Decision Day is going to feel like you put your brain into a blender. There’s just no way around it. We’re all going to settle in on Sunday afternoon and then some impossibly dumb things are going to happen. But, like you, I’ve been asking myself: What’s the most impossibly dumb thing that could happen?
Let’s recognize that the things we’re about to discuss, dear reader, are very unlikely. However, maybe if we clap hard enough, Atlanta giving up 10 goals to Cincinnati can come to life like Tinkerbell. That’s right. Just sit there and clap to no one. Ignore the fact that anyone in your general vicinity might start to think you’re a bit strange. They probably already do. And, if nothing’s going to change, you might as well clap until the Crew are back in the playoffs.
Editor's note: This story originally ran in The Daily Kickoff. Subscribe here to receive your daily dose of MLS news and analysis direct to your inbox.
This one isn’t convoluted. You won’t have to go to conspiracy theory levels of red strings and synchronicities to find out how it happened. It’s just a little bit unlikely.
After Montréal win, the Red Bulls of New York need to draw or win. This is all pretty simple up to this point right? None of these things is unlikely. Which means that now is as good a time as ever to introduce the part where Atlanta United lose by at least eight goals to FC Cincinnati.
If Atlanta lose by seven goals more than what Orlando lose by to Montréal, then Orlando will advance on goal differential while the Five Stripes head to eighth place. I can only imagine this happening if Gonzalo Pineda, forgetting everything he’s ever learned about soccer, decides to start several U-12 players in an effort to plan for the future. And even then, I’m gonna be honest y’all, that still might not be enough.
If it is though, the fun side quest mission here would be to see if Brandon Vazquez could become the Golden Boot presented by Audi winner by the end of the day. All he’d need is 15 goals against Bradlen from Roswell.
This scenario sounds like a six-year-old making up a story. “AND THEN the fireman ran to the window AND THEN Godzilla said he would help AND THEN we were playing basketball AND THEN I saw a bird…”
Columbus beat Chicago AND THEN New York are gonna lose to Nashville AND THEN Montréal are either going to beat or draw with Orlando AND THEN D.C. United are going to lose or tie vs. Toronto AND THEN Columbus are going to win by four goals AND THEN Red Bulls are going to lose by three goals or some combination of a seven-goal difference.
It’s … a bit unlikely. But going step by step here, it doesn’t seem that insane. Columbus beating Chicago seems likely. New York losing to Nashville is the East's third-place team beating the East's seventh-place team. Montréal have Orlando at home and no one is going to be surprised if they get a point there.
Where we lose some hope though is imagining this Red Bulls team playing a game with more than two goals in it. They’ve played exactly one since Sept. 17. If they’re going to lose to Nashville, it’s probably not going to be by much. Which means Columbus have to pick up the slack here and beat Chicago by five or so. But hey, considering Chicago have an interim coach and are already planning for 2022, it’s far from being outside the realm of possibility.
Just a quick reminder here that LAFC are still very much in playoff contention. You thought they were dead. I thought they were dead. They probably at least considered it a possibility until Cristian Arango showed up.
Look, you never know what could happen. Maybe the teams in front of them are docked points for not being as cool and green, or maybe they disappear, or get frozen in a block of ice above Times Square, or are forced to stand on a pole for 35 hours. You just. Never. Know.
The moral of the story here is to keep holding out hope. Because isn’t that what Decision Day is all about? Hoping that something spectacularly horrible will happen to a team that isn’t yours? Are you clapping yet?
Of note: This is Sam's editor noting that Austin FC are not in playoff contention. But we aren't going to squash dreams, either.