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What you need to know

LA Galaxy clinch Audi 2022 MLS Cup Playoffs spot

The LA Galaxy, owners of a league-record five MLS Cups, are back in the Audi MLS Cup Playoffs for the first time since 2019. Head coach Greg Vanney’s side booked their 2022 postseason ticket with a 1-1 draw against Real Salt Lake in Week 33. They join LAFC, Austin FC and FC Dallas as four of seven Western Conference teams that’ll play into mid-October or beyond.

NYCFC clinch Audi 2022 MLS Cup Playoffs spot

New York City FC will have a chance to defend their MLS Cup title this fall, locking in an Audi 2022 MLS Cup Playoffs spot before playing their own Week 33 match. They've joined the Philadelphia Union, CF Montréal and New York Red Bulls as four of seven Eastern Conference teams that’ll play into mid-October or beyond.

Four games today

We’ve got an outstanding Sunday slate here. NYCFC face Orlando City at 1 pm ET on MLS LIVE on ESPN+. Portland host LAFC at 3 pm ET on ABC and ESPN Deportes with LAFC needing a win to clinch the Supporters’ Shield. Sporting KC welcome Seattle at 5 pm ET on FS1 and FOX Deportes. And Nashville end the weekend against Houston at 8:30 pm ET on MLS LIVE on ESPN+.

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The Recap

The last Saturday of the season set us up for yet another off-the-wall Decision Day. Here’s what happened and what it all means.

NEW ENGLAND REVOLUTION (2) VS. ATLANTA UNITED (1)

What happened:

Giacomo Vrioni gave New England the lead with a first-half penalty, Josef Martinez equalized with a legitimate goal of the season contender and Gustavo Bou scored almost immediately after to give New England the win.

What it means:

Atlanta United were officially eliminated from playoff contention by a New England team eliminated from the playoffs the night before. And if that wasn’t enough messiness, Josef’s incredible goal came on the heels of reports from The Athletic’s Felipe Cardenas that Martinez and the front office are unaligned on what Josef’s future in Atlanta looks like. That, plus allowing a clumsy goal immediately after equalizing to give fans a little hope, is honestly a perfect way to cap off and encapsulate a season for Atlanta that at least never became boring.

COLORADO RAPIDS (1) VS. FC DALLAS (0)

What happened: Diego Rubio’s 66th-minute winner made the difference.

What it means: Nothing for Colorado, who were officially eliminated last week. But it does make Decision Day way more interesting for Dallas now. If Nashville win today, Dallas will fall to fourth place. If LA Galaxy win on Decision Day and Dallas lose, Dallas will (almost definitely) fall to fifth place and miss out on a home playoff game.

CHARLOTTE FC (4) VS. PHILADELPHIA UNION (0)

What happened: Figuratively: I have no idea and neither does anyone outside of Charlotte.

Figuratively again: Christian Lattanzio locked up that deal we were hearing about on Friday to remove his interim tag Or at least he should have. And maybe throw a little more cash his way while you’re at it, Charlotte.

Literally: Daniel Rios (!) scored (!!) four (!!!) times (!!!!!) as Charlotte bludgeoned Philadelphia to earn a stunning result.

What it means: First off, it means Charlotte are still alive and that their meeting with Columbus this Wednesday is massive. They still need to win out and still need a little luck, but it’s not totally inconceivable they could catch a couple of teams ahead of them with six more points to end the year. The Crown are just five points behind fifth-place FC Cincinnati and have a game in hand.

For Philly, it means a second Supporters’ Shield likely isn’t coming to Chester. LAFC can win the Shield outright with a win in either of their final two games. It also opens a window for Montréal to take a first-round bye. Montréal will enter Decision Day just two points behind the Union.

After a 0-0 draw to Atlanta the game prior to this where they only put up five shots, is it maybe time to wonder if the Union are stumbling a little too much heading into the playoffs?

FC CINCINNATI (2) VS. CHICAGO FIRE (3)

What happened: A major, major misstep for Cincy. The Knifey Lions went down 3-0 thanks in part to a brace from Jhon Duran, and late goals from Lucho Acosta and Brandon Vazquez weren’t enough to get them back in the game in a crucial home match against a Chicago team that’s been eliminated for a few weeks now.

What it means: Cincy are really going to have to worry about avoiding a total disaster on Decision Day. What seemed like a lock heading into this weekend has become a serious question: Can they take care of business against D.C. United? And maybe even get some help on top of that. They could pretty conceivably enter Decision Day below the line. All it would take is an Orlando win today, an Inter Miami draw on Wednesday and a Crew win on Wednesday.

COLUMBUS CREW (2) VS. NEW YORK RED BULLS (1)

What happened: DERRICK BURCKLEY ETIENNE JR.!!!!!

The winger scored in the 89th and 93rd minute to give the Columbus Crew an absurdly important comeback win.

What it means: It means the Crew are in an excellent position to be in a playoff spot on Decision Day. With Inter Miami and Orlando facing off on Wednesday, a Crew win over Charlotte that same night might be enough to jump one or both of them. Either way, they’ve set themselves up to be in the thick of things on the final day of the season with a comeback win that reversed the narrative the Crew have been battling all season. For once, they weren’t the team blowing the late lead.

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CF MONTRÉAL (1) VS. D.C. UNITED (0)

What happened: A first-half own goal was all Montréal needed.

What it means: It means Montréal are at least in the race for the top of the East. It might just mean they have a shot at the Supporters’ Shield too. Montréal will be just two points behind the Union heading into Decision Day and, with an LAFC loss today, could be three points away from finishing the season on top of the league. They’d need both LAFC and the Union to lose on Decision Day, but simply being in it at this point is a tremendous accomplishment.

SAN JOSE EARTHQUAKES (2) VS. MINNESOTA UNITED (0)

What happened: Shea Salinas sent a free kick into the back of the net in his final Quakes home game before he retires and the Quakes picked up three points.

What it means: The Loons better be slamming the panic button. Like slamming it. It won’t do anything to keep hitting it that tapping it once won’t do, but slamming it over and over will at least be therapeutic. Minnesota enter Decision Day in seventh place with Vancouver two points behind and RSL one point behind.

They’ve really got to worry about the final day of the season now. Let’s just check who they’re playing annnnnnddddddddddddddd it’s Vancouver. Whoo boy. A loss to the Caps next Sunday would send the Loons below the line.

VANCOUVER WHITECAPS (2) VS. AUSTIN FC (0)

What happened: Ryan Gauld and Lucas Cavallini scored and Vancouver kept their hopes of a miracle very, very much alive.

What it means: It’s somewhat simple now. If Vancouver beat Minnesota United on Decision Day, they’ll jump the Loons. If Portland lose each of their final two games, they’ll jump them too. And if RSL lose or draw, they’ll jump them too. All they need to make the playoffs is a win and a misstep from Portland or RSL. Unreal.

Well, unless, Seattle jumps in here with a win today and makes things even more interesting. But let’s not get too far ahead of ourselves yet.

LA GALAXY (1) VS. REAL SALT LAKE (1)

What it means: The Galaxy are in the playoffs! They even jumped into a home playoff spot, at least for the day. Nashville and Portland can jump them with results today. But hey, they don’t have to worry about a repeat of last year’s Decision Day nightmare. 

RSL, however, should be a bit worried about a Decision Day nightmare. They’ll enter Sunday one point below the line and needing a win. And even that might not end up being enough.

The Reading Rainbow
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Full Time

Good luck out there. Go out in style.