Wednesday night’s game in hand away at Inter Miami has come and gone. While Charlotte FC would have preferred a victory to control their own destiny heading into Decision Day, the 2-2 draw still leaves the team with a good chance of getting into the playoffs.
CLTFC now needs a win, and nothing less, at Bank of America Stadium on Saturday versus the same Miami team.
Additionally, they will need at least two of the three teams above them in the standings – CF Montreal, New York Red Bulls, and Chicago Fire FC – to drop points in their simultaneous matches on Saturday. All three teams have tough matchups away from home on the cards.
That’s the simple explanation. Read on for a deeper dive into the matchups facing those three teams, as well as a look at potential hosting scenarios for CLTFC in the Wild Card match.
Eastern Conference Standings
First, let's get an overall picture of how the playoff standings stack up as of publishing. If you want the full, live Eastern Conference table, please click here.
8. CF Montreal – 41 points, 33 Games Played
9. D.C. United – 40 points, 34 Games Played (eliminated)
---------- Playoff Line ----------
10. New York Red Bulls – 40 points, 33 Games Played
11. Chicago Fire FC – 40 points, 33 Games Played
12. Charlotte FC – 40 points, 33 Games Played
13. NYCFC – 38 points, 33 Games Played
14. Inter Miami – 34 points, 33 Games Played (eliminated)
15. Toronto FC – 22 points, 33 GP (eliminated)
As a point of clarification, D.C. United is eliminated from playoff contention despite currently sitting in the final playoff spot. Because the league has an odd number of teams, D.C. United has already played all 34 games and does not play on Decision Day. Since Chicago and NYCFC play against each other, one of those teams is guaranteed to pass D.C. regardless of the result.
Results to Watch
We already know that Charlotte FC must get three points at home. A draw or a loss would end the Club’s second season short of the playoffs.
The other results that need to happen, though, are a loss or draw for two of the three teams sitting higher in the standings. While the scenario seems daunting, it is realistic on paper. All three of those teams play away from home against good teams playing for valuable seeding or playoff hopes.
CF Montreal @ Columbus Crew
CF Montreal, currently in 8th place on 41 points, travel to the Columbus Crew. The Crew are currently clinging on to fourth place, two points clear of New England in fifth place. The difference between those two places is huge; hosting advantage in the First Round Best of Three series is on the line. The higher seed gets to host Game 1 and a potential Game 3 at their home venue.
Thus, the Crew will be going all out for a win at Lower.com Field, where they have lost only once all season.
New York Red Bulls @ Nashville SC
The New York Red Bulls, currently in 10th place on 40 points, visit Nashville SC at GEODIS Park. That Nashville team could jump all the way from seventh to fifth with a victory, and have also been excellent at home, losing only three times out of 16 matches this season.
Chicago Fire FC @ New York City FC
Chicago Fire FC, currently in 11th place on 40 points, head to the Big Apple for a matchup with New York City FC at Citi Field. NYCFC has struggled more this year than in past seasons, but they still have a very talented squad, are fighting for their playoff lives, and have good home form with just three losses.
Charlotte FC’s draw on Wednesday, ironically, kept the Pigeons in the playoff chase for one more matchday, so they must win to have any hope of sneaking in.
Therefore, the scenario is theoretically favorable to the Crown. They only need two of these three squads to not win on the road, while winning at home themselves.
Notably, those three teams have combined for just nine wins out of 48 away matches this year.
In order to finish in 8th place and host the Wild Card match between the 8 and 9 seeds, the scenario is quite simple.
Charlotte FC need to win, of course, and then need all three previously mentioned teams to drop points in their matches. This would allow them to vault up four places from 12th to 8th.
If any of Montreal, Red Bulls, or Chicago win their match, then the best Charlotte FC can get is 9th place.
Both the Red Bulls and Chicago would be equal on points with CLTFC, but they hold the first tiebreaker advantage (total wins). Montreal are one point ahead, so they would remain ahead of the Crown by one point with a win.
CLT V MIA | DECISION DAY
It's Fan Appreciation and Decision Day. The upper bowl will be OPEN for the last regular season match. Gate Giveaway: First fans in attendance will receive a limited-edition CLTFC T-Shirt, courtesy of Ally.