PLAYOFF WATCH | How does FC Cincinnati's path to the postseason shape up?


On Saturday night, FC Cincinnati made what was possibly the most crucial step towards securing the club’s first berth in the Audi MLS Cup Playoffs. As Brenner turned his hips and fired FC Cincinnati into the lead in the 76th minute, FC Cincinnati secured its club-record 11th win of the season and sits in sixth place in the Eastern Conference standings.

The path to Decision Day on Oct. 9 is not easy for any of the clubs who remain in the fight for a playoff spot. With four spots up for grabs and just three games left,’s Playoff Watch takes a look at how this weekend’s results affected the playoff race.

Here’s how it looks right now:

Teams in the hunt (standings as of Sept. 19)
Teams in the hunt (standings as of Sept. 19)
Games Played
Record (W-L-D)
Remaining games
New York City FC
vs ORL, at ATL
Orlando City SC
at NYCFC, at MIA, vs CLB
FC Cincinnati
at SEA, vs CHI, at DC
Inter Miami CF
at TOR, vs ORL, vs MTL
Columbus Crew
vs RBNY, at CLT, at ORL
Atlanta United FC
at NE, vs NYCFC
Charlotte FC
vs PHI, vs CLB, at RBNY
New England Revolution
vs ATL, at CHI

Top seven teams in standings qualify for the Audi MLS Cup Playoffs.

Real Salt Lake 1-2 FC Cincinnati

No Eastern Conference team had won in RSL in the last 16 tries, since June 2017, until Saturday night in Sandy, Utah. Cincinnati kicked off a pair of crucial road contests against Western Conference foes with a 2-1 victory over Salt Lake. Brenner scored his 13th and 14th goals of the season while Roman Celentano matched his career high with seven saves. One of those saves was perhaps the most critical, as he stopped Pablo Ruiz’ penalty in first-half stoppage time.

What it means: The most important thing here is three points for FCC, keeping the chasing teams at arm’s length.

Columbus Crew 1-1 Portland Timbers

Another game, another late goal conceded by the Crew. After Caleb Porter’s side seemed set to take a massive three points and stay just one point back of Cincinnati and Orlando, a 90’+5 equalizer from Portland’s Santiago Moreno saw Columbus drop below the playoff line, tied on points with seventh-place Inter Miami CF.

What it means: Columbus need some help now if they want to make the playoffs. While tied on points with Miami, they have three less wins and will need to find a way to jump the Herons to get back into the picture.

D.C. United 2-3 Inter Miami CF

Late-game heroics from Gonzalo Higuaín once again saved Inter Miami, as they come from 1-0 down to win 2-3 in the nation’s capital. The win, combined with other results, put Miami in playoff position and in the driver’s seat to claim the final spot.

What it means: Miami jump into the playoff spots, three points behind FCC.

New York City FC 2-0 New York Red Bulls

Red Bulls have already clinched their spot in the Playoffs this season, but NYCFC got a much-needed three points to remain in control of home playoff position and can clinch a top-seven spot and a postseason berth the next time they take the field.

What it means: NYCFC currently occupy fourth place in the east, the final home playoff spot. It’s not locked up yet, but FCC need the Pigeons to drop points in their final two games to catch them.

Orlando City SC 4-0 Toronto FC

Orlando and Cincinnati have been neck and neck for the five and six spots recently, and the Purple Lions kept pace with FCC and remain level on 45 points. Orlando have officially shaken off the U.S. Open Cup hangover and eliminate Toronto FC in the process.

What it means: Tied on points and games with FC Cincinnati, it’s a fight to the finish.

Atlanta United FC 0-0 Philadelphia Union

Atlanta did everything they could to nab three points against the top of the table Union, but the heroics of Andre Blake in goal kept it level at full time. A draw for Atlanta is good for FCC, as it means the gap between the Orange and Blue and ninth-place Atlanta is at five points now, giving some breathing room in a bunched-up Eastern Conference.

What it means: Atlanta find a way to stay alive. They’ve played one more game than the rest of the clubs on the bubble, but a point from the Supporters’ Shield-leading Union is a good point.

Chicago Fire 2-3 Charlotte FC

Charlotte stays alive in the playoff race and eliminates Chicago thanks to three second-half goals to come back from 2-0 down in Chicago. Charlotte picks up just their third road win of the season, and they hold on to a 4% chance to make the postseason (

What it means: Chicago eliminated, Charlotte still fighting, but they sit four points back of the line and seven points off FCC.

New England Revolution 0-1 CF Montréal

New England couldn’t find the back of the net as they dropped a home contest to a strong CF Montréal squad. The Revs have just a 1% chance to make the playoffs per, as four points stand between them and the playoff line while they have played one more game than every other team in the race.

What it means: The Revs playoff hopes are on life support, and they can be eliminated from contention in the upcoming matchweek.