There has been plenty to discuss after the penultimate week of fixtures in MLS, where the standings are starting to take shape ahead of next Sunday’s dramatic finale to the regular season.
While there were sides who sealed their spot in the post-season rounds, many others had their dreams of featuring dashed in a weekend that saw records smashed, superb individual performances and a long-overdue victory.
We have rounded up the latest batch of MLS results and what they mean below.
D.C. United 3-1 New York City FC
Wayne Rooney was the man of the moment again for D.C. United as their unbeaten run extended to nine games with a 3-1 victory promotion rivals NYCFC, where the former England captain scored a brace to take his season tally to 12 goals and six assists in 19 matches.
Rooney and Luciano Acosta both struck in the first half to give the hosts the advantage before Rooney struck again from the penalty spot four minutes before David Villa’s 78th-minute consolation, sealing United’s spot alongside NYCFC in the playoffs.
Atlanta United 2-1 Chicago Fire
Atlanta United continued their charge towards the Eastern Conference title with a 2-1 victory over Chicago at the Mercedes-Benz Stadium, where the hosts broke their own MLS attendance record and sealed their spot in the CONCACAF Champions League.
Franco Escobar opened the scoring after just nine minutes in a frantic first half before Michael de la Leeuw’s equaliser for the visitors, which came just two minutes before Johan Kappelhof’s 26th-minute own goal that proved to be the decider.
Atlanta are also in the hunt for the Supporter’s Shield, which will also be decided next weekend.
Montreal Impact 2-0 Toronto FC
Montreal Impact kept their hopes of reaching the playoffs alive with a 2-0 victory over Canadian rivals and defending MLS champions Toronto, whose premature end to the season had already been confirmed in previous weeks.
Ignacio Piatti struck from the penalty spot 16 minutes from time to break the deadlock before sealing all three points with his second of the game in the final moments, a result that leaves Montreal two points behind Columbus in the Eastern Conference.
Philadelphia Union 0-1 New York Red Bulls
Alejandro Romero’s second-half penalty for the Red Bulls ensured that the fight for the Eastern Conference title and the MLS Supporter’s Shield would go down to the final weekend as visitors remain just a single point behind Atlanta.
With Atlanta winning, anything other than a victory for the Red Bulls would have seen their title-rivals clinching the double with a game to spare but the win gives the Red Bulls hope, although they will need a favour from Toronto if they are to leapfrog Atlanta in the standings.
Orlando City 2-1 Columbus Crew
Orlando City secured their first victory July by ending a 13-game winless streak in dramatic fashion against Columbus Crew as Sacha Kljestan scored from the penalty spot six minutes into added time to seal a comeback win.
The hosts had fallen behind to Federico Higuain’s goal nine minutes into the second period but equalised just three minutes later through Yoshimar Yotun, the first of Orlando’s two penalties in a result that denied Columbus the opportunity to seal a playoff spot.
San Jose Earthquakes 0-0 Colorado Rapids
The only goalless draw of the weekend saw the already-eliminated pair of the San Jose Earthquakes and Colorado Rapids fire a blank at the Avaya Stadium. The match was already a dead-rubber due to the fact that the Earthquakes are guaranteed to finish rock-bottom of MLS, with Colorado second-bottom of the Western Conference.
Los Angeles FC 2-2 Vancouver Whitecaps
Vancouver fought back from two goals down to hold LAFC to a draw in Los Angeles, a result which helps to keep the hunt for a semi-final spot in the playoffs looking extremely tight ahead of next weekend’s regular-season finale.
Diego Rossi scored twice in the opening 15 minutes to put the hosts in control but Yordy Reyna pulled one back from the penalty spot after 22 minutes. The already-eliminated Whitecaps then secured a point after the breakthrough Jordon Mutch, who scored only his second goal of the season.
FC Dallas 0-3 Sporting Kansas City
Kansas City swept aside Dallas to edge closer towards a playoff semi-final spot and the Western Conference title thanks to a 3-0 win, a result that handed a huge blow to Dallas’ hopes of achieving the same feat in the final weeks of the campaign.
Goals from Daniel Salloi, Roger Espinoza and Johnny Russell handed Kansas City a two-point advantage over title-rivals LAFC and Dallas heading into the final weekend, where a point against Los Angeles in a dramatic deciding match will be enough to win the Western Conference.
Portland Timbers 3-0 Real Salt Lake
The Portland Timbers were another side to seal their spot in the MLS playoffs after a 3-0 victory at home to Real Salt Lake, with defeat for the visiting side meaning they must hope LA Galaxy lose to Houston Dynamo if they are to join Portland in the playoffs.
A routine victory was secured thanks to goals from Larrys Mabiala, Diego Chara and Sebastian Blanco. While Portland could still theoretically secure a bye to the semi-finals of the playoffs, they would require a huge goal swing in their favour on the final weekend.
Minnesota United 1-3 LA Galaxy
LA Galaxy know they are just one point away from securing their spot in the MLS playoffs after a 3-1 victory on the road against the already-eliminated Minnesota United, in a game that gave fans three goals in as many minutes.
Zlatan Ibrahimovic’s 22nd goal of the season gave Galaxy a lead going into the break and their advantage was doubled five minutes after the restart by Ola Kamara, with Romain Alessandrini netting a third for the visitors just a minute later before Angelo Rodriguez’s consolation after 53 minutes.
Houston Dynamo 2-3 Seattle Sounders
The Seattle Sounders still have a chance of securing a bye to the playoff semi-finals after their high-scoring victory against Houston, whose chances of advancing into the post-season drama had already been ended weeks ago.
Chad Marshall gave the Sounders a narrow lead at the interval ahead of a frantic second period which began with Gustav Svensson doubling their advantage four minutes after the restart. Kevin Garcia pulled one back for the hosts though but Raul Ruidiaz’s late strike put Seattle on course for all three points, although it was a nervy finish following Mauro Manotas’ 89th-minute goal.