The Penultimate Week in the Regular Season should have plenty of drama.
Two weeks left and five Playoff spots are up for grabs. All five are western conference spots as well. That doesn’t mean there is nothing to watch in the league though. There is plenty to check out while all the teams face off on Sunday. Here’s what we’re watching this weekend.
Who Clinches In the West?
There are a ton of scenarios involving other teams drawing or losing. That’s far to complicated to get into one post. So let’s just look at what teams can control. Right now Sporting Kansas City still needs one point to clinch and three to get a home game in the knockout round. Their loss midweek to Houston will likely prevent them from getting that bye they’ve coveted.
Portland, Seattle, and Houston can all get where they want to with three points of their own. The cascadia teams have a pair of home matches against struggling teams and should feel good about their chances. Houston will need to do what they just did to Sporting in their home now, obviously a much larger task. With none of these teams clinched yet and the margins so thin, they will all want to clinch and get that out of the way.
National Team Hangover?
A whole lot of teams are going to be depending on National Team players who just went through the worst days of their professional careers. How do guys like Matt Besler, Jozy Altidore, or Darlington Nagbe respond? Their teams need them to perform well and clinch playoff spots. How quickly can they shake that off?
On the other hand theres new National Hero Roman Torres. How will he respond after becoming the biggest thing in Panama by sending his team into the World Cup? Seattle will be in an interesting position with both sides of the coin present on their team. Brian Schmetzer will have to manage some emotional players and keep them level headed during this next match.
Who Hosts The East Knockouts?
All six spots are sealed in the Eastern Conference, but who hosts the knockout round matches? Right now NYCFC sits three points ahead of Atlanta United who is charging hard, but has two tough games remaining. The expansion side has an incredible atmosphere and their first playoff taste will likely be a winner take all.
The second two teams in contention for it are Chicago and Columbus. Right now Chicago has a two point advantage for that fourth place spot. Chicago has a home match against eliminated Philadelphia and a possibly desperate Houston team on the road. Columbus is done at home for the regular season. They play at Orlando and at Citi Field against New York City FC. Those last two for Columbus are going to be tough to make up ground. So your knock out round matches should be in Atlanta and Chicago.