The dust has settled on the MLS regular season and the playoff landscape is set, but not without some late-night drama and a sendoff from a league legend.
Defending champion Columbus Crew failed to make the playoffs, while both LA teams, LAFC and LA Galaxy, did not do enough either, meaning that, oddly, all league clubs from California and Texas failed to make it. 14 -Post-season by teams. Included in that are the San Jose Earthquakes, whose elimination was confirmed before the last day of the season, but whose final game was notable for another reason entirely. Chris Wondolowski, MLS’s all-time top scorer, added one more to his career tally before announcing in front of fans at PayPal Park that he was effectively retiring. The 38-year-old had reversed his decision to retire after last season’s interrupted campaign, returning for one more trip, and crowned it in style when the Earthquakes and FC Dallas drew 1-1. He finishes with 171 career goals in the regular season, 173 including the playoffs. Landon Donovan, No. 2 on the all-time list, had 160 combined (145 regular season, 25 playoffs).
It was another game in the simultaneous Western Conference finals that resulted in the Galaxy missing the playoffs. While LA was busy playing a wild 3-3 draw against Minnesota United, Real Salt Lake’s dramatic 1-0 win over Sporting Kansas City kept Chicharito & Co. out of the top seven. Justin Meram’s bike kick assist to Damir Kreilach in injury time gave RSL that spot instead. He will continue to play with a first-round date against the Seattle Sounders, who lost an opportunity to claim first place in the conference, and a first-round goodbye, with a draw against the Vancouver Whitecaps.
LAFC had needed a win and some help, but got neither, and Bob Bradley’s team withdrew after a 5-2 capitulation to the Colorado Rapids. That resulted in a ninth place for LAFC and put Colorado at the top of the table.
There was some craziness in the Eastern Conference finals that also started the day, with Atlanta United, New York Red Bulls and Orlando City SC securing playoff spots to round out competitors looking to lift the 2021 MLS Cup trophy afterward. of a single. – Elimination sprint to the final on December 11.
BYE: 1. New England Revolution (22-5-7, 73 points)
The Revolution lost their season finale to Inter Miami in a game that largely made no sense to both sides. New England had long secured top spot in the East (and the MLS Supporters Shield), while Miami had already been eliminated from playoff contention. As it stands, the Revs’ record for points in a season will stand at 73, and they will be overwhelming favorites to win a first MLS Cup, provided their best talent (forward Adam Buksa is already suffering from a foot injury) I got over it. the international window unharmed. NYCFC or Atlanta will be your first opponent.
2. Philadelphia Union (14-8-12, 54 points) vs. 7. New York Red Bulls (13-12-9, 48 points)
The Union managed to finish second in the conference despite selling out Brenden Aaronson and Mark McKenzie to European clubs after last season, while the Red Bulls needed a late change of form just to reach the playoffs with the last seed in the league. East: one point. over rival DC United and Columbus. They played very well against each other this season, with two draws at Harrison, NJ, and the Union took the score 1-0 at home.
3. Nashville SC (12-4-18, 54 points) vs. 6. Orlando City (13-9-12, 51 points)
Orlando City snuck in with a win over Montreal on Decision Day, and will face a Nashville team that played three draws in their meetings this season. Daryl Dike scored for a seventh goal in nine games to punctuate Orlando’s decisive effort. Hany Mukhtar capped a 16-goal, 12-assist season with his draw against the Red Bulls to secure Nashville’s tie on the final day. Nashville is the only MLS club that did not lose at home all season (8-0-9).
4. New York City FC (14-11-9, 51 points) vs. 5. Atlanta United (13-9-12, 51 points)
NYCFC’s home draw against Philadelphia, secured while playing with one man less, ensured it would host a first-round game against Atlanta, even though the two finished tied on points (along with Orlando City). Taty Castellanos’ goal on the final matchday gave him 19 on the season and the league’s golden boot (he’s tied with DC United’s Ola Kamara but wins for more assists).
BYE: 1. Colorado Rapids (17-7-10, 61 points)
The Rapids edged Seattle and Sporting KC to first in the conference by defeating LAFC and crowning one of the league’s best stories this season. Manager Robin Fraser’s team will face the winner of the Portland-Minnesota showdown in the second round.
2. Seattle Sounders (17-8-9, 60 points) vs. 7. Real Salt Lake (14-14-6, 48 points)
The Sounders are looking for a fifth appearance in the MLS Cup final in six seasons, but they will have to take a slightly harder road after missing the first round break following a tie on Decision Day. With Jordan Morris and Nicolás Lodeiro back for the playoff race, it is difficult to choose against Brian Schmetzer’s team, but RSL will play with a new lease of life after the way it secured its place in the playoffs. They divided their regular-season meetings, and each of them held their service at home.
3. Sporting Kansas City (17-10-7, 58 points) vs. 6. Vancouver Whitecaps (12-9-13, 49 points)
Sporting KC entered Decision Day with a chance to finish first in the conference, but instead settled for third place and a home date against Vancouver. The Whitecaps reached the playoffs for the first time since 2017 thanks to a tie at Seattle to close the season, and their interim manager Vanni Sartini embarked on a epic set of post-game commentary to add a little flavor to the procedures.
4. Portland Timbers (17-13-4, 55 points) vs. 5. Minnesota United (11-13-10, 49 points)
The Timbers set a club record for wins in a season by defeating Austin FC on their 17th three-point drive, while Minnesota had a much more nervous Decision Day punching their playoff ticket. The six-goal draw against the Galaxy did the job, though the Loons accounted for two of Portland’s 17 wins and will need to buck that trend to avoid an early exit.
More soccer coverage:
Eddie is an Australian news reporter with over 9 years in the industry and has published on Forbes and tech crunch.