By Michael Lewis
If you’re hoping for another Hudson River Derby in the MLS Cup Playoffs, you’re going to have to wait until the Eastern Conference finals.
You’re also going to have to hope both the Red Bulls and New York City FC continue to keep winning.
Both sides did just that on Decision Day, with the Red Bulls registering a 1-0 home win over Orlando City SC at Red Bull Arena and NYCFC defeating the Philadelphia Union, 3-1, at Yankee Stadium.
One result lofted the Red Bulls to their third Supporters Shield triumph in six years and an opportunity to enjoy home-field advantage in the playoffs and even MLS Cup Dec. 8, if they survive that far.
The other result allowed City to clinch third place in the conference, although it will have to jump through one more hoop than the Red Bulls to reach the conference final.
Since the Red Bulls are top-seeded team, they will meet the lowest advancing team from the knockout rounds in the conference in the semifinals — That would be either No. 4, D.C. United, No. 5 Columbus Crew or No. 6 Philadelphia. It cannot be City.
The knockout-match matches are scheduled for either Wednesday and Thursday night. NYCFC will host the Union again (this time Wednesday at 7 p.m.), as will surging D.C. will vs. Columbus.
So, the Red Bulls and NYCFC would have to win their semifinal series. City would host Atlanta United Sunday, Nov. 4 and away Nov. 11. In contrast, the Red Bulls would start their series against one of the aforementioned teams Nov. 4 before welcoming their foes Nov. 11.
The conference finals are set for Nov. 25 and 29.
The rivals have met four times this season — three in the league and once in the Lamar Hunt/U.S. Open Cup.