Columbus Crew SC are headed to the MLS Cup playoffs for the fourth time in five years. Gregg Berhalter’s men secured passage to the 2018 postseason on Sunday afternoon thanks to the Montreal Impact’s 1-0 loss to the New England Revolution.
While Major League Soccer’s Decision Day is supposed to see all the teams play their games at the same time, Crew SC dealt with a weather delay on Sunday due to lightning in the Black & Gold’s contest against Minnesota United. The game was delayed over an hour, meaning Columbus knew the results of the rest of the league’s games by halftime.
Thanks to a hat trick by forward Gyasi Zardes that led to a 3-2 victory, Crew SC finished fifth in the Eastern Conference with 51 points. The Black & Gold tied with D.C. United, but the Black and Red finish in the fourth spot due to the wins tiebreaker.
That means that Columbus and United will meet in the knockout round of the playoffs, hosted by D.C. Crew SC knew of their date with United when they left MAPFRE Stadium on Sunday night but didn’t know when the game would take place.
Later on Sunday night, MLS announced the full schedule for the 2018 MLS Cup playoffs and the Black & Gold will face D.C. on Thursday, Nov. 1 at 8 p.m. ET. The game will air on FOX Sports 1.
United enters the playoffs as the league’s second-hottest team behind only the New York Red Bulls. The Black and Red have not lost in six consecutive games, including five straight wins before Sunday’s 0-0 draw with the Chicago Fire.
If Columbus can come away with a win over D.C., the team’s conference semifinal matchup would depend on the winner over the other Eastern Conference knockout round between the third seed New York City FC and the sixth seed Philadelphia Union. If the Union can upset City, they will take on the the Red Bulls, the East’s top seed and Supporters’ Shield winner. If NYCFC defeats Philadelphia, the Black & Gold will take on the second seed, Atlanta United.
City and the Union will play on Wednesday, Oct. 31 at 7:30 p.m. ET on FOX Sports 1. Los Angeles Football Club and Real Salt Lake will meet in one of the Western Conference knockout round game on Thursday, Nov. 1 at 10:30 p.m. ET on ESPN2 and FC Dallas will host the Portland Timbers on Wednesday, Oct. 31 at 9:30 p.m. ET on ESPN+.
No matter the opponent, the first leg of the conference semifinals would take place on Sunday, Nov. 4. The second leg would be on Sunday, Nov. 11. As the lower seed, Crew SC would host the first leg. The conference finals first leg will take place on Sunday, Nov. 25 and the second leg will be on Thursday, Nov. 29. The MLS Cup Final — which the Black & Gold can only host if Real Salt Lakes make the game — will be on Saturday, Dec. 8.