MLS Preview: Decision Day

MLS Preview

New York City vs Columbus Crew

Citi Field – Sunday 22nd October 2017 – 16:00 ET (21:00 BST)

NYCFC’s Playoff fate is still in their own hands. But after slipping to a 2-1 defeat to New England Revolutions and with a difficult game against Columbus Crew this weekend, any more slip-ups could see them steered into a potential Hudson River Derby with New York Red Bulls in the playoffs. Having picked up just 9 points since the start of September, NYCFC are more clumsily falling into the Playoffs, than graciously building momentum. They will be without Jack Harrison for the game who is serving a suspension after receiving a red card, for a two-footed lunge in the New England game. Columbus Crew go into this fixture knowing a win and other results going their way could see them leapfrog both Atlanta and Chicago. It’s been a strong end to the season for Gregg Berhalter’s men. Who bounced back from 3 straight defeats at the end of July/start of August to go on 9 games unbeaten.

Atlanta United vs Toronto FC

Mercedes-Benz Superdome – Sunday 22nd October 2017 – 16:00 ET (21:00 BST)

It’s been quite some debut season for Atlanta, who can still claim second spot with a win and results elsewhere working in their favour. Another side who seem to be losing momentum as the Playoffs approach. After a September that saw them score an astounding 22 goals, they’re now on the back of a 3 game winless run. Drawing blanks in 2 of them. The Five Stripes will be hoping for another huge attendance to help get them over the final hurdle of the regular season. For Supporters Shield winners Toronto, this isn’t just a game to get in shape for whoever awaits them the semi-finals. A victory could see them break the record for most points in a season, after Jozy Altidore’s winner against Montreal last weekend saw them level with LA Galaxy’s record set back in 1998.

Philadelphia Union vs Orlando City

Talen Energy Stadium – Sunday 22nd October 2017- 16:00 ET (21:00 BST)

Philadelphia host Orlando, with both sides knowing victory from either side, will see them overtake the other. Pride will be at stake for each team to finish regular season in a more respectable place. For both teams, the planning for next season can begin. With Philadelphia boosted by the news that Dutch midfielder Roland Alberg, has stated he would like to remain at the club next season, it gives them something to build upon. Orlando will be on the lookout for a new star next season as Brazilian icon Kaka leaves the club. Inevitably leaving a lasting impression on soccer in Orlando, the 35-year-old has stated: “I will always be a Lion, forever”.

Houston Dynamo vs Chicago Fire

BBVA Compass Stadium – Sunday 22nd October 2017 – 15:00 CT (21:00 BST)

Chicago will be making their first appearance in the postseason for the first time since 2012. A true roller coaster of a season for The Men in Red. A strong start to the campaign was followed by a disappointing second half of the season, but they have bounced back once again to have a strong finish. Victory over Houston and defeat for New York City could see Chicago steal second spot and get a bye to the playoff semis. Hungarian striker, Nemanja Nikolic hit a hatrack last weekend, taking him to 8 in his last 6 games and topping the leader charts with 24 goals. Houston are also back amongst the postseason action after a 3-year hiatus. They will certainly be looking to add to their impressive home record of 11 wins in this fixture as they look to clinch their first MLS trophy since back to back triumphs in 2006 & 2007.

D.C. United vs New York Red Bulls

Robert F. Kennedy Memorial Stadium – Sunday 22nd October 2017 – 16:00 ET (21:00 BST)

Occupying one of the 2 playoff places that cannot change in the Eastern Conference, on the final day of the regular season and with their opponents yet to be decided, New York Red Bulls Head coach Jesse Marsch has stated he will rest players before his sides midweek Playoff Knockout tie. Having left it late to secure their place in the postseason and the prospect of facing either NYCFC, Chicago Fire, Atlanta United FC or Columbus Crew SC, Red Bulls will now be hoping to sign off the regular season with a win against fierce rivals D.C. United. After a disappointing campaign for D.C United, the bad news doesn’t seem to stop there. Long-standing goalkeeper, Bill Hamid, looks set to leave the Washington based club at the end of the season. The 26-year-old has been with the club since joining their academy back in 2007. A win will go some way to ease the pain of a dreadful campaign and give the home fans something to cheer about after only seeing their side win 6 times at the Robert F. Kennedy Memorial Stadium this season.

Seattle Sounders vs Colorado Rapids

CenturyLink Field – Sunday 22nd October 2017 – 13:00 PT (21:00 BST)

After securing a place in the Playoffs with an emphatic 4-0 win over FC Dallas, Defending champions, Seattle, are now aiming for victory over Colorado this weekend which will secure them a knockout round bye. Boasting an impressive home record, with only one defeat, which came against Supporters Shield Winners, Toronto FC back in May. Defeat though could see them slip to 5th place if the two sides below them pick up wins. The season has been over for Colorado for a while now. Playing for the fans and pride this weekend. There may also be a little hint of maybe playing the spoiler role and extending their 3 games unbeaten run.

San Jose Earthquakes vs Minnesota United

Avaya Stadium – Sunday 22nd October 2017 – 13:00 PT (21:00 BST)

Currently occupying the only Playoff spot left for 2017, San Jose have fate in their own hands. A vital 1-1 draw in their last outing against leaders, Vancouver, will give them the confidence to go out for a win against Minnesota. Ensuring they continue to play football past regular season for the first time since their Supporters’ Shield-winning season of 2012. It’s been a less than a smooth season for San Jose, after sacking 2 times winning MLS Cup manager, Dominic Kinnear back in June, only to bring in rookie manager Chris Leitch. Leitch’s change of tactics though have seemed to pay dividends and victory combined with Playoffs will be a very nice way to top off his maiden season, regardless of how far they get. Minnesota are guaranteed to end their first campaign in 9th place. Compared to the fellow expansion team, Atlanta, it hasn’t been it the greatest of seasons. But Head Coach, Adrian Heath, will take a lot of positives into next year. Improving their home form and keeping hold of 14 goal Christian Ramirez, will see them challenging for a Playoff spot in the future.

Portland Timbers vs Vancouver Whitecaps

Providence Park – Sunday 22nd October 2017 – 13:00 PT (21:00 BST)

The battle for top spot will take place at Providence Park on Sunday. Having secured their place in the Playoffs with a 4-0 thumping of a disappointing D.C United side. Portland Timbers now take on a Vancouver side who are still hurting after dropping 2 points to San Jose last weekend. Portland will be relying on their impressive Argentine, Diego Valeri, to add to his 21 goals already this season, to help top the Western Conference. While for Vancouver, it’s at the other end of the field the debate of who starts between the sticks goes on. An impressive performance from Kiwi international, Stefan Marinovic, has seen veteran goalkeeper David Ousted, well, ousted!

FC Dallas vs LA Galaxy

Toyota Stadium – Sunday 22nd October 2017 – 15:00 CT (21:00 BST)

After all the pre-season talk from FC Dallas of a potential MLS Cup and Supporters Shield double and after a storming start to the season, including a 3-1 victory over Toronto, we now head into the final game of the regular season with the prospect of them maybe not even making it into the Playoffs. A 10 game winless streak ended with a victory over Colorado in September. Only to be followed by another 3 games winless streak that they’re currently on. They now come up against an LA Galaxy side who haven’t lost in 3 games and who are hoping for another win to lift themselves off the foot of the Western Conference. Galaxy have been better away from home this season, hoping to improve on that record and spoil the season for Dallas.

Montreal Impact vs New England Revolution

Saputo Stadium – Sunday 22nd October 2017 – 16:00 ET (21:00 BST)

In what will be a game of no real importance, after both sides missed out on Playoff places this season. Losing 4 of their previous fixtures has severely damaged hopes of making the postseason for last season Conference Finalists, Montreal. Even victory against New York City last weekend wasn’t enough for New England. With inconsistent results costing them dearly. Of course, pride will be at stake for both sides who will hope to end the season with a victory.

Real Salt Lake vs Sporting Kansas City

Rio Tinto Stadium – Sunday 22nd October 2017 – 14:00 PT (21:00 BST)

Sporting Kansas have only won once since they lifted the Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup back in September. The fans will be praying for victory or they face the possibility of an away Knockout Round elimination game for a third straight year. Anything is still possible for Sporting though, as a win and results working in their favour could even see them land second place. Still within a shout of making the playoffs, Real Salt Lake will need to improve hugely after they suffered a disappointing 1-0 defeat to Colorado last weekend. Working in their favour will be their decent home form. Couple that with Sporting Kansas’ inability to win away from home, it could be a tense final game for RSL supporters.