As the MLS season winds down, teams are starting to jockey for position in the standings, and each game gets more and more crucial. In the midweek matches, the Portland Timbers playoff hopes once again took another hit. The Timbers, who were home again, fell to the New York Red Bulls 2-0 after goals from Kyle Duncan and Danny Royer. The Timbers were once again shut out at home, this time in a 0-0 draw against Minnesota United. The Timbers have failed to score a goal at home for three straight matches and the results have been detrimental to the Timbers playoff hopes. Portland now sits outside a playoff spot with three matches remaining. The New York Red Bulls followed up their victory over Portland with a crucial 2-0 victory over the Philadelphia Union. The Red Bulls clinched a playoff birth for the 10th straight season, and with their recent run of form, looking to push for a home playoff match.
Along with the Red Bulls, Atlanta United had the best week of anyone in the league after two big wins last week. First, they knocked off FC Cincinnati, 2-0 midweek and followed that up with a 3-1 victory over the visiting San Jose Quakes. Josef Martinez continued his MLS record, scoring twice against FC Cincinnati and stretching his goal-scoring streak to 15 straight matches. That streak was snapped against San Jose, but that wasn’t the biggest news. Martinez suffered a knee injury in the 79th minute, which could make things for the Five Stripes incredibly difficult. After Martinez was taken off on a stretcher, Atlanta United scored twice in injury time to secure the three points. Atlanta United now sits just four points behind New York City FC for the top spot in the Eastern Conference with three games remaining.
The playoff picture couldn’t look more different in each conference. In the East, the playoffs picture is all but wrapped up, with six of the seven playoff spots locked up. There are five teams battling for the final spot in the East. The New England Revolution are currently in the driver’s seat, as they have a match in hand on the other four clubs. Out west, only Los Angeles FC has secured a playoff spot. The final six spots are open, and there are 10 clubs vying for a playoff spot. Right now just seven points separate the final playoff spot and the 11th team in the conference. With a very heavy midweek slate, expect the Western Conference playoff race to heat up.
Aside from MLS play, there were two cup finals that were played. In Canada, the first leg of the Canadian Championship saw Ignacio Piatti get the Montreal Impact off to a good start, scoring in the 17th minute and giving the Impact a 1-0 aggregate lead in the Canadian Championship Final. The stunning strike from Piatti got the Stade Saputo crowd rocking early. Montreal will look to keep up that momentum as it heads to Toronto for the second leg. The inaugural Leagues Cup, between Liga MX and MLS clubs, saw a champion crowned. Cruz Azul claimed the first Leagues Cup championship.
Below is the schedule for MLS clubs in action this week.
New York City FC vs. Atlanta United – 7 p.m.
Toronto FC vs. Montreal Impact – 7:30 p.m. (Canadian Championship)(2nd Leg)
Minnesota United vs. Sporting Kansas City – 8 p.m.
Real Salt Lake vs. LA Galaxy – 9:30 p.m.
LAFC vs. Houston Dynamo – 10:30 p.m.
Portland Timbers vs. New England Revolution – 10:30 p.m.
San Jose Quakes vs. Philadelphia Union – 11 p.m.
Chicago Fire vs. Toronto FC – 5 p.m.
FC Cincinnati vs. Orlando City SC – 5 p.m.
Columbus Crew SC vs. Philadelphia Union – 5 p.m.
Montreal Impact vs. Atlanta United – 5 p.m.
New England Revolution vs. NYCFC – 5 p.m.
New York Red Bulls vs. D.C. United – 5 p.m. (FS1)
Colorado Rapids vs. FC Dallas – 7:30 p.m.
LA Galaxy vs. Vancouver Whitecaps – 7:30 p.m.
Minnesota United vs. Los Angeles FC – 7:30 p.m. (FS1)
Real Salt Lake vs. Houston Dynamo – 7:30 p.m.
San Jose Quakes vs. Seattle Sounders – 7:30 p.m.
Sporting Kansas City vs. Portland Timbers – 7:30 p.m.
As always, stay tuned to Cincinnati Soccer Talk for all things FC Cincinnati as the club looks to wrap up their inaugural MLS home slate with a victory over Orlando City SC on Sunday afternoon at Nippert Stadium.