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NYCFC’s playoff picture, explained

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NYCFC could rise to #2, or fall to #6

A NYCFC fan celebrates during MLS regular season game...
Will he be cheering for the New Jersey Red Bulls on Sunday?
Photo by Lev Radin/Pacific Press/LightRocket via Getty Images

Note: Updated November 7, 2021

New York City FC, currently #4 in the Eastern Conference, could end the season #2 on the table—or #6, and spend the playoffs on the road.

It all depends on what happens this Decision Day.

NYCFC’s playoff picture snapped into focus once last night’s results were logged and tallied. (Give the witchcraft division here at Hudson River Blue full credit for predicting/conjuring that ugly draw between the New Jersey Red Bulls and Atlanta United.) Still, the question remains: Will NYCFC keep its place in the top four, and earn home field advantage in the first round?

Here is every possible scenario for NYCFC:

NYCFC will be #2 if...

  1. NYCFC defeats the Philadelphia Union and
  2. Red Bulls defeat Nashville SC

NYCFC will be #3 if...

  1. NYCFC defeats the Philadelphia Union and
  2. Nashville defeats the Red Bulls

NYCFC will be #4 if...

  1. NYCFC draw the Philadelphia Union or
  2. NYCFC lose to the Philadelphia Union and
  3. CF Montréal defeats or draws Orlando City SC and
  4. FC Cincinnati defeats or draws Atlanta United FC

NYCFC will be #5 if...

  1. NYCFC lose to the Philadelphia Union and
  2. Orlando City defeats Montréal or
  3. Atlanta United defeats Cincinnati

NYCFC will be #6 if...

  1. NYCFC lose to the Philadelphia Union and
  2. Orlando City defeats Montréal and
  3. Atlanta United defeats Cincinnati

To sum it up: NYCFC will earn a top-four spot and home field advantage with a win or a draw.

It's worth noting the intrigue with the Red Bulls at #7, just above the cutoff.

We’ll let our frenemies in New Jersey do their own math, but basically: A Red Bulls loss on Sunday means they could miss out on the playoffs, while a Red Bulls win means they book their ticket to the post-season—and could set up NYCFC to jump to #2.

Talk about a dilemma. Do NYCFC supporters cheer on the Red Bulls, the spoilers from Harrison? Or do we root for Nashville, and accept a lower spot in the table if it means the Red Bulls tumble out of the playoffs?

That's the real decision to make on Decision Day.