Following Columbus Crew SC’s victory last Saturday night at MAPFRE Stadium, the Black & Gold are officially on a tear. Columbus currently sit in fifth place in the Eastern Conference, just two points behind Atlanta United and one point behind the Chicago Fire. Depending on how the rest of the season shakes out, Columbus can finish as high as second place in the East, but third seems like a high ceiling.
According to American Soccer Analysis, the Black & Gold have a 98.65 percent chance to make the MLS Cup playoffs. ASA has updated seeding odds and Crew SC are likely to finish in fifth place in the East.
If we take these predictions as fact — which may or may not be the case, but let’s just pretend — it sets up an interesting playoff bracket in the East.
Toronto FC and Atlanta would be the top two seeds, meaning those sides would avoid the first-round knockout stage. New York City FC and the New York Red Bulls would meet in a winner-take-all New York Derby at Yankees Stadium (assuming it’s available).
This leaves Crew SC to travel to Bridgeview to take on the Fire.
In 2017, the Black & Gold went 1-1-1 against Chicago, with the lone loss coming at Toyota Park, where this match would be held.
Despite being the lower seeded and away side, this is actually a match head coach Gregg Berhalter and his players would likely welcome. Although the Fire has four matches left, the Men in Red won’t be entering the playoffs in the best form, winners of just two games in their last eight matches.
After a hot start, striker Nemanja Nikolic cooled off, going nine games without a goal. He has scored in two of his last three outings though. His partner up top, David Accam has also gone for matches without a finish.
The issue becomes in the Eastern Conference semifinals where, if Crew SC gets by Chicago, will face Supporter’s Shield winners Toronto FC. Over two legs, anything can happen in MLS, but the Black & Gold went 1-2 against TFC this season, including a 5-0 thumping by the Reds at BMO Field.
Toronto has gone on a mini-slide of late, losing the team’s last two matches with Jozy Altidore and Sebastian Giovinco out of the lineup, but TFC is expected to be the team to be in the MLS Cup Playofs.
Beyond that, matchups get complicated with various scenarios coming along, but this gives you an idea of what Columbus would likely face come the MLS postseason
Thoughts on this potential playoff draw? Do you think Crew SC has the potential to climb higher? Let us know in the comment section below.