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MLS Rewind: Minnesota United, Real Salt Lake, Orlando City, FC Cincinnati seal playoff berths


The 2022 MLS regular season came to an end on Sunday with four teams clinching their berths into the upcoming playoffs.

Minnesota United, Real Salt Lake, and FC Cincinnati all picked up important final day wins, officially sealing their spots for the start of next weekend’s playoff round. Orlando City overcame a one-goal deficit at home at the hands of the Columbus Crew to claim a 2-1 victory and also stamp their place into the playoffs.

Minnesota United and Real Salt Lake both won at home, knocking off Vancouver Whitecaps and Portland Timbers respectively in head-to-head matchups. The Loons snapped a six-match winless run at the perfect time, using goals from Franco Fragapane and Jonathan Gonzalez to return to the postseason.

RSL eliminated the Timbers after winning 3-1 at Rio Tinto Stadium, using goals from Jefferson Savarino, Rubio Rubin, and Bode Davis to claim the victory. It was RSL’s first victory since August 31, snapping a seven-match winless run in all competitions.

Junior Urso and Facundo Torres both scored second-half goals to lead Orlando City past the visiting Columbus Crew 2-1 at Exploria Stadium. It was the latest dropped result for the Crew, who earned 10 draws from July through the end of the season.

FC Cincinnati earned its first playoff spot in style by thumping already-eliminated D.C. United 5-2 at Audi Field. Brenner scored a hat trick for Pat Noonan’s side, while Luciano Acosta and Brandon Vazquez also celebrated goals of their own.

The Philadelphia Union sealed the No. 1 seed in the Eastern Conference thanks to a 4-0 hammering of already-eliminated Toronto FC in Chester. Daniel Gazdag recorded his second hat trick of the 2022 season, helping the Union cap off an unbeaten home regular season record at Subaru Park.

Nashville SC also impressed on Sunday, handing Supporters’ Shield winners LAFC a 1-0 loss at Banc of California Stadium. Teal Bunbury’s second-half goal was all Gary Smith’s side needed to pick up a statement victory over Steve Cherundolo’s squad.

Here is a closer look at all of Sunday’s Decision Day action:

D.C. United 2, FC Cincinnati 5

(Ravel Morrison 26′, Kristian Fletcher 46′) – (Luciano Acosta 6′, Brenner 8′, 24′, 37′, Brandon Vazquez 53′)

Tony Quinn-USA TODAY Sports

Man of the Match: Brenner capped off a dominant regular season by netting a hat trick for FC Cincinnati in its playoff-clinching win.

Moment of the Match: Brenner’s hat trick-sealing goal capped a strong first half for the visitors and condemned D.C. United to another miserable performance.

Match to Forget: Christian Benteke was held in check, having the fewest touches by any player to play the full 90 minutes.

Orlando City 2, Columbus Crew 1

(JĂșnior Urso 56′, Facundo Torres 84′) – (Derrick Etienne Jr 38′)

Man of the Match: Junior Urso left it all on the field for Orlando City, scoring his fifth goal of the season, and winning three duels.

Moment of the Match: Facundo Torres’ go-ahead goal helped Oscar Pareja’s squad overcome a first-half deficit and seal another playoff failure for the Columbus Crew.

Match to Forget: Milos Degenek conceded the penalty kick late that allowed Torres to step up and propel Orlando City in front.

Atlanta United 1, NYCFC 2

(Andrew Gutman 67′) – (Gabriel Pereira 9′, Heber 60′)

Dale Zanine-USA TODAY Sports

Man of the Match: Gabriel Pereira was on point for NYCFC, scoring one goal, winning all six of his duels, and drawing the most fouls in the match (4).

Moment of the Match: Josef Martinez almost helped Atlanta United steal one point late in the match but Sean Johnson denied the Venezuelan’s effort in stoppage time.

Match to Forget: Luiz Araujo was ineffective in the Five Stripes attack, losing a match-high 12 duels and recording just one shot on goal.

Fire 1, Revolution 1

(Alex Monis 90+2′) – (Dylan Borrero 88′)

Mike Dinovo-USA TODAY Sports

Man of the Match: Chris Brady recorded four saves in goal for the Chicago Fire, rewarding head coach Ezra Hendrickson for starting him in the season finale.

Moment of the Match: Alex Monis’ first MLS goal helped the Fire end their season by fighting back to earn one point at Soldier Field.

Match to Forget: Xherdan Shaqiri was surprisingly quiet for the Fire attack, totaling just one shot and losing three of his duels in midfield.

Inter Miami 1, CF Montreal 3

(Joel Waterman OG’ 85′) – (Djordje Mihailovic 5′, Lassi Lappalainen 8′, Kei Kamara 36′)

Rich Storry-USA TODAY Sports

Man of the Match: Djordje Mihailovic recorded one goal and one assist for CF Montreal, setting the tone for what the USMNT midfielder hopes is a successful playoff run.

Moment of the Match: Kei Kamara’s goal nine minutes before halftime capped off a strong first-half performance for the Canadian visitors.

Match to Forget: Drake Callender made one error in goal for Inter Miami, setting the tone for a miserable home performance for Inter Miami.

Red Bulls 2, Charlotte FC 0

(Elias Manoel 8′, 55′)

Vincent Carchietta-USA TODAY Sports

Man of the Match: Elias Manoel scored his first two MLS goals in Sunday’s shutout win for the New York Red Bulls, helping the striker gain needed confidence ahead of the playoffs.

Moment of the Match: Manoel’s second goal added an insurance tally for the Red Bulls and capped off a quiet day for Charlotte FC.

Match to Forget: Kamil Jozwiak was poor for Charlotte FC in attack, losing 14 duels and failing to register a single shot in the defeat.

Union 4, Toronto FC 0

(Daniel Gazdag 4′, 60′ pk’, 63′, Mikael Uhre 42′)

Kyle Ross-USA TODAY Sports

Man of the Match: Daniel Gazdag became the first Philadelphia Union player to record 20 goals in a single season, netting his second hat trick of 2022.

Moment of the Match: Gazdag’s third and final goal of the match capped off another home win for the Union, sealing the No. 1 seed in the East for Jim Curtin’s squad.

Match to Forget: Shane O’Neill struggled most out of the Toronto FC backline, conceding one penalty kick and never recovering.

Austin FC 1, Rapids 1

(Sebastian Driussi 81′ pk’) – (Diego Rubio 90+3′)

Scott Wachter-USA TODAY Sports

Man of the Match: Diego Rubio helped the Rapids pick up one point in their season finale, scoring the equalizer at Q2 Stadium and also drawing the most fouls (3) and creating the most chances (2).

Moment of the Match: Rubio’s equalizer was a major positive for the Rapids and a disappointing ending for Austin FC.

Match to Forget: Moussa Djitte got the nod atop Austin FC’s attack, but created just one chance in 65 minutes played.

FC Dallas 2, Sporting KC 1

(Sebastian Lletget 33′, Paul Arriola 65′) – (Graham Zusi 51′)

Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports

Man of the Match: Although he didn’t score in the victory, Jesus Ferreira assisted once and created the most chances for FC Dallas with four.

Moment of the Match: Paul Arriola’s go-ahead goal helped FC Dallas seal a victory in its final match before the playoffs.

Match to Forget: All three of Sporting KC’s attackers struggled to offer anything in the final third, failing to end the season on a high note.

Dynamo 1, Galaxy 3

(Carlos Ferreira 8′) – (Riqui Puig 31′, Chicharito 32′, Dejan Joveljic 69′)

Troy Taormina-USA TODAY Sports

Man of the Match: Gaston Brugman did it all for the L.A. Galaxy, assisting once, hitting the crossbar once, drawing the most fouls, competing the most passes, and most dribbles from his midfield position.

Moment of the Match: Riqui Puig and Chicharito scored one minute apart to put the Galaxy in front after being down 1-0.

Match to Forget: Tim Parker and Ethan Bartlow were caught out several times by the Galaxy attack, struggling to deal with the versatility of the hosts.

LAFC 0, Nashville SC 1

(Teal Bunbury 53′)

Kiyoshi Mio-USA TODAY Sports

Man of the Match: Joe Willis made 14 saves for Nashville SC in a 1-0 win over LAFC, stealing the show and spoiling the Supporters’ Shield winners’ party.

Moment of the Match: Willis denied Cristian Arango’s penalty-kick effort before halftime while also receiving help from the post in the second half to deny Denis Bouanga.

Match to Forget: It wasn’t a memorable day for Arango, who failed to score from the spot, or any of his six shot attempts.

Minnesota United 2, Whitecaps 0

(Franco Fragapane 17′, Jonathan Gonzalez 77′)

Matt Blewett-USA TODAY Sports

Man of the Match: Franco Fragapane stole the show for Minnesota United, scoring the opening goal and creating the most chances (4) for the Loons.

Moment of the Match: Jonathan Gonzalez’s insurance goal helped the Loons cap off a needed home victory.

Match to Forget: Mostly all of the Whitecaps starters failed to do much on the offensive side of the field, lacking the cutting edge to sneak into the playoff picture.

Real Salt Lake 3, Timbers 1

(Jefferson Savarino 19′, Rubio Rubin 48′, Bode Davis 82′) – (Dairon Asprilla 87′)

Rob Gray-USA TODAY Sports

Man of the Match: Bryan Oviedo recorded two assists from his defensive position, while also winning five duels as Real Salt Lake clinched a playoff berth.

Moment of the Match: Bode Davis’ goal in the 82nd minute clinched the victory for RSL and ended the Timbers’ playoff hopes.

Match to Forget: Aljaz Ivacic conceded three goals and only made one save as the Timbers goalkeeper failed to keep his side in the match.

Sounders 2, Earthquakes 2

(Nicolas Lodeiro 1′, 49′) – (Jeremy Ebobisse 4′, Cade Cowell 75′)

Joe Nicholson-USA TODAY Sports

Man of the Match: Nicolas Lodeiro scored twice in his season finale, ending the campaign with seven goals and seven assists in league play.

Moment of the Match: Cade Cowell’s long-range goal helped the Earthquakes steal one point from Lumen Field, giving Luchi Gonzalez plenty to consider ahead of what should be a busy offseason in San Jose.

Match to Forget: Stefen Cleveland got the start for the Sounders, but only made two saves in the draw. Cleveland could’ve done better to deny Cowell’s eventual equalizer midway through the second half.

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