Magic number: 55
Columbus currently holds the 5th spot with a possibility of 55 total points. Philadelphia and Toronto also could reach the 55 point mark. That means that while the log jam continues, any games between the middle of the Eastern conference standings will be of the most important.
** Above the Line **
1. DC United - 47 points, 28 games played, +11 goal differential
Week that was: 0-1 Loss @ New York Red Bulls
Recap: A midweek loss to their rivals took a major toll on their push for the Supporter's Shield. They are closing in on securing a playoff spot, but at 7 points back of Seattle, who has a game in hand, that ship has all but sailed.
Week to come: 2-1 Win @ Waterhouse (CCL), 9/20 @ Chicago (8:30, MLS Live)
Outlook: A win Tuesday night helps their Champions League campaign, but they will want to get their MLS campaign back on track. Chicago is desperate for points so it will a tough fight.
2. Sporting Kansas City - 45 Pts, 29 GP, +9 GD
Week that was: 4-0 Win @ Chivas TBD
Recap: After four straight losses a match up against Chivas TBD was just what the doctor ordered. SKC is now back in winning form and only 2 points behind DC for home field advantage in the East playoffs. Just a week ago they were teetering on worrying about making the playoffs.
Week to come: 9/18 CCL vs Saprissa (8pm, Fox Sports 1)
Outlook: It is a week off from the MLS grind and a slow week will give them a few extra days to recharge their batteries before returning to league play.
3. New England Revolution - 42 Pts, 28 GP, +2 GD
Week that was: 2-1 Win vs Montreal Impact
Recap: Yet another win for a New England side that is hot and steamrolling anyone in their path. How far can they take this current form?
Week to come: 9/20 @ Columbus Crew (7:30pm, MLS Live)
Outlook: Being able to focus on MLS play has helped New England stay healthy, rested, and in top form. A trip to Columbus looks promising for another win to add to their total, but won't be as easy as Montreal last week. A win puts them in the race for 1st, while a loss could pull them back into a fight for a playoff spot.
4. New York Red Bulls - 38 Pts, 28 GP, +3 GD
Week that was: 1-0 Win vs DC United, 2-2 Draw @ Philadelphia Union
Recap: New York was stoppage time away from stringing three wins together against conference rivals in the matter of 7 days. The LeToux penalty kick equalizer saw 2 points dropped. Great string on short rest from a team splitting their attention between CCL and MLS.
Week to come: 9/17 CCL @ Montreal Impact (8pm, Fox Sports 2), 9/20 vs Seattle Sounders (7:30pm, NBCSN)
Outlook: The packed schedule continues with two huge games this week. The CCL clash with Montreal doesn't seem like much in regards to how the MLS season has played out, but the Impact is throwing everything into the CCL. A loss to Montreal puts New York up against the wall, needing maximum points from here on out to tie the Impact. Seattle is another tough match up as they push for the treble. Beyond this week there's no rest in sight for Red Bull.
5. Columbus Crew - 37 Pts, 28 GP, +4 GD
Week that was: 2-2 Draw @ Houston Dynamo
Recap: It didn't look good at half time down 2-0 on the road, but Columbus showed that they are a team on a mission and got a solid draw that keeps them above the line in the playoff race.
Week to come: 9/20 vs New England Revolution (7:30pm, MLS Live)
Outlook: This week's opponent will be a real challenge to test the playoff hopefuls. New England is on a roll and this will be a real fight. Columbus will know that a loss could put them on the outside looking in next week.
** The Chasers **
6. Philadelphia Union - 37 Pts, 28 GP, +2 GD
Week that Was: 2-2 Draw vs New York Red Bulls
Recap: Trying to rest 5 starters for the Open Cup final on Tuesday, the Union nearly lost the gamble, but salvaged a point by a stoppage time penalty kick. The good news is that when more first team players entered the game they were far too much for New York to handle. With Open Cup in the past now, they should be able to play with any team in the league.
Week to come: 3-1 Loss Open Cup vs Seattle Sounders, 9/20 vs Houston Dynamo (7pm, MLS Live)
Outlook: After losing to Seattle in the Open Cup final they can finally focus all their attention on the MLS playoff race. Expect to see the Union shoot up the Eastern Conference standings, especially with New York, Sporting KC, and DC splitting their attention still. This is the team to watch down the stretch.
7. Toronto FC - 34 Pts, 27 GP, -7 GD
Week that was: 1-1 Draw @ Chicago Fire
Recap: Frustration is overflowing from free falling Toronto. They did well to stop the losing streak, but really should have won after a late winner was (in my opinion) wrongfully disallowed. Michael Bradley voiced his disapproval and will likely be fined heavily. Will they let that frustration fuel them to better things or take over and turn a free fall into a death spiral?
Week to come: 9/21 vs Chivas TBD (3pm, UniMas)
Outlook: If there is anyone in a worse run of form than Toronto, it is Chivas TBD. If they can't win at home against a team with no identity, no hope, and no direction it could signal a team that is only heading down. Must win this week.
8. Houston Dynamo - 32 Pts, 27 GP, -17 GD
Week that was: 2-2 Draw vs Columbus Crew
Recap: The atmosphere in the locker room at halftime and after the final whistle had to have been like night and day. They are in a position where they can't drop points, let alone to a team above them in the playoff chase, at home, and when in complete control at half time. A huge blow to the playoff chase.
Week to come: 9/20 @ Philadelphia Union (7pm, MLS Live)
Outlook: A loss this weekend to another team above them in the chase would begin building a hole too deep to climb out of. If playoffs are still a possibility the climb has to start this week.
9. Chicago Fire - 30 Pts, 27 GP, -6 GD
Week that was: 1-1 vs Toronto FC
Recap: Couldn't pull out a win at home against a team in free fall. Just 5 points from their last 5 games is just not good enough. Still in contention, but need help from others as well as to start helping themselves.
Week to come: 9/20 vs DC United (8:30pm, MLS Live)
Outlook: Another home game, this time against a team who has been splitting their attention between the league and CCL and will be on short rest after doing some major flying miles this week. It is time to take advantage or start looking forward to next season.
10. Montreal Impact - 21 Pts, 28 GP, -20 GD
Week that was: 2-2 D vs LA Galaxy, 1-2 Loss @ New England Revolution
Recap: Decent performances against two in form teams last week. Doesn't really do much for them MLS campaign, which is all but mathematically over, but should be good momentum moving forward.
Week to come: 9/17 CCL vs New York Red Bulls (8pm, Fox Sports 2), 9/20 vs San Jose Earthquakes (7:30pm, MLS Live)
Outlook: The biggest game of their season is Wednesday against New York. It won't guarantee they go through to the knock out rounds of CCL, but all it would take is a point against Red Bull in their second meeting. Forget the league, this is where their season can be successful. For what its worth, a loss on Saturday would officially eliminate them from the playoffs. Not that anyone is holding out hope.