Decision Day presented by AT&T will truly live up to its name this Sunday with something on the line in all but one of the 12 matchups taking place across Major League Soccer. But while there are plenty of seeding and home-field advantage implications, the biggest issue to be decided is in the West where four teams will battle for two remaining places in the Audi 2019 MLS Cup Playoffs.
The Portland Timbers and FC Dallas go into Decision Day sitting above the line, but all could change by the time the curtain falls on the MLS regular season on Sunday night. Despite having slipped below the line after a run of five straight defeats, the San Jose Earthquakes will have their fate in their own hands on Decision Day. Matias Almeyda's side just have to beat the Timbers at Providence Park (4 pm ET | ESPN; MLS LIVE on DAZN), which would leave Portland needing Dallas to slip up at home to Sporting KC (4 pm ET; MLS LIVE on ESPN+ in USA & DAZN in Canada).
But that's not all. There is also a wildcard to be thrown into the mix in the shape of the Colorado Rapids. Remarkably, after starting the season 0-7-2, a rejuvenated Rapids side under coach Robin Fraser have a Hail-Mary shot at making the postseason, if they can get the three points at Supporters' Shield winners LAFC and other results go their way.
With all that said, here's who our experts at MLSsoccer.com think will be left standing when Decision Day is all said and done.
It's going to be Portland and Dallas. Over the years it's been pretty well established only dummies pick against the home team in MLS, so I'm going to play the percentages and assume both the Timbers and Dallas get it done.
And they should get it done. Portland have a large raw talent advantage over the Quakes, and Dallas are facing a Sporting team that's missing its most important player. If they can't win a one-off at home under those circumstances, they don't deserve to get in.
I completely get the home-field element, but I can't get over the fact San Jose have just looked like the better team over the last two months. The Quakes have suffered heartbreak after heartbreak throughout September, but they've played well in every game; at some point those performances turn into wins. And it's not exactly like playing at home has been an advantage for the Timbers lately. I know it's bad business to pick against the Timbers at Providence Park, but I gotta go with San Jose in this one.
For the other spot... I'll take Dallas. SKC have been better than their results suggest, they gave Minnesota and Portland all they could handle, but win-or-go-home games often come down to which team can maintain their focus for 90 minutes, and I'll take the team with everything to play for over the team with very little to play for.
I’m going with Portland and Dallas. And I’m not just saying that because I picked Portland to win MLS Cup at the beginning of the season (LOL). Both teams are playing for everything at home and in MLS that matters. Also I don’t have enough confidence in San Jose or KC to play spoiler.
I’ll take Portland and Dallas. Portland only need a draw at home and Dallas only need a draw at home (if Portland get a draw at home). I think both happen.
As badly as I want to #RootForChaos like the rest of us, you won't catch me dying on the Colorado Rapids hill here.
The Quakes have disproved us at every turn — we collectively thought they'd be bad, but turned out to be good. Then when we all embraced they were good by midsummer, they messed around and lost eight of their last 10 — and now are underdogs to make the playoffs. I'll die on that hill instead. Quakes + Dallas.
San Jose haven’t beat Portland in a league match since 1982.
The last time the Earthquakes beat the Timbers in a league match in Portland was May 26, 1982. That's 13,642 days ago. #RCTID— Mike Donovan (@TheMikeDonovan) October 2, 2019
I don’t think that streak is snapped as the Timbers get all three points at home. Sporting looked up for playing spoiler last weekend and I think that continues against an FC Dallas team that is struggling. A Sporting win and a Rapids upset over LAFC completes Colorado’s incredible run to the Audi 2019 MLS Cup Playoffs. #RootForChaos