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Gamewatch: Why you should root for Orlando and Cincinnati

A win for Cincinnati (which means a home loss for the Red Bulls) and an upset for Orlando are good news for NYCFC

MLS: CF Montreal at Orlando City SC
Soccer is a family sport.
Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

New York City FC fans might be fixated on Monday’s matchup against Inter Miami CF in the MLS Cup Playoffs, but they would be wise to keep an eye on the other two Eastern Conference postseason games taking place this weekend to see which teams will advance to the next round.

We’re not going to jinx NYCFC’s chances by assuming that they’ll coast to a win in the Gender Reveal Derby and advance to the Eastern Conference Semifinals, but should they triumph over David Beckham’s shiny pink toy they’ll play the winner of Sunday’s game between Montréal CF and Orlando City, and could meet the winner of Saturday’s match between New Jersey Red Bulls and FC Cincinnati down the line. With that in mind, why not whisper a prayer that those games are resolved in ways that favor NYCFC.

But what, exactly, are the results that New York City want? We’re glad you asked.

Saturday: Hope Cincinnati beat New Jersey

And that’s not just because we spend most of our free time wanting the Red Bulls not just to lose, but to lose ugly. Whichever team wins this game will have the honor of playing No 1 seed Philadelphia Union in Chester, PA, and we think that Cincinnati have a better chance of pulling off an upset and handing the Union their first home loss this season.

Cincinnati are undefeated against the Union this year, with a 1-1 draw in Chester in June and a 3-1 win at home in August. Even more impressive: Cincinnati pulled off that away draw with Luciano Acosta on the bench until the 78th minute. You have to like their chances with a full squad.

Actually, a Red Bulls win wouldn’t be so awful for the purposes of knocking out the Union. New Jersey lost to Philadelphia at home in September, but they battled each other to a vicious 1-1 draw in Chester back in May. There’s a lot of bad blood between these teams, and it’s crystal clear that the Red Bulls will try to find another gear if it meant taking down the Union.

The Red Bulls could get the job done. But we’d prefer Cincinnati to do the deed.

New Jersey Red Bulls vs FC Cincinnati, Saturday, October 15 at noon ET, Red Bull Arena — UniMás, TUDN,, MSG,

Sunday: Root for Orlando to upset Montréal

This one is easy. If Orlando upset Montréal, and NYCFC beat Ft Lauderdale CF, then New York City (should they win) will host the Purple Cobras in the next round — and we get to treat the world to another 90 minutes of the most beautiful soccer in North America being played on the outfield of a baseball stadium.

To pull off the win, Orlando will need to play like the team that beat Columbus Crew on the road on Decision Day to seal a spot in the playoffs, and not the team that suffered an embarrassing 4-1 away loss to Montreál back in May. Even if they maintain their form, it will be a difficult task for Orlando. Montréal is looking cool and composed these days as they ride a six-game unbeaten streak that stretches back to early September.

Still, we have faith that Orlando will come through on Sunday — then reverting to the mean when they might maybe perhaps play a certain sky-blue team in New York City the following week.

Montréal CF vs Orlando City, Sunday, October 16 at 8 pm ET, Stade Saputo — ESPN, ESPN Deportes