Toronto FC must win its final regular-season game against the visiting Columbus Crew on Sunday and hope for help if the Reds are to claim fourth in the Eastern Conference and home-field for the first-round knockout stage.
A Toronto (12-10-11, 47 points) defeat of the already eliminated Crew (10-15-8, 38) could allow for a two-place jump to the No. 4 spot if D.C. United and the New York Red Bulls fail to win.
The top team in the East, New York City FC, will receive a first-round bye. The next three will host a playoff game.
Fourth-place D.C. (49 points) is home to last-place Cincinnati and the Red Bulls (48) are at eliminated Montreal on Sunday. All games start simultaneously.
If Toronto and D.C. each finish ahead of the Red Bulls with 50 points, the Reds would take fourth based on goal differential, which is tied at plus-four. If D.C. and Toronto lose and New York wins, the Red Bulls get fourth.
The Reds have qualified for the playoffs but a loss and a win by New England (45) at Atlanta would drop them to seventh.
Toronto forward Jozy Altidore is confident his team will do its part against Columbus.
"They're out of the playoffs, for us we should win, at least go in with the idea to win, regardless of their record," he said.
It might not be easy because the Crew's record is deceiving. Toronto is 6-1-7 over its last 14 games and Columbus is 5-1-6 records in the past 12.
"We can't lose sight of the fact we've had 21 points in the last 12 games, which is as good as anyone in the league during that stretch of games," Crew coach Caleb Porter said. "It should have been more, six or eight points more. There's been a lot of positives."
Toronto is unbeaten in nine straight (3-0-6) but has ties in its past two matches. The Crew have three wins and two draws in the past five games.