New York City FC doesn't play today, but two games will help fill out the Eastern Conference playoff picture.
Why does that matter? The standings are so tight that NYCFC, currently #4, might climb to #2 on Sunday—or could be leap-frogged up by an in-form New Jersey Red Bulls that has taken twelve points in the last five games.
New Jersey Red Bulls vs Atlanta United, 7:30 pm
Or the Red Bulls could set the stage for a jump to #4. Here's how:
- Red Bulls beat Atlanta United tonight and
- Red Bulls beat Nashville SC on Sunday and
- Orlando City SC lose to Montréal on Sunday and
- NYCFC lose to the Philadelphia Union on Sunday
That’s a lot of what-ifs, but it’s not beyond the bounds of possibility.
There’s another path for the Red Bulls to reach #4: NYCFC and the Philadelphia Union draw on Sunday, Orlando City loses on Sunday, the Red Bulls beat Atlanta United by 15 goals tonight and draw Nashville on Sunday. Could happen.
Atlanta United is #6, and also could spoil NYCFC’s home field advantage. The Five Stripes will grab the #4 spot if they take at least four points in their final two games and NYCFC loses on Sunday.
Montréal vs Houston Dynamo, 7:30 pm
Montréal desperately wants to win tonight, and climb to #8. Even then, they can reach the playoffs only if the Red Bulls to slip up on Sunday.
NYCFC doesn't have as much at stake in the Montréal vs Houston Dynamo game.
What About NYCFC?
The best-case scenario for NYCFC? Hard to say.
Red Bulls and Atlanta United draw: Red Bulls remain #7, Atlanta United climb to #5, and NYCFC locks down home field advantage with a win or a draw Sunday.
Red Bulls lose to Atlanta United: Red Bulls remain #7, Atlanta United climb to #5 level on points with NYCFC, and NYCFC locks down home field advantage with a win or a draw Sunday.
Red Bulls beat Atlanta United: Red Bulls jump to #5, one point behind NYCFC.
Strategically, a draw stunts both the Red Bulls and Atlanta United, which is good for NYCFC.
Emotionally, a Red Bulls loss puts them in danger of missing the playoffs on Sunday, which feels good if you love NYCFC.
Too bad there’s no such a thing as a dross, a draw-loss: Atlanta United get one point, the Red Bulls get zero, and NYCFC get ready for Sunday. If only.
UPDATE: Red Bulls and Atlanta United drew 0-0, CF Montréal defeated the Huston Dynamo 2-0.