One match left. With Toronto FC's disappointing regular season home finale, a 2-0 loss at the hands of the Columbus Crew, the Reds now find themselves further down the table, slipping from 2nd to 4th place in the Eastern Conference. With one match to go, an away encounter against the Montreal Impact on Sunday October 25th, the Eastern Conference playoff picture, and TFC's place in it, are still highly uncertain.
|1||y- New York Red Bulls||57||1.73||33||17||10||6||60||42||18|
|2||x- D.C United||51||1.55||33||15||12||6||43||40||3|
|3||x- Columbus Crew SC||50||1.52||33||14||11||8||53||53||0|
|4||x- Toronto FC||49||1.48||33||15||14||4||57||56||1|
|6||New England Revolution||47||1.42||33||13||12||8||45||46||-1|
|7||Orlando City SC||44||1.33||33||12||13||8||46||55||-9|
|8||New York City FC||37||1.12||33||10||16||7||48||55||-7|
I could talk about how each team fared this past weekend, and how everyone got to where they currently are, but let's be honest- nobody cares (anymore). There's one match left, and a lot to be decided- Toronto FC needs to step up with a clutch performance in Montreal in order to get a favorable playoff position and host their first ever postseason match.
So how would the possible outcomes of Sunday's match impact (no pun intended) the Reds' place in the standings? To simplify, the scenarios are as follows: if Toronto FC loses, they end up in either 6th or 5th place. If TFC manages a draw at Saputo Stadium, they will end up in 4th or 3rd place. And if Toronto comes away from Montreal with the win and a full 3 points in the bag, the Reds will end up in either 3rd or even possibly 2nd spot in the Eastern Conference.
How does this all work? We'll start with the worst case scenario, and make our way up to the
least likely best possible outcome.
Should Toronto FC lose, the Impact will knock them down into 5th. With a New England win over NYCFC at Yankee Stadium, the Reds would slide further back into 6th place. Either way, TFC would then have to compete in a play-in match away from home. Depending on how other results go, Toronto's opponent in that situation could be any one of the teams currently in the Eastern Conference playoff picture, with the exception of the New York Red Bulls.
Now, onto the middle-case(?) scenario, a Toronto FC draw in Montreal. If TFC were to tie the Impact, the Reds would remain ahead of both Montreal and the New England Revolution (4th in the East). Paired with a Columbus loss, a TFC draw could move the Reds up to 3rd place. Either way, Toronto would then be hosting a play-in match, a cheery proposition for a fan base that has largely turned cynical and frustrated since 2007. With a 3rd or 4th place finish, Toronto FC would be welcoming either the Montreal Impact or New England Revolution to BMO Field.
Of course there's also the best possible result- Toronto FC walk into the cheese factory a motivated and confident bunch, and leave Montreal with a full 3 points. If TFC were to manage this feat, supporters would be praying for a Columbus-DC United draw (a match taking place concurrently that evening). Those two results combined would see TFC leapfrog both sides and climb into 2nd place, bypassing the play-in game and skipping right to the second round (a home-and-away two leg series).
If either Columbus OR DC United win as opposed to tying, the victor would move ahead of TFC into 2nd place, pushing the Reds back down to 3rd. A 3rd place finish in that scenario would see TFC either play Montreal (should New England defeat New York City FC) or New England (if they fail to collect the full 3 points).
So, to summarize, the best case scenario: Toronto FC beat the Impact, and DC United and Columbus draw, moving Toronto into 2nd place in the East. Worst case, Toronto lose and get pushed down to 6th with a New England victory that same day. I've heard fans of other teams talk about the excitement of the last few games during the season, when playoff positions are still uncertain. As a TFC fan, I've had no idea what they were talking about until today (alright, 2009 was close)...
Let's just hope that TFC can, at the very least, take care of business on their own end, claiming three points in Montreal. Stay tuned for a fantastic match Sunday evening, a riveting (and hopefully positive) finale to Toronto FC's 2015 season schedule.