IMAGE: Crowd with Rolfe and Kemp

It’s no secret that D.C. United will aim to bust out of a three-game losing skid when they travel to Dick’s Sporting Goods Park to take on the Colorado Rapids this weekend. But the recent downturn overshadows the fact that the Black-and-Red are on the cusp of becoming the first team to qualify for the 2015 MLS Cup Playoffs.

United will secure its second straight postseason berth, and third in four years, as soon as this weekend with a victory at the Rapids along with the combination of a Chicago loss or tie vs. New York Red Bulls on Friday, a New York City FC loss vs. FC Dallas on Saturday, and a Philadelphia loss or tie vs. Columbus on Saturday.

That may be a lot to ask for, but here’s the outlook for D.C. United and the rest of the Eastern Conference.
Note: As of 9/10/15 
D.C. United (13-10-5, 44 points)

Games remaining: 6 (9/12 at Colorado, 9/19 vs. Columbus, 9/26 at Montreal, Oct. 2 vs. New York City FC, Oct. 18 vs. Chicago, Oct. 25 at Columbus) 

Max points possible: 62

Outlook: The finish line to reach the postseason is in sight. The Black-and-Red know the next month and a half is about rounding into form to make a run at MLS Cup.

2015 Playoff Outlook -

New York Red Bulls (12-7-6, 42 points)

Games remaining: 9 (9/11 vs. Chicago, 9/16 at New England, 9/20 at Portland, 9/25 vs. Orlando City, 10/3 vs. Columbus, 10/7 vs. Montreal, 10/14 at Toronto, 10/18 vs. Philadelphia, 10/25 at Chicago)

Max points possible: 69

Outlook: The Black-and-Red’s oldest rivals are rounding into form at the right time. Will one game every five days over the next month hurt or help their postseason aspirations? 

2015 Playoff Outlook -

Columbus (11-9-8, 41 points)

Games remaining: 6 (9/12 at Philadelphia, 9/19 at D.C. United, 9/26 vs. Portland, 10/3 at New York Red Bulls, 10/17 at Toronto FC, 10/25 vs. D.C. United)

Max points possible: 59

Outlook: With two meetings over the season’s final stretch, the fates of D.C. United and the Crew have the potential to be closely tied together. 

2015 Playoff Outlook -

New England (11-9-7, 40 points)

Games remaining: 7 (9/13 at Toronto FC, 9/16 vs. New York Red Bulls, 9/19 at Montreal, 9/26 vs. Philadelphia, 10/3 at Chicago, 10/17 vs. Montreal, 10/25 at New York City FC)

Max points possible: 61

Outlook: The Revolution have a similar look to last year, when they went all the way to MLS Cup. Three games in seven days next week could be tough.  

2015 Playoff Outlook -

Toronto FC (11-11-4, 37 points)

Games remaining: 8 (9/13 vs. New England, 9/16 at New York City FC, 9/19 vs. Colorado, 9/26 vs. Chicago, 10/3 vs. Philadelphia, 10/14 vs. New York Red Bulls, 10/17 vs. Columbus, 10/25 at Montreal

Max points possible: 61

Outlook: So many home games left will be huge for Giovinco and co. 

2015 Playoff Outlook -

Montreal (9-11-4, 31 points)

Games remaining: 10 (9/12 at Los Angeles, 9/16 at San Jose, 9/19 vs. New England, 9/23 vs. Montreal, 9/26 vs. D.C. United, 10/3 at Orlando City, 10/7 at New York Red Bulls, 10/10 at Colorado, 10/17 at New England, 10/25 vs. Toronto FC)

Max points possible: 61

Outlook:  Didier Drogba already has an MLS Player of the Week award under his belt, and Montreal’s backloaded schedule provides ample opportunity to make his presence felt.

2015 Playoff Outlook -

Philadelphia Union (8-14-6, 30 points)

Games remaining: 6 (9/12 vs. Columbus, 9/20 vs. Houston, 9/26 at New England, 9/30 vs. Sporting Kansas City (U.S. Open Cup final), 10/3 at Toronto FC, 10/18 at New York Red Bulls, 10/25 vs. Orlando City)

Max points possible: 48

Outlook: There was a time when the Union looked like they were completely out of the playoff picture. It’s almost never too late in MLS to make a run.

2015 Playoff Outlook -

Orlando City (7-13-8, 29 points)

Games remaining: 6 (9/13 vs. Sporting Kansas City, 9/19 at Chicago, 9/25 at New York Red Bulls, 10/3 vs. Montreal, 10/16 vs. New York City FC, 10/25 at Philadelphia)

Max points possible: 47

Outlook: Kaká picked up a knock while he was with the Brazilian national team; the Lions can ill-afford to miss him down the stretch. 

2015 Playoff Outlook -

New York City FC (7-13-7, 28 points)

Games remaining: 7 (9/12 at FC Dallas, 9/16 vs. Toronto FC, 9/19 vs. San Jose, 9/26 at Vancouver, 10/2 at D.C. United, 10/16 at Orlando City, 10/25 vs. New England)

Max points possible: 49

Outlook: The expansion newcomers certainly have the firepower, but they don’t have margin for error.   

2015 Playoff Outlook -

Chicago Fire (7-14-6, 27 points) 

Games remaining: 7 (9/11 at New York Red Bulls, 9/19 vs. Orlando City, 9/23 at Montreal, 9/26 at Toronto FC, 10/13 vs. New England, 10/18 at D.C. United, 10/25 vs. New York Red Bulls)

Max points possible: 48

Outlook: These are increasingly desperate times, but the Fire are always capable of a result and hardly out of contention.

2015 Playoff Outlook -