Welcome to another edition of "Discuss," in which MLSsoccer.com editors debate the topics of the moment in MLS.
Despite underwhelming starts to the season, two Eastern Conference teams – D.C. United and New York City FC – find themselves in the final two available playoff berths. We have a long, long way to go yet, but we want to know, ahead of Sunday's meeting between the two (7:30 pm ET, FS1), do these teams have what it takes to make the postseason?
We brought in MLSsoccer.com Editor-in-Chief Simon Borg, Senior Editor Matt Doyle and New Media Editor Nick Rosano to answer: Which team is more likely to make the playoffs, New York City FC or D.C. United? Discuss!
DOYLE: Do the math
Let's just do the math.
1. It'll take about 48 points to make the playoffs in the East
2. Each of the last two years only one MLS team has finished with a .500 or better road record. We'll be charitable & pretend NYCFC (1-2-0 through 3 road games) are that team in 2016, finishing 6-6-5 (23 points). That means they need 25 of a possible 51 home points.
3. Through six home games, NYCFC have taken just 7 of 18 points on offer.
4. Even with a best-case-scenario road performance, NYCFC would have to win six of their final 11 home games to make the playoffs. Currently they've won just once in their first six.
D.C. have struggled to start the season, but people don't seem to appreciate how disastrous this spring has been for NYCFC. Every week is desperation time for them from here on out.
BORG: Count on the stars
We’re nearly a third into the season and no one’s running away with the Eastern Conference this year (a mere seven points separate 1st from 10th compared to 12 points in the West). I see Philadelphia coming back to the pack, Montreal are not invincible and the Revs, Red Bulls and Crew SC are all too good not to make a run, which will jumble the table even more. And when things are this tight, I’ll take the team with the difference makers, including a midseason acquisition who goes by the name Frank Lampard.
ROSANO: Don't count on either
Matt’s done the math for NYCFC and it’s hard to argue. The clear answer to the question, as it is posed, is that D.C. have a better chance of making the playoffs. But I think that come November, both these teams will be watching from the couch.
United have finally found a little rhythm in attack, but I’m just not convinced they have the pieces to rise above the fray in an improving Eastern Conference. Luciano Acosta could prove to be a useful addition, but will he be happy with a bench role for an entire season? He could start, but doesn’t quite seem to fit in Ben Olsen’s preferred 4-4-2 formation. Though both D.C. and NYCFC are in playoff places now, expect two of New England, the Red Bulls and Columbus to rise above them by the end of the season.