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The Chase; A Post-Match Day 31 Look At the Union's Playoff Picture

The Union were one Rais M'Bolhi completed clearance away from a real shot at making the playoffs. Now, with the Union helping the Chicago Fire towards their goal of most draws in league history, the Union have their backs against the wall. In this week's playoff picture analysis we see how the Eastern Conference is shaping up.

John Geliebter-USA TODAY Sports

Philadelphia Union's Playoff Outlook

Before we get started will the full conference overlook, let's take a second to look at just the Union's current predicament. Four points is what current sits between the Union and the 5th and final playoff spot. The good news is that team is the Columbus Crew, who the Union have a home and home match up with in the last three weeks. Two true six pointers that will make or break each team's season. Between those two games is a visit from struggling Sporting Kansas City. All three will be must win games however.

Tie breakers might come in to play as well and the first two tie breakers are wins and goal differential.The Union sit behind the other 4 teams in the chase for the last two spots (New York, Columbus, Toronto, and Houston) in wins, but with 3 more games this season that can change. After wins, is goal differential where the Union sit right in the middle. Toronto (-6) and Houston (-16) have negative goal differentials below the Unions +1, while New York (+3) and Columbus (+6) sit above the Union. With two games against Columbus that tie breaker could easily be reversed.

The Union will certainly need help to make the playoffs, but first and foremost, they need to take care of business. Without winning all three of their remaining games there is little to no chance of making the playoffs. There is still a chance with a draw against Kansas City if other games fall the right way, but any dropped points against Columbus will be too much to overcome.

** Above The Line **

* - Clinched Playoff Spot

* 1. DC United - 52 Points, 31 Games Played, +12 Goal Differential

Form: D-L-D-W-D

Week that was: 0-0 Draw vs Sporting Kansas City

Recap: It wasn't the most exciting of results, but it was enough to guarantee their playoff spot. The first team to clinch in the East and well on their way to clinching the top spot. What a turn around from a year ago.

Week to come: 10/12 @ Houston (3pm, UniMas)

Outlook: With their playoff berth secured, they can have a major impact on the remaining spots with this trip to Houston. The real question is how much will DC use these last few games to rotate their squad and be fully rested and healthy heading into the playoffs. A trip to Houston is a good chance to rest weary stars.

2. New England Revolution - 48 Pts, 31 GP, +3 GD

Form: W-W-L-W-W

Week that was: 2-1 Win vs Columbus Crew

Recap: The Revs continue their red hot form, with their 7th win in the last 8 games. Jermaine Jones is everything they would have hoped he would be and has them a real contender in the East. Money well spent.

Week to come: 10/11 @ Montreal Impact (4pm, MLS Live)

Outlook: This one has trap game written all over. One team that has been rising like a rocket and the other that has all of it's eggs in the CCL basket. Keeping up the form could see New England make a run at the top seed in the East. A win paired with Columbus and Toronto dropping any points would secure a playoff berth for New England.

3. Sporting Kansas City - 46 Pts, 31 GP, +8 GD

Form: L-L-W-L-D

Week that was: 0-0 Draw @ DC United

Recap: At this point in the season SKC will take the point against the conference leaders. This result alone doesn't get them to safety, but they are crawling in the right direction. They may be headed for the play-in game based on their recent form.

Week to come: 10/10 vs Chicago Fire (8:30pm, MLS Live)

Outlook: The draw masters come to town and it is time SKC get their form heating up again. Their USMNT players escape a call up this week and will give them a real boost.

4. New York Red Bulls - 44 Pts, 31 GP, +3 GD

Form: W-D-W-L-W

Week that was: 1-0 Win vs Houston Dynamo

Recap: An important three points from a Henry goal. Paired with a Columbus loss they jump into 4th place and only 2 points away from Kansas City in 3rd place, the coveted last spot that gets to skip the play in round.

Week to come: 10/11 vs Toronto FC (7pm, MLS Live)

Outlook: Here's where it gets interesting. This six pointer (you hear that a lot this time of year) that could push a great deal of distance between New York and those below the playoff line, or could drag the non-playoff spot within just 1 point.

5. Columbus Crew - 43 Pts, 31 GP, +6 GD

Form: W-D-W-W-L

Week that was: 1-2 Loss @ New England Revolution

Recap: Columbus ran into the buzzsaw that is New England recently. They couldn't recreate their home win against the Revs from a few weeks ago and while it wasn't fatal, it puts them in a much tighter position.

Week to come: 10/11 @ Philadelphia Union (7pm, MLS Live)

Outlook: This is a big one. A win and they will all but eliminate the Union, a team that is trying to catch them. Take care of this game and it will make their hosting of the Union in two weeks time much easier.

** The Chasers **

6. Toronto FC - 40 Pts, 30 GP, -6 GD

Form: L-D-W-W-L

Week that was: 0-3 Loss @ LA Galaxy

Recap: While it wasn't a must win, it doesn't help the playoff chances. Not many Eastern Conference rivals have done better against the co-league leaders.

Week to come: 10/8 vs Houston Dynamo (7:30pm, MLS Live), 10/11 @ New York Red Bulls (7pm, MLS Live)

Outlook: This is where the game in hand can help them jump back up the standings. Two wins this week will see them jump over New York, all but eliminate Houston, and if SKC losses as well, will move into a tie for 3rd place. Not too bad for a team that was in a nose dive a few weeks ago.

7. Philadelphia Union - 39 Pts, 31 GP, +1 GD

Form: W-D-D-L-D

Week that was: 1-1 Draw vs Chicago

Recap: What can I say that hasn't already been said? An absolutely heartbreaking draw in stoppage time. A highly paid, world cup experience keeper made a gaffe that puts the Union's playoff dreams on life support.

Week to come: 10/11 vs Columbus Crew (7pm, MLS Live)

Outlook: Winning cures everything. Zac MacMath will step back into the goal because of the international friendly calendar as the Union enter do-or-die mode. Does the Union offense have enough in the tank to break out of the post-USOC final slump?

8. Houston Dynamo - 36 Pts, 30 GP, -16 GD

Form: W-D-D-W-L

Week that was: 0-1 Loss @ New York Red Bulls

Recap: Home losses hurt more than most coming down the stretch when you need points. This loss puts Houston in the same boat as Philly. Without the game in hand the playoffs would be a long shot at this point.

Week to come: 10/8 @ Toronto FC (7:30pm, MLS Live), 10/12 vs DC United (3pm, UniMas)

Outlook: This is it, Two wins or its over, simple as that. They'll also need some games to go their way since the two wins this week won't be enough to overtake any of the playoff spots.