Drama awaits on Decision Day this Nov. 7 as teams fight for Audi MLS Cup Playoff positioning and qualification on the 2021 regular season's final day.
Some clubs will emerge from the fray jubilant at having secured a spot, while others will be left on the outside looking in. So, which club would bear the largest share of disappointment should they miss the cut? The Extratime crew debated that topic on their latest episode, with co-host Calen Carr citing the Columbus Crew as the bubble team with the most to lose.
The reigning MLS Cup champs have mounted a late charge after struggling for much of the season, but if they can't finish the job, Carr said the Crew will be left wondering how they squandered a bid to repeat.
"It's got to be Columbus for me," Carr said. "Just being the defending champions, with that roster, [Lucas] Zelarayan, one of the best players in the league. They're still climbing, they're still fighting, they've got a shot.
"With how wide open it is if Columbus misses out, I feel like they have the most to lose."
Co-host Andrew Wiebe went to the Western Conference for his pick, tabbing LAFC as the club that will feel most let down given their lofty preseason expectations. Many felt Bob Bradley's group was poised to be a dominant force in the West given their attacking talent and overall success.
It hasn't exactly panned out that way, as LAFC are also currently on the playoff bubble.
"It's LAFC by far. I'm sitting here with a double prediction in the preseason for LAFC," Wiebe said. "It is my fault, but that is where their perceptions were and their expectations were because Carlos Vela had done what he had done in [Concacaf Champions League], he was back, you had [Diego] Rossi, you had Brian Rodriguez, you had Bob Bradley after they missed out on MLS Cup. You had huge expectations and this could be the end."
Finally, co-host Matt Doyle went with Orlando City SC, who could suddenly find themselves out of the Eastern Conference's seven places if they slip up and are victimized by other results. That, Doyle said, would be the biggest heartbreak of the bunch.
"I have to think Orlando City would be the bigger disappointment, because for the entire year we've been saying, 'OK, they're not playing great soccer but once they get [Dary] Dike healthy, as long as Nani's rested, they've got [Mauricio] Pereyra out there rested, Jhegson Mendez back, a really good defense an international-caliber goalkeeper. Once they have all that then they're going to turn it on,'" Doyle said.
"And, look, they've been tough to beat for the last month, but they haven't been good. And this weekend's should-have-been-a-win frankly over Nashville, Orlando City were not good. And now they're coming into the final week of the season where if things go wrong for them this week in terms of Montréal getting it done against Houston, maybe Atlanta get a result, one or the other of those two teams win and win again this weekend, then Orlando goes into the final game of the season needing a result on the road against a desperate Montréal team and could end up missing out on the playoffs by a single point."
For more from Extratime, check out the full latest episode here.