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What to watch, who to root for tonight in MLS

NYCFC aren't playing tonight because of a water main break at Red Bull Arena, but these other MLS games could shape the playoff picture.

Good hair | NY Red Bulls

With New York City FC’s game rescheduled for tomorrow after a water main break closed Red Bull Arena for the rest of the day, the club’s faithful fans suddenly find themselves with some time on their hands this evening — and eleven MLS games on Apple TV. Since a few of those could have a direct impact on New York City’s playoff hopes – which are surprisingly rosy after the midweek matchups – here’s the NYCFC guide of what to watch, and who to root for tonight.

Basically, you want all the teams surrounding NYCFC on the table to lose. A round of draws isn’t bad, but zero points for the bottom-of-the-table clubs is ideal.

• DC United vs New Jersey Red Bulls
Audi Field, 7:30 pm ET
Best Result: New Jersey win or draw

You read that right: New York City fans should light a candle tonight and hope that the high-pressing kids from New Jersey frustrate Christian Benteke and the rest of the aging United team in a physical, low-scoring slog on the soggy grass Audi Field in Washington DC. The best result is a 0-1 win.

That will put the Red Bulls ahead of NYCFC at the end of the day. But then a New York City win tomorrow against Toronto will lift NYCFC into ninth place and the playoff zone, and push the Red Bulls back down.

A draw with DC will all but end the playoff hopes of the Red Bulls, essentially eliminating them from the competition. But it will also lift United to 37 points, and leave them in the #9 spot even if NYCFC win tomorrow. That in turn will put more pressure on New York City to win their matchup with DC in two weeks.

A draw isn’t ideal, but it’s better than DC win.

The good: DC aren’t exactly an in-form team, with just one win in their last five games.

The bad: New Jersey are winless in their last five games. The Red Bulls last win was on August 20 — over DC United.

UPDATE: Final score, DC United 3 – 5 Red Bulls

• Atlanta United vs CF Montréal
Mercedes benz Stadium, 7:30 pm ET
Best Result: Atlanta win

While Atlanta sit way up in sixth place with a nearly-untouchable 46 points (which is the maximum NYCFC could get if they win all their remains games), Montréal are down in eighth place, with an oh-so-close 37 points. That’s where you want Montréal to stay tonight, and to stall out for the rest of the season.

The good: Montréal have a terrible road record, with just two wins, two draws, and ten losses.

The bad: Atlanta have nine wins at home but looked a little lost on Wednesday, when they outplayed DC United but ended the night with a 1-1 draw.

UPDATE: Final score, Atlanta 4 – 1 Montréal

• FC Cincinnati vs Charlotte FC
TQL Stadium, 7:30 pm ET
Best Result: Cincinnati win

Charlotte are just two points behind NYCFC, with two games in hand. Fortunately for New York City, they’re away at a league-leading Cincinnati who are determined to win the Supporters Shield, and who are vibing after just resigning playmaker Luciano Acosta to a long-term deal.

A loss won’t knock Charlotte out of contention, but it will go a long way to keep them behind NYCFC

The good: Charlotte have just one win in their last five games.

The bad: Cincinnati have just one win in their last five games.

UPDATE: Final score, Cincinnati 3 – 0 Charlotte

• Chicago Fire vs New England Revolution
Soldier Field, 8:30 pm ET
Best Result: New England win

Chicago are in a similar situation to that of Charlotte: They’re just one point behind NYCFC with one game in hand. A loss to New England will keep them below NYCFC — and possibly allow the Revolution to frog-leap over Philadelphia Union into the #4 spot, depending on the result of their grudge rematch with LAFC tonight in Chester, which ain’t a bad thing.

The good: Chicago are winless in their last five games.

The bad: New England have just one win in their last five games, and lost to the woeful Colorado Rapids on Wednesday.

UPDATE: Final score, Chicago 2 – 2 New England