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The Chase: A Post-Match Day 27 Look At the Union's Playoff Picture

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The term "6 pointer" is thrown around towards the end of the season, but not very often do teams get a chance at a "12 pointer" week. That is exactly the position the Union found themselves in with Toronto and the two games had a major impact on the playoff picture.

Tom Szczerbowski-USA TODAY Sports

Magic Number: 57

At this point in the season there is a major pile up right around the last playoff spots. There are 3 teams (Columbus, Philadelphia, and Toronto FC) that have the possibility of reaching that 57 point mark, if they win out.

Above The Line

1. DC United - 47 current points, 27 games played, +12 goal differential

Form: L-L-W-W-D

Week That Was: Drew 0-0 @ Vancouver Whitecaps

Recap: Had a chance to put even more distance between them and the rest of the Eastern Conference and keep up with Seattle for the Supporter's Shield, but a draw isn't a terrible result.

Week To Come: 9/10 @ New York Red Bulls (8pm, ESPN2)

Outlook: With just one game this week, they will get some down time before returning to CCL play the next week. For a team playing on two fronts right now, that is a huge bonus.

2. Sporting Kansas City: 42 PTS, 28 GP, +5 GD

Form: L-W-L-L-L

Week That Was: Lost 1-3 @ New England Revolution, Lost 1-2 @ New York Red Bulls

Recap: Two losses to two teams chasing them for playoff spots has taken SKC to fighting for their playoff lives. They are now just 6 points from the 5th place team in the East, and 8 from 6th place New York, all who have 1 or 2 games in hand on SKC.

Week To Come: 10/12 @ Chivas TBD (10:30pm, MLS Live)

Outlook: For a team fearing free fall, Chivas TBD is just what the doctor ordered. They get to focus on just a single game this week and a win could right the ship and put them back on course.

3. New England Revolution:39 PTS, 27 GP, +1 GD

Form: L-D-W-W-W

Week That Was: Won 3-1 vs Sporting Kansas City, Won 2-1 vs Chicago Fire

Recap: A busy week feels a lot easier on tired legs when it results in a maximum 6 points. Last week they were sitting outside the playoff spots, but with a double win week they are now up to 3rd place and are only 3 points behind second place SKC with a game in hand. Don't look now, but New England is on a roll.

Week To Come: 9/13 vs Montreal Impact (7:30pm, MLS Live)

Outlook: Not having to worry about playing in the CCL will be a major bonus as they look to catch SKC. A week of rest and then hosting the worst team in the conference gives them a good chance to push their winning streak to 4.

4. Columbus Crew: 36 PTS, 27 GP, +4 GD

Form: D-L-W-W-W

Week That Was: Won 3-0 vs Chivas TBD

Recap: When given the opportunity to play a struggling side you have to take advantage. That is exactly what Columbus did. Not only did they get the 3 points, but also added 3 goals to their goal differential.

Week To Come: 9/13 @ Houston Dynamo (8:30pm, MLS Live)

Outlook: Playing in Houston in late summer is not always fun, but only having a single game week will make taking on the Texas heat and a playoff chaser just a little easier.

5. Philadelphia Union: 36 PTS, 27 GP, +2 GD

Form: W-L-W-W-W

Week That Was: Won 1-0 vs Toronto FC, Won 2-0 @ Toronto FC

Recap: Coming into the week 4 points was a must, but leaving the week with all 6 has Union fans happy. The positive play and return to health of key creative players has fans starting to dream.

Week To Come: 9/13 vs New York Red Bulls (3pm, NBCSN)

Outlook: New York will be finishing their 3rd game in a week while Philly will be starting a similar run. The main focus will be the US Open Cup final the following week, so this game may take a back seat. Then again, it is a rival and a chance to put some real distance between them. Anything is possible.

- The Chasers -

6. New York Red Bulls:34 PTS, 26 GP, +2 GD

Form: D-W-L-W-W

Week That Was: Won 2-1 vs Sporting Kansas City

Recap: Took full advantage of a home game against a struggling conference team, helped keep the playoff seeds condensed, and did it on national television. Not a bad week.

Week To Come: 9/10 vs DC United (8pm, ESPN2), 9/13 @ Philadelphia Union (3pm, NBCSN)

Outlook: Two nationally televised rivalry games. It is a busy week and with the conference leaders and a chance to leapfrog a Philadelphia team focused on a cup final in their next game, this is a week where New York could make a major statement and put themselves firmly above the line.

7. Toronto FC: 33 PTS, 26 GP, -7 GD

Form: W-L-D-L-L

Week That Was: Lost 0-1 @ Philadelphia Union, Lost 0-2 vs Philadelphia Union

Recap: It is not going well North of the border. Firing the coaching staff was followed by two losses to Philadelphia. Just one loss would have kept them in a playoff spot, but they are now facing yet another playoff free year. An unacceptable possibility after the offseason they had.

Week To Come: 9/13 @ Chicago Fire (8:30pm, MLS Live)

Outlook: A chance to get back on the right track with a team below them in the standings. They have to stop the bleeding so the playoff chase doesn't get desperate. Still plenty of time to get back to where they want to be.

8. Houston Dynamo: 31 PTS, 26 GP, -17 GD

Form: W-L-W-L-W

Week That Was: Won 3-2 vs Montreal

Recap: Took care of business against basement dwellers Montreal, even if it had to be a comeback. Moving in the right direction and stayed in arms reach of the playoff spots.

Week To Come: 9/13 vs Columbus Crew (8:30pm, MLS Live)

Outlook: If they are going to climb back into the playoff picture they have to build some consistency. A perfect opportunity at home against one of the teams currently residing in a playoff spot. A loss will mean a gap is starting to build.

9. Chicago Fire: 29 PTS, 26 GP, -6 GD

Form: D-W-L-D-L

Week That Was: Lost 1-2 @ New England Revolution

Recap: Chicago was caught in the red hot buzz-saw that is the current Revolution form. They went up early, but couldn't hold out. This could have been a big win, but became another step in the wrong direction.

Week To Come: 9/13 vs Toronto FC (8:30pm, MLS Live)

Outlook: If a late run to the playoffs is going to happen for Chicago, this is as good a time for it to start as they are going to get. A home game against a team in free fall after a week of rest. A loss could mean a gap too big to overcome.

10. Montreal Impact: 20 PTS, 26 GP, -19 GD

Form: L-L-W-L-L

Week That Was: Lost 2-3 @ Houston

Recap: Showed some life on the road, but in the end just couldn't close out the game. A sign of life in the league?

Week To Come: 9/10 vs LA Galaxy (7:30pm, MLS Live), 9/13 @ New England Revolution (7:30pm, MLS Live)

Outlook: Two games this week, followed by two games the next week will have Montreal determining their focus for the rest of the season. Really no reason to throw everything into the league at the expense of CCL. Next week's CCL matchup with New York will be their biggest game of the season and the league games leading up to that game will most likely see many reserves.

Game of the Week: 9/13 Philadelphia Union vs New York Red Bulls (3pm, NBCSN)

Two teams on the playoff fence with their priorities split this week. New York has an important CCL match up with Montreal 4 days after this match up and Philadelphia has the US Open Cup final just 3 days later. Throw in a midweek game for New York before this game and there is a lot going on around this match up. These are the type of late season situations where managers make their money. It isn't a game either team can overlook, but isn't a game that either team can throw everything at their rival.

The two previous meetings between these teams have resulted in the home team taking the full 3 points. In the history of the rivalry the Union have never taken more points from NYRB than their rivals have taken from them. Another home win would see the Union take 6 of a possible 9 from the 2014 matchups with New York. It would also mean a 5 point gap between them in the standings.