Here's what to expect during the last four games of the regular season
On the first day of fall, the weather turned with a snap — just like that. And so it has gone for this Crew season, my reluctance to let go of it be damned.
Here we are, four games left, plus whatever the playoffs may bring. The last-ever Crew game at The House That Lamar Built looms suddenly.
It's true, as they say, that there's still a lot of soccer left to be played and anything can happen, both on and off the field. But I'm going to try anyway: Here are six things I think will happen over these next four weeks (and more).
1. It is finished
At the least, legally. For all intents and purposes.
Three weeks ago a Franklin County judge told the Dispatch he'd give a decision “as soon as it is practical” on a motion to dismiss a lawsuit filed against You Know Who and Major League Soccer.
Should the judge decide not to dismiss the lawsuit, I suspect the two sides will settle out of court. (Potentially with a new Crew ownership to announce, too.)
2. Crew finish where they are
As of this column's publication, the black and gold sat at fourth in the Eastern Conference. Which is exactly where they should be and will be at season's end.
The teams above (New York City FC) and below (Philadelphia) the Crew in the standings arguably have tougher final stretches. But in the former's case, the three-point difference separating the teams is likely too big to make up with four games remaining.
As for Philadelphia, if the Crew can win their matchup this weekend, that gap is also likely too big to jump.
Finishing fourth instead of fifth gives the Crew home-field advantage, likely against Philadelphia, in a one-off game to open the playoffs. (Finishing third still gives home-field advantage in the single-elimination round, but it's against the lower sixth seed.)
3. Toronto FC miss playoffs
Yeah, TFC is 10 points back with five to go. This is, therefore, an easy prediction. But I couldn't resist making it anyway.
4. You Know Who attends a game
Away from Mapfre, of course. As he proved by attending the Portland game, in Portland, You Know Who isn't above avoiding all of Columbus as conveniently as possible while hijacking its team.
5. Crew wins it all
I've been on record all year suggesting a legend is in the making. I still believe, so why stop now?
6. Gregg Berhalter maybe, probably moves on
Berhalter's constantly mentioned as one of the leading candidates to coach the national team, and with U.S. Soccer General Manager Earnie Stewart scouting a recent Crew game, the odds are good our skipper will at least get an interview.