All 28 teams played this weekend. Most teams have either three or four games left. And yet, exactly one (1) team clinched a playoff spot and just one (1) team clinched a home playoff spot. That probably has something to do with the fact road teams went winless this weekend, but who really knows? What’s important is we may end up deciding on more than we’ve ever decided on Decision Day. Until then, here’s The Recap from Week 30.
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CF MONTRÉAL (2) VS. COLUMBUS CREW (2)
- What happened: Down 2-0 late after goals from Jonathan Mensah and Lucas Zelarayan, Victory Wanyama scored in the 89th minute and Zachary Brault-Guillard scored in the fourth minute of stoppage time to send Stade Saputo into a frenzy.
- What it means: Montréal are in the playoffs. Brault-Guillard’s late equalizer clinched a spot for CFM and all but assured a home playoff spot as well. It seems like Montréal are your second seed in the East. It’s great for Montréal, but Columbus could have really used three points. The Crew are still in decent position to make the playoffs, but they ended the weekend in seventh place and just three points above the line. They do have a game in hand, but they could have finished the weekend in fifth place with a genuine shot at fourth place if they had won. The Crew have two wins and six draws in their last nine games.
CHARLOTTE FC (1) VS. NYCFC (0)
- What happened: Daniel Rios scored in the fifth minute. That’s all Charlotte needed, even after a Christian Fuchs red card in the 56th minute. NYCFC put just one shot on target the entire game.
- What it means: Charlotte can still make the playoffs…if they roll a nat-20 five consecutive times, but still, they’re alive. And they can build on the fact that few teams in the league have been as outstanding at home this season. NYCFC though…yikes/woof/uh-oh. Take your pick. They’ve gone from the best team in the league by most metrics to the worst team in the league by wins and losses. All in the same season! NYCFC have won just once since July 23 and have five points over their last 10 games. It’s a testament to how good they were at the beginning of the year that they’re still in a home playoff spot. But they’ve reached a point where it doesn’t even feel guaranteed that they make the playoffs. It would take a near-perfect storm, but the fact it’s even in play is astonishing.
NASHVILLE SC (1) VS. LA GALAXY (1)
- What happened: Penalties. Hany Mukhtar made his. Chicharito didn’t (again). And Riqui Puig found the net with his in the ninth (!) minute of stoppage time. Just a wild game and ending. When I wrote yesterday that this one would come down to Mukhtar, Chicharito and Puig, I didn’t think that would be quite so literal.
- What it means: Nashville are in a home playoff spot still, but they could have created some separation with a win. Instead, they’re just one point above fifth-place Portland and six points ahead of eighth-place LA, who have two games in hand. It basically means the West is a whole entire mess. Oh, and that Chicharito should be rugby tackled by Greg Vanney the next time he tries to take a penalty.
NEW YORK RED BULLS (2) VS. NEW ENGLAND REVOLUTION (1)
- What happened: Cristian Cásseres and Lewis Morgan scored for New York to equalize then overcome Tommy McNamara’s 53rd-minute goal for the Revs. The Red Bulls picked up a rare home win.
- What it means: It probably means at least one home playoff game for New York. Still seems like a bad idea and they should maybe just ask nicely if they can defer to play on the road given their positive record this season away from home, but maybe it’s a good sign that they took a step closer to a home playoff game with a home win. They’re now just the second-worst home team in the East instead of being tied for the worst. The Revs still can’t get healthy. Giacomo Vrioni came in a sub appearance, but Bruce Arena admitted they might have been rushing things. Dylan Borrero missed this one entirely due to injury and Carles Gil wasn’t available due to paternity leave. In the end, late season injuries and absences may just be too much to overcome. The Revs are three points below the line with a game out of hand.
ATLANTA UNITED (4) VS. TORONTO FC (2)
- What happened: Center back hat trick!!! Juanjo Purata found the net three times with three headers and Atlanta United overcame a pair of typical defensive mistakes to earn a home win.
- What it means: Atlanta are still alive. Kind of. Let’s be real, everything is still on life support here. But they’re not technically eliminated even if they are five points below the line with a game out of hand on seventh place Columbus. Toronto, however, are just waiting for the official time of death announcement. Time to start thinking about what could be a special 2023 if they can get things sorted out defensively.
FC CINCINNATI (6) VS. SAN JOSE (0)
- What happened: Nothing suitable for a PG-rated newsletter.
- What it means: It meansthe Brennersaince is continuing at full force this season after his second-half hat trick powered Cincy to a huge win. The Knifey Lions are sixth in the East and four points clear of eighth-place New England with four games to go. The Quakes are three points ahead of D.C. United in the Wooden Spoon race, which goes to the worst team of the season.
PHILADELPHIA UNION (5) VS. ORLANDO CITY (1)
- What happened: Just a typical Philly game at this point. Five different Union players scored in the win.
- What it means: It meant a lot for Philly’s Supporters’ Shield chances at full time, then a whole lot more after FC Dallas took down LAFC a few moments later. The Union are alone atop the league with a three-point advantage on LAFC. However, LAFC do have a game in hand. At this point though, it’s hard to see the Union coming up short.Orlando just ran into Philadelphia on short rest and a trophy hangover. It happens. It does mean they still have a lot of work to do though. They’re in fifth place, but just four points above the line with five games to go.
CHICAGO FIRE FC (3) VS. INTER MIAMI (1)
- What happened: Duran, Duran. Jhon Duran’s brace led the way for Chicago.
- What it means: Chicago are still buried, but they’re at least clear of any potential Spoon pressure on Decision Day. Inter Miami are also inching closer to having nothing to worry about on Decision Day. They ended the weekend five points below the line with four games left to play. That might be too much to overcome in the end.
SEATTLE SOUNDERS (3) VS. AUSTIN FC (0)
- What happened: A Raul Ruidiaz brace may have saved Seattle’s season.
- What it means: It’s still a long shot, but Seattle are technically just four points below the line with four games left to play. A loss would have doomed them entirely. Considering that this was by far their most difficult game left, you can’t count them out. There’s a timeline here where they win out against Vancouver, Cincy, Sporting KC and San Jose. 51 points would be enough to get them in for a 14th-straight season. Austin suddenly have to worry about the second-place spot and the Texas state championship they had locked up a couple of weeks ago. And they still might have it locked up, but there are reasons to worry. FC Dallas are just two points behind them, although Austin do have a game in hand. Maybe some late pressure from Dallas is the kind of wake up call they need to keep from cruising into the postseason.
FC DALLAS (2) VS. LAFC (1)
- What happened: Jesus Ferreira’s late brace led the way for Dallas in their best win of the season.
- What it means: With three games left, Dallas practically have a home playoff game wrapped up. They may even be able to sneak into second place at this point. But maybe most importantly, that’s a heckuva confidence booster heading into the end of the year. Dallas will know for a fact they can beat anybody in the West. LAFC are watching their second Supporters’ Shield slip away. That’s not their main goal this season, but their form is genuinely worrying. That’s four losses in their last five. For a team that seemed destined to break the points record, they’ve completely derailed late in the season.
HOUSTON DYNAMO (0) VS. SPORTING KC (0)
- What happened: Nothing.
- What it means: Nothing, other than Houston confirming they’re mathematically out of the playoff race.
COLORADO RAPIDS (3) VS. VANCOUVER WHITECAPS (1)
- What happened: Gyasi Zardes, Diego Rubio and Jonathan Lewis all scored for the Rapids.
- What it means: That’s probably it for Vancouver this year. And it’s probably too little too late for the Rapids, but at least they can say they fought to the end.
REAL SALT LAKE (0) VS. D.C. UNITED (0)
- What happened: Nothing.
- What it means: Real Salt Lake are in trouble… It may just come down to them and the Galaxy on Decision Day again. They’re three points ahead of eighth-place LA and the Galaxy have a game in hand. Their schedule isn’t kind either. Austin, Cincy, LA and Portland are waiting for them. Everything is going to be riding on those last two games. The playoffs will start early for RSL. Meanwhile, D.C. are officially out of the race.
PORTLAND TIMBERS (1) VS. MINNESOTA UNITED (0)
- What happened: Playoff Dairon showed up early. Dairon Asprilla’s 61st-minute goal made the difference.
- What it means: The Timbers leaped over Minnesota into fifth place and are now just a point out of a home playoff spot. The Loons are in sixth place, a point behind the Timbers and two points behind fourth-place Nashville. They’re four points ahead of eighth-place LA though, who have a game in hand. With Bebelo Reynoso’s ankle injury keeping him sidelined, the version of the Loons that ran through the league a couple of months ago feels like a pretty distant memory. A game against LAFC on Tuesday looms large.
D.C. United's Akinmboni becomes third-youngest to debut in MLS: D.C. United started 15-year-old defender Matai Akinmboni in a 0-0 draw with Real Salt Lake. Akinmboni became the third-youngest player in league history to make his MLS debut at 15 years, 328 days, trailing only Freddy Adu (14 years, 334 days) with D.C. United and Alphonso Davies (15 years, 327 days) with Vancouver Whitecaps FC.
- FC Dallas believe Jesus Ferreira is ready for the men’s World Cup after his brace against LAFC.
- Atlanta United put a tumultuous week behind them with a season-saving win.
- Seattle say they showed “the real Sounders” in their 3-0 win over Austin.
- The Philadelphia Union are a buzzsaw.
- FC Cincinnati want more "world-class ability" from their hat-trick hero Brenner.
- Riqui Puig’s 99th-minute PK could save LA Galaxy's season.
Good luck out there. Keep an eye out.