We’ve just put a bow on Week 24, though Week 25 is suddenly upon us and begins Tuesday night with three intriguing matchups.

And with the Eastern Conference and Western Conference tables so tight, points are at a premium at this point of the 2021 season.

So what's on the horizon as the Audi MLS Cup Playoff races heat up? Let’s look ahead.

Columbus Crew vs. New York Red Bulls
7:30 pm ET | MLS LIVE on ESPN+

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Columbus Crew

Columbus are desperate for three points, but they’ve accomplished that just once in their last nine games. And the defending MLS Cup champions have Supporters’ Shield-chasing New England on the road this weekend, so all eyes are on a meeting with the similarly struggling Red Bulls.

The good news for head coach Caleb Porter is it appears his squad is finally getting healthy. Last weekend, Gyasi Zardes came off the bench against Inter Miami CF and Milton Valenzuela returned to start at left back.

New York Red Bulls

Things haven’t gone much better for the Red Bulls, whose 1-0 victory over Columbus on Aug. 18 at Red Bull Arena was their first win in their last 10. And their road form (1-7-2 record) is among the worst in the league, so Gerhard Struber's side isn't finding success away from Red Bull Arena either.

Eight points below the playoff line in the East with 13 games left means the club’s streak of 11 consecutive years in the Audi MLS Cup Playoffs is in danger unless there’s a rapid turnaround. Perhaps someone like young star Caden Clark or DP forward Patryk Klimala can heat up?

NYCFC vs. FC Dallas
7:30 pm ET | MLS LIVE on ESPN+

New York City FC

Who are New York City FC this year? Are they a legit contender for their first MLS Cup crown, or are they among the next tier? They’ve dropped three of their last four, including back-to-back defeats against Eastern Conference foes – keeping them to fourth in the conference standings.

Making matters worse, leading scorer and in-form Taty Castellanos is out due to yellow card accumulation. However, the big news tonight is the likely return of Heber after a long layoff from knee surgery.

FC Dallas

The Ricardo Pepi hype train comes to the Big Apple for a midweek cross-conference tilt ahead of the FC Dallas' next Texas showdown with Houston Dynamo FC on Saturday night. The 18-year-old homegrown is firmly in the Golden Boot presented by Audi race, posting 12 goals and two assists so far.

Recent results have been all over the place from Luchi Gonzalez's team, spanning from a big win over Austin FC to a disheartening 3-2 defeat to RSL, followed by a 1-1 draw against San Jose. That inconsistency means an 11th place spot in the West, four points below the playoff line.

Toronto FC vs. Inter Miami CF
7:30 pm ET | MLS LIVE on ESPN+

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Toronto FC

Toronto FC are last in MLS with 15 points from 23 matches. They’ve won just three times and haven't quite gotten the DP trio of Alejandro Pozuelo, Yeferson Soteldo and Jozy Altidore firing this year.

But there’s a lot to play for, believe it or not. There’s snapping an eight-match winless streak, which has included five straight defeats. Then again, maybe it’s a look forward to 2022 like Steve Zaukani suggested in his 27 Takeaways column.

Inter Miami CF

Inter Miami CF are as hot as a Friday night on Ocean Drive. They’re unbeaten in their last five, winning four of those matches and posting three straight shutouts.

The remarkable turnaround has the Herons just two points below the Eastern Conference playoff line. A win moves them from ninth to sixth place, a playoff leap (at least temporarily) that'd reflect their journey under head coach Phil Neville.

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