NYCFC players celebrate a goal. (Anne-Marie Sorvin-USA TODAY Sports)

VANCOUVER — A pair of 3-1 results propelled New York City FC into third place in the MLS Eastern Conference and into the MLS Cup playoffs Saturday night.

City recorded a win over Vancouver Whitecaps FC while the Philadelphia Union moved atop the heap with a similar result over Atlanta United, which had been in the lead.

This is how the standings stand:

Philly (15-8-6, 51 points) leads NYCFC (14-5-8, 50) by a point, but City has two games in hand. Atlanta (15-10-3, 48) trails in third place. Vancouver (6-15-9, 27), which is the Western Conference cellar, was eliminated from playoff contention.

Alexandru Mitrita assisted on the first goal and scored an insurance tally for NYCFC at B.C. Place. Heber and Gary Mackay-Steven also found the net..C

Heber struck in the 10th minute and Mackay-Steven followed to double the lead 16 minutes later.

After Yordy Reyna sliced the lead in half in the 64th minute, Mitrita made life easier for the visitors by scoring in the 72nd minute.

Front Row Soccer editor Michael Lewis has covered 13 World Cups (eight men, five women), seven Olympics and 25 MLS Cups. He has written about New York City FC, New York Cosmos, the New York Red Bulls and both U.S. national teams for Newsday and has penned a soccer history column for the Lewis, who has been honored by the Press Club of Long Island and National Soccer Coaches Association of America, is the former editor of He has written seven books about the beautiful game and has published ALIVE AND KICKING The incredible but true story of the Rochester Lancers. It is available at