MLS Decision Day – What’s at stake in the playoff chase

The 2022 MLS regular season has arrived on Decisive Day, with plenty of playoff spots still up for grabs and teams battling for conference standings. Here’s a look at Sunday’s games:

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Atlanta United FC vs. New York City FC

Atlanta United’s playoff hopes died in New England last weekend, resulting in a disappointing end to a volatile season, but NYCFC still has work to do to nail the 3-seed in the East. The Red Bulls are two points behind, but a draw would be enough for NYCFC to take third place. The last time NYCFC lost to Atlanta was in 2019, a five-game stretch, so visitors will like their chances.

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Chicago Fire FC vs. New England Revolution

As the great Don Meredith once sang, “Turn out the lights, the party’s over.” Both teams are eliminated from the playoffs.

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DC United vs FC Cincinnati

DC’s playoff hopes are long gone, but Cincinnati still has work to do. A win or draw against the East’s basement dwellers would give the club first-ever post-season spot. The nightmare scenario would be a loss in the nation’s capital and a tie in the Columbus-Orlando game as both teams would skip Cincy.

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Inter Miami CF vs Montreal CF

Inter Miami secured their place in the postseason with a convincing 4-1 win over Orlando City on Wednesday. Soon-to-retire Gonzalo Higuain is a goalscoring machine with six goals in his last four games, all Miami-wins. Phil Neville’s side can even reach fourth place and a home game in the playoffs with a win and a loss for the Red Bulls. As for Montreal, the Eastern Conference’s top seed hopes are still in the game. A win in South Florida and Philadelphia, which loses points with Toronto, would make it possible.

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New York Red Bulls vs. Charlotte FC

Charlotte’s hopes of a place in the Year 1 playoffs ended in Wednesday’s 2-2 draw with Columbus. Still, a solid season from the new franchise. The Red Bulls need a win lest Miami be catapulted past them for a home playoff game. They could also move into the 3-list with a NYCFC win and loss in Atlanta.

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Orlando City SC vs Columbus Crew

Lately, it seems that Columbus loses a late lead every time he takes the field. It happened again on Wednesday in Charlotte, North Carolina, where the Crew spat out a 2-0 lead in the second half and then saw a 2-1 advantage erupt in injury time. Still, a tie or win in Orlando would be enough to get them into the postseason. It’s a similar story for Orlando. If it wins, it’s in, but a tie could also do if Cincinnati loses in DC. Orlando won the first meeting of the year, a 2-0 final in Columbus.

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Philadelphia Union vs. Toronto FC

Philly’s stranglehold on the Eastern Conference has weakened in recent weeks after just one point in four games, including a haphazard 4-0 loss in Charlotte last weekend. Montreal is just two points behind and owns the first tiebreak, leaving the Union with only a win over 13th place and eliminated TFC to think about if they want to secure top spot and home field advantage in the East. However, Toronto won the previous meeting earlier this year, a 2-1 final in April.

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Austin FC vs. Colorado Rapids

Austin FC secured second place but there is still an MVP race with forward Sebastian Driussi who could overtake Nashville’s Hany Mukhtar in the Golden Boot race with a hat-trick against the eliminated Rapids. Driussi scored in the one game he played against Colorado.

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FC Dallas vs. Sporting Kansas City

FC Dallas still have some work to do to secure the 3-pack in the west. The Galaxy are three points behind and could leapfrog with a win combined with a loss to Dallas. A tie against eliminated Sporting Kansas City would be enough for Dallas to take that third-place finish, but Dallas has lost three of their last four with SKC in all competitions.

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Seattle Sounders FC vs. San Jose Earthquakes

The raid is over. For the first time ever, the Seattle Sounders will not participate in the MLS playoffs. Time to think about the Club World Cup.

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Houston Dynamo FC vs. LA Galaxy

Houston has a knack for playing spoilers. Who could ever forget how Zlatan Ibrahimovic and Galaxy’s playoff hopes were dashed on Decision Day 2019. The Dynamo are eliminated again, but the Galaxy have plenty to offer, starting with a possible third-place finish in the West if they win and FC Dallas lose. They could also drop to seventh place with a loss and say goodbye to a home playoff game. Their only previous meeting this season was a 3-0 win for Houston in LA

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LAFC vs. Nashville SC

LAFC secured the Supporters’ Shield trophy last weekend so they can sit back, relax and maybe let Gareth Bale play a fast nine at the Riviera before hitting the stadium. However, Nashville is right in the middle of this Western Conference deadlock.

Last weekend’s loss to Houston means Nashville is no longer in control of its home playoff fortunes. It will be keen to take advantage of every slip-up in the galaxy while fending off challenges from below like Portland and Minnesota. Another nugget: Nashville has never beaten LAFC. Admittedly it was just one game, a 2-1 final last July, but history is history.

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Minnesota United FC vs. Vancouver Whitecaps

monster game. The Loons’ swoon continued with a dismal performance in a 2-0 loss in San Jose last week. That’s now just a point from their last six games while they were outplayed 14-2. whoops Minnesota remain seventh in the playoffs with 45 points and after three straight wins face a full-conviction side from Vancouver.

A win for the Caps would be enough to get them into the postseason. At the same time, Minnesota could still climb to fourth place and a home playoff game in Round 1 with a win and losses to Galaxy, Nashville and Portland. I told you the west is wild.

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Real Salt Lake vs Portland Timbers

Portland have owned that streak lately with four wins and a tie in their last five and can secure a playoff spot with at least one tie as they are sixth on 46 points. There is also a chance for fourth place and a playoff home game with wins and losses against Galaxy (47) and Nashville (47). However, a win for Real Salt Lake and a tie for Minnesota against Vancouver would eliminate the Timbers from the postseason and move RSL to sixth place.

https://www.espn.com/soccer/major-league-soccer/story/4762788/mls-decision-day-whats-at-stake-in-the-playoff-chase MLS Decision Day – What’s at stake in the playoff chase

Emma Bowman

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