It’s almost here! Playoff time, that is, so let’s take a look.
1) Reversal of Fortunes
The last time New York hosted the Columbus the Crew ended the Red Bulls season by wrapping up an aggregate goals victory to advance to the MLS Cup Championship match, where the Crew fell to Portland.
When the sides got together in Harrison on Sunday, almost 11 months later, things had changed dramatically, and not in a positive sense for the Ohioans. Last November 29, the Gregg Berhalter led Crew knocked off the Supporters Shield-winning Red Bulls after ending the regular season seven points back of New York in second place.
This season both teams began poorly but while Columbus fell apart, highlighted by the Kai Kamara fiasco, Jesse Marsch rallied his troops to the point where Sunday’s 3-2 win all clinched first place in the East.
The Red Bulls won’t win the Supporters Shield this season, that will come down to FC Dallas and Colorado, but after coming back from a 1-6 to win the East and making a run at a club first MLS Cup should satisfy the MLS originals.
2) Dallas win! And Lose.
FC Dallas sits atop the MLS standings today following Sunday’s 2-1 home win over Seattle and while the win is nice and boosts the club’s Supporters Shield hopes, the long-term loss of playmaking catalyst Mauro Diaz puts a real dent in FCD’s MLS Cup hopes.
Diaz reportedly injured his achilles tendon and will miss the rest of this season plus a significant portion of 2017. Dallas is also sweating out a Kellyn Acosta injury, the midfielder left with a hip injury on Sunday and is second on the club with five assists on the year, Diaz is first with 13.
3) We’re In!
That was the cry from DC United and Montreal fans Sunday evening after DC toppled NYCFC 3-1 and Montreal finished level with Canadian rivals Toronto FC. Those results assured the team’s places in the MLS title chase and also hurt their opponents. NYCFC fell from a first-place tie with NYRB and will need a result next week at Yankee Stadium versus Columbus to secure a coveted top-two finish in the East while Sunday’s results leave Toronto with no hope of winning the East and rooting for an NYCFC loss to Columbus next Sunday if they are to claim a top two position.
3A) Big Losers
With a chance to improve their playoff hopes New England Revolution instead flopped in Chicago, losing to the league-worst Chicago Fire by a 2-1 score. The Revs came into this match having won four out of its last five games but could not keep it going against the Fire.
Philadelphia also lost to a non contender, and at home no less, but a three-point cushion over the Union plus superior tie breakers mean that despite the loss to Orlando the Union is still odds-on to advance to the MLS second season.
4) Wide Open in the Wild West!
While the six playoff qualifiers are more or less set in the East, things are considerably more fluid in the Western Conference heading into next Sunday’s Decision Day with three playoff spots still up for grabs.
The top two spots are settled, although not the order, with FC Dallas and Colorado assured of KO Round byes. The Los Angeles Galaxy has secured one of the four KO Round positions with three to fight for.
Defending Champions Portland kept its hopes alive with Sunday’s 1-0 win over Colorado while Real Salt Lake and Sporting KC stayed in the game after they tied 0-0 in Utah. Seattle sits fifth after that 1-0 loss in Dallas, leaving a quartet of clubs bunched from fourth place through sixth with two points between RSL in fourth and Portland in seventh.
5) Drogba Refuses to Play- Montreal Says Cool
Below is the statement from Montreal Impact owner Joey Saputo issued today in response to his star player’s refusal to play when he learned that he was not in the team’s starting 11 for Sunday’s match versus Toronto.
“We met with Didier. The situation has been resolved to the club’s satisfaction. Didier has accepted to assume the role that the head coach sees fit while contributing to the success of this club moving forward. When he came to Montreal, Didier said he came here to win, and he still has the same objective.”
Following Sunday’s playoff-clinching 2-2 draw with TFC Montreal coach Mauro Biello frankly explained why Drogba was not in the 18. “I just want to put things clear,” Biello said. “Didier wasn’t selected to start the game, and I spoke with him. He didn’t accept the fact to come off the bench, and in the end, he didn’t want to be in the 18.”
Biello’s remarks cleared up earlier reports that the 38-year-old striker was left out over injury concerns. “Yes there’s a little bit of tightness in his back, but he was capable of playing, and he said he didn’t accept the fact that he was coming off the bench. The club is going to take care of the situation.”
Drogba was not suspended but he was fined. It remains to be seen if Biello will be satisfied with how “the club took care of the situation” but odds on a Drogba return to Montreal in 2017 just got a little bit longer.