MLS Playoff Picture Comes Into Focus as Season Enters Final Stretch
Written by Alex Baker
It’s the business end of the Major League Soccer season and teams across the country were jockeying for position in the playoffs this weekend. With just two rounds remaining in the MLS regular season, we take a look at some of this weekend’s key results and how they affect the playoff picture.
Dallas reasserts claim to best team in league by defeating Galaxy
FC Dallas overcame their stumble against Colorado Rapids a few weeks back and extended their undefeated streak to four with a 1-0 win against LA Galaxy on Saturday. Walker Zimmerman scored the home side’s one goal as Dallas extended their lead at the top of the Western Conference to five points. Manager Oscar Pareja’s side also tightened its grip on the Supporters’ Shield and will head into the playoffs next month looking like
Despite stumbling to their second consecutive loss, Los Angeles still managed to clinch a spot in the playoffs. But this is a Galaxy side that’s allowed 13 goals in its last six matches and managed just a single shot on goal against Dallas. Even the return of Landon Donovan has done little to inspire a Galaxy side that looks nowhere near the level they were at this point in the season two years ago when Bruce Arena’s side stormed to its most recent MLS Cup.
Seattle keep playoff dream alive after willing against Vancouver
It wasn’t that long ago that the Seattle Sounders’ playoff hopes looked dead and buried. But a last-minute penalty kick converted by Brad Evans saw Seattle escape from Vancouver’s BC Place with a 2-1 win over the Whitecaps. The win lifted Seattle to fifth in the Western Conference standings and keeps them in strong contention for a playoff spot.
Vancouver, who had gone ahead in the first half courtesy of a Pedro Morales goal before giving up an equalizer to Osvaldo Alonso, are now languishing near the bottom of the table, their playoff hopes all but dashed.
New York teams stay top in the East
New York Red Bulls and New York City FC both maintained their winning ways to stay neck-in-neck at the top of the East Conference standings, tied on 51 points each.
Red Bulls came from behind at home against Philadelphia Union on Saturday. Fabian Herbers scored the opening goal for the visitors before Sacha Kljestan equalized. Bradley Wright-Phillips then gave New York the lead before Chris Pontius equalized for Philly. Dax McCarty then went on to score the winner for Red Bulls who are locked in for a playoff spot. Philadelphia remain in with a shot at the playoffs but must be wary of New England Revolution who could yet pip them for a spot.
NYCFC managed a comfortable 2-0 away win at Houston Dynamo on Friday with striker David Villa netting two goals in the second half. The win for NYC leaves Houston rock bottom in the West with zero chance of making the playoffs.
Portland lose again as playoff hopes hang in balance
Defending MLS Cup champions Portland Timbers suffered their second consecutive loss in a row, losing 1-0 away to Colorado Rapids. Sebastian Le Toux scored the only goal in a match that leaves Portland sitting just outside the playoff spots in the West. It’s been a rough run of form for the Timbers, who’ve won just four games out of their last 10 and will need to take full points from their remaining regular season fixtures to have any chance of maintaining their defense of the Cup.
Colorado on the other hand, are sitting pretty in second in the West, five points behind Dallas and solidly ensconced in playoff territory.
(Results: Houston 0 – 2 NYCFC, New York Red Bulls 3 – 2 Philadelphia Union, New England 3 – 1 Sporting KC, Toronto FC 1 – 2 DC United, Columbus Crew 3 – 0 Chicago Fire, Colorado Rapids 1 – 0 Portland Timbers, FC Dallas 1 – 0 LA Galaxy, San Jose Earthquakes 2 -1 Real Salt Lake, Orland City 0 – Montreal Impact, Vancouver Whitecaps 1 – 2 Seattle)
Photos courtesy of ISI.