Welcome to another edition of "Discuss," in which MLSsoccer.com editors debate the topics of the moment in MLS. Our question this time: Which team that is currently not in the playoff places (top 6 in each conference) has the best chance of getting in?
Editor in Chief Simon Borg, VP of Video Content Jason Saghini, Senior Editors Nicholas Rosano, Ben Couch, and Arielle Castillo, New Media Editor Benjamin Baer, and Contributors Alicia Rodriguez, Sam Stejskal and Franco Panizo give their takes.
Borg: Real Salt Lake
No one’s talking about RSL and yet they’re playing some of the best soccer in the league (one loss in their last nine). Their attack is explosive (23 goals in those last nine) and with Justen Glad and the impending return of Marcelo Silva, their back line is solid again. Although they only have six matches remaining, they’re more than capable of pulling off a massive upset in a tight Western Conference.
Rosano: Montreal Impact
The Impact became a more complete team this summer with the addition of Samuel Piette, and Atlanta’s backloaded slate will catch up to them even as they kick off life at Mercedes-Benz Stadium. Circle your calendars for Sept. 24, when the Impact pay a visit, as that could well settle the Eastern Conference playoff picture.
Castillo: San Jose Earthquakes
The Quakes definitely still have a shot. They're only one point below the playoff line, behind FC Dallas, whose form is anything but predictable right now.
Couch: Montreal Impact
If I’ve learned anything in 2 ½ MLS campaigns, it’s not to count out the Montreal Impact until they’re totally buried and someone erected an Area-51 level vault on top of the season remains. Atlanta have the games in hand, but Montreal have done this before – and will again.
Baer: Montreal Impact
I personally believe the 12 teams above the playoff line currently will be the teams who reach the playoffs, but if I had to pick one it would be Montreal. They have the talent, and the games in hand, to pull it off.
Stejskal: New England Revolution
Montreal have the upper hand, but I actually like New England as the team that has a better shot to sneak into the playoffs out east. The Revs' strong attack was dominant against Orlando last week and it looks like they've started to shore up their leaky defense. They've got Montreal at Gillette on Saturday -- I think they win that game to set-up a tantalizing match at Atlanta next Wednesday.
Saghini: Montreal Impact
There are 5 games left between Atlanta, Montreal, and New England, and there is still a lot to be said about how the Eastern playoff field will be decided. Is Kei Kamara’s hat trick the start of a hot run of form that carries New England to the playoffs? Can Atlanta turn around their lull now that they have their firepower back? Or will it be the tactical, yet crafty approach of Montreal that wins out? I'm saying it's the Québécois.
Panizo: Montreal Impact
If I absolutely had to pick one, I'd go with the Impact. Not only do they have the second-best road record of the teams with a realistic chance of making the postseason (RSL is first), but they also have the dynamic duo of Ignacio Piatti and Blerim Dzemaili leading the way. All that combined with their previous experiences with late playoff pushes makes Montreal the easy choice.
Rodriguez: San Jose Earthquakes
I think the West is still more open than the East, and while chances are the current Top 6 in each conference will stay that way come season's end, I've had a gut feeling about the Quakes since Chris Leitch took over. Yes, they've had some stinkers, but there's a freer attitude and moments of potential that seem to be on the cusp of putting them back above the playoff line.