Tonight's match between Philadelphia and New York (7 p.m. on ESPN2/ESPN Deportes/ESPN3.com) could have an impact on Sporting KC's playoff chances -- no matter the outcome. Where should your rooting alliances lie?
A New York win seems like the best bet to sweeten KC's chances -- Sporting would only need to win on Saturday to clinch 1st place.
A Philadelphia win doesn't do much harm to KC's chances -- Sporting would need to winand
equal or best the Union's scoring output on Saturday to take the tie-breaker and clinch 1st place.
Which is why...
A draw does two things: It puts KC's destiny back in their own hands and it doesn't put New York into the playoffs. (Though it would eliminate Chicago.)
Root for the Red Bulls
It takes a big man to admit when he's wrong. And, looking over the numbers and the scenarios and taking a handful of Advils to alleviate the dull roar in the back of my brain, I stand corrected on my earlier prediction. (I hadn't really considered the top-three guarantee, thanks to the commenters for helping me see the light.)
A Red Bulls win would lock Philadelphia at 48 points. Meaning, even if Kansas City lost on Saturdayand Columbus won on Saturday and Houston won on Sunday, Sporting could finish no worse than 3rd in the East if they lose by as many or less goals than Philadelphia does tonight
. Goal differential is the second tiebreaker.
In that scenario, Columbus would win the East with 50 points, Houston would go second with 49 and KC would be third with 48 points (as long as they have a better goal differential). Philly would be the second/third wildcard, New York the fourth.
Regardless of what happens in this game, Kansas City still needs to take care of business on Saturday.