What feels more inevitable: LAFC winning the Supporters' Shield or Sebastian Driussi winning MVP? The questions now are whether the Black and Gold will set the points record and in how many games will Driussi bring Austin back from the brink?
Oh, and the other question: Who is going to make the playoffs? Some teams have as few as eight games left this season so we are truly entering the stretch run and there are maybe four clubs out of the playoff race. That's 24 teams still in it. Twenty-four!
We don't just rank the playoff contenders, though. We rank all 28, so let's rank 'em.
Previous ranking: 1
The Black and Gold are up to 32 points at Banc of California Stadium this season after smashing Charlotte 5-0. That alone would have them on the cusp of a playoff spot.
Previous ranking: 3
Philly hasn't had a lot to bounce back from this season. Such is the nature of a nearly impenetrable defense. But after their most humbling loss of the season last week, 3-1 to Cincy, the Union bounced back in a big way by smashing a good Fire team 4-1. So check off "Ability to put bad games behind them" on Philly's good team checklist.
3. Austin FC
Previous ranking: 4
If you're going to fall behind 3-1, you do it against a bad team like SKC. That was a veteran move by a second-year club like Austin. And if you're going to need a late comeback, you make sure you've got the MVP on your side. Three points, courtesy of Driussi ... again.
4. CF Montreal
Previous ranking: 6
Montreal has one last chance to ensure its current, reviled crest is remembered forever, and if Djordje Mihailovic really is back -- like he looked in its 3-2 win over Houston -- then the Quebec club just might be good enough to make that happen.
5. FC Dallas
Previous ranking: 7
Next MLS match: Wednesday vs. Philadelphia Union, 9 p.m. ET, ESPN+
You generally don't want to read too much into results against struggling teams, unless it fits your priors. Dallas' 4-1 dismantling of San Jose is proof the Texas club is figuring out how to turn good play into good results. Watch out.
Previous ranking: 8
A 2-1 win over Seattle is another result that says RSL is a good team. The analytics say it's average. Do you believe the table or the nerds?
Previous ranking: 2
First they lost manager Ronny Deila, then star striker Valentin Castellanos departed, and Saturday they were fighting each other in a loss to Miami. Summer has not been kind to the Pigeons, and it's looking increasingly like it will ensure they don't have to spend the fall searching for somewhere to host playoff games.
Previous ranking: 9
Next MLS match: Saturday vs. Austin FC, 8 p.m. ET, ESPN+
At some point, you'd think the Loons would need more than Emanuel Reynoso, but after his two assists trumped Hany Mukhtar's goal for the win in the Battle of the No. 10s, maybe Reynoso is all Minnesota needs.
Previous ranking: 5
Another home loss, this time to Orlando, means the Red Bulls have won just three of 12 at Red Bull Arena. They might want to drop a couple more and lose home-field "advantage" for the playoffs.
10. FC Cincinnati
Previous ranking: 10
Next MLS match: Saturday at New York Red Bulls 6 p.m. ET, ESPN+
At what point does Cincy go from elated that it's in the playoff race to disappointed when it loses ground in it? It may have happened this weekend with the home draw against Atlanta.
11. Columbus Crew
Previous ranking: 11
Next MLS match: Sunday vs. Atlanta United, 5:30 p.m. ET
What would the Crew be without Cucho Hernandez? More importantly, where would we be without getting to watch Cucho every week? Fortunately, we have Cucho and Columbus had a draw in Colorado thanks to the Colombian.
12. Toronto FC
Previous ranking: 17
Next MLS match: Wednesday vs. New England Revolution, 7:30 p.m. ET, ESPN+
That sound you hear is the entire top of the Eastern Conference praying TFC can't make its way into the playoffs after their dominant win over Portland made it 10 points from four matches with Lorenzo Insigne and Federico Bernardeschi on the pitch.
13. Colorado Rapids
Previous ranking: 13
Next MLS match: Wednesday at Vancouver, 10 p.m. ET, ESPN+
The Rapids still have the inside track to the West's final playoff spot after their draw with Columbus. Their two matches in hand are the secret sauce, but do you trust them to get the results they need in those two fixtures?
14. Orlando City
Previous ranking: 16
Next MLS match: Sunday at Charlotte FC, 7 p.m. ET, ESPN+
Facundo Torres got the goal, he did the defensive work, he delivered a win over the Red Bulls and he kept Orlando's playoff hopes afloat. Bet against him at your own peril.
15. Nashville SC
Previous ranking: 12
Next MLS match: Sunday vs. FC Dallas, 8:30 p.m. ET, ESPN+
Hany Mukhtar did his job, again. The rest of the Nashville attack did not, again. The loss to Minnesota would be a lot more harmful if a single one of the teams chasing NSC for the last playoff spot won, but they didn't, so Nashville gets a reprieve for a week.
16. Inter Miami CF
Previous ranking: 18
Next MLS match: Saturday vs. Toronto FC, 8 p.m. ET, ESPN+
Sometimes it's not so much about being good as it is being willing to run down every ball until it pays off. Miami ran down every ball and beat NYCFC.
Previous ranking: 19
Next MLS match: Wednesday at Toronto FC, 7:30 p.m. ET, ESPN+
Another clean sheet, this time 1-0 over D.C., and we're up to a month since the Revs last conceded a goal. Bruce Arena figured out that not giving up goals is good.
18. Portland Timbers
Previous ranking: 14
Next MLS match: Sunday at Sporting Kansas City, 7:30 p.m. ET
The unbeaten run had to end, and losing in Toronto is nothing to worry about, but going 10 in a row without a loss and still sitting outside of a playoff spot ain't great.
19. Seattle Sounders
Previous ranking: 15
If the Sounders were any other team, their loss to RSL over the weekend would be the last straw. But they are the Sounders, so they're not dead until they are mathematically eliminated -- and maybe not even then.
20. LA Galaxy
Previous ranking: 22
Next MLS match: Friday vs. Seattle Sounders, 10 p.m. ET, ESPN
The Galaxy went with a vastly different tactic against Vancouver by finishing the chances they so often create. The 5-2 scoreline suggests it worked.
21. Charlotte FC
Previous ranking: 20
Next MLS match: Wednesday at New York City FC, 8 p.m. ET, ESPN+
What's more hopeless: playing against LAFC, or Charlotte playing away from home? Put them together and ouch. Like 5-0 ouch.
22. Chicago Fire
Previous ranking: 21
Next MLS match: Sunday vs. New York City FC, 6 p.m. ET, ESPN+
Gabriel Slonina picked a bad time to finally look like a teenager. It's hard enough to score one against Philly, let alone two, three or four.
Previous ranking: 24
Next MLS match: Wednesday vs. New York Red Bulls, 7:30 p.m. ET, ESPN+
Draw in Cincy and welcome to the playoff race, Five Stripes. It's now a very reasonable 10-team fight in the East.
Previous ranking: 23
Next MLS match: Wednesday vs. Colorado Rapids, 10 p.m. ET, ESPN+
You can't say the Whitecaps defense was not cohesive and consistent. After all, every single one of them made sure the Galaxy would waltz through and find the back of the net in the 5-2 loss.
Previous ranking: 26
Next MLS match: Sunday vs. Portland Timbers, 7:30 p.m. ET
It won the first 84 minutes in Austin. Let's pretend the last six and stoppage time never happened.
Previous ranking: 25
Next MLS match: Saturday vs. LAFC, 10 p.m. ET, ESPN+
Jeremy Ebobisse scored maybe his best goal of the season and everything else was bad, so at least the Quakes knew how to process the loss in Dallas. It was like their entire campaign.
27. D.C. United
Previous ranking: 27
Next MLS match: Tuesday at LAFC, 10:30 p.m. ET, ESPN+
The arrival of Christian Benteke should help, but little about the loss to New England suggested D.C. will be able to get him the ball once he is out there.
28. Houston Dynamo
Previous ranking: 28
Next MLS match: Saturday at Colorado Rapids, 9 p.m. ET, ESPN+
The Dynamo's 3-2 loss to Montreal actually lowered their goals allowed per game since July 17.