The 2017 MLS regular season began with 22 teams entertaining hopes of the postseason. With Decision Day upon us, that number is now down to 14 with 11 of 12 playoff spots wrapped up. With the exception of the San Jose Earthquakes, FC Dallas and Real Salt Lake, Sunday’s slate of games involving teams already in the playoffs are all about trying to improve their seeding.
Though Toronto FC has clinched the Supporters’ Shield and the New York Red Bulls are locked into sixth, the other four Eastern Conference playoff teams have much to play for. All of them could conceivably finish second and get the last remaining bye, thus escaping the knockout round. New York City FC controls their destiny in that regard, though they face a Columbus Crew SC team ready to rally around their beleaguered fanbase who’ve undergone a ton of adversity this week.
Out west, three teams still have an opportunity to finish atop the conference. All the Vancouver Whitecaps need is a draw at the Portland Timbers to finish atop the Western Conference regular season standings for the first time in team history. But if Portland holds serve at home, they leapfrog the ‘Caps. Also in contention are the Seattle Sounders, who should beat the Colorado Rapids at CenturyLink Field but need help to finish tops in the conference.
From the standpoint of locking up that sixth spot in the West, the Quakes are in the drivers’ seat. They host a Minnesota United team who, though improved, still sport a -22 goal differential. Ironically enough, so does San Jose. But all they need to do is win at Avaya Stadium and they’re in. If they somehow slip up, Dallas can sneak in with a win/draw against the LA Galaxy. RSL, meanwhile, must win and hope for chaos.
Barring an epic collapse, the overall title appears to be in John’s grasp. He won his 13th weekly title last week, finishing 7-5 with his picks. Only Daniel can catch him but he’d need to go virtually perfect and hope John goes 0-11 on Decision Day to overtake him. Matt still has an opportunity to move past Daniel for second place, as he only trails by two. All in all, it’s been a fun season that, despite TFC’s dominance, has had its share of “MLS gonna MLS” surprises!
Last Word SC MLS Pick ‘Em: Week 33
|EXPERT||ATL v. TOR||DC v. RBNY||MTL v. NE||NYC v. CLB||PHI v. ORL||DAL v. LA||RSL v. SKC||POR v. VAN||SJ v. MIN||SEA v. COL||HOU v. CHI||RECORD||PCT|
|John Bava (13)
|Daniel Sperry (7)
|Matt Pollard (8)
|Robert Kerr (7)