The MLS Postseason Comes into Focus after Decision Day

November 8, 2021

Major League Soccer’s Decision Day solidified the playoffs and decided the Golden Boot race, and it also marked the end of a legendary career for the league’s most prolific scorer.

Chris Wondolowski announced his retirement Sunday, shortly after his San Jose Earthquakes wrapped up the regular season with a 1-1 draw with FC Dallas. Neither team was playoff bound.

Wondolowski finishes his 17-year MLS career with 171 regular-season goals, including one in his final match.

“It’s been an amazing ride,” Wondolowski said as he held back tears while addressing the fans in San Jose. “I can’t thank you guys enough.”

Going into Decision Day, there were three playoff berths in each conference that were up for grabs.

The New England Revolution had clinched both the Supporters’ Shield and the top seed in the Eastern Conference with a league-record 73 points this season. But the Revs dropped their final regular-season game 1-0 at home to Inter Miami, which already had been eliminated from the postseason. Blaise Matuidi scored the lone goal in the 58th minute.

The Revolution gets a first-round bye as the top seed and will face the winner of the first-round playoff game between fourth-seeded NYCFC and fifth-seeded Atlanta.

“That’s the goal, certainly,” Revs coach Bruce Arena said about winning the MLS Cup. “It’s going to be challenging, like it is every year for every team. And hopefully, we’ll have our team ready.”

The playoffs start Nov. 20 following an international break, but the schedule had not been released as of late Sunday night.

NYCFC, unbeaten in its final five matches, earned its playoff berth with a 1-1 draw against Philadelphia on Sunday. Philadelphia clinched the second seed and will play the seventh-seeded Red Bulls in the opening round.

NYCFC’s Taty Castellanos also won the league’s Golden Boot award, finishing the regular season with 19 goals, including one on Sunday.

Atlanta defeated Cincinnati 2-1 to claim the fifth seed and return to the playoffs after missing out last season. Josef Martinez scored the game winner — a volley at a tough angle — in the 79th minute.

“It feels very good. Not just this game. I think this game is a testament of probably what was the season for the team. The first half of the season was not great, not a lot of points, then second half was very good. Credit to the players again,” Atlanta coach Gonzalo Pineda said.

Nashville secured a third-place finish with a 1-1 draw against the Red Bulls. Nashville will host No. 6 Orlando City in the opening round of the playoffs. Orlando shutout Montreal 2-0.

D.C. United defeated Toronto 3-1, but missed out on a playoff spot because of the draw between Nashville and the Red Bulls. United’s Ola Kamara scored a pair of goals to pull even at 19 for the season with Castellanos, who won the tiebreaker for the Golden Boot with eight assists.

The defending champions Columbus Crew also were eliminated from playoff contention. They beat the Chicago Fire 2-0, but needed help from other results to get in.

In the Western Conference, the Colorado Rapids hopped to the top of the table with a 5-2 victory at home over LAFC, which was eliminated.

After an opening-round bye, the Rapids will play the winner of the first-round match between the fourth-seeded Portland Timbers and the fifth-seeded Minnesota United.

The Timbers closed out the regular season with a 3-0 victory at home over expansion Austin FC, while the Loons played to a 3-3 draw with the LA Galaxy, which was eliminated.

The Sounders earned the second seed with a 1-1 draw with Vancouver. Seattle will play seventh-seed Real Salt Lake, which beat third-seeded Sporting Kansas City 1-0 in a must-win game. Sporting will face the sixth-seeded Whitecaps.



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