NYCFC has clinched a playoff spot, but has not yet guaranteed finishing higher than Sixth Place.
The magic number for the Red Bulls is 1. Any point won by NYC or dropped by RB guarantees at least 5th place.
The magic number for the Columbus is 2. Any 2 points won/lost guarantees 4th place & a knockout round home game.
The magic number for Chicago is 6. A NYC win tonight clinches. If Chicago wins they are 1 point back with 2 to play and the magic number remains 6. Chicago finishes Home against Philadelphia and Away at Houston. That is a very likely 3 points won and 3 dropped for Chicago, and if that happens NYC could win with nothing more than a win at home against Columbus, but it goes down to the last game.
The magic number for Atlanta is 10. NYC can only win 9. Atlanta’s magic number against NYC is 13 and they can only win 12, but they have such an enormous tiebreaker advantage, that their “might-as-well-be” magic number is 12.
NYC Schedule At Chicago, At New England, Home Columbus
ATL Schedule At New England, Home Minnesota, At Red Bulls, Home Toronto
I’m going to treat the NYC home game against Columbus and ATL against Minnesota as gimmes. Of course both could drop points in their gimme game, but if they do they create a huge opening for the other that is so obvious it is not worth analyzing in any depth.
- Let’s start with a worst case scenario that NYC only gets 3 more points beating Columbus at home. After the ATL gimme against Minnesota, they need 1 more win either at NE, in Harrison NJ, or home against TFC. Or a draw in all 3. That’s very doable but arguably all of those are tougher than Atlanta’s last 6 at home where they got 16 of 18 points. Even the Revs in Gillette are tough. It’s not super tough for Atlanta but NYC has a shot even if it loses the next 2 Away, at least as of now. If Atlanta wins tonight in New England that alters.
- NYC gets 4 points. One draw against CHI or NER plus the home win against Columbus. Atlanta needs 7 points. Beat Minnesota, plus a win and a draw in New England, in Harrison, or home against Toronto. A bit tougher.
- NYC gets 5 points. Draws away at both CHI and NER and beat Columbus on decision day. Now Atlanta needs 8 points, which means either 3 wins, or results in every one of its remaining games (2 wins and 2 draws).
- NYC gets 6 points: 1 Away win and 1 Home win. Atlanta needs to win 3 of its remaining 4 games to get the 9 points.
- NYC gets 7 points. 2 Wins (H/A) and 1 Away draw. Atlanta needs 10 points. 3 Wins and 1 Draw.
- If NYC gets 9 points, ATL also has to win out the last 4.
Draw your own conclusions. For me, just 4 more points for NYC makes things modestly tough for Atlanta but no better than a 50-50 call. 5 points probably puts NYC at better than 50% to finish in Second, and every point above that just adds to the advantage.
My other takeaway is that a 3-point lead this late, even against a team with a game in hand, is quite valuable. The simple summary is that Atlanta has to match whatever NYC does game for game, plus win the one extra game it plays. And that’s probably harder than what NYC has to do.
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