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What you need to know

LAFC win 2022 MLS Supporters' Shield

For the second time in four years, LAFC are winners of the MLS Supporters’ Shield. The Black & Gold claimed the honor as 2022 regular-season champions after a dramatic 2-1 win Sunday at the Portland Timbers, staving off a late-season charge by the Philadelphia Union. They also won in 2019, setting a then-record for single-season points (72) that got broken by Shield winners New England Revolution a season ago.

Nashville SC clinch Audi 2022 MLS Cup Playoffs spot

Nashville SC are into the Audi 2022 MLS Cup Playoffs, guaranteeing postseason soccer for a third-straight year since joining the league as an expansion club. They’ve joined LAFC, Austin FC, FC Dallas and LA Galaxy as five of seven West teams that’ll play into mid-October or beyond.

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The recap

NYCFC 2-1 ORLANDO CITY

What happened

Alexander Callens and Talles Magno’s second-half goals gave NYCFC a comeback win over the Lions.

What it means

NYCFC jumped the Red Bulls for third place in the East with the win. Maybe more importantly, they’ve now won two straight MLS games and the Campeones Cup over their last three games. They’re returning to something resembling their early-season form at just the right time.

Orlando, meanwhile, will enter a massive Wednesday night matchup with Inter Miami even on points and games with the Herons and the Columbus Crew. Including ninth-place Charlotte, all four teams from places six to nine in the East will play Wednesday night.

PORTLAND TIMBERS 1-2 LAFC

What happened

It appeared Dairon Asprilla had earned a point for the Timbers after his 81st-minute equalizer, but Denis Bouanga’s 95th-minute goal gave LAFC the 2-1 win and clinched LAFC’s second Supporters’ Shield in dramatic fashion.

What it means

It’s not the prize LAFC are focused on this year. And they took the scenic route to do it. But LAFC won’t complain about another major trophy.

Meanwhile, the loss means Portland will have to get at least a point against RSL to make the playoffs. A loss on Decision Day would put RSL ahead of Portland and either Minnesota United or Vancouver would jump the Timbers as well depending on the result of their game.

SPORTING KC 1-0 SEATTLE SOUNDERS

What happened

William Agada scored his eighth goal in his ninth start since joining SKC as Sporting took down Seattle.

What it means

Seattle’s 13-year playoff streak is officially over. I genuinely can’t believe it.

Also, taking early bets now on an Agada Golden Boot and a total resurgence for SKC next year.

NASHVILLE SC 1-2 HOUSTON DYNAMO

What happened

Nashville couldn’t overcome a 2-0 deficit and Houston took all three points thanks to a brace from Sebastian Ferreira.

What it means

Nashville are still going to make the playoffs, but their chances at hosting a home playoff game at GEODIS Park are slipping away. They’ll go into Decision Day in fifth place, even on points with the Galaxy, but behind in the win column. They could have ended the night in third place instead.

The Three Biggest Winners and Losers from the Penultimate Weekend
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We didn’t decide everything this weekend, but we sorted a few things out and set the table for a heckuva finish to the season. There were plenty of winners and losers. but some folks won and lost a little more. Here’s who had the best and worst weekends in Week 33.

WINNER: Vancouver Whitecaps

No one had more go their way than the Whitecaps this weekend. Decision Day has become shockingly simple for a team that seemed to be hanging onto the thinnest of threads a couple of weeks ago. If they beat Minnesota, they’re in. It’s that straightforward. The Caps would be one point better than the Loons and unbothered by the result of RSL-Portland. If Portland win or draw, Vancouver jump RSL. If RSL win, Vancouver equal Portland on points and win the tiebreaker thanks to having one more win on the season.

A team with a -15 goal differential is on the verge of something spectacular here. And it’s in part because every single result fell into place. Portland lost to LAFC, Minnesota face-planted against San Jose, and RSL only picked up a point against LA. On top of that, Seattle lost to SKC. If Seattle had won, they would have entered Decision Day ahead of the Caps hoping for a result or two to go their way. Instead, Vancouver have everything coming together to form the outline of a small miracle. Now they just have to color the last part in.

LOSER: Minnesota United

You know pretty much everything I said about Vancouver? Go ahead and flip that for the Loons. They lose next Sunday and they’re dead. They need a draw next Sunday to stay alive. And even if they do make it into the postseason, you can’t exactly be feeling all that confident about their chances once they get there. They could theoretically end up as high as fourth by the end of next weekend, but this is a team that’s lost five of its last six and hasn’t won since Aug. 27.

WINNER: CF Montréal

It almost all came together for Montréal, but Denis Bouanga’s Shield-clinching goal against Portland ended the biggest of CFM’s dreams. However, they’ll enter Decision Day with a legitimate shot at a first-place finish in the East and a Round One bye. After beating D.C. United this weekend, they’re just two points behind the Union. Now, a Montréal win against Inter Miami on Decision Day could make things very, very interesting. Because…

LOSER: Philadelphia Union

Holy smokes, Philly. What happened?

Daniel Rios scored four times and Philadelphia scored no times as the Union lost the Supporters’ Shield and opened the door to first place in the East wide open. They followed up their lackluster performance against Atlanta before the international break with maybe their worst performance of the season. It’s not exactly how you want to head into the playoffs.

Now they need to either beat Toronto or hope for a Montréal loss on Decision Day. It suddenly feels like we’re on the verge of Philly feeling very disappointed in the final outcome of their best-ever team.

WINNER: Charlotte FC

The impossible dream lives! After thumping Philadelphia of all teams this weekend, Charlotte can win their final two games and at least make the teams above them very, very nervous. If Charlotte beat Columbus on Wednesday and Orlando and Inter Miami draw, they’ll be within two points of fifth place on Decision Day. And, they’ll hold the wins tiebreaker on every team.

Charlotte making the playoffs in an expansion year where they parted ways with their first-ever head coach isn’t the most plausible outcome. But it’s far from impossible.

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LOSER: FC Cincinnati

Cincy totally choked this weekend. There’s no other way to put it. They didn’t take care of business against Chicago and they could be in eighth place after Wednesday night. All it would take is an Orlando and Inter Miami draw plus a Crew win. It’s a total nightmare scenario for a team that felt relatively safe coming into this weekend.

To miss the playoffs at this point would be as hard a gut punch as I can remember for a club and its fans. The good news is a win against D.C. United will most likely be enough to get the job done. Most likely. The fact we’re even talking about it should be enough to stoke all of Cincinnati’s most intense anxieties.

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Good luck out there. Practice something out of the ordinary.