22MLS_TheDailyKickoff-CLB-ORL-DecisionDay
What you need to know

DECISION DAY

The Eastern Conference teams kick off at 2:55 pm ET. The Western Conference teams kick off at 5:18 pm ET. Check out the full schedule here.

Columbus Crew 2 win MLS NEXT Pro Cup over St Louis CITY2

Columbus Crew 2 won the inaugural MLS NEXT Pro Cup over ​​St Louis CITY2 on Saturday afternoon, cruising to a ​​commanding 4-1 victory at Lower.com Field.

Orlando City defender Jansson has season-ending foot surgery

Should Orlando City SC make the Audi 2022 MLS Cup Playoffs, they’ll need to find a way forward without center back Robin Jansson. The Swedish defender has undergone a season-ending foot surgery to repair a stress fracture of the right navicular bone. Jansson’s recovery timeline was described as approximately 12-15 weeks. Two winters ago, he signed a new two-year deal with options in 2023 and 2024.

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A key to each of today's playoffs deciding games

There’s still plenty to decide today beyond just who’s in and who’s out. But four games will determine our final playoff teams. Let’s take a brief look at a possible key for each game while knowing full well the inherent randomness of MLS is only amplified in single-game scenarios with genuine stakes on the line. The only thing I actually feel confident about is…

Orlando City vs. Columbus Crew | 2:30 pm ET | FS1, FOX Deportes

I dunno, maybe you just let Columbus take the lead?

It truly feels like Columbus have the yips at this point. If you don’t know, the yips are a “scientific” concept in sports where an athlete psychologically loses the ability to complete a standard task. Oftentimes, you see it in baseball where a player will forget how to do something basic like throw the ball to first base. What’s impressive with Columbus is they’ve moved past the individual level and become a single interconnected organism made up of multiple players with the same yip-based problem: They can’t keep a lead. And it’s historical.

Per Opta, they’ve dropped more points in the 90th minute or later than any other team in MLS history. Their late-game issues are the only reason we’re even talking about them today. I mean, even on Wednesday night against Charlotte, in a game where their narrative spotlight was already directly on their late-game struggles, they went up 2-0 and then…totally blew it. It’s honestly impressive.

And it wouldn’t be surprising at all if their inability to see a result through shapes what happens today in the East.

D.C. United vs. FC Cincinnati | 2:30 pm ET | MLS LIVE on ESPN+

It’s…D.C. United

All FC Cincinnati have to do today to ensure they have their first-ever playoff spot is not lose to D.C. United. I mean, they’ll be in anyway as long as Columbus and Orlando don’t draw, but still. All you have to do is not lose to D.C. United, the Wooden Spoon winners.

So. Don’t do that.

It’s D.C. United. If you lose today you deserve whatever cosmic justice the MLS universe delivers to you. And I think I speak for everyone outside the greater Columbus area when I say: Not like that, Cincy. Not like that.

Real Salt Lake vs. Portland Timbers | 5:00 pm ET | ESPN2

Someone has to force the ball in the net and it doesn’t have to be Portland

Neither team is exactly littered with prolific goal-scoring talent here. There won’t be any double-digit scorers walking onto the field today. Sergio Cordova leads the way for RSL with nine goals, then there’s a drop off to Jefferson Savarino with six and then another drop off to a handful of folks with three. Portland have Dairon Asprilla and Jaroslaw Niezgoda with nine and three more folks with six or more. The Timbers have found a lot more production this year, even if they don’t have anyone who truly stands out from the pack right now.

Point being, the Timbers have a few more ways to hurt you, but they don’t even really need to today. All they have to do is keep the West’s worst attack by goals scored off the board. So who’s it gonna be for RSL? Cordova? Savarino? Justin Meram? Justen Glad to save everything again? There’s really not a great bet. And for a Timbers team that has no problem setting up camp in front of goal and torching teams on the break, this one sets up on paper in favor of the Timbers.

But if someone does find a way to put RSL out in front, the question gets flipped on its head. The Timbers will need someone to step up. And even with a number of potentially decent options, there’s no clear number one option they can rely on.

Except, ya know, Playoff Dairon. Honestly, why did we do all that when we could have just said “Playoff Dairon is going to decide all of this”?

Minnesota United vs. Vancouver Whitecaps | 5:00 pm ET | MLS LIVE on ESPN+

You won’t believe this, but…

There’s really only one person who you can reasonably expect to have the ability to drag Minnesota United out of this spiral and it’s Bebelo Reynoso. If Reynoso is at his best, the Loons have a chance to limp over the playoff line. If he’s not, well, the Loons better pray Dayne St. Clair is on his game. Vancouver are in better form right now and have whatever magical amulet Vanni Sartini has acquired guiding them toward another miracle playoff berth. It feels like Reynoso gets it done or no one does.

Other Things

Atlanta United midfielder Sosa suspended for 3 matches: Major League Soccer has suspended Atlanta United midfielder Santiago Sosa for three matches and issued an undisclosed fine for the use of a homophobic slur in Atlanta’s match against the New England Revolution on October 1, 2022. Sosa is also required to attend LGBTQ+ Allyship training through Athlete Ally. Sosa will serve the three-game suspension during Atlanta’s final match of the 2022 regular season on October 9 vs. New York City FC, as well as during the first two regular-season matches of the 2023 MLS season.

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Good luck out there. Know what you’re fighting for.