The Thin Red Line: Revs aim to clinch postseason berth on season’s final day

Breaking down the final weekend in the East playoff race

FOXBOROUGH, Mass. – Well folks, this is it. Regardless of what goes down this weekend, this will be the final installment of The Thin Red Line. It’s been fun. Nerve-wracking, but fun.

What’s great about this weekend is that the Revs don’t need to watch the scoreboard. A win on Sunday afternoon against the Columbus Crew will send the Revolution to the postseason (assuming the Houston Dynamo doesn’t put up a record number of goals against D.C. United). So that’s where the focus lies.

But from a fan’s perspective, there are still plenty of reasons to keep track of other key matches in the East. For one, should the Revs qualify for the playoffs, they could still finish anywhere from third to fifth. That’s the difference between going on the road for a midweek play-in match (fifth), hosting a midweek play-in match (fourth) or heading straight to the conference semifinals next weekend (third). It would all depend on other results.

There are also scenarios in which the Revs could reach the postseason (as the fifth seed) even with a loss or draw on Sunday afternoon. But hopefully we won’t have to worry about those …

Saturday, Oct. 26
Philadelphia Union (12-11-10, 46 pts.) vs. Sporting Kansas City (16-10-7, 55 pts.)
PPL Park, 3 p.m. ET
NBC Sports Network

Philadelphia can only catch New England with a win on Saturday afternoon as the Union trails the Revs by two points entering the final weekend. A loss or draw for John Hackworth’s side would guarantee the Revolution a better finish and eliminate the Union from the playoff picture.

But that’s not the only reason to cheer for Sporting KC in this nationally-televised contest. Three points for SKC would keep the pressure on the New York Red Bulls in the Supporters’ Shield race, which would in turn benefit the Revs, who’ll want the Red Bulls to be motivated for their season finale against the Chicago Fire on Sunday.

Saturday, Oct. 26
Toronto FC (5-17-11, 26 pts.) vs. Montreal Impact (14-12-7, 49 pts.)
BMO Field, 4 p.m. ET
MLS LIVE

Montreal enters the final weekend in third place in the East, but the Impact’s position is tenuous at best, sitting just one point ahead of the fifth-place Revs. Victory over TFC would all but secure a third-place finish for Montreal, but a loss or draw opens the door for the Revs to leapfrog the Impact and climb the standings.

Toronto FC has had a chance to help the Revs twice this month without success – a pair of 1-0 losses to Philadelphia and Chicago – so New England will be hoping the third time’s the charm.

Sunday, Oct. 27
D.C. United (3-23-7, 16 pts.) vs. Houston Dynamo (13-11-9, 48 pts.)
RFK Stadium, 1:30 p.m. ET
NBC

This is perhaps the most important “other” game to keep an eye on this weekend, so it’s convenient that it’ll be available on national television (NBC) and finish up just as the Revs are getting set to kick off.

With one game remaining, Houston boasts an identical record to the Revolution, but the Revs hold a sizeable edge in goals scored (+9), which serves as the second tiebreaker after total wins. Should the Dynamo lose or draw on Sunday afternoon at RFK Stadium, the Revs would need just a draw against the Crew to secure a postseason berth. A Dynamo win, however, means the Revs will require a victory of their own.

Houston’s opposition, D.C. United, has a different kind of motivation. With only three victories on the season, United needs nothing short of three points on Sunday to avoid setting an unenviable record for fewest wins in a season.

Sunday, Oct. 27
New York Red Bulls (16-9-8, 56 pts.) vs. Chicago Fire (14-12-7, 49 pts.)
Red Bull Arena, 5 p.m. ET
UniMas

Revolution fans should be cheering for the New York Red Bulls to clinch the Supporters Shield on Sunday afternoon. Just writing that makes me feel like I need to shower.

In truth, Revolution fans won’t be cheering for the Red Bulls – who’ll finish atop the MLS standings with a win – but against the Fire. Like Montreal, Chicago sits in a vulnerable spot just one point ahead of the Revs, meaning a loss or draw for the Fire opens the door for the Revolution to jump them in the standings.

This game will kick off around halftime of the Revolution-Crew match, so you might want to have multiple TVs ready to go, or at the very least, new batteries in the remote control.