Decision Day is just weeks away!
Yes, you read that right! We are well past the midpoint of the season and each game is becoming much more crucial in the clubs’ pursuit for a spot in the 2021 MLS Cup playoffs.
With three-four games left, over twelve points are still up for grabs that can make all the difference.
Sporting KC and the Seattle Sounders are still in a battle to win the west.
These two titans met on Lumen Field in a clash that felt like a preview of the Western Conference Final. Remi Walter opened the scoring, then Nicolas Benezet found the equalizer early in the second half. Johnny Russell scored the game-winner in his seventh straight in the final moments.
Cincy is still being Cincy. With no playoffs in sight, they are in the running to claim the Wooden Spoon – an award given by the Independent Supporters Council to the lowest placed team in MLS each season.
For a brief stretch, Chicago was winning, and it worked. They won their first road match in 692 days before visiting Sporting KC on September 11, who struck early to win 2-0. It was all downhill after that until last week.
Aside from the false hope Cincy and Chicago gave this season – the east coast is still highly competitive.
While teams are being eliminated from playoff contention, the New England Revolution is the only club to secure a spot in the Eastern Conference.
But before we get more into the playoffs picture, let’s take a moment to look at the front office.
It is no secret that clubs are not forgiving for poor results showing coaches the ax. Of course, releasing a manager is not a new concept in the soccer community – just look at Europe.
Managers that have been released:
- Gabriel Heinze (Atlanta United)
- Raphael Wicky (Chicago Fire)
- Jaap Stam (FC Cincinnati)
- Luchi Gonzalez (FC Dallas)
- Freddy Juarez (Real Salt Lake)
- Chris Armas (Toronto FC)
- Marc Dos Santos (Vancouver Whitecaps)
Luchi Gonzalez voluntarily left the FC Dallas organization in early September.
I won’t be surprised if another coach is released before Decision Day.
Now onto the good stuff, it’s almost time for..
It’s coming down to the wire for most teams who are still trying to secure a playoffs berth.
The New England Revolution became the first club to secure a spot in the playoffs in Chicago on September 22nd and they won the east with 66 points.
Chicago Fire, Toronto FC, and FC Cincinnati (shocker) have been eliminated from the east.
No winner yet for the west as Sporting KC and Seattle Sounders continue to battle for the top. However, the Sounders became the first club in the west to clinch a playoffs spot on October 9.
*image courtesy of Seattle Sounders
The whole state of Texas is eliminated from playoffs. Newcomers Austin FC and longtime Houston and Dallas are all at the bottom of the standings. These clubs will more likely now be the spoilers for some teams.
Player of the Week:
The player of the week is Cristian “Chicho” Arango.
*image courtesy of LAFC
LAFC’s roster has been plagued with injuries, multiple international call-ups, and a mid-season dry spell that put the black and gold in an unusual position.
Multiple players have been traded or signed, but their current standout player is Colombian forward Cristian “Chicho” Arango, who joined the league in early August and has been a regular starter except for two matches.
On Wednesday, Chicho scored a hat trick to keep LAFC’s playoffs dream alive. Three days later, he would score his twelfth goal in fourteen games to help the black and gold split points on the road in Minnesota.
Seattle Sounders 1-2 Sporting Kansas City
Columbus Crew 1-2 New York Red Bulls
Toronto FC 1-1 CF Montreal
Philadelphia Union 1-0 Nashville SC
New York City FC 6-0 D.C. United
Chicago Fire FC 1-0 Real Salt Lake
Inter Miami CF 5-1 FC Cincinnati
Minnesota United 1-1 LAFC
Colorado Rapids 2-0 Portland Timbers
LA Galaxy 2-2 FC Dallas
San Jose Earthquakes 1-1 Vancouver Whitecaps
Austin FC 2-1 Houston Dynamo
Orlando City 2-2 New England Revolution
Current Conference Standings:
*images courtesy of MLS