MLS Decision Day is this Sunday and will feature all 20 teams kicking off at 4:00 PM EST, many of whom still have playoff aspirations. FC Dallas sits in the top Supporters Shield position with only one team (Colorado) having an opportunity to catch them.
The Eastern Conference seems set as New York Red Bulls, NYCFC, Toronto FC, D.C. United, and the Montreal Impact have clinched playoff spots, and Philadelphia is almost guaranteed a spot in the knockout rounds due to a massive lead in goal differential.
The Western Conference, however, sees not only a fight for first place between Dallas and Colorado, but a fight for fourth, fifth, and sixth position between four teams (Real Salt Lake, Seattle Sounders FC, Sporting Kansas City, and the Portland Timbers). Portland currently finds itself in seventh position by only one goal as they are tied for points with Sporting Kansas City. With a win, Portland could potentially bump itself into fourth place if Sporting Kansas City loses against San Jose and the Real Salt Lake/Seattle Sounders game end in a draw.
Although Portland have had their playoff hopes decided on the final day of each of the last three seasons, things do not look too good as they travel to Vancouver to make an attempt at picking up their first road win of the season.
Seattle looks set to make their eighth straight playoff appearance while Real Salt Lake will try to regain momentum after missing the playoffs last season. Decision day in the West will be a treat to watch for MLS fans, as we will get a chance to see what will essentially be early playoff games. All games will kick off at 4:00 PM EST, and the matchups are listed below with our picks and comments:
Sporting KC vs. San Jose: Sporting KC will look to take advantage, being at home, and qualify for the playoffs with a win over number eight and non-playoff contenders San Jose.
Our Pick: Sporting KC
Toronto FC vs. Chicago Fire: Toronto FC will try and weave their way into a second seed placement by beating last place Chicago and hoping for an NYCFC slip up.
Our Pick: Toronto FC
Vancouver Whitecaps vs. Portland Timbers: Portland will continue to struggle on the road against ninth placed Vancouver and will miss the playoffs because of their consistently poor form away from home.
Our Pick: Tie
LA Galaxy vs. FC Dallas: FC Dallas will continue to prove the skeptics wrong and win the Supporters Shield for the first time in their franchise history, as well as the Western Conference despite missing Mauro Diaz.
Our Pick: FC Dallas
Orlando vs. D.C. United: D.C. will protect their fourth seed position in the East against a struggling Orlando City SC.
Our Pick: D.C. United
New England Revolution vs. Montreal Impact: New England will try to keep any hopes of a playoff berth alive while Montreal will attempt to take advantage of a possible D.C. United slip up. This looks to be a competitive fixture, which points to a draw.
Our Pick: Tie
Seattle Sounders vs. Real Salt Lake: This is by far the most exciting fixture with both teams needing a win to have a guaranteed spot in the playoffs. Unfortunately for Real Salt Lake, Seattle will take advantage of having some of the best fans in the league and win in their home turf.
Our Pick: Seattle Sounders
Philadelphia Union vs. NY Red Bulls: New York will keep their first seed and win against struggling playoff contenders Philadelphia Union. This, of course, assuming New York does not decide to rest their starters for the playoffs.
Our Pick: NY Red Bulls
Colorado Rapids vs. Houston Dynamo: Colorado will continue their good form against a weak Houston squad as they make an effort to snatch first place and the Supporters Shield from FC Dallas.
Our Pick: Colorado Rapids
NYCFC vs. Columbus Crew SC: Both teams look to bounce back from losses but NYCFC will beat Columbus in their final regular season game in the Yankee Stadium to keep Toronto FC in third position.
Our Pick: NYCFC