Team of the Matchday

Team of the Matchday: Who rose to the occasion on Decision Day?

The final five Audi 2023 MLS Cup Playoffs tickets were punched on Decision Day, as clutch performers answered Matchday 38's "now or never" framework.


The New York Red Bulls, behind left back John Tolkin's 94th-minute penalty kick, earned a 1-0 win at Nashville SC and the Eastern Conference's No. 8 seed. Head coach Troy Lesense's team, in the process, has now reached the postseason for an MLS-record 14 years. Meanwhile, Charlotte FC squeezed into the East's No. 9 spot behind Kristijan Kahlina's clutch three-save performance in a 1-0 win over Inter Miami CF.

It was also do-or-die time for FC Dallas, who got two goals from forward Bernard Kamungo in a 4-1 win at LA Galaxy that clinched the Western Conference's No. 7 seed. Sporting Kansas City forward Johnny Russell confronted the same challenge with two goals in a 3-1 win over Minnesota United FC, locking up the West's No. 8 berth. Similarly, San Jose Earthquakes forward Cristian Espinoza's 13th goal of the year was just enough in a 1-1 draw vs. Austin FC to get the West's No. 9 seed.

On the momentum front, Houston Dynamo FC right back Griffin Dorsey (two goals) was a game-changer in their 3-1 road win that bounced the Portland Timbers from the playoff field. Center back Jackson Ragen was lockdown in a 2-0 win at West leaders St. Louis CITY, helping Seattle Sounders FC earn the West's No. 2 seed. And the Columbus Crew sealed a top-four spot in the East with a 2-1 victory over CF Montréal, courtesy of midfielder Darlington Nagbe's game-winning strike.

Orlando City SC striker Duncan McGuire was phenomenal off the bench, scoring twice in a 2-0 win at Toronto FC. Real Salt Lake midfielder Diego Luna's goal settled a 1-0 win over rivals Colorado Rapids, and Vancouver Whitecaps FC midfielder/defender Richie Laryea had an assist and two drawn PKs in a 1-1 draw vs. LAFC.

Team of the Matchday (3-4-3, left to right): Kristijan Kahlina (CLT) - John Tolkin (RBNY), Jackson Ragen (SEA), Griffin Dorsey (HOU) - Cristian Espinoza (SJ), Darlington Nagbe (CLB), Diego Luna (RSL), Richie Laryea (VAN) - Bernard Kamungo (DAL), Duncan McGuire (ORL), Johnny Russell (SKC)

Coach: Troy Lesesne (RBNY)

Bench: Carlos Coronel (RBNY), Steven Moreira (CLB), Álvaro Barreal (CIN), Coco Carrasquilla (HOU), Kerwin Vargas (CLT), Dániel Sallói (SKC), Julián Fernández (NYC), Giorgos Giakoumakis (ATL), Gustavo Bou (NE)


Audi Goals Drive Progress

MLS Academies have been identified as one of the most important resources for building on-field talent in North America. Through the Audi Goals Drive Progress initiative, Audi has committed $1 million per season in an effort to advance academies league-wide, and to drive progress for the sport. For every goal scored in the regular season, Audi will contribute $200 into the Audi Goals Drive Progress fund to directly support each MLS Club Youth Academy.