A lot on the line for CF Montreal against Crew

CF Montreal and the host Columbus Crew don’t want others to decide their fate when they meet in the regular-season finale Saturday in Ohio.

Montreal (12-16-5, 41 points) is in a more precarious position with a postseason berth on the line.

The Crew (15-9-9, 54 points) have already clinched a spot but would like to secure home-field advantage for a first-round, best-of-three series, which goes to the top four teams in each conference.

Columbus is fourth in the Eastern Conference, one point behind Philadelphia and two ahead of New England. The Crew could finish anywhere from third to fifth.

“We can be top four, top three,” Crew coach Wilfried Nancy said. “We wanted to be top one, but at the moment it’s not possible. We’re going to try and do everything we can to win the game and have a good performance for the fans.

“At the beginning of the year, we said we want to go as high as possible, so we are on the right track.”

The Crew will be scoreboard watching because Philadelphia plays at New England. The Crew hold the tiebreaker over New England, so all it needs is a point to finish fourth if the Revolution win.

Montreal is clinging to the eighth spot. The top nine in the conference qualify with the bottom two seeds playing a single-elimination match for the right to go against top seed Cincinnati.

CF Montreal are a point ahead of the New York Red Bulls, Chicago Fire, Charlotte FC and D.C. United, the latter of whom completed their season and have no path to make the playoffs.

Montreal can finish from eighth to 11th, but a win assures a playoff spot thanks to a 4-1 victory over Portland on Oct. 7 that broke a 0-4-3 skid. Four different players scored, including Mathieu Choiniere’s team-high fifth goal.

“It’s not too late,” Montreal coach Hernan Losada said. “We’ve got a fight on our hands in Columbus. I’m happy for the group, for the team and for everyone behind the team that we have a chance.”

Cucho Hernandez has been Columbus’ guiding force this year, with 15 goals and 11 assists to his credit in 26 matches.