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MLS playoff race update: D.C. United jumps above the red line


D.C. United has spent months climbing out of an early-season hole, going from last place to the heart of the Eastern Conference playoff race. On Saturday, D.C. completed the climb, and must not switch from being the hunter, to the hunted.

DCU jumped head of the Montreal Impact in the East standings after a dramatic 1-0 victory over FC Dallas, a win that pushed D.C. United’s unbeaten record to seven matches. Ben Olsen’s squad hasn’t secured a playoff spot just yet, but with a game in hand, and some serious momentum, D.C. United is looking like a good bet to reach theist season.

Entering the penultimate weekend of the season, seven teams have already secured spots in the postseason and are jockeying for the best position possible.

FC Dallas’ loss to D.C. United had ramifications in the West as well, with both LAFC and Sporting KC both within striking distance of catching FCD for top seed in the West playoffs.

Here are the current conference standings,  the matches all of the playoff contenders have remaining, and what the playoff matchups are at the moment:

Atlanta United 66 vs. Chicago, at Toronto FC
New York Red Bulls 65 at Philadelphia, vs. Orlando City
New York City FC 53 at D.C. United, vs. Philadelphia
Philadelphia Union 50 vs. New York Red Bulls, at NYCFC
Columbus Crew 48 at Orlando City, vs. Minnesota United
D.C. United 44 vs. Toronto FC, vs. NYCFC, at Chicago
Montreal Impact 43 vs. Toronto FC, at New England

Playoff Match-ups at the moment:

First-round byes: Atlanta United, New York Red Bulls

Knockout Round: NYCFC vs. D.C. United, Union vs. Crew

Atlanta United and the New York Red Bulls are locked in a fight for the Supporters’ Shield and home-field advantage in the Eastern Conference playoffs, while New York City FC is hanging on to third place.

Philadelphia holds on a two-point edge over Columbus for fourth, but all eyes are on D.C. United, who plays their final game-in-hand on Wednesday against Toronto FC.

A win would move D.C. United to within a point of the Crew and three points back of the Union heading into Week 34.

Montreal is the biggest fan of any team playing D.C., especially rival Toronto FC, in order to enter Sunday just a point back of sixth place.

The standings could be altered further on Sunday if D.C. knocks off NYCFC and the Union defeat the Red Bulls.

If those results occur, the No. 3 will be in play for the Union on Decision Day, while D.C. could have a shot at the No. 5 seed.

FC Dallas 57 vs. Sporting KC, at Colorado Rapids
Los Angeles FC 56 at Minnesota United, vs. Sporting KC
Sporting Kansas City 53 at Vancouver, at FC Dallas, vs. LAFC
Portland Timbers 51 vs. Real Salt Lake, at Vancouver
Seattle Sounders 50 at Orlando City, at Houston, vs. San Jose
Real Salt Lake 46 vs. New England, at Portland
LA Galaxy 45 at Minnesota United, vs. Houston
Vancouver Whitecaps 43 vs. Sporting KC, at LAFC, vs. Portland

Playoff Match-ups at the moment:

First-round byes: FC Dallas, Los Angeles FC

Knockout Round: Sporting KC vs. Real Salt Lake, Portland vs. Seattle.

The Western Conference playoff picture is an interesting one because of the situation Real Salt Lake is in.

The Claret and Cobalt are the only team that isn’t playing on the final weekend of the season, meaning RSL will be forced to watch Decision Day hoping for results to go its way unless Mike Petke’s side can win both its remaining matches.

A Sporting KC victory in Vancouver sets up a three-way fight for the top two playoff spots, and Sporting KC would control its own destiny with FC Dallas and LAFC left on the schedule.

Portland’s clash with RSL on Sunday is crucial to the bottom three seeds, as a Timbers win would open the door for the LA Galaxy and Vancouver to make up ground on RSL.

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