Union MLS playoff hopes slipping, must win in last two matches to clinch

Union MLS playoff hopes slipping, must win in last two matches to clinch
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This is not how the Union (11-12-9) imagined the end of their season to play out. With just two matches remaining in the regular season, the team is in familiar and unsettling territory. The sixth-place Union must get a win in their final two matches to secure a spot in the MLS playoffs. They haven’t won a game since Aug. 27 and fans are sweating it out as the end of the season draws near.

“It’s clear what we need to do,” Union manager Jim Curtin said. “We need to win a soccer game, you know? We have two at home against Orlando and this New York team, which is a good team. Both teams are good. There’s no easy points in our league, so it’s clear what we need to do: We need to win a game.”

As players and fans are well aware, the Union haven’t played in a playoff game since 2011. It’s currently the longest playoff drought in Major League Soccer. The months of September and October in recent years haven’t been good to the Union, they’ve gone a combined 10-18-9 (35.7 percent) in the past five seasons.

The Union end the season with two home games, first against Orlando City SC (7-11-14) on Sunday before finishing with the New York Red Bulls (14-9-9) next week. The New England Revolution (10-13-9) sit just three points below the Union in the standings for the final playoff spot in the East. The Revolution would have to get a win and at least a tie in their final two matches to surpass the Union for a playoff spot, as the Union hold nearly every tie-breaker imaginable over the Revolution.

“Obviously teams are pushing in the Eastern Conference, but we still control our destiny, which is a good place to be in, and we need to get a win,” Curtin said after Saturday’s 3-2 loss to the Red Bulls. “It had the look and feel of a playoff game where the weather gets a little cold, things get ramped up a bit, every inch matters, every play matters.”

The Union have faced Orlando twice this season, coming away with a 2-1 victory on April 8 and a 2-2 draw on May 25. It would be a much easier task to win this weekend, as the first-place Red Bulls have not lost a match since July 3.

Sunday’s match will air at 3 p.m. on the Comcast Network