The wildest two hours of the 2017 MLS season took place on Sunday as 11 simultaneous matches made up the league’s Decision Day proceedings. Whether it was improving their playoff seeding or trying to lock up a spot in the postseason altogether, plenty of teams had a lot to play for. Now that things are all wrapped up, it’s time to break down what transpired and where teams stand heading into the 2017 MLS Cup Playoffs.
The six games involving Eastern Conference teams are the focus here. Despite the possibility of there being significant fluidity in the standings between two and five, nobody took advantage in the end. But all the games were entertaining, high-scoring affairs, particularly the ones that appeared to be meaningless. In summary, it was a fun-filled spectacle on ESPN from 4-6 PM with MLS giving the NFL’s Red Zone Channel a run for its money.
MLS Decision Day 2017 Eastern Conference Roundup
Philadelphia Union 6, Orlando City SC 1
One of two Eastern Conference matches involving teams already eliminated from the playoffs, this one got out of hand rather quickly for the visitors. The Union found themselves up 2-0 six minutes in and ended up cruising the rest of the way. C.J. Sapong, Fafa Picault and Ilsinho all notched braces as Philly put up six for just the second ever time in the regular season. The five-goal margin of victory is the largest in team history against an MLS team. For Orlando City, there are more questions than answers heading into another off-season without the playoffs.
Montreal Impact 2, New England Revolution 3
Much like the Union and Purple Lions above, these two clubs had nothing but pride to play for. Twice did the home-standing Impact claw back to tie things up and on both occasions, the Revs found a way to retake the lead. The most dramatic of examples came in the sixth minute of second half stoppage time when Kelyn Rowe blasted a shot from 25 yards out over Montreal keeper Maxime Crepeau. The result caps a strong finish to a lost season as the Revs ended their 2017 campaign unbeaten in their final three games.
Houston Dynamo 3, Chicago Fire 0
The only inter-conference matchup of the day saw the Chicago Fire go on the road and get hammered by a Houston Dynamo team that appears to be peaking at the right time. In Chicago’s case, Sunday’s 3-0 defeat is certainly cause for concern heading into the playoffs. But the Men in Red do get to host a knockout round game in their first trip to the playoffs in five seasons. 2017 Golden Boot winner Nemanja Nikolic will need to show up against the New York Red Bulls more so than he did in Houston.
New York City FC 2, Columbus Crew SC 2
Much of the discussion in the lead-up to this game centered around the future of the Columbus Crew SC franchise in Ohio. But it was all business on the field Sunday against New York City FC. Though they weren’t able to move up from fifth in the East, they got a respectable result and finished the season on a ten-game unbeaten run. David Villa notched a brace for the “Cityzens” but missed out on a hat trick after Columbus keeper Zack Steffen saved a PK in second half stoppage time.
Atlanta United FC 2, Toronto FC 2
Another team that had a chance to move up to as high as second in the Eastern Conference, Atlanta United instead played Supporters’ Shield winners Toronto FC to a 2-2 stalemate. The game saw Miguel Almirón return from injury, entering the game as a second half sub. He later assisted on Josef Martinez’s 19th goal of the season. Sebastian Giovinco scored a magical set piece goal in the 84th minute to secure a share of the spoils. For the second time this year, Mercedes-Benz Stadium broke the MLS single-game attendance record with 71,874 at Sunday’s game.
D.C. United 1, New York Red Bulls 2
MLS said goodbye to historic RFK Stadium on Sunday. Unfortunately for the home team, it came in a losing effort to their hated Atlantic Cup rivals. The New York Red Bulls gave up Paul Arriola’s first goal as a member of D.C. United right before halftime. But they came out guns blazing in the second half, with seven of their nine shots on the game occurring after halftime. More importantly, Michael Murillo and Gonzalo Veron beat DC’s Steve Clark to give RBNY some momentum ahead of their knockout round game in Chicago.
Eastern Conference Playoff Pairings
With the regular season now complete, the playoff pairings for the 2017 MLS Cup Playoffs are now set in stone. Here are what they look like.
- Toronto FC (faces lowest remaining seed in conference semifinals)
- New York City FC (faces highest remaining seed in conference semifinals)
Knockout Round Matches
3. Chicago Fire vs. 6. New York Red Bulls [Toyota Park – Bridgeview, IL – Wednesday, October 25, 8:30 ET, FS1/Unimas]
4. Atlanta United vs. 5. Columbus Crew SC [Mercedes-Benz Stadium – Atlanta, GA – Thursday, October 26, 7 ET, ESPN2/Unimas]