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Little by little, the playoff picture is becoming more clear in MLS – and especially in the Eastern Conference.
While the West is still waiting on top-of-the-table Cascadian clubs like the Portland Timbers and the Seattle Sounders to book their postseason place, the East, on the other hand, already has four teams invited.
With results working in their favor last week, both Orlando City and the Columbus Crew have now officially joined the Philadelphia Union and Toronto FC in the playoffs.
Unsurprisingly, it appeared as though it was only a matter of time before the two joined the party.
Orlando has been on an incredible run of form with new manager Oscar Pareja. Pragmatic and organized, Pareja and his men have only lost twice in their 18 matches so far. Columbus, boasting a slightly better goal differential than Orlando, has been just as impressive with a defense that has been able to halt some of the top names in the league.
Nearing the end of the regular season, who else will cross the playoff threshold? Let’s take a look at some of the latest MLS results to get a sense of those who are on the cusp.
A significant win for a New England Revolution side that appears next in line for earning a playoff spot in the Eastern Conference. A place in the postseason is within reach.
Thanks to goals from Nick Hagglund and Yuya Kubo, Cincinnati clinched their first MLS victory since mid-September. That said, a playoff invitation still seems unlikely…
No win for Orlando? No problem. The 1-1 draw, which would end up being their first of two last week, eventually helped earn a playoff spot.
Were it not for a late goal in the 77th minute for the Red Bulls, Toronto would have been able to extend their winning streak to six games. So close for the Canadian club.
A much-needed result for a DC United squad that had previously gone through a five-game losing streak. The draw would later prove to help motivate them in their following game.
Don’t count Nashville out just yet. Led by a brace from Hany Mukhtar, Nashville’s win moved them higher up the Eastern Conference table.
Despite their 21 shots and 55% possession, Miami failed to put more than one goal past Atlanta. Atlanta only had shot on target in the entirety of the game…
A fairly even match overall, but it was Ryan Hollingshead’s effort in the 43rd minute that made the difference. The loss for Kansas City was their first in October.
Real Salt Lake, believe it or not, are still in the running for the playoff race. The Utah club is sitting just outside of a position in the top eight.
Although many teams sitting below them would love to have their problems, LAFC is no longer the dominant powerhouse they once were. Just one shot on target for LAFC in the loss.
As per usual, nobody can truly predict what the Earthquakes will look like on any given night. Somehow in a playoff spot in the top eight, the Earthquakes have allowed more goals than any other team in the league.
Just when it looked like Kansas City were moments away from a 2-1 victory, Chicago’s Djordje Mihailovic stole the show with an equalizer in the 95th minute.
A reality check for a Miami squad that might still need more time to gel. Even with Blaise Matuidi and Gonzalo Higuain on the field, Miami was out-shot by Montreal.
Three goals, three points, and the Crew are through to the playoffs. The Crew had a brilliant performance from Brazilian midfielder Artur in the win.
It wasn’t the most exciting result for all involved, but it was enough for Orlando to book their ticket for the MLS playoffs for the first time in franchise history.
There’s no way that DC United can qualify for the postseason, right? Sitting at the bottom of the Eastern Conference table, they need to be near-perfect in their four remaining games.
This looked like a cruise control win for a Toronto roster that are well aware that they have a strong chance of finishing the regular season with more points than any other club.
The bad news: A late goal from the Dynamo ruined Minnesota’s hopes for a home win. The good news. Minnesota remains undefeated in its last four games.
Let’s take some time to give a spotlight to LAFC’s Christian Torres. At just 16 years of age, the California kid scored his first-ever MLS goal on Sunday night.
Moments like these are pivotal for the Galaxy, especially after going through six defeats in a row. A last-minute goal from 22-year-old Kai Koreniuk has kept their late-season hopes alive.
Forever stuck in high-scoring wins and losses, the Earthquake’s draw on Sunday showcased their ability to grind out scoreless draws against tough opposition as well.
Both vying to cement their playoff spots and both residing in a mid-table position, there isn’t much in between Nashville and Dallas when they face off this Tuesday. It’s tempting to pick Nashville, but Dallas should keep things level.
Freelance writer Cesar Hernandez is a specialist in all things American and Mexican soccer. He has written for ESPN FC, The Athletic, The Guardian, FourFourTwo, VICE Sports and several other publications. Along with writing and previous radio appearances on the BBC, talkSPORT and SiriusXM FC, Cesar is also a member of the Mexican Soccer Show podcast. Email: [email protected]More info on Cesar Hernandez
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