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Toronto FC Could Clinch Playoff Spot with Win Next Week

Each week Sven87 breaks down the Eastern Conference playoff race, with a special emphasis on Toronto FC, and how each match relates to their quest for a first ever playoff spot.

John E. Sokolowski-USA TODAY Sports

With Toronto FC’s win over the visiting Chicago Fire yesterday afternoon, the ever-elusive first playoff appearance for the franchise is finally within reach.

Position Club Points PPG GP W L T GF GA GD
1 x- New York Red Bulls 48 1.66 29 14 9 6 51 37 14
2 New England Revolution 47 1.52 31 13 10 8 44 42 2
3 Columbus Crew SC 47 1.52 31 13 10 8 50 51 -1
4 D.C. United 45 1.45 31 13 12 6 37 39 -2
5 Toronto FC 43 1.43 30 13 13 4 52 52 0
6 Montreal Impact 42 1.45 29 12 11 6 42 39 3
7 Orlando City SC 38 1.23 31 10 13 8 42 53 -11
8 New York City FC 37 1.19 31 10 14 7 46 51 -5
9 Philadelphia Union 34 1.1 31 9 15 7 39 48 -9
10 Chicago Fire 27 0.87 31 7 18 6 39 51 -12

This past weekend saw a number of results go Toronto FC’s way. Not a single team above TFC in the standings were able to record a victory in their respective matches.

1st place New York Red Bulls shockingly fell to Orlando City SC 5-2 at home (a game where Canadian striker Cyle Larin registered a hat trick to make the MLS single-season rookie scoring record his own).

2nd Place New England Revolution were closest to collecting a full 3 points, but still came up short as they drew the Philadelphia Union’s (largely) B team 1-1 on an aesthetically atrocious Gillette Stadium pitch. Union keeper Andre Blake stood on his head throughout the match to preserve the tie for his side.

3rd place Columbus Crew also couldn’t win at home as they suffered a 2-1 defeat at the hands of the Portland Timbers. And of course 4th place DC United were unable to come out on top in Montreal, falling 2-0 as designated player Didier Drogba netted a brace for the home side.

While all these results appear positive as Toronto FC takes a look up the table, the Montreal victory should come as a concern. The Impact have been playing with a renewed sense of purpose ever since the arrival of Drogba and the departure of former coach Frank Klopas, and now find themselves only 1 point behind TFC, with a game in hand.

So what does this mean going forward? How close are TFC to their first ever playoff berth- and just how far-fetched is the concept of a possible 3rd or 4th place Eastern Conference finish for the Reds?

Taking it week by week as always, next weekend could mark an historical occasion for Toronto FC. A Saturday evening (5 PM) victory at BMO Field against the Philadelphia Union, combined with an Orlando loss or even draw against the visiting Montreal Impact later that night (7:30 PM), would clinch a first ever MLS Playoff spot for TFC.

In fact, by the time Toronto FC take to the pitch next weekend, they’ll also know whether a victory would propel them into 4th place in the conference. If DC United loses or even ties New York City FC (in Washington) on Friday night, a TFC win on Saturday would move the Reds into 4th place.

In other Eastern conference matches next weekend, Columbus will pay a visit to the New York Red Bulls Saturday night at 7 pm, and the New England Revolution kick off their match in Chicago at 8:30 that same evening. Should the Red Bulls find a way to bounce back from their Orlando defeat, and Gilberto manages to keep up his form against the Revs, it’s not altogether impossible that by 10:30 PM next Saturday night, Toronto FC will have clinched a playoff spot and moved into 4th place in the East, just one point back of the third AND second place teams (with a game in hand to boot).

Of course, that scenario would still have the Montreal Impact breathing down Toronto FC’s neck, remaining just one point behind the Reds with a game in hand. Or even worse (and very much possible this being Toronto FC land and all), everything could also go terribly wrong for the Reds on the weekend- with a loss they could end up falling into 6th place in the East, just two points ahead of 7th place New York City FC (assuming Montreal and New York City victories).

To sum up, a lot of great results this past weekend have Toronto FC sitting in a comfortable spot for the time being. With the Philadelphia Union playing in a crucially important midweek fixture on Wednesday- the US Open Cup Final, the Union will likely be severely fatigued and depleted (if they even play starters at all) when they come to BMO Field Saturday afternoon.

Toronto FC is now just two points away, with a game in hand, from 4th place DC United. A 3rd or 4th place finish includes a home playoff match, and many supporters and pundits alike have suggested Toronto FC’s 2015 campaign cannot be deemed successful without one.

TFC is also only one point up on the 6th place Montreal Impact with one more game played- and with a looming encounter with their rivals at Saputo Stadium as the last match of the season, TFC should watch their rivals closely over the next four weeks.

Now, let’s take care of those pesky boys from Philly, and lock up a playoff spot once and for all.