As we left Citi Field with a dose of euphoria on Wednesday, after New York City FC’s surprisingly capable 2-0 win over the league’s second-best squad, Orlando City, I struggled to right my brain and do the math for the Pigeons’ run of four final matches.
“It’s OK,” I told myself. “See, we have the talent despite our key injuries to Keaton Parks and Maxi Moralez. We have two more home matches — one against league doormat Toronto FC, and one against and perennially-doomed Chicago FC. We can pick up another win at DC United, and get lucky for a draw against possibly Messi-less Inter Miami in Florida.”
“Yeah, we still have Nick Cushing. But we can OVERCOME that too,” I reasoned with myself. “We can DO THIS! We can reach the 8th or 9th seed and make the play-in game in the MLS Cup Playoffs! We MIGHT EVEN HOST MESSI in that game!!”
Yes, that’s all true. Every word of it. Including the Nick Cushing part.
New York City FC, with their seven wins and 13 draws in 30 matches, now has their playoff destiny almost entirely in its own hands:
- Win all four matches, and NYCFC finishes the season with 46 points — the magic number we previously predicted back in July would almost certainly lock down a MLS Cup Playoffs presented by Audi ™ berth.
- I also said in July that NYCFC needed a minimum of 43 points to be in range for a playoff spot on Decision Day — that point total now give NYCFC a 50% chance at making the playoffs.
- Can New York City actually HOST a playoff match? YES! If NYCFC run the table with four wins, they will have a 61% chance to host the 8-vs-9 matchup at Citi Field or Yankee Stadium — and as both the Mets and the Yankees won’t make the MLB postseason, we’re firmly confident that both stadiums will be free in October this year.
- And that 8-vs-9 match could be the very first playoff match for Lionel Messi and Inter Miami, which could be looking for Leg 3 of a MLS Treble (with Leagues Cup in hand, and a possible US Open Cup win next week) — it’ll be the hottest ticket in MLS this season so far.
Finally, the sad part. Anything less than three wins and it’s a hard slog for New York City FC to make the playoff field.
However, in this simulation below, I have NYCFC advancing to the #9 seed with just seven points (with a 2-1-1 record in the final matches).
First things first, it all starts today at Red Bull Arena with a win over Toronto, which would take NYC’s undefeated streak to five matches in a late-season drive reminiscent of the last two seasons.
And let’s enjoy this final rush of endorphines tonight as the Pigeons give us something we haven’t had all summer. Hope.