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Who to watch, root for tonight in MLS

Tonight's games could have a dramatic impact on NYCFC's playoff chances.

Looking good, Xherdan | MLS.com

New York City FC are not among the 24 teams playing in the MLS midweek matches: They can’t move up the table tonight.

But they are one of the seven teams competing for the Eastern Conference’s last two postseason spots, and those NYCFC playoff vibes hinge on how the results shake out this matchday.

The good news? New York City’s competition are (mostly) in terrible form. The bad news? The margins are razor-thin.

NYCFC are currently in eighth place with 38 points after 32 games, which places them inside the playoff zone. But they could finish the night as low as 11th place depending on how CF Montréal, DC United, and Chicago Fire fare.

Note that NYCFC cannot be overtaken by the New Jersey Red Bulls tonight. Or by Inter Miami or Charlotte FC, although both of those teams have two games in hand and still could pass New York City on the table.


Eastern Conference Playoff Race:
Maximum Points by Team

Place

Team

GP

Points

Max. Points

8

NYCFC

32

38

44

9

CF Montréal

31

37

46

10

DC United

32

37

43

11

Chicago Fire

31

37

46

12

New Jersey Red Bulls

31

34

43

13

Inter Miami

30

33

45

14

Chrlotte FC

30

33

45


New York City fans will be pleased to learn that most of the teams at the bottom of the table are getting terrible results.

Only NYCFC and Inter Miami are consistently scoring goals and winning games.


Eastern Conference Playoff Race:
Team Form Over Last 5 Games

Place

Team

Points

GF

GA

GD

8

NYCFC

7

2

+ 5

9

CF Montréal

2

4

11

- 7

10

DC United

4

6

8

- 2

11

Chicago Fire

5

3

9

- 6

12

New Jersey Red Bulls

5

7

9

- 2

13

Inter Miami

8

11

9

+ 2

14

Charlotte FC

3

4

8

- 4


But NYCFC need those teams to continue to stumble. One win by Montréal, DC United, or Chicago Fire, and NYCFC will drop in the table.

Below are the games that could shape NYCFC playoff hopes, and the results that will serve New York City best.


• CF Montréal vs Houston Dynamo
Stade Saputo, 7:30 pm ET
Best Result: Houston win

Montréal have lost their identity, and are no longer a tough team to face at Stade Saputo — they drew Chicago at home on September 16, and haven’t won a game since August 26. Now they face a Houston that are feeling triumphant after winning the 2023 US Open Cup last week.

Something to keep in mind: Montréal have 37 points after 31 games, which is the same tally NYCFC had heading to the Miami game last week.

  • The good: Montreal have scored just four goals in five games
  • The bad: Houston managed to lose to Sporting Kansas City last Saturday despite going up a player in the 39′

UPDATE: Montréal drew the game 1-1 after scoring a 90+6′ equalizer


• Charlotte FC vs Toronto FC
Bank of America Stadium, 7:30 pm ET
Best Result: A miraculous Toronto win

Charlotte are another team that last won on August 26. But now they’ll host a Toronto who have one win in their last 18 games in all competitions: That’s as good of an impression of the Washington Generals as you’ll find in professional sports.

  • The good: Toronto scored twice against Supporters’ Shield-winning FC Cincinnati last week
  • The bad: Toronto didn’t hold on, which is why Cincinnati celebrated winning the Supporters’ Shield at BMO Field in Toronto

UPDATE: Charlotte thumped Toronto 3-0


• FC Cincinnati vs New Jersey Red Bulls
TQL Stadium, 7:30 pm ET
Best Result: Cincinnati win

Another Red Bulls loss will keep them stalled outside the playoff zone.

  • The good: Just one week after scoring five times their upset win over DC United, the Red Bulls reverted to the mean and were held goalless at home by a hapless Chicago
  • The bad: Can’t think of anything

UPDATE: New Jersey posted a shocking 1-2 upset


• Austin FC vs DC United
Q2 Stadium, 8:30 pm ET
Best Result: Austin win

DC United are in the odd spot of having a bye on Decision Day: They play tonight, then they finish their season at home against NYCFC on Saturday. That puts the pressure on for the team to get a result this evening on the road in Austin, and climb back into the playoff zone. A draw will put DC ahead of NYCFC on the table as they’ll be even on points but ahead on wins, which is the first tiebreak.

  • The good: DC are in the middle of a rough travel schedule after playing Vancouver in British Columbia on Saturday
  • The bad: Austin haven’t won a game in their last 10 matches in all competitions

UPDATE: Austin easily handled United with a 3-0 win


• Chicago Fire vs Inter Miami
Soldier Field, 8:30 pm ET
Best Result: A deflating draw

Word is that even though 61,000 seats were sold for tonight’s game at Solider Field, the stands will be mostly empty tonight because Lionel Messi is sidelined with an injury. The club are even offering a $250 credit to anybody who attends the match and signs up for a 2024 season membership: Turns out most people who bought Chicago Fire tickets aren’t actually interested in the Chicago Fire.

It’s the perfect setting for a hapless draw between two bottom-of-the-table teams.

  • The good: Miami without Messi aren’t good enough to put away the game, but they’re good enough to do something
  • The bad: Chicago have 37 points after 31 games, the same tally as NYCFC last week

UPDATE: Chicago dominated in a 4-1 win

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