MLS Week 24 Preview: Regular season comes to a close

MLS
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Another regular season in MLS is due to come to a close but there is still plenty to be decided on Decision Day, including a number of titles and playoff spots.

Sporting Kansas City, LAFC and FC Dallas are all in the hunt for the Western Conference crown, with the top two earning a bye to the semi-finals of the conference playoffs, while the Eastern Conference sees Atlanta United and the New York Red Bulls scrap for the title.

Real Salt Lake look to have a nervy weekend ahead as their regular season comes to a close and know a victory for LA Galaxy will see them miss out on a playoff. We have dived into all of the games this weekend below.

Toronto FC v Atlanta United (Sunday, 20:30 GMT)

Sat top of the Eastern Conference, Atlanta United know that just one more victory will secure the title and the MLS Supporter’s Shield along with it – the latter being awarded to the side with the best overall points tally in the entire MLS.

Standing in their way are Toronto, last season’s MLS Cup winners, who have already seen their chances of making the playoffs wiped away and are left with just pride to play for. Remarkably, all three meetings between the two franchises have finished 2-2.

Sporting Kansas City v Los Angeles FC (Sunday, 20:30 GMT)

Winner takes all in the Western Conference, Kansas currently have a two-point advantage over LAFC and a point should be enough to clinch top spot. For the visitors, anything other than a win will see their dreams of a perfect start to life in MLS end.

You can read an extended preview of our Game of the Week here.

New England Revolution v Montreal Impact (Sunday, 20:30 GMT)

Whatever happens this weekend, New England are guaranteed to finish eighth in the Eastern Conference, outside of the playoff spots. That means New England are set for a third consecutive year without playoff football since their extra time defeat to LA Galaxy in 2o14.

In six seasons in the MLS so far, Montreal have finished outside of the playoffs three times and have one final chance to push into the post-season fun this time around. Two points behind Columbus, they must hope Minnesota do them a favour on Sunday evening.

Montreal must still ensure they beat New England though and goal difference could come into play. Currently, Impact have -5 compared to Columbus’ -3.

Chicago Fire v D.C. United (Sunday, 20:30 GMT)

Wayne Rooney’s heroics against NYCFC last weekend fired D.C. United into the playoffs and they could finish as high as third if things go their way this weekend, needing New York to lose and a two-goal swing in goal difference.

Chicago, meanwhile, saw their playoff hopes ended a while ago and are guaranteed to be one of the early draft pickers in 2019 but they could still leapfrog Toronto in the standings.

Colorado Rapids v FC Dallas (Sunday, 20:30 GMT)

Currently, joint-second bottom with Orlando in the MLS’ overall standings, Colorado have the worst goalscoring record in the league after finding the net just 34 times this season – nine less than Orlando, who have scored 43.

Meanwhile, FC Dallas enter the game third in the Western Conference and have a chance of sneaking into the top two if LAFC lose to Kansas City. Runners-up in MLS back in 2010, FC Dallas have a chance of achieving a similar feat if they build a run of consistency.

Columbus Crew v Minnesota United (Sunday, 20:30 GMT)

Columbus have faced a huge fight this season both on and off the field and, after successfully winning the battle to keep the Crew in the city, will look to celebrate by clinching a playoff spot by overcoming Minnesota – who are already eliminated in the hunt for a spot in the post-season.

The hosts enter the weekend with a two-point advantage over Montreal but it is extremely tight, with Columbus currently having the slightly superior goal difference of -3 compared to the Canadian side’s -5. It is fairly simple though; if Columbus win, a playoff berth is theirs regardless of what Montreal do.

LA Galaxy v Houston Dynamo (Sunday, 20:30 GMT)

LA Galaxy have fate in their own hands heading into Decision Day, as they currently trail Real Salt Lake by a single point but their playoff rivals have finished their season. A win would send LA into the top-six but a draw would not be good enough.

Standing in their way are a Houston side that have not lost any of their last three matches against LA Galaxy, with that run including a 3-2 victory back in May. However, Galaxy have scored in all of the past six meetings.

New York Red Bulls v Orlando City (Sunday, 20:30 GMT)

The Red Bulls sit just a single point behind Atlanta United in the Eastern Conference and their goal difference is just one less than the current leaders. However, that means that a draw would not be good enough for the hosts.

Instead, the Red Bulls must go for broke against an Orlando side currently sat joint second bottom in the entire MLS. With a goal difference of -30, the worst in the league, it is difficult to bet against anything other than a comfortable Red Bulls win.

Seattle Sounders v San Jose Earthquakes (Sunday, 20:30 GMT)

Fourth in the Western Conference and having already secured a spot in the playoffs, Seattle have a chance of securing a top-two finish and a bye into the semi-finals of the conference playoffs if things go their way this weekend against a San Jose guaranteed to finish rock-bottom of MLS.

While the hosts will be confident of securing a win, they also require LAFC and FC Dallas to slip up and know only a victory will be enough to keep their hopes alive.

Vancouver Whitecaps v Portland Timbers (Sunday, 20:30 GMT)

A 2-2 draw with LAFC last weekend ended the already slim hopes of Vancouver sealing a playoff spot and the Canadian side host a Portland team who have already secured their top-six spot who cannot finish higher than third.

Portland hold the better advantage in recent years, winning three of the past four, but it is a tie that guarantees goals as there has been just two goalless draw in the 18 competitive meetings between the two franchises.

New York City FC v Philadelphia Union (Sunday, 20:30 GMT)

Second vs third  in the Eastern Conference sees to sides go head-to-head who know their fate is already sealed as they cannot finish in the top two and are both guaranteed a spot in the playoffs. However, the standings could change slightly.

Philadelphia could slip to sixth if they lose and both D.C. United and Columbus win, while a loss for New York allows D.C. the opportunity to rise into third. The hosts have won four of the eight meetings between the two sides and will be confident as a result.

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About Josh Challies 24 Articles
Yorkshire-based Seattle Seahawks follower. Iconic Atlanta United manager on FM18. Only here so I don't get fined.