New York City FC was on the verge of elimination after Charlotte FC took a 2-1 lead over Inter Miami CF during the 52nd minute of Wednesday’s match. However, Robbie Robinson’s late equalizing goal kept their playoff hopes alive. As a result, the Pigeons will enter Decision Day with a chance to clinch their eighth straight playoff berth.
Since joining the league in 2015, NYCFC has made the playoffs in every season except for 2015. Their success in the postseason has led them to both an Eastern Conference Championship and an MLS Cup win back in 2021. After losing key players in the offseason, the Boys in City Blue encountered a struggling season, sitting in 13th place with an 8-11-14 record.
Nick Cushing has been under fire all season for his tactics and playing style, but the team still has a sliver of a chance to make the playoffs. After finding a core number nine of Mounsef Bakrar, their form of late has improved, but a crucial loss to D.C United before the international break hurt their chances of an easy ticket to the playoffs. Luckily, the MLS changed their playoff format, with the top nine teams from each conference qualifying.
Here are all the scenarios that need to happen for NYCFC to secure a playoff berth.
NYCFC needs to win against Chicago Fire FC
This is an obvious point: NYCFC needs to walk away with a win against Chicago Fire FC. They did take an early 1-0 lead in Chicago earlier in the season after Gabriel Pereira's goal but conceded late to take the 1-1 draw. Both teams enter the match in a similar scenario: a must-win game. The favorite to win leans on the team from Queens, as they have won three of the last five games against the Fire.
NYCFC fans are expected to come out to support their club for their possible last home match of the season at Citi Field, where they have only lost two MLS matches all year.
New York Red Bulls need to lose against Nashville
The enemy New York Red Bulls also need to win their final match to keep their playoff hopes alive. Like the Bronx team, the Red Bulls have not been great this season, with a 10-13-10 record. However, after winning their last two matches, including a shocking 2-1 win over FC Cincinnati, they are in a better playoff scenario.
The Red Bulls have to get past Nashville SC. They played to a 0-0 tie on March 5 against Nashville at home, so they enter Saturday’s game with an equal chance to win. Also, Nashville has yet to beat them, losing once and drawing twice since 2021. It is worth noting that Nashville holds a 12-4-5 overall record at Geodis Park, scoring 37 goals in front of their home crowd.
Charlotte FC will have to lose or draw to Inter Miami
NYCFC will need more help from Miami as they will need to try to beat or draw against Charlotte again on Saturday. The good news for the Pigeons is Lionel Messi did confirm that he will play in the final match of the season. This gives them hope that he will do what Messi does best and help Miami get the win. However, Charlotte looked dangerous last Wednesday.
The downside for the Queen City is that they do not have the best MLS home record, for they are 5-3-8. If Messi does end up playing, all New York City FC would need is to pray for a Nashville win while also beating Chicago to see themselves in the playoffs.