One of the hardest things to predict right now is the outcome of football matches.
It doesn’t matter how long you’ve been playing, watching or coaching the game, the Covid factor has added significant uncertainty to the outcome of any fixture on the list.
You need to look no further than the Premier League; Leicester winning 5-2 at the Etihad, Aston Villa blasting Liverpool for seven, and Tottenham handing out United six of the best at Old Trafford.
MLS with its own idiosyncrasies, mainly around travel and climactic conditions, has always been one of the more difficult leagues from which to call results successfully. So what chance have we in determining the final standings in the regular season in the Eastern Conference? Not much, since I’m hopeless at predicting results anyhow, but I’ll give it my best shot.
The good news is I think the Impact will finish above the line!
I can see Impact-loving friends and colleagues holding their heads in their hands in disbelief right now, screaming, “He’s put the blink on them!”
But I really think Thierry Henry’s men will be ok, with players returning to fitness and others benefitting from the current week’s rest which must seem like a mid-season break for some.
I believe the Impact will garner 5 points from their last four games, beginning with a point at off-form NYCFC on Saturday. The key game for me and the one I expect the Impact to win is the match that follows against Nashville SC at Red Bull Arena.
Nashville have momentum currently, but given they’ve five games left to everyone else’s four, they may target home games as the ones to gather points in. In other words, there’s a chance some players may be rested when on the road to keep strong for the visits of New England, Chicago Fire and FC Dallas, a team they seem to have the measure of this season.
Should Nashville get 9 points from those three games - they’re in! I think they’ll get 7 however, dropping two at home to New England, whose away form this season has been stellar.
I don’t expect Montreal to pick up points against Orlando, unless perhaps The Lions’ final standing cannot be altered by losing (unlikely, there still should be something to play for). It would however be greatly beneficial, not to mention more relaxing, should the Impact get something off Orlando, since going to DC needing a result no matter how poor the capital side has been this season, is not the stuff dreams are made of.
The current top four are already assured of play-off football in the East, so it’s six to come from the remaining ten. Cincinnati and DC United look too far off the pace, so there’s really eight contenders for the remaining six spots.
I expect the Revs to go unbeaten during the rest of the regular season and to claim 5th spot. Their away record is better than what they produce at home, and with three road fixtures and a home game against DC United to come they should be best of the rest.
The battle for sixth promises to be tight between the two NY sides and Dan Lovitz’s Nashville SC, even though I’m tipping Montreal to sneak a win over the expansion side next week. I just about fancy NYCFC to pip their Big Apple rivals into sixth. Neither New York side is showing any consistency currently, so I wouldn’t be surprised if any one from these three claim sixth spot.
The last two places should go to Montreal (9th), and Atlanta United (10th) who will make a big push to extend their season in the remaining games, two of which are at home to each of the conference’s basement sides, Cincinnati and DC United.
Here is the regular season table as it currently stands -
And the final regular season table based on my predictions, which sees the Impact gaining a point on the road against both NYCFC and DC United and winning and losing to Nashville SC and Orlando City respectively, at RB Arena.
Chicago Fire with away games at Philadelphia, Nashville and Minnesota and home encounters with both New York sides to come will miss out, along with David Beckham’s Inter-Miami expansion side.
The Play-In round would then look like this -
Nashville v Atlanta
Red Bulls v Impact
Impact fans have pleasant memories of their last play-off series with the Red Bulls, and it’s unlikely they’d see this draw against their temporary landlords presenting an unsurmountable hurdle. But should Montreal win their Play-In Round match, things will undoubtedly become more difficult.
Based on my predictions the first play-off round will look like this -
1st Place v Montreal Impact
2nd Place v Nashville SC
3rd Place v NYCFC
4th Place v New England Revs
Should Montreal Impact reach this far, there’s a good chance their play-off first round opponent therefore will be Toronto FC at BMO Field, although should Atlanta progress and not Nashville, it would be they (as my projected 10th place regular season team) who would face the #1 ranked team in the East.
Lots of ifs, buts and maybes, but feel positive that Montreal’s last game of the season will not be the scheduled visit to DC United on Decision Day.
Let fans know your thoughts! Please take our poll....
(closes at 6pm EST, Saturday, before the NYCFC game)...
Will the Impact extend their season beyond the regular season?
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