Hassani Dotson - Minnesota United - in Loon hat
Courtesy of twitter.com/mnufc

Bogert: Trophies, late drama in the wild playoff race and more MLS takeaways

After Wednesday's madness, there are just two matchdays left in the MLS regular season: This and next Sunday. That's it. Two more games. This was a huge midweek fixture list in the league and there were some takeaways. 

But first, to steal from Andrew Wiebe, a little housekeeping: Bobby Warshaw dove deep into NYCFC's huge 4-1 win over Atlanta United without Josef Martinez, so be sure to check that out. As such, we'll leave it out of this space and just focus on the other five MLS matches. 

Also, the Canadian Championship wrapped up tonight with the Montreal Impact winning in penalties over Toronto FC. L'Impact have qualified for next season's Concacaf Champions League. 

Trophies

The Canadian Championship wasn't the only trophy lifted on Wednesday night: LAFC are officially your 2019 Supporters' Shield winners.

It was a result long assumed but finally clinched, as LAFC beat the Houston Dynamo 3-1 in front of those vociferous home supporters. The win breaks a five-game winless run and it wasn't easy, either.

The Dynamo proved stingy opposition, hoping to clog the middle and force LAFC wide as other teams have in the league leaders' recent rough patch. It worked well, but LAFC found their way through from the penalty spot then a diving Diego Rossi header.

Carlos Vela scored that penalty, of course, and he is now just one goal behind Josef Martinez's single-season record of 31 with two full games left. Can he rewrite the record books? 

Portland, San Jose stumble

The two teams entered the night tied on 44 points for the final playoff place out West. The two teams hosted Eastern Conference teams on a cross-country trip needing the result much less than the hosts. The two teams got out to leads. 

Neither team won. 

The Portland Timbers threw away a 2-0 lead in the 85th minute to the New England Revolution, drawing 2-2 after late, late drama. Gustavo Bou scored in the 87th minute before the Revs were given a penalty deep into stoppage time, where Carles Gil tied it in the 97th minute. Portland are now on a four-game winless run. Ouch.

It wasn't much better for San Jose. They took a 1-0 lead against the Philadelphia Union but ultimately fell 2-1. They then had a goal called back that would have doubled their advantage before Philly stormed back, with two second half goals in a six-minute span to take all three points. San Jose are now on a four-game losing streak. Ouch. 

The big winner? FC Dallas, who could have dropped below the playoff line as they were spectators on Wednesday. They sit on 45 points, level with Portland, with San Jose now below the playoff line with 44. 

Wondo: Man of the people

It wasn't all bad for the Quakes. Chris Wondolowski, suspended after receiving his first MLS red card, watched the game from the supporters' section. When I say watched, obviously, I mean go absolutely bonkers and have a hell of a night.

Legend.

Philly, Revs find results on the West Coast

Squad rotation? Pssh. Not totally.

Neither the Union nor Revolution technically needed results in their midweek cross-country trips, in the sense that the Revs had a solid enough cushion to bank on their final two regular season games to wrap up playoff qualification while the Union have already clinched a home playoff game. It wouldn't have taken an elaborate imagination to envision a scenario that both teams would fully rotate their starters.

But nope, and it paid off. The Revs started Bou and Gil, who each scored in the late comeback, while the Union called on Alejandro Bedoya, Haris Medunjanin, Kacper Przybylko and the like, who also engineered their own comeback, albeit a bit earlier than the Revs'. 

Cristian Pavon: Good at soccer

Big, if true.

Pavon went out and got the Galaxy three points in their 2-1 road win over Real Salt Lake. It was probably the Argentine international's best game since joining the LA Galaxy, which is no small thing considering he's had at least an assist in each of his last five games, Pavon gives the Galaxy another dimension that few clubs in the league can match between him and Zlatan Ibrahimovic.

The Galaxy very much are not a one-man show heading into the playoffs, which had been one of their biggest concerns. Not only does he lift some of the attacking burden off Zlatan, he accentuates the Swede, setting him up for the eventual game-winner. 

Now, the Galaxy are four points ahead of RSL, who sit in fifth place. That's a nice little cushion to host a first round playoff game, and they're just one point behind second place Minnesota. 

There's something about these Loons

For the first time in their three-year MLS existence, Minnesota United are headed for the playoffs. With a 2-1 win over Sporting KC the long assumed clinching is now mathematically so, and they end the night in second place out West, with the inside track to keep that No. 2 seed. 

The championship pedigree that came wrapped under the price tags for Ozzie Alonso and Ike Opara has worked out perfectly for Minnesota. Not just that the team that conceded 141 goals over two seasons now leans on a resolute defense, but the vibe around the team is entirely different. This isn't the Minnesota United from their first two years.

This is the transition from expansion club finding their feet in MLS and a legit contender. Ike and Ozzie have been the catalysts both on and, perhaps more importantly, off the field. Vito Mannone, Jan Gregus and Romain Metanire deserve their credit, too, as do a number of other players, but after one year, the acquisitions of Opara and Alonso have been invaluable. Anyone got qualms about the price tags these days? 

Also: The team's on field form is matched by their Twitter game. I see you, @MNUFC.

That kind of season...

Some derivative of that has been written and spoken ad nauseam lately in reference to Sporting Kansas City and, for one last time, their 2-1 loss to Minnesota was the perfect 90-minute microcosm of their season as the result officially, mathematically, eliminated them from the playoffs. 

Started strong, with some beautiful soccer; Got the opening goal; Kept fighting, easily having the better of play for most of the game; Missed opportunity; Missed sitter; A few great saves from the opposing keeper; Late implosion. They've dropped 26 points from winning positions this year, most in MLS. 

If you played out this season 100 times, how many times would this result come up? 

Looking back at the super weird nine months that was SKC's 2019 season, which handful of results will be most frustrating in hindsight? The 2-1 loss to the Portland Timbers after leading in the 70th minute, the 2-2 draw with FC Cincinnati in April, the 1-1 home draw against the Vancouver Whitecaps in May? 

Ilie Sanchez played center back for SKC. That's how this season is going. What SKC does by way of player acquisition at center back and center forward this offseason will be the club's dominant storyline.

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