MLS: It’s on to the Playoffs


MLS_logo.svgDecision day in Major League Soccer lived up to its advance hype. Forty-six goals were scored across 11 games, including six by Philadelphia in a meaningless match against Orlando. The real stakes were in San Jose, where the home side’s playoff hopes came down to the final minutes.

Late Drama for the Earthquakes

San Jose is going to the playoffs after a dramatic win over Minnesota. The Earthquakes had twice taken the lead, only for the Loons to equalize both times, throwing things into jeopardy for the hosts. Chris Wondolowski had one of San Jose’s goals, but in stoppage time, he chose to lay the ball off for Marco Ureña, who scored the winning goal to return the Quakes to the playoffs for the first time since 2012 by virtue of the league’s first tiebreaker — more victories (13 to FC Dallas‘ 11). Tied on 46 points, if the league had used a widely used tiebreaker — goal differential — the Quakes would be out … Dallas was even while San Jose was minus-21.

San Jose’s win mooted good performances by both Dallas and Salt Lake on the final day. Dallas demolished Los Angeles, 5-1, after falling behind early, but the defending Supporters’ Shield winners will not be going to the playoffs. RSL likewise falls short despite defeating Kansas City, 2-1.

Shakeup in Cascadia

Portland pipped its Cascadia rivals for the top spot in the Western Conference with a 2-1 win against Vancouver. The Whitecaps had an early lead on Kendall Waston‘s headed goal, but Liam Ridgewell and Darren Mattocks lifted the Timbers. Seattle also leapfrogged Vancouver, defeating Colorado, 3-0, but Clint Dempsey was sent off and will be suspended for their first playoff game. Vancouver drops to third, meaning it will host San Jose in the knockout-round game.

Scramble in the East

The door was open for several teams to take second place in the Eastern Conference, but NYCFC‘s draw held up as enough. David Villa scored twice against Columbus, but missed a penalty that would have won the game, completed his hat trick and tied the Golden Boot race. Chicago couldn’t take advantage; instead the Fire lost, 3-0, in Houston. Atlanta looked to finish second until a free kick by Sebastian Giovinco kept it to a draw against Toronto.

The Survivors

Eastern Conference: Toronto and New York City have byes; Chicago will host the Red Bulls on Wednesday, Atlanta will host Columbus on Thursday.

Western Conference: Portland and Seattle have byes; Vancouver will host San Jose on Wednesday, Houston will host Kansas City on Thursday.