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The Chase: The Week 25 Eastern Conference Playoff Picture

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The Eastern Conference is turning towards the home stretch of the regular season, and the playoff picture is finally coming into view. This starts our weekly look at the entire Eastern playoff picture.

Bill Streicher-USA TODAY Sports

It is time to start thinking playoffs. At this point the Union are in the unfamiliar position of being on the "in" instead of chasing the pack. Each week we'll keep an eye on the entire Eastern Conference as teams start to get knocked out. Here's the information you'll get each week:

  • Total Points (Pts): simply the total points that team has accumulated
  • Games Played (GP): how many games they have played this season
  • Possible Points (pPts): if they win the rest of their games, what is the maximum points they could accumulate. This is important for starting to eliminate teams who can't overcome their deficit.
  • Last Week: result from the week that just finished
  • This Week: upcoming fixture for this week
  • Points Per Game (PPG): The amount of points accumulated per game at this point in the season. This is a good way to compare teams that have played a different number of games
  • vs PPG: This is their remaining opponents Points Per Game average, based solely on overall record, for determining strength of the remaining schedule
  • H/A vs PPG: I over achieved a bit with this one, but this is the remaining opponents Points Per Game, but broken down by each team's home and away PPG, giving a much more realistic look at strength of schedule as teams will be stronger at home than they are on the road
  • Magic Number: This is the points total needed to be in the top 6. It will start off high since there are still plenty of points to be won, but will get lower as the weeks go on and teams near elimination. It is determined by finding the lowest point total that 4 teams cannot reach
WEEK 25 MAGIC NUMBER: 56

Currently on the IN:
1. Toronto FC - 43 Total Points - 27 Games Played - 64 Possible Points - 1.59 PPG
  • Last Week: 1-0 Loss vs Montreal Impact
  • This Week: OFF
  • vs PPG: 1.23
  • H/A vs PPG: 0.97
2. New York City FC - 41 Pts - 27 GP - 62 pPts - 1.52 PPG
  • Last Week: 1-2 Loss @ Orlando City SC
  • This Week: 9/1 vs DC United
  • vs PPG: 1.17
  • H/A vs PPG: 1.07
3. New York Red Bulls - 40 Pts - 27 GP - 61 pPts - 1.48 PPG
4. Philadelphia Union - 40 Pts - 27 GP - 61 pPts - 1.48 PPG
5. Montreal Impact - 37 Pts - 26 GP - 61 pPts - 1.42 PPG
  • Last Week: 1-0 Win @ Toronto FC
  • This Week: OFF
  • vs PPG: 1.27
  • H/A PPG: 1.33
6. D.C. United - 32 Pts - 26 GP - 56 pPts - 1.23 PPG
  • Last Week: 6-2 Win vs Chicago Fire
  • This Week: 9/1 @ New York City FC
  • vs PPG: 1.32
  • H/A vs PPG: 1.53
The Chasers
7. Orlando City SC - 31 Pts - 26 GP - 55 pPts - 1.19 PPG
  • Last Week: 2-1 Win vs New York City FC
  • This Week: OFF
  • vs PPG: 1.37
  • H/A PPG: 1.46
8. New England Revolution - 27 Pts - 27 GP - 48 pPts - 1.0 PPG
  • Last Week: 0-1 Loss @ New York Red Bulls
  • This Week: 9/3 vs Colorado Rapids
  • vs PPG: 1.34
  • H/A vs PPG: 1.28
9. Columbus Crew SC - 26 Pts - 25 GP - 53 pPts - 1.04 PPG
10. Chicago Fire - 23 Pts - 25 GP - 50 pPts - 0.92 PPG
  • Last Week: 2-6 Loss @ DC United
  • This Week: 9/3 vs Philadelphia Union
  • vs PPG: 1.3
  • H/A vs PPG: 1.21
Philadelphia Union Outlook:

I don't want to state this too soon, but it is looking like the Union are in a good position. A gap is starting to form between the top teams in the East and the chasers, and at this point it looks like the Union will be battling for the Eastern Conference top spot with Toronto, the two New York/New Jersey clubs, and Montreal. All 5 of those teams are separated by 3 points (technically 6, but Montreal has a game in hand, so we'll just say 3). The last playoff spot will come down to DC and Orlando. It would take quite a push from New England, Columbus, or Chicago to bump DC from the sixth spot.

For the Union, it is important to avoid the one off "play-in" games that third place through sixth place must go through. A play-in bye in first or second place would be huge for two reasons. It is extra rest at a time that it means the most, and it means at least one home playoff game. Even in second place you have a shot because if you win and the first place team loses, the conference final is at home too. The Eastern Conference regular season champion also earns an automatic CONCACAF Champions League bid for next season, which means hosting continental tournament games and additional financial perks to be able to strengthen the squad because of the added games. That could mean the difference of having to offload one of the stars to keep the bulk of the squad together or keeping the team together and adding to it. Earnie has done a masterful job in turning the squad around in just one offseason, any chance to get him more money should be enough to make any Union fan giddy.

This week the Union have a chance to pounce on a devastated Chicago Fire squad. They were just thrashed 6-2 by DC and are starting to look to 2017. NYCFC, who sit just 1 point from the Union have to play that buoyant DC squad and if results continue to go the Union's way, a share of the top spot in the East is at stake. It is a key game to see if this squad has the killer instinct to take advantage of a weak opponent when they know there is a major spot on the line. Will they make sure there is no doubt to the outcome and jump all over Chicago, or will the knowledge of a win bumping them to a tie for first place in the conference weigh too heavy on their shoulders and they drop points in Chicago again this season?