At this point in the season we know every match matters. As we look ahead to this weekend, the Union find themselves in an interesting situation.
Toronto FC sits atop the East with 43 points and NYCFC is close behind with 41. The New York Red Bulls and the Union are seated in third and fourth in the East, each with 40 points but with NYRB taking the lead on goal differential.
The Union will visit Chicago this weekend, New York Red Bulls head west to take on Vancouver, NYCFC will play host to D.C. United on Thursday night, and Toronto does not play until September 10th.
This is where things get interesting. With the number one team in East off this weekend, the Union has an opportunity to really gain some ground, and a lot depends on what New York Red Bulls accomplish in Vancouver and how NYCFC fairs against D.C. United on Thursday.
This will be NYCFC’s second Thursday night game of the season; their first was a 3-2 loss to Real Salt Lake back on June 2nd. Overall this season NYCFC is 1-2-3 in weekday games. Last weekend they did lose to Orlando City SC, dropping their first game since July 24th. Orlando SC is only one point behind their next opponent, D.C. United who have been playing well as of late. United is currently on a six-game unbeaten streak, most recently coming off a 6-2 victory over Chicago Fire that featured a hat trick from former NYCFC player Patrick Mullins.
NYRB is on a nine-game unbeaten streak, their last loss coming back on July 3rd. Vancouver is sitting well below the red line in the West, BUT are 5-3-5 at home this season, which may not sound like much until you look at NYRB’s away results. New York has only won once on the road this year, and a trip cross country to Vancouver could put them on their heels.
This week while you pray to the soccer gods for a Union win, save some positive vibes for D.C. United and Vancouver as well. While it may feel unnatural to hope for a D.C. win, it will only mean good things for the Union – plus Philly has an eight point lead over D.C. so they won’t be able to catch the Union anytime soon. And since Vancouver is in the West, their win wouldn’t affect the Union at all – except for putting a halt on a consistent points machine in New York Red Bulls.
Here are some potential outcomes for the top four seating in the Eastern Conference after this weekend. Plus, everyone loves a good flow chart (or three).
(Just a reminder, tie-breakers go in this order 1. Total Number of Wins, 2. Goal Differential, 3. Goals For.)
So come Thursday night, although rooting for a D.C. United win may make you shake you at your core, just think of the possibilities it could bring for the Union. Do the right thing!