The Thin Red Line: Six points separate 3rd place from 8th place in wacky East

Keeping an eye on this week’s big matches in the East playoff race

FOXBOROUGH, Mass. – Stop me if you’ve heard this before, but not much went the Revolution’s way in the results department last weekend.

While the Revs were robbed of two precious points when Tim Cahill netted a gut-wrenching 97th-minute equalizer at Red Bull Arena, New England’s closest playoff rivals – the Chicago Fire, Philadelphia Union and Houston Dynamo – all picked up maximum points in crucial victories.

As a result the Revs (42 pts.) find themselves in seventh place in the Eastern Conference standings, three points back of the Union (45 pts.) for the fifth and final playoff spot. The Dynamo (47 pts.), Montreal Impact (46 pts.), Fire (43 pts.) and Columbus Crew (41 pts.) round out a muddled postseason picture with just three weeks remaining.

But as we hurtle toward the finish line, there’s still everything to play for in New England. The Revs will have a chance to climb to within one point of the Impact when they visit Stade Saputo on Saturday afternoon, and they could find themselves back in a playoff position this weekend should other results fall favorably.

Wednesday, Oct. 9
Houston Dynamo (13-10-8, 47 pts.) vs. Sporting Kansas City (15-10-6, 51 pts.)
BBVA Compass Stadium, 8:30 p.m. ET
MLS LIVE

Another year, another late-season run by the Dynamo. After struggling through much of August and early September, Dominic Kinnear’s side has put together a four-game unbeaten run (3-0-1) to climb ahead of the Impact into third place in the East.

Although catching Houston constitutes a tall task – the Revs trail the Dynamo by five points with nine on offer for both sides – New England fans should pull for Sporting KC in this midweek matchup. As crazy as it seems, a Revolution win combined with a Dynamo loss could pull the Revs to within two points of third place in the East.

Wednesday night’s game is at BBVA Compass Stadium, where the Dynamo has lost just three games this season, but one of those losses did come at the hands of Sporting KC back in mid-May.

Saturday, Oct. 12
D.C. United (3-22-6, 15 pts.) vs. Philadelphia Union (12-10-9, 45 pts.)
RFK Stadium, 7 p.m. ET
MLS LIVE

Kleberson’s dramatic 95th-minute free kick earned the Union a 1-0 win over TFC last weekend, keeping Philadelphia in playoff position. The Revs will be hoping that magic runs out Saturday night at RFK Stadium.

As difficult as it is to stomach, Revs fans should put their support behind D.C. United, which could greatly help the Revolution’s playoff cause with a win over the Union.

For those concerned about D.C.’s motivation as United plays out the string following last week’s U.S. Open Cup triumph, I’ll refer you to this story on MLSsoccer.com. Head coach Ben Olsen notes the club is well aware that wins in two of the final three matches are needed to avoid being, statistically-speaking, “the worst team in MLS history.”

Sounds like enough motivation to me.

Saturday, Oct. 12
FC Dallas (10-10-11 41 pts.) vs. Chicago Fire (12-12-7, 43 pts.)
Toyota Stadium, 8:30 p.m. ET
MLS LIVE

Chicago climbed over New England into sixth place in the East with a 3-0 victory over D.C. last weekend, meaning the Revs will now need the Fire to drop points somewhere along the line in order to surpass them.

Revolution fans will hope it happens Saturday night at the recently-renamed Toyota Stadium, where Frank Klopas’ side runs up against a struggling FC Dallas. FCD is winless in its last four (0-3-1) and is all but eliminated from the West playoff race, but – and this is promising – the Texas club is 8-2-5 at home this season.