MLS Cup playoff seeds set after wild Decision Sunday

by Jacob Fuller
MLS Cup playoff seeds set after wild Decision Sunday

Jacob Fuller, FISM News

After an explosive final day of the regular season, the Major League Soccer playoffs are finally set as 14 teams begin the battle for the MLS Cup Thursday.

On Decision Sunday, three games featured two teams battling for a playoff spot in win-or-go-home scenarios.

Orlando City comes from behind to stay alive

The Lions scored twice in the second half, including a game-winning penalty kick by 22-year-old phenom Facundo Torres, to defeat rival Columbus Crew and secure the seventh and final playoff spot in the Eastern Conference.

It was the first time this year that the Cardiac Cats came back after conceding the opening goal to win a match. Junior Urso got Orlando City on the board in the 56th minute to tie the game at 1-1.

The penalty kick was awarded in the 84th minute after a video replay review showed an obvious handball blocked a Benji Michel shot in the box. Torres finished the PK with a rocket into the right side of the net.

The Lions will head to No. 2-seed Montreal for Round 1 of the playoffs. The two teams split the regular season series 1-1, with the home team winning both games.

Real Salt Lake dominate, eliminate Portland

Real Salt Lake started the day below the playoff line and needing a win to keep their season alive. They needed less than 19 minutes to flip the script and put the Timbers in a chasing position, where they stayed for the rest of the game.

Jefferson Savarino sent a beautiful curling shot past Timbers goalkeeper Aljaz Ivacic from just outside the penalty area to put Real Salt Lake up 1-0.

RSL added two more goals to make it 3-0 before the Timbers’ Dairon Asprilla added a goal that undoubtedly gave no consolation to Portland fans or players, as their season ended with the 3-1 loss.

RSL will head to No. 2-seed Austin FC for Round 1. Austin started the year red hot but has gone 4W-6L-4D since July 16. Notably, one of those wins came in a 3-0 crushing of RSL on Sept. 14.

Minnesota United score early, hang on to playoff spot

The Loons got on the board early as Franco Fragapane delivered a low line drive into the left corner of the net past Vancouver goalkeeper Thomas Hasal to put Minnesota United up 1-0.

Coach Adrian Heath’s side added a second goal in the 77th minute from Joseph Rosales to clinch the 2-0 victory and the 6th seed in the Western Conference.

Cincinnati leaves no doubt

The only other team facing possible playoff elimination Sunday was FC Cincinnati, who finished their first three season in MLS in last place in the Eastern Conference. Facing this year’s last-place D.C. United, The Orange and Blue came out scoring early and often, and sured up the No. 5 seed in the Eastern Conference.

With goals in the 6th, 8th, and 24th minutes of the game, Cincinnati cruised to a 5-2 victory over Wayne Rooney’s struggling D.C. United. Barely five minutes into the game, Luciano Acosta volleyed in game’s first goal.

LAFC, Philadelphia take top seeds, first-round byes

LAFC and the Philadelphia Union won their respective conferences, each finishing the season with 67 points and getting a bye in Round 1 of the playoffs. LAFC took home the coveted Supporters’ Shield — given to MLS’ top regular season team — by winning the first tiebreaker with more games won (21) on the season than Philadelphia (19).

Round 1 Schedule

(All times Eastern)

Saturday, Oct. 15

NY Red Bulls (4) vs. FC Cincinnati (5), 12 p.m., UniMás, streamed on MLSsoccer.com

LA Galaxy (4) vs. Nashville SC (5), 3 p.m., Univision, streamed on MLSsoccer.com

Sunday, Oct. 16

Austin FC (2) vs. Real Salt Lake (7), 3 p.m., ABC and ESPN app

Montreal (2) vs. Orlando City SC (7), 8 p.m., ESPN and ESPN app

Monday, Oct. 17

New York City FC (3) vs. Inter Miami (6), 7 p.m., FS1 and FOX Sports app

FC Dallas (3) vs. Minnesota United (6), 9:30 p.m., FS1 and FOX Sports app

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