image-1920x1080

Drama awaits as Decision Day approaches for teams fighting for a final playoff spot in the Eastern Conference. FC Cincinnati enter the weekend in the driver's seat for one of the remaining two spots with an away trip to D.C. United slated for Sunday afternoon. Midweek results have the Orange and Blue thinking playoffs for the first time in club history.

FC Cincinnati control their own destiny heading into Decision Day. The Orange and Blue can clinch a berth in the 2022 Audi MLS Cup Playoffs with a win OR a draw against D.C. United independent of the result between Orlando and Columbus. If either Orlando or Columbus earns three points on Sunday, the Orange and Blue book their ticket to the playoffs no matter the result against D.C. United.

Inter Miami CF clinched a spot in the postseason Wednesday night with a 4-1 win over Orlando City SC at DRV PNK Stadium. Any number of points for the Herons on Sunday would guarantee a finish no lower than fifth. Miami still has a shot at a top-four finish dependent on results.

Charlotte FC were eliminated from playoff contention despite a late equalizer against Columbus Crew in the expansion side’s first season in MLS. It was still a big result as the draw gives FC Cincinnati some wiggle room against D.C. United.

FCCincinnati.com’s Playoff Watch takes a look at how things stand in the Eastern Conference heading into Decision Day.

Teams in the hunt (standings as of Oct. 6)
Teams in the hunt (standings as of Oct. 6)
Position
Team
Points
Games Played
Record (W-L-D)
Remaining Game
Max. points possible
5th
x - Inter Miami CF
48
33
14-13-6
vs Montreal
51
6th
FC Cincinnati
46
33
11-9-13
at D.C. United
49
7th
Columbus Crew
46
33
10-7-16
at Orlando City SC
49
8th
Orlando City SC
45
33
13-14-6
vs Columbus Crew
48

Top seven teams in standings qualify for the Audi MLS Cup Playoffs (top four teams host a Round One game). Inter Miami CF can still reach fourth place with a win against Montreal and a New York Red Bulls draw or loss)

x - clinched playoffs

D.C. United vs FC Cincinnati – Sunday, Oct. 9 at 2:30 p.m. ET
Sunday’s game against D.C. United is one of the most important fixtures in club history as FC Cincinnati eyes its first trip to the Audi MLS Cup Playoffs. There are a number of ways the Orange and Blue can clinch, but any points earned would get the job done.

United got the upper hand against Cincinnati in Week 2 at TQL Stadium in a 1-0 win. Ola Kamara scored the game winner from the penalty spot eight minutes into second half stoppage time to hand a heartbreaking loss to the Orange and Blue, who have never defeated D.C. in seven tries.

FC Cincinnati cannot reach a top-four position, but as the dust settles Sunday and Pat Noonan’s squad are in the playoffs, they can finish anywhere from fifth to seventh. 

Orlando City SC vs Columbus Crew – Sunday, Oct. 9 at 2:30 p.m. ET
Wednesday’s results put added pressure on both sides as they square off at Exploria Stadium Sunday afternoon. Orlando needs three points in order to secure a spot in the playoffs while Columbus needs just one from their trip to the Sunshine State.

Orlando beat Columbus, 2-0, earlier this season at Lower.com Field. However, since winning the Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup on Sept. 7, the Lions have lost four of their last five games. The Crew meanwhile have been defeated just once since Aug. 3 but have won just one game since the calendar turned to September, that being last Saturday’s 2-1 comeback win over the New York Red Bulls.

So long as there is a winner in this fixture, FC Cincinnati will be in postseason action regardless of what happens in the nation’s capital. 

Inter Miami CF vs CF Montréal – Sunday, Oct. 9 at 2:30 p.m. ET
The Herons are among the league’s hottest teams, as Phil Neville’s team have won four straight games including Wednesday night’s thumping of Orlando to book a spot in the postseason. 

Miami factors into Cincinnati’s equation when it comes to seeding. Because Miami (48 pts.) has won 14 games compared to the Orange and Blue’s 11, and with wins being the first tiebreaker, should the Herons defeat or draw CF Montréal, FC Cincinnati (46 pts.) cannot leap Miami into fifth place. 

Should both Montréal and Cincinnati win, FCC will finish fifth on 49 points and be slotted into the 4 vs. 5 matchup come Round 1 of the playoffs. And there’s reason to believe Wilfried Nancy’s squad will be headed to South Florida seeking all three points, as they can still finish in first place in the Eastern Conference with a win combined with Philadelphia Union losing or drawing.