As we close on the upcoming Audi 2018 MLS Cup Playoffs, each week's results are amplified and the emotional swings feel more fluid, tending toward the extreme over the everyday. Week 29, which featured several matchups with direct-impact results, pulled on the crazy cord to shake out a crucial series of results.
At the top of the table, Atlanta United romped over Colorado, their 3-0 victory putting them back atop the Supporters' Shield standings. They hold a one-point advantage on the New York Red Bulls, who in turn lead Sporting Kansas City by five and FC Dallas by six after earning a point in D.C. in a 3-3 draw against United on Sunday.
While Toronto FC managed to seal a crucial victory and the New England Revolution took a road point at LAFC, it was the Montreal Impact routing the Philadelphia Union that created the biggest ripple in the playoff pond. The 4-1 victory kept Montreal nine points ahead of Toronto with five games left on their schedule; they are also five points clear of New England and four of D.C. after their draw. Montreal and D.C. will meet at Audi Field on Sept. 29.
A Saturday slate heavy on Western Conference matchups -- 4 of 9 total MLS contests on the night; only one of the others features two East teams -- left shifting sands. Here's a rundown:
- Sporting KC took the points at San Jose, and Dallas settled for a scoreless draw against visiting Columbus. SKC took over the West as a result.
- LAFC, which stood to put finishing pressure on both SKC and FCD with victory in hand, forked over the option when they let in a late goal against the Revs. They remain third, three points back of Dallas.
- Fourth-place Real Salt Lake also appeared to be cruising, allowed an equalizer and then almost gave everything back before being bailed out when Video Review ruled an apparent goal offiside. They're holding at fourth, but it's tenuous: just a point ahead of Seattle and Portland.
- The Sounders, who opened the day sitting sixth, won ... again, this time at Vancouver. Their playoff spot is looking ever more secure - four points above the line, with a game in hand on the field.
- Portland took a bad L in Houston, a 4-1 loss to the lowly Dynamo resulting in Seattle catching them on points, with wins and goal differential in the bank to tiebreak. The Timbers are four points clear right now.
- Vancouver took the aforementioned home loss vs. Seattle, and the four-point gap looms large with a tough finishing kick in front of them.
- As for the LA Galaxy, who crushed hopes (down 3-0) and revived them (equalized at 3-3) only to catch the closing beatdown (losing 5-3), they're in an 0-4-3 skid and have precious little time to make up what's now six points separating them from the playoff line.
- From there it's a seven-point drop to Houston and the other three squads lost. Fin.