Failure to win either of the last 2 games created an opening for NYCFC to fall below second place. Here is a measurement of how much.
Assume NYCFC finishes 2-2-1 for 7 more points and 58 total. While it’s not inconceivable they do worse, that’s fairly poor. It is 1.40 PPG. Combined with the last 2 games it would mean a 1.14 PPG over the last 7 games of the season. It also means probably winning both remaining home games (including Hartford) and just one road draw result in the final 3 Away. Here is what the teams chasing NYC would need to do to finish ahead of NYC:
Columbus cannot overtake NYC even if it finishes 4-0-0 if NYC gets 58 points.
Red Bulls need to go 5-0-1-. This would end up tied on points, tied on wins, and NYC currently is ahead by 8 on GD, which RB potentially makes up with this record. Otherwise RB must finish 6-0-0.
Atlanta needs to go 5-2-0. This would end up tied on points, tied on wins, and Atlanta currently is 9 ahead on GD.
Chicago needs to finish 3-1-1-. This would end up tied on points, tied on wins, and Chicago currently is 2 ahead on GD. With a better record over the last 5, it probably keeps that lead, unless its loss is big or NYC has some lopsided wins.
The two points dropped in Colorado would have forced Chicago to win 4 of its last 5, and Atlanta to win 6 of 7, assuming the same 2-2-1 finish by NYC. NYC can make that up those 2 points by winning 3 of its remaining games for a minimum of 60 points which also force Chicago to win 4 of its last 5, and Atlanta to win 6 of 7.
With that in mind, if NYC does each of the following 3 things it is very, very hard for anyone to catch them:
(1) Beat Houston in Hartford.
(2) Win Away against basically-out-of-it Montreal or New England.
(3) Beat Columbus at home. Of course this means second place is likely not clinched until the season ends. That probably requires winning 3 of the next 4 at least. Making one of those wins against the Fire helps, but still needs a few other events to clinch before the last game.
We would rather Chicago not fold and make it easy for Atlanta to catch them which messes up NYC’s playoff matchups.
Atlanta has 2 more games to play than Chicago, and has to win 2 more games to finish ahead of them. If Chicago wins 3, Atlanta must win 5.
As we get close to the season end the nature of the weekly analysis changes, but I know some people like the charts, so here they are without commentary. These are current as of September 17.