One game to save the season. The New York Red Bulls face the Philadelphia Union on Thursday (8 p.m. ET/ESPN2) with their postseason hopes on the line. In the final 90 minutes of regular-season soccer, the Red Bulls need a win to secure the final spot in the MLS playoffs.
But the game is not quite must-win. The Red Bulls are chasing the wild card alongside Chicago and Portland, which eliminated D.C. United on Wednesday in a 1-1 draw. If the Red Bulls lose, New York can still make the postseason if the Fire and Timber fail to win their season finales.
Even with a postseason berth locked up, the Union have a lot at stake on Thursday, with playoff seeding at stake. Depending on the result (and results across the league) the Philadelphia could finish as high as top in the East or as low as the third wild card spot. That swing is the difference between homefield advantage throughout the postseason and a wild-card round on the road.
Failure to make the postseason would be devastating for a team with the second-highest payroll in MLS at $13.4 million (for comparison, the third-highest payroll, Toronto FC, is 6.7 million).