MLS Eastern Conference Playoff Guide: Tips, Offers, Predictions

New England Revolution

Finishing in first place in the Eastern Conference this season is the Boston side, New England Revolution and the Revs are not only top of the table, but also finished an impressive 19 points clear of second-placed Philadelphia.

New England have shined this season, particularly in front of goal having found the back of the net 65 times in 34 games, more than any other side in the league. Their remarkable away form has also gained attention, having won 10 and losing only 3, with their other four games ending in a draw.

Defensively however, the Revs haven’t been as solid. They only managed to keep eight clean sheets all season and of the seven qualifying teams from the Eastern Conference only Orlando has conceded more goals (48) than the Revs with 41.

Philadelphia Union

Second in the Eastern Conference this season was Philadelphia Union. While leaders New England ran away with the league being 19 points clear, the other six qualifying teams all finished within six points of each other.

Philadelphia finished on 54 points from their 34 games, winning eight games fewer than the Revs. Their home record is not to be frowned upon, with 11 wins, three draws and three losses. However, away from home, Philadelphia struggled by winning only three of their 17 games as they scored a total of 48 goals during their league campaign – 17 fewer than the Revs.

Nevertheless, they demonstrated better form defensively than the Eastern Conference winners by conceding only 35 goals.

Nashville SC

Third place in the league saw Nashville SC finish as high as they have ever done so in their early years as an MLS side.

Although they finished on the same number of points as Philadelphia with 54, they recorded two fewer wins, and a stunning 18 of their 34 games finished in a draw. However, Nashville managed to score 55 goals throughout the campaign - the 3rd most of any of the qualifying teams.

Furthermore, they boast the best defensive form having lost only four games all season and conceding just 33 goals. Nashville also managed to remain undefeated when hosting at the Nissan Stadium, winning eight games and drawing nine. However, like Philadelphia, they struggled while on the road winning just four of their 17 away games.

New York City FC

Ronny Deila’s New York City team were fourth with 51 points, which isn't their best season over the past few years, but a decent one at that.

The Blues played some strong attacking football and scored 56 goals - the second most goals second highest after leaders New England Revolution - and won the same number of games as second-place Philadelphia. However, they suffered a total of 11 losses during the season, the most of any of the top four.

A notable issue for NYCFC has been their relationship with referees during the season, with their players receiving an average of two yellow cards a game as well as receiving eight red cards.

Atlanta United

Also with 51 points is 5th place Atlanta. They lost nine games during the course of the season, only one more than 2nd place Philadelphia, but with only 13 wins they find themselves outside the top four.

The Five Stripes were somewhat of an anomaly this season, showing some great work with the ball but having the inability to find the end product. They have completed the most dribbles of any other team this season, and three of their players feature in this seasons top 10 MLS dribblers, but they’ve only managed to score 45 goals in their 34 games.

Atlanta often boast great talent but fall just short, and that seems to be the same case here again in 2021.

Orlando City

Completing the hat-trick of finishing on 51 points and in sixth place is Orlando City.

Orlando actually have an identical record to Atlanta in terms of games won, drawn, and lost, but they conceded a staggering 48 goals – the fifth worst defensive record in the league. They did, however, manage to keep their goal difference in the black having scored 50 goals, almost 20% of which came from outside the box.

Regardless of their poor defensive form, Orlando has still managed to keep one more clean sheet than New England.

New York Red Bulls

The last Play-Off place was earned by New York Red Bulls, finishing seventh on 48 points. The Red Bulls managed the same number of wins as both Atlanta and Orlando with 13 but lost a total of 12 games during the season – 9 of which were away from home.

Although sharing a goals conceded tally with Nashville on 33, the Red Bulls have been poor in front of goal only finding the back of the net 39 times all season. They have a shot conversion rate of just 10% and average a goal every 78 minutes. This being said, their quality from set pieces should be a warning for all teams as the New York side Bulls have the third-best conversion rate from free-kicks and corners this season.


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