bleu-blanc-noir got 10 wins, lost four games and drew another four, which equals 34 points, an average of 1,88 points per game; on the whole season, only Atlanta United and the New York Red Bulls managed a better average. Anyway, here’s the playoff race picture, the last one this season.

1. Atlanta United (x)
Remaining games: 1 (1 away)
Points: 69

The leaders in the MLS standings needed a Chicago Fire own goal to keep their cruising speed, but there are a few logs in the Tata Martino machine ahead of the playoffs: Miguel Almiron is still out injured and talismanic striker Josef Martinez, already in the MLS history books for the highest-scoring season ever, has been blocked at 32 goals for the past four games. Still, if they beat holders Toronto FC Sunday at BMO Field, the Five Stripes will take the Supporters’ Shield home.

2. New York Red Bulls (x)
Remaining games: 1 (1 home)
Points: 68

A small win over the Philadelphia Union thanks to a VAR penalty keeps the Red Bulls in the Supporters’ Shield race. They are still only one point away from leaders Atlanta and they host Orlando City SC on Decision Day. If Atlanta trips up in the Queen City, the New Yorkers surely won’t let the opportunity fly by and should get their hands on the regular season title.

3. New York City FC (x)
Remaining games: 1 (1 home)
Points: 53

The Citizens are stuck in traffic. Only two wins since the start of August puts them at risk. The Union, who visits Yankee Stadium Sunday, and D.C. United are three small points away from NYCFC; if both win on Decision Day, Domènec Torrent’s team would fall to fifth and would have to travel for the knockout game, an unbelievable scenario just a few weeks ago. NYCFC is one of the two possible opponents for the Impact in the knockouts, if Montreal goes through, of course.

4. Philadelphia Union (x)
Remaining games: 1 (1 away)
Points: 50

Having already clinched a playoff spot, the Union could host a knockout game in its Talen Energy Stadium by beating NYCFC or if D.C. United loses in Chicago. Pennsylvania is the other possible destination for the Bleu-blanc-noir, if we play a knockout game.

5. D.C. United (x)
Remaining games: 1 (1 away)
Points: 50

Has D.C. United managed the biggest turnaround in MLS history? Wayne Rooney’s arrival, combined with official opening of the Audi Field, gave the Black and Red a second wind to get out of the bottom of the Eastern Conference. Now assured of a playoff spot, the Washingtonians could earn a playoff game at home by beating Chicago in Illinois.

6. Columbus Crew SC
Remaining games: 1 (1 home)
Points: 48

The Crew is still in the driver’s seat for sixth place, but how did this team let itself go… Two wins in nine put Gregg Berhalter’s men in trouble ahead of Decision Day. A worrying – or encouraging, depending on the point of view – sight is the lack of finishing in front of goal for the Black and Gold, who scored only nine goals during this run.

7. Montreal Impact
Remaining games: 1 (1 away)
Points: 46

The script is written. The Impact must now play it out. Montreal must beat the Revs at Gillette Stadium, a place where the team has not scored or won since 2015, and has to hope that Darwin Quintero’s and Adrian Heath’s Minnesota United FC can do us a favour at MAPFRE Stadium by getting a result – win or draw - against Columbus Crew SC. We’ll live every emotion until the very end.