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In or Out? A Post-Week 30 Look at the Union and the Playoffs

The season is winding down and it's time to start counting points and keeping an eye out the out of town scoreboard. Their playoff future may not be squarely in their own hands, but it's not time to count out the Union just yet.

Eric Hartline-USA TODAY Sports

Welcome to a new feature that will be running through the end of the season. Here we will look at the week that was and the week that will be in the late season push to the playoffs. Not only will we talk about the Union's games, but also the games that have a direct impact on where the Union will end up.

We're not going to be looking at every game, every week, but rather just the most important games for Union fans to be paying attention to. At this point in the season there is a five team block that has become the race for the last two pots in the Eastern Conference playoffs. Along with the Union that block includes the Houston Dynamo, New England Revolution, Chicago Fire, and Columbus Crew. Those are the teams we will be focusing on.

I will give you the standings that were heading in to last week, the results from that week that matter and the impact that they had on the Union. For the upcoming week I will give you the current standing and the games this weekend with the most impact on the Union's playoff chances. Remember, the 4th and 5th seeds make the playoffs and will have a one game match up for the right to take on the 1st seed in the Eastern Conference semi-finals. Worst case scenario the Union need to be in 5th place when all is said and done. So let's get in to it.

The Week That Was

4. Houston Dynamo - 40 Points, 28 Games Played
5. Chicago Fire - 39 Pts, 28 GP
6. Philadelphia Union - 39 Pts, 29 GP
7. New England Revolution - 37 Pts, 28 GP
8. Columbus Crew - 35 Pts, 29 GP

New England Revolution 2-1 DC United
DC may be out of the playoff picture, but they didn't do the Union any favors. An Early DC goal couldn't stand up as the Revolution took over the game in the second half. Young gun Diego Fagundez notched another goal in his impressive season while Lee Nguyen got the winner in the 83rd minute.

Columbus Crew 3-0 Chicago Fire
If you thought the change in manager would slow down Columbus, you could not have been more wrong. It hasn't been all roses, but this could be a statement game in the playoff chase. Instead of Chicago burying Columbus, they have allowed them to climb back in to the race. While this wasn't a terrible result for the Union, it allows for one more team to stay in the hunt down the stretch.

Houston Dynamo 5-1 Chivas USA
I don't think anyone really expected much else from this game. Sure, it didn't help the Union that Chivas couldn't earn at least a draw, but what really hurt was the 5 goals scored, and +4 added to the Dynamo goal differential. Those stats could come in to play at the end of the season if there is a tie in the standings.

Philadelphia Union vs No one
It was a week that all the Union could do was sit and watch the other games. While the Houston scoreline definitely hurt the Union's playoff hopes, it could have been a worse week. Chicago getting thrashed against Columbus means that the last playoff spot remains only 1 point away, in the hands of New England.

That Week That Will Be

4. Houston Dynamo - 43 Points, 29 Games Played
5. New England Revolution - 40 Pts, 29 GP
6. Chicago Fire - 39 Pts, 29 GP
7. Philadelphia Union - 39 Pts, 29 GP
8. Columbus Crew - 38 Pts, 30 GP

9/25 Houston Dynamo vs W. Connection (Fox Soccer 2)
It might not be an MLS game, but with extra games on the schedule for Houston, it could have an impact on how well they play in their league games. At some point they will have to decide what is more important; playing well in the Champions League, or making it to the playoffs. Best Result: Houston plays their top players and they are all too tired to get a result this weekend.

9/27 Sporting Kansas City vs Philadelphia Union (NBC Sports)
This is not going to be a walk in the park for either team. For Philadelphia it will be tough to go on the road against a team that still is within touching distance of the top spot in the East. For SKC they know they are going against a well rested Union team that is desperate for points. Best Result: The Union need points, so even though it is against a top team, 3 points is a must.

9/28 New England Revolution vs Houston Dynamo (MLS Live)
Both of these teams are in decent form and currently sit on the right side of the playoff line. Houston playing on the road while having played an extra game this week will be force them to show some strength in their bench. New England could take advantage of that tiring schedule and boost their playoff picture. Best Result: For the Union this one ending in a draw would be perfect. That would allow Philadelphia to leap over New England with a win and pull within a win of Houston.

9/28 Chicago Fire vs Montreal Impact (MLS Live)
Both of these teams are in desperate need of points. Montreal to get back into the race for the top spot in the East with Chicago needing to get back into the playoff picture. It is important to note that Montreal will again be playing 2 games in a week for the second straight week. They looked lost last week and they could be ripe for the taking again this week. However, this is a Chicago team that doesn't look poised to take advantage of anyone. They will also be without suspended center back Bakary Soumare. Best Result: Montreal win and win big. Any pain that the Impact can inflict on Chicago could be crippling. Chicago is reeling and does not want to lose big for a second week in a row.

9/29 FC Dallas vs Columbus Crew (MLS Live)
These teams sit in very similar spots in their respective conferences. Currently sitting outside the playoff picture, but really just a win or two away from having a real shot at challenging for one of the last playoff spots. Columbus is starting to get some momentum heading in the right way after changing managers and FC Dallas seems to be heading in the opposite direction. Best Result: Gotta root for the Western Conference team whenever you can. FC Dallas cannot hurt the Union with a win, but rather could strike a blow to Columbus' comeback dreams as they still have played an extra game over the rest of the Eastern chasers.

Check back next week to see how week 31 pans out and what to look forward to in week 32.