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Crew MLS Cup playoff tracker

The odds are remain long for the Black & Gold

MLS: Commissioner Don Garber-State of the League Address Jason Getz-USA TODAY Sports

Can Columbus Crew SC still make the MLS Cup playoffs? Yes. But it will be a long shot. Each week we will track the Crew’s path to the playoffs until the team either qualifies or is eliminated.

Despite the team’s early-summer swoon that dropped Columbus to 11th place in the Easter Conference, the Black & Gold still have faint playoff hopes. The team has struggled to extricate itself out of the slump and claw its way back into the playoff race. The Crew climbed slowly to the edges of the playoff picture with recent results but remain seven points behind seventh place Montreal Impact with eight games to play, three at home and four on the road.

Eastern Conference Standings

Club PTS PPG Games Played
Club PTS PPG Games Played
Philadelphia Union 45 1.73 26
Atlanta United FC 42 1.68 25
D.C. United 39 1.50 26
New York City FC 38 1.65 23
New York Red Bulls 37 1.48 25
New England Revolution 34 1.36 25
Montreal Impact 33 1.27 26
Toronto FC 33 1.32 25
Orlando City SC 30 1.20 25
Chicago Fire 30 1.15 26
Columbus Crew SC 26 1.00 26
FC Cincinnati 18 0.72 25

The 538 Method

The statistically focused news and sports site’s “Club Soccer Predictions” put the Crew’s odds at reaching the postseason 3%.

The site has the Black & Gold tied with the New England Revolution as the eighth-best team in the conference using their soccer power index, but the 1-13-1 stretch created too big of a hole to get out of. Ultimately, the Crew have a 59% chance of ending the year in 11th in the East, using the SPI weighted predictions.

Sports Club Stats

Columbus fares even worse in SCS’s weighted averages, having a .9% chance of making the playoffs. Again, the spread between the Crew and the rest of the playoff pack is too great in the remaining schedule.

The Points Per Game method

This is by far the roughest estimate and likely least predictive. I take the worst “in the playoffs” team’s points per game and extrapolate that over the course of the full 34 game schedule to estimate the red line. I then calculate how many points it would take for the Crew to get there.

Currently the worst playoff team in the East by PPG is Montreal at 1.27. That rate comes out to just over 43 points over a full season. The Crew sits on 26 points, a 1.7 point difference from this red line. With eight games remaining, the Crew would have to average 2.13 PPG over the rest of the season. That comes out to a record of 5-1-2, a better run of form than any other time this season.

This Weekend’s Playoff Implications

The Crew need help making the playoffs, here is your weekend rooting interests with key games marked with a *.

New York Red Bulls over New England Revolution - It’s a long shot either way, but it’s more likely that the Crew possibly overtake the sixth-place Revs.

FC Cincinnati over New York City FC - Another long shot, but a loss from the currently playoff bound NYCFC is better than a loss for miserable FCC.

* FC Dallas over Montreal Impact - The Impact have a tenuous hold on seventh place. A road win by the Western Conference Dallas would be the best outcome for the Black & Gold.

* Philadelphia Union over Chicago Fire - There’s no realistic way for the Crew to catch the conference-leading Union. However, Columbus needs to jump the 10th place Fire on its way to playoff positioning.

* Minnesota United over Orlando City SC - Another out-of-conference win over a team (Orlando) in a position (eighth place) between the Crew and the playoffs.

Vancouver Whitecaps over D.C. United - United are in a free fall and could conceivably drop into the bottom of the playoff scrap.