ST. LOUIS – FC Cincinnati officially clinched a spot in this year’s MLS Cup Playoffs before anyone else Wednesday evening. Could St. Louis CITY SC be next to punch their ticket to the big dance?
St. Louis also picked up a key victory Wednesday over FC Dallas, prevailing behind two late goals and expanding their Western Conference lead by seven points. The thriller also helps CITY close the gap to what is mathematically needed to clinch playoffs in their inaugural season.
Now with a 15-2-9 record for 47 points, CITY SC has already reached the range of playoff cuspers from recent seasons and looks poised for fortunes beyond the regular season. However, the City Boys might need to wait until mid-September to officially celebrate a secured playoff spot, and the expanded playoff pool of nine teams in each conference certainly factors into it.
To calculate how soon CITY SC might clinch the playoffs, keep this in mind: FC Cincinnati now has 57 points on the season and a 17-6-3 record in the Eastern Conference. Charlotte FC has the most favorable odds of playoffs in the east among teams on the outside the bubble looking in, with 30 points and nine games remaining. Every win produces three points for standings considerations, and every draw produces one point.
If Charlotte were to win out, they would finish the season with 57 points. They could not pass FC Cincinnati in the standings, even if they lost out, due to the tiebreaker rules. Cincinnati would still have more wins than Charlotte in the highly unlikely scenario of losing out vs. Charlotte winning out. So mathematically, they were able to clinch a playoff spot on Wednesday.
Let’s apply the same logic for St. Louis CITY SC:
- With eight matches remaining, St. Louis has a 15-2-9 record for 47 points.
- The closest team from the outside looking in is Austin FC with a 9-5-12 record for 32 points. They also have eight matches remaining.
- If Austin were to win out, they could finish with 17 wins and 56 points. No other team outside the playoff bubble in the west could mathematically finish better than that.
- Just three more victories from St. Louis (without factoring in other opponent losses) would give them 56 points. That would match the highest possible output from Austin if they win out, but St. Louis would also have the tiebreaker because they would have more wins (18 compared to 17).
The grand conclusion: Three more victories, even without opponent losses considered, should secure a playoff spot for St. Louis CITY SC.
St. Louis will play its next three games on the road, the last of those coming against the Houston Dynamo on Sept. 16. If Austin doesn’t lose before then, that is the earliest possible date to clinch the playoffs.
Oddly enough, Austin only has one scheduled match prior to Sept. 16, and it’s scheduled for this upcoming Saturday. If that were to result in a loss, CITY could potentially clinch playoffs as soon as its Sept. 10 game against the LA Galaxy. CITY would need to win that contest and this upcoming weekend’s matchup against Sporting KC for an earlier playoff berth.
All things considered, CITY SC is standing pretty for playoffs, but it’s going to take a little more time until they can celebrate it. Plus, the regular season doesn’t end until October, and CITY should be motivated to keep pushing for the top spot in the West.
According to PlayoffStatus.com, a sports-based website that measures performance and playoff scenarios for US professional and college athletics, as of Thursday…
- St. Louis CITY SC has a 99% chance of securing a playoff spot.
- St. Louis CITY SC has a 97% chance of securing a playoff spot and hosting at least one playoff game.
- St. Louis CITY SC has a 94% at a Top-3 Western Conference seed.
- St. Louis CITY SC has a 70% chance at the Western Conference crown.
Buckle up. It’s exciting times ahead for St. Louis CITY SC.