The top spot in Major League Soccer’s Western Conference was settled last week by Los Angeles FC’s Supporters’ Shield triumph. We will have to wait another week to see which team settles into the second spot in the West come playoff time.
The Seattle Sounders rode a stoppage-time winner from Jordan Morris to a stunning 1-0 victory over the San Jose Earthquakes in one of the more dramatic finishes on a busy Sunday in MLS. Morris’ goal helped push the Sounders into a tie on points with Minnesota United, which settled for a draw against LAFC on Sunday.
That sets up a Decision Day clash between the Loons and Sounders at CenturyLink Field, with the winner securing the second seed in the West.
San Jose’s loss left the Earthquakes out of playoff position heading into the final weekend, with a trip to struggling Portland looming, with an early vacation likely to await the loser of that match.
New York City FC had to wait a while, but by the end of Sunday night Domenec Torrent had secured the top seed in the Eastern Conference playoffs. NYCFC suffered a 2-0 loss to the surging New England Revolution, which locked up their own playoff spot with the victory, but the Philadelphia Union’s loss to Columbus helped NYCFC secure the top spot in the East with a week remaining.
Here’s a closer look at Sunday’s MLS action:
Earthquakes 0, Sounders 1
The San Jose Earthquakes went from thinking they would have to settle for a home draw to facing the bitter disappointment of a late home loss after Jordan Morris pounced on a San Jose giveaway in second-half stoppage time and converted it into a last-ditch winner for the Sounders.
Morris’ late magic not only helped move Seattle into position to grab the second seed in the Western Conference playoffs with a win over Minnesota United on Decision Day, it also pushed the Earthquakes out of playoff position with a week to go.
The Earthquakes will need to either beat Portland in Portland on the final match day, or earn a road draw and get some help in order to push FC Dallas out of the final playoff spot in the West.
Galaxy 3, Whitecaps 4
(Ibrahimovic 23′, Antuna 58′, Pontius 86′) – (Henry 20′, Bair 41′, Ricketts 64′, Chirinos 90+3′)
The LA Galaxy’s defensive woes came back to haunt them in another high-scoring letdown, with the Vancouver Whitecaps scoring four on the way to a stunning road win.
The Galaxy battled back from deficits on three different occasions, and Chris Pontius’ 86th-minute equalizer off a pass from Zlatan Ibrahimovic looked like it might be enough to help the Galaxy salvage a draw, but Michael Chrinos sent the home fans disappointed when Vancouver caught the Galaxy with numbers upfield. A quick Whitecaps counterattack saw Hwang In-Beom race in behind the Galaxy defense before laying it off to Chirinos, who scored to help Vancouver snap the Galaxy’s three-match winning streak.
The Galaxy will finish the regular season with a road trip to Houston, and could still finish second in the West with a win and draw between Seattle and Minnesota United. That said, the Galaxy could also still slip into fifth place with a draw or loss and Real Salt Lake win on Decision Day.
Minnesota United 1, LAFC 1
(Vela 70′) – (Boxall 75′)
Carlos Vela made history, while also keeping Minnesota United from creating some distance in the race for the second seed in the West playoffs.
Vela’s clever chip finish helped him score his 31st goal of the season, tying Josef Martinez’s MLS record for goals in a season.
Loons defender Michael Boxhall responded with an equalizer just five minutes later, off a pass from Jan Gregus.
Vela will have his chance to break the MLS single-season goals record when LAFC plays host to the suddenly-surging Colorado Rapids.
Rapids 3, FC Dallas 0
(Price 10′, Rubio 45+4′, Kamara 72′)
The surging Colorado Rapids posted their fifth win in six matches by rolling over slumping FC Dallas, which finds itself winless in four straight.
Tim Howard’s final home match for the Rapids saw the USMNT legend receive plenty of goal support, with Jack Price, Diego Rubio and Kei Kamara all notching goals.
FC Dallas is holding onto the final playoff spot in the West, and will close out the regular season with a home date against Sporting Kansas City.
Sporting KC 2, Timbers 2
(Nemeth 30′, Salloi 46′) – (Blanco 29′, Asprilla 86′)
Reduced to playing the role of spoilers, Sporting Kansas City looked like it would put a serious dent into Portland’s playoff hopes, but an Ilie foul on Jeremy Ebobisse set up a Dairon Asprilla penalty equalizer in the 86th minute to help the Timbers escape Children’s Mercy Park with a point.
The Timbers on a four-match winless rut, but getting away from Providence Park to take on an ice-cold Sporting KC side looked to do the trick, though a pair of first-half red cards to Roger Espinoza and Brian Fernandez threatened to turn the match into a goal-fest.
Daniel Salloi gave SKC the lead in the first minute of the second half, and it looked like that lead would hold up before Ilie’s ill-timed grab.
The Timbers return home to take on the slumping San Jose Earthquakes, knowing that a win would ensure Portland a return to the playoffs, while also eliminating the Earthquakes from playoff contention.
Real Salt Lake 2, Dynamo 1
(Baird 1′, Savarino 75′) – (Martinez 32′)
Real Salt Lake halted a three-match winless skid and secured its place in the playoffs with Sunday’s win at Rio Tinto Stadium.
Corey Baird set the tone just seconds into the match, notching a first-minute goal when he collected a turnover at midfield and sprinted toward Houston’s goal before finishing his chance just 36 seconds into the match.
Tomas Martinez equalized for the Dynamo in the 32nd minute, but Jefferson Savarino delivered a 75th-minute winner when he received a pass from Sebastian Saucedo at the top edge of the penalty area and rifled a low shot inside the far post, past an outstretched Tyler Deric.
The win pulled RSL to within a point of the LA Galaxy for fourth place in the West. RSL finishes the regular season with a trip to Vancouver.
Fire 2 – Toronto FC 2
(Katai 68′, Herbers 77′) – (Altidore 59′, Gonzalez 80′)
The Chicago Fire’s slim hopes of making the postseason ended on Sunday following a 2-2 home draw against Toronto FC.
All of the action came in the second-half with both trading goals in a combined 21 minutes. Jozy Altidore’s composed finish broke the deadlock at SeatGeek Stadium and put the Canadian visitors ahead in the 59th minute.
Aleksandar Katai leveled the match for the Fire in the 68th minute before Fabian Herbers’ header in the 77th minute swung momentum into the Fire’s favor.
However, TFC would spoil the party in the 80th minute as veteran defender Omar Gonzalez headed in his first goal for the club.
Quentin Westberg made five saves for TFC to preserve the road point and end the Fire’s late push for the playoffs.
FC Cincinnati 1, Orlando City 0
(40′ Cruz) (90’+ Michel)
Needing three points to stay alive in the East, Orlando City missed the opportunity against the league’s softest landing at Nippert Stadium.
Emmanuel Ledesma found an isolated Allan Cruz in the center of the box, and the Costa Rican knocked home his team-leading seventh goal of the season.
It took until extra time, but Orlando’s Benji Michel found a late equalizer after Nani and Dom Dwyer worked to find him to steal a late point.
Crew 2, Union 0
(Mokhtar 69′, Santos 73′)
The Philadelphia Union’s hopes of earning the No. 1 seed in the Eastern Conference ended on Sunday after a road loss in Columbus.
Caleb Porter’s Crew scored a pair of second-half goals to down the Union 2-0 at Mafpre Stadium.
After a scoreless first-half, the Crew took advantage of the match after the hour mark. Youness Mokhtar created room for a shot in the 69th minute and beat Andre Blake to the bottom-left corner.
Santos iced the win with a long-range shot past the Jamaican goalkeeper for a 2-0 Crew win.
The Union created only three shots on goal in the defeat, while also losing midfielder Alejandro Bedoya to injury. They host NYCFC on Decision Day, while the eliminated Crew travel to Toronto FC.
Impact 1, Atlanta United 1
(Krkic 81′) – (Gressel 53′)
Atlanta United missed an opportunity to jump to second place after tying the Montreal Impact 1-1 at Stade Saputo.
Saphir Taider and Brandon Vazquez each had two shots on goal apiece in the opening half, while Atlanta’s Emerson Hyndman was also kept out before halftime.
Julian Gressel broke the deadlock in the 52nd minute after working a nice 1-2 inside of the box with Hyndman. The German slotted past Evan Bush to put the Five Stripes in front on the road.
However, the Impact would have the final say in the match with Bojan Krkic equalizing in the 81st minute. The Spaniard linked up with Orji Okwonkwo and beat Brad Guzan to earn his side a point in their penultimate home match of the regular season.
Tito Villalba looked to have given the Five Stripes all three points after scoring in the 83rd minute, but video review wiped the goal off for Atlanta.
Revolution 2, NYCFC 0
(Bunbury 66′, Bou 89′)
The New England Revolution clinched the final playoff spot in the East after a convincing home win over NYCFC.
Teal Bunbury and Gustavo Bou each scored after halftime to propel Bruce Arena’s side into the postseason.
Bunbury’s right-footed finish in the 65th minute broke the deadlock in Foxborough after Cristian Penilla set up his teammate on a fast break. It was Bunbury’s sixth goal of the season.
With NYCFC pushing for an equalizer late, Gustavo Bou iced the home result with a beautiful chip over Sean Johnson. Johnson could only watch as the ball ended up in the empty net which was NYCFC’s first league defeat since Aug. 11th.
Revs keeper Matt Turner put in a man of the match performance as he made six saves to earn the clean sheet.
Red Bulls 0, D.C. United 0
Bill Hamid was the star of the show in this contest as D.C. United walked away the happier of the two sides at Red Bull Arena.
The veteran goalkeeper made three saves to earn his side a point in a 0-0 draw with the New York Red Bulls.
Hamid came up clutch after halftime making two of his saves in prime fashion. First he denied Marc Rzatkowski’s header right after halftime before denying Cristian Casseres’ drive in the 60th minute.
The Black and Red also came up with strong defending as they frustrated the Red Bulls by clearing close efforts in front of goal.
Wayne Rooney’s yellow card means he is suspended for D.C.’s finale next Sunday against FC Cincinnati.