The New York Red Bulls could've made things very easy for themselves by winning, or even drawing drawing, last night's game at Toronto FC. The loss though makes things a little tighter for the Red Bulls, but they are at least still in the lead. Here's a look at what's going on.
The Red Bulls lead the conference at 54 points. They are 5 points clear of now second place Toronto, with D.C. United in third at 48 points. All of the conference is even on games played, so there are no more game in hand advantages for anyone.
If the playoffs ended today, the match-ups would be:
|Bye||1||New York Red Bulls||2||Toronto FC|
|Wild Card||3||D.C. United||vs||6||Montreal Impact|
|Wild Card||4||New England Revolution||vs||5||Columbus Crew SC|
The Red Bulls would play the lowest remaining team of the wild card match-ups (like how the NFL operates). The Red Bulls are not secured in that final position however. To secure the #1 seed outright, a win or draw against the Philadelphia Union on Sunday is the quickest way.
The worst the Red Bulls could do would be to drop to third. This probably won't happen as it would require the Red Bulls to lose their next two, D.C. to win out, and make up a 16 goals in the Goal Differential column. Realistically, the worst the team can do is the #2 seed if they lose out and Toronto win their last two, as they'll end with 55 points to RBNY's 54.
This is where things start to be tougher for the Red Bulls. Their loss last night, coupled with FC Dallas' 2-0 win over the Vancouver Whitecaps, has the Red Bulls ahead in the Shield race because of goal differential (15 vs 11). The loss to Toronto though opened the door for other teams to be in contention for the Shield.
- New York Red Bulls: 54 points, 2 games remaining (GR), 60 points max
- FC Dallas: 54 points, 2 GR, 60 points max
- LA Galaxy: 51 points, 2 GR, 57 points max (Edit: cannot make up the Wins tiebreaker)
- Vancouver Whitecaps: 50 points, 2 GR, 56 points max (Edit: Vancouver has 1 game remaining, so cannot make up the points.)
- Toronto FC: 49 points, 2 GR, 55 points max
- Sporting Kansas City: 48 points, 3 GR, 57 points max
Scenario 1: Red Bulls Win 2 (60 points)
Unless Dallas goes on a tear with something like two 5-0 victories to greatly boost their GD, the Red Bulls would be the Shield winners.
Scenario 2: Red Bulls Win 1, Draw 1 (58 points)
If the Red Bulls end the season 1-0-1, then they'll need some help as Dallas would need to draw or lose at least one of their two remaining games. With Dallas playing Real Salt Lake and the San Jose Earthquakes to end the year, this scenario has a good chance not working out for the Red Bulls.
Scenario 3: Red Bulls Draw 2 (56 points)
This (and the last two scenarios) will probably result in the Red Bulls missing out on the Shield. There's too many teams still hanging around to only draw the last two games.
Scenario 4: Red Bulls Draw 1, Lose 1 (55 points) & Scenario 5: Red Bulls Lose 2 (54 points)
There's no question that finishing with a loss or two will mean missing out.
What do you think is going to happen down the stretch? Let us know in the comments.