Week 30 in MLS started with a wild Wednesday slate, with three games on the West Coast that offered goals, surprises, more goals, and even more surprises. The results also had impacts on the Supporters' Shield and Audi 2018 MLS Cup Playoffs races. Here's the lowdown from the wild Wednesday action:
Atlanta United went down 3-1 at one point against the San Jose Earthquakes, who were playing under new manager Steve Ralston for the first time. but the Quakes' unfortunate trademark of capitulation came roaring back, as Atlanta's fearsome attack -- and maybe a controversial call or two along the way -- roared to life to give the Five Stripes a 4-3 win. Record-setting striker Josef Martinez scored the winner in stoppage time; it was his 30th goal in league play this season, making him first to reach the plateau in MLS history.
In the Shield race, the win gives Atlanta a four-point cushion over the New York Red Bulls at the moment, with the teams level on games. They'll be meeting at the end of the month, so mark your calendars for the Sept. 30 showdown.
The Cascadia teams in action had results that somewhat contradicted their respective recent form. The Portland Timbers haven't been awful, but had taken an unmistakable hit after the highs of their 15-game unbeaten streak in league play earlier this year. On Wednesday, they posted a 3-2 win at Providence Park over Columbus Crew SC, a game that was bracketed by goals from Niko Hansen but which otherwise was controlled pretty handily by the Timbers. The win moves them from sixth place in the Western Conference to fourth place, level on points with LAFC above them, thus solidifying their playoff creds for the moment.
But the Seattle Sounders, who had fired off a nine-game winning streak, saw that run come to a close, as Fafa Picault's 93rd-minute winner off a Stefan Frei gaffe brought the good times to an abrupt end in a 1-0 loss against the Philadelphia Union at CenturyLink Field. Seattle remain above the playoff line, in sixth place, four points ahead of the team below them, Vancouver Whitecaps FC. So they have a cushion, but their playoff aspirations aren't secured quite yet.
Both Columbus and Philadelphia were above the playoff line entering their games on Wednesday, and neither moved in the standings, but the Union's win in Seattle brought them (fifth place) to a point behind Columbus (fourth place), level on games with a Knockout Round home appearance in the balance. Believe it or not, these teams will square off on September 29, a game that could seal one or both teams' fates, or possibly determine playoff seeding if both teams do clinch a postseason berth.