Decision Day

What's at stake on Decision Day: Playoff places, seeding, Golden Boot & more

"Ready or not," it all comes down to Decision Day.

After months of games, a season start delayed by the pandemic, gradual return to full crowds across the United States and a return to market for the three Canadian teams, the 2021 MLS regular season is almost in the books. By Thursday morning, 26 teams will have one game remaining: Decision Day on Sunday. (Such is the nature of having an odd number of teams in the league, Houston Dynamo FC finished their season on Wednesday.)

The Supporters' Shield (and a new single-season league record for points!) is wrapped up thanks to a phenomenal campaign by the New England Revolution, but there's still so much to play for across MLS.

All Eastern Conference games kick off at 3:30 pm ET; the West then follows at 6 pm ET. Around 8 pm ET, we'll know the full playoff outlook.

Race to clinch a postseason berth


  • Only three spots remain for six clubs: Atlanta (48 points), Orlando (48 points), New York (47 points), CF Montréal (46 points), D.C. United (44 points) and Columbus (44 points).
  • New York and Atlanta failed to get the win that would have clinched their place on Wednesday after the two teams played out a goalless draw at Red Bull Arena. Montréal, meanwhile, kept their hopes alive with a 2-0 win over Houston, meaning it all comes down to Decision Day.
  • Atlanta are best-placed of the six, needing only a point at last-placed FC Cincinnati to be sure of making the postseason. In a winner-take-all matchup, Montréal will host Orlando City. If there's a winner, they're in; if it's a draw, Orlando will make it at Montréal's expense. The Red Bulls travel to second-placed Nashville needing at least a draw to be sure of making it in. Both Columbus and D.C. need to win and hope that other results go in their favor in a big way.


  • Five teams fighting for three playoff places: Minnesota (48 points), Vancouver (48 points), LA (47 points), Salt Lake (45 points) and LAFC (45 points) are still in the mix.
  • After LAFC and Vancouver drew 1-1 on Tuesday, the Whitecaps need only a draw on Decision Day to be sure of making the playoffs, while LAFC need a win and some help elsewhere
  • Real Salt Lake's 3-1 home defeat to the Portland Timbers on Wednesday means they missed the chance to clinch a playoff spot with a game to spare and are now on the outside looking in and needing a victory at Sporting Kansas City on Decision Day. That result also clinched Portland a top-four spot.

Jostling for seeding


  • Philadelphia (53 points) and Nashville (53 points) each clinched a home Round One game, as they're guaranteed to finish in the top four, but are tied for second. Atlanta (48 points) and Orlando (48 points) could still secure a home game over NYCFC (50 points); the Cityzens could finish as high as second.
  • The Union have the edge over Nashville in the tiebreaker, meaning they just need to match their result on Sunday to take second place. The Union travel to NYCFC while Nashville host the Red Bulls, both tough matches.
  • The final Round One hosting duty is up for grabs, with NYCFC two points ahead of Orlando. NYCFC can still finish second with a win if both Philly and Nashville lose.


  • Seattle (59 points), Kansas City (58 points) and Colorado (58 points) are all in a battle for the No. 1 seed that will go down to Decision Day.
  • The top of the West has been tight for a long time, with none of the three teams able to pull away from each other. That continued Wednesday when Sporting KC fell to a 3-1 loss to Austin FC, leaving the advantage with Seattle going into Decision Day.
  • SKC host Real Salt Lake, Seattle travel to Vancouver and Colorado host LAFC on Sunday.
MLS Golden Boot presented by Audi leaders
MLS Golden Boot presented by Audi leaders
1. Taty Castellanos
2. Ola Kamara
D.C. United
3. Raul Ruidiaz
4. Daniel Salloi
Sporting KC
5. Adam Buksa
New England

We've got quite the Golden Boot presented by Audi race heading into Decision Day. Check the table for the top five above. (The tiebreaker is number of assists, it should be mentioned off the top.)

There's another handful of players on 15 goals (Gustavo Bou, Chicharito, Damir Kreilach and Hany Mukhtar) to keep an eye on as the games unfold, but let's focus on the top five.

NYCFC talisman Taty Castellanos leads the way with 18 goals, thanks to a run of five goals in his last three games. D.C. United's Ola Kamara and Seattle Sounders' Raul Ruidiaz each sit one back on 17 goals. The Argentine's lead in assists gives him the obvious edge heading into Decision Day.

NYCFC host the Philadelphia Union. D.C. United play at Toronto FC. Seattle Sounders travel to the Vancouver Whitecaps.

Daniel Salloi and Adam Buksa are two behind Castellanos. Buksa and the Revs have one game left (vs. Inter Miami) but a foot injury suffered by the Poland international is likely to mean he misses that game. Salloi has one game left (vs. Real Salt Lake on Sunday) and the same amount of assists as Castellanos. He's firmly in contention, though is seeking form after returning from an ankle injury over the weekend.