Decision Day

Playoff places, seeding and history: What's at stake on Decision Day?

Decision Day - 2019 - collage - primary image

With a ton up in the air heading into the final weekend of the MLS regular season, Decision Day presented by AT&T will have more than its share of rulings to hand down.

All 12 matches kick off at 4 pm ET on Sunday, the final game No. 34 for all 24 teams in the league. Here are all the big storylines to follow:

Two more playoff spots

The seven playoff places out East are all accounted for, but the wild West takes it to Decision Day. 

Heading into the final matchday, Portland sit in sixth on 46 points with Dallas in seventh on 45 points, then San Jose are the first team out on 44 points. The Colorado Rapids still hold flickering, fleeting hope on 42 points. #RootForChaos of course, but the Rapids have less than a 1% chance of tumbling over the playoff line per FiveThirtyEight, so let's focus on the Timbers, Quakes and FCD. 

The scenarios start simple: Win and you're in. 

Dallas host Sporting KC while Portland host San Jose. No matter what, Dallas are in with a win along with the Portland-San Jose victor. They're already pseudo-elimination games. 

Behind that? Seeding in both conferences for 2nd-7th are up for grabs. 

LAFC chase history

If LAFC beat the Rapids at Banc of California Stadium, they'll set a new league record for points in a season with 72, one better than the New York Red Bulls' 2018 campaign. 

Behind that, they're chasing a few other records.

Their current goal differential of +46 would be the best in league history and, with the 1998 LA Galaxy at +41, LAFC are a good bet to take sole possession of that, barring a five-goal loss to the Rapids. On top of that, they're just three goals behind the 1998 Galaxy for tying the league record for most goals in a single season, 85. LAFC have scored three or more goals 15 (!) times this season.

Carlos Vela chases history ... and the Golden Boot

Having tied the league record for goals in a single season on Sunday, Carlos Vela can make history on Decision Day. 

His 31 goals in 2019 are tied with Josef Martinez's mark last season and he needs just one more to have the record all to himself. He still hasn't completely clinched the Golden Boot presented by Audi, though, as Zlatan Ibrahimovic is just two goals behind Vela this season. 

Will we see two players make history? Can Vela get goal No. 32? What will Zlatan have to say against the Houston Dynamo?

Final CCL place

So, the final Concacaf Champions League spot will go to the winner of MLS Cup, but what if the team hoisting the trophy on November 10 has already qualified? If Atlanta United, NYCFC or LAFC win the cup, then that fifth place will go to the next highest finisher in the league table. 

Currently, that's the Philadelphia Union

Philly are on 55 points heading into Decision Day while the Seattle Sounders and Minnesota United each have 53 points. The Union host NYCFC and, should they lose or draw, the door is open for Seattle and Minnesota, who face each other on Decision Day. 

At the moment, Philadelphia have the first tiebreaker (wins) but if they draw and one of Seattle/Minnesota win, that team will be level on both points and wins with the Union. MNUFC have the edge in the next tiebreaker, with a goal difference of +10 to the Union's +9 and Seattle's +2, which would be the deciding factor in that scenario. 

To recap: This only applies if one of Atlanta, NYCFC or LAFC win MLS Cup. Then, as things stand, Philly need just a win to get the spot. If the Union tie and Minnesota win, the Loons will get in on goal difference. If Seattle win and Philly lose, the Sounders will get the spot, but if Seattle win and the Philadelphia tie, then the Union would in all likelihood get the spot based on goal differential.

Got all that?! Good. Oh, also: The top four places in each conference that haven't qualified for CCL will take place in Leagues Cup.