One of the biggest days of the MLS season has now dawned upon us and besides opening day will most likely be one of the most watched weekends in MLS this season. All games will start at 4 p.m EST and will simultaneously take place and end at the same time. With 12 matches on slate and playoff dreams on the line, it can be hard to sort out the most meaningful games apart from the entertaining ones. Below, we break down what matches you should tune into based on their playoff implications.
Portland Timbers vs. San Jose Earthquakes
The Portland Timbers will host the San Jose Earthquakes which will basically be an early playoff match for both sides. Portland currently sits in the 6th seed in the Western Conference but only remain one point above the 7th seeded FC Dallas and two points above the 8th seeded San Jose Earthquakes. Portland could bottle up and look to play for a defensive draw as that would ensure a playoff berth, but possibly send them down to the 7th seed should Dallas win their final game. San Jose on the other hand will approach this as a “must score-must win game” and will most likely push numbers forward as the match progresses. Portland have become very beatable at home as they have gone 2-2-2 in their prior six home games.
Portland Win: Portland earns 6th seed, San Jose is out
Draw: Portland earns playoff berth, San Jose is out
San Jose Win: San Jose earns playoff berth, Portland’s fate depends on Dallas result
FC Dallas vs. Sporting KC
After a disappointing 2019 regular season, this will be the first time since the franchise was renamed “Sporting Kansas City” in 2011 that they will fail to make the post season. Nonetheless, they will still play a very meaningful game on the final match-day of the regular season in an attempt to play spoiler at FC Dallas. An FC Dallas win would ensure that the club books their spot in the postseason with the potential to move into the 6th seed if Portland loses. An SKC upset would prove very damaging to Dallas as that would likely ensure Dallas slips out of the top seven. In the month of September Dallas has failed to win a numerous of important matches. Their only victory of the month came against a home victory against a lowly FC Cincinnati squad. Since that match, Dallas has failed to pick up three points going 0-2-2 thus leaving their playoff fate to the final date. SKC is in a similar realm to Dallas as they have picked up only a single win in their prior seven matches including an embarrassing 7-2 defeat on the road to the Galaxy. With only spoiler to play for SKC, I give the edge to Dallas although nearly any result is uncertain in the Western Conference mid-table.
Dallas Win: Playoff berth, possibility of 6th seed
Draw: Playoff berth in the hands of Portland vs. SJ
SKC Win: Dallas misses playoff with SJ or Colorado win
LAFC vs. Colorado
A tale of two teams who have certainly had two completely opposite seasons thus far. The home side, LAFC has stole all of the MLS headlines this season and with a win will establish themselves as the best regular season team in MLS history. On the other hand, the Colorado Rapids were considered a long shot to make the post season after starting the season out 0-2-9 and only picking up their first win on May 19th, eleven weeks into the MLS season. Since that date the Rapids have only registered six losses and now find themselves in the 9th seed with a chance to sneak into the playoffs depending on other match results. Now, LAFC will not take this match lightly with a chance to break the single season point record set by the Red Bulls last year. With LA being so dominate at home it would certainly be a long-shot for Colorado to pull off the upset, but this squad has pulled off recent impressive wins against the Red Bulls, Sounders and Galaxy in the past month.
LAFC win: LAFC breaks point record, Colorado exits playoff chase
Draw: LAFC doesn’t break record, Colorado exits playoff chase
Colorado Win: Colorado possibly gets the 7th seed with a Dallas and San Jose loss
Now there is a lot of shake up potential in both conferences heading into the final day. In the Eastern Conference seeds 2-3 are eligible to be changed while positions 4-6 can all be swapped depending on the match results on Sunday. In the Western Conference seeds 2-5 all the clubs have the potential to switch positions. Every match on slate has some sort of playoff implication (except for poor Orlando vs. Chicago) so the stage is set for another wild Decision Day 2019 style.