The Union (10-10-9, 39 points) get a much-needed breather this week, but they are in major trouble after going just 0-3-2 in their last five gamesand scoring just one goal.

This swoon couldn't have come at a worse time, and now the Union have to revert to scoreboard watching and rooting this weekend.

The top five teams in the Eastern Conference will make the playoffs and the Union are tied for fifth with Chicago, which has a game in hand. The Union hope that Columbus, with 35 points in 29 games, beats visiting Chicago on Saturday.

Even if that happens, New England is just two points behind the Union and owns a game in hand. The Union have to hope that a 3-19-6 D.C. United team wins at New England on Saturday. United, by the way, is 0-11-3 on the road this season, so good luck with that wish.

After the break, the Union have five games left and resume play next Friday at second-place Sporting Kansas City.

The Union have gotten some bad breaks recently, especially the goal by Keon Daniel that was called back last week in a 1-0 loss to Houston. The Union had chances against Houston, especially when Jack McInerney shot wide from inside the box.

Team manager John Hackworth didn't mince words Wednesday when discussing how disappointing things are.

"You would love to have this break and feel really good about yourself and a lot of positive things being talked about, but that is not the case," he said. "So it's a little harder to swallow, but we are going to use [the break] to our advantage, for sure."

The difficult part is that the Union not only have to play well, but their fellow playoff contenders have to slip up. The Union don't control their own destiny.

Contact Marc Narducci at mnarducci@phillynews.com. Follow on Twitter @sjnard.