By Sunday evening, we’ll know if the Columbus Crew will be defending its reigning MLS Cup title or beginning its offseason ahead of 2022.

It’s an unforgiving time, and for the Black & Gold, who sit three points behind the New York Red Bulls for the seventh and final Eastern Conference postseason spot with one game left, they need several results to go their way.

Here’s a look at the Eastern Conference teams hovering around that seventh and final MLS Cup Playoffs spot:

5. Atlanta United FC – 48 points (12 wins, +7 goal differential)

6. Orlando City SC – 48 points (12 wins, 0 goal differential)

7. New York Red Bulls – 47 points (13 wins, +6 goal differential)

8. C.F. Montreal – 46 points (12 wins, +4 goal differential)

9. D.C. United – 44 points (13 wins, 0 goal differential)

10. Columbus Crew – 44 points (12 wins, -1 goal differential)

A few things quickly stand out. First, the Crew’s 3-1 win over D.C. United this past Saturday night was a massive result that kept the team’s playoff hopes alive. Anything less than a win and the Crew would already be eliminated from the postseason.

Also, it’s important to note the first tiebreaker is Total Wins, and at best, the Crew can finish with 13 wins.

That means the Crew will need the following to occur on Decision Day, this Sunday November 7, in order to qualify for the 2021 MLS Cup Playoffs:

  • Columbus Crew win vs. Chicago Fire FC AND
  • New York Red Bulls lose vs. Nashville SC AND
  • CF Montréal lose or tie vs. Orlando City SC AND
  • D.C. United lose or tie vs. Toronto FC AND
  • Columbus Crew win goal differential vs. New York Red Bulls

While the Club’s post-season hopes may partially rely on external factors, there is no doubt that the Black & Gold are playing their best soccer when it matters most, going 6-2-2 in their last 10 matches overall.

Just a quick glance at the recent performances of the Crew will tell you the attacking players are producing some of their best performances of the season.

In the last four games alone, Lucas Zelarayan has four goals and two assists; Miguel Berry has two goals and two assists; and as for the Club's wingers, Pedro Santos has one goal and one assist while Derrick Etienne Jr. has one goal.

“We have performed extremely well and obviously, we’re cutting it close,” head coach Caleb Porter said. “But we’re healthy, we’re flying, we’re in form, and we’re peaking.

“Listen, I think it’s in the cards. I believe. If we need to score goals in the last game, we’ll score goals. If it’s going to come down to goal differential, we’re going to score goals. Again, we’re taking care of what we can take care of.”

Columbus played five games in 15 days during the most important portion of the season. During that spell, they have amassed 10 points, won five of six regular-season home games, and are currently riding a two-game winning streak.

Whatever happens in other matches is out of the team's control. What isn’t, however, is how the Black & Gold end their 2021 regular season.

Now, it's just a matter of if the cards fall their way.

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