Decision Day: How Eastern Conference played out

While New York Red Bulls waited to see if they could hold serve to win the 2015 MLS Supporters’ Shield, the major questions in the Eastern Conference on Decision Day circled around the battle for second place -- a four-team affair -- and whether the Revs -- in sixth place but not secure as a playoff team -- would squeak into the playoffs or secure a spot comfortably.

Columbus, which entered Decision Day in third place a point behind D.C, rendered runner-up speculation moot by hammering United, 5-0, and the Revs swung for fences at Yankee Stadium by striking early in a 3-1 defeat of New York City FC.
 
Here’s how the contending teams stacked up heading into the final day of play:

1. New York 57 points, clinched conference title.
2. D.C. United 51 pts., clinched home playoff game.
3. Columbus 50 pts., clinched playoff spot.
4. Toronto FC 49 pts., clinched playoff spot.
5. Montreal 48 pts., clinched playoff spot.
6. New England 47 pts., needs tie to clinch playoff spot.
7. Orlando City 44 pts., needs big win and big Revs' loss to get into playoffs.
 
MLS moved back the kickoff of New York’s game against the Fire so it coincide with the start of the game at FC Dallas, which started the day tied with the Red Bulls on points and wins but with an inferior goal difference.

Here’s a rundown of the major moments of four games that kicked off at 5:07 Eastern time:

NGUYEN SCORES EARLY. New England eases the nerves of its fans by bagging a goal in the second minute. Charlie Davies cuts a ball back that Lee Nguyen knocks home. For the time being, the Revs are in fifth, and the Lions’ chances are even dimmer.

MAC ATTACK. Starting in place of the suspended Kei Kamara, Jack McInerney scores for the Crew and lifts it into second place ahead of United. Two minutes after being denied on a stunning save by Bill Hamid, McInerney punches home a feed from Mohammed Saeid in the 25th minute. United looks completely outclassed even though also suspended is Crew playmaker Federico Higuain.



REVS DOUBLE UP. Davies scores just before halftime and now the question for the Revs is where they will finish. Toronto and Montreal are playing each other so the Revs can’t catch both of them, because they lose the wins tiebreaker against Toronto FC, so their only path to fourth place and a knockout game at home instead of the road is a Crew defeat; that would tie the teams at 50 points and 14 wins and New England would win the second tiebreaker, goal difference.

LIONS TAMED. The Union takes a 1-0 lead with a Sebastien Le Toux penalty kick and despite winning five in a row OCSC’s fate is all but sealed.

SEBA TO JOZY. Toronto has taken the lead in Montreal! Sebastian Giovinco gets free on the left and chips a ball that Jozy Altidore heads home.

HALFTIME. The Crew leads only 1-0 but is dominating United. If it holds on to win, it will snag second place. Toronto FC has moved from fifth to third:
 
2. Crew SC 53 pts. 3. Toronto FC 52 pts. 4. D.C. United 51 pts. 5. New England 50 pts. 6. Montreal 49 pts. 7. Orlando City 44 pts.
 
MERAM CONNECTS AT MAPFRE. United starts the second half as slowly as it started the game and Justin Meram rifles home the Crew’s second goal.

DROGBA DAZZLES. Maybe nerves inhibited Montreal in the first half. Not so after the break; Didier Drogba, who else, tucks away Ignacio Piatti’s pass in the 52nd minute to tie the game at 1-1. But because the Revs are winning the Impact is in sixth place.

DROGBA DOES IT AGAIN. Well, not anymore. A minute later, TFC is stunned when Drogba guides home a Marco Donadel cross. Now TFC is sixth and the Impact is third, as it has the same number of points (51) and wins (15) as D.C. but a better goal difference.




ROWE ON A ROLL. The Revs score again, Kelyn Rowe doing the honors, and the Revs can start planning for a road knockout game.

HOUR MARK. With 30 minutes to go, here’s the updated standings:

2. Columbus 53, 3. Montreal 51, 4. United 51, 5. New England 50, 6. TFC 49, 7. OCSC 44.

And that’s the way it finishes up. The Crew tacks on three more goals in a 5-0 rout that eradicates all of the momentum D.C. built up by beating Chicago and NYCFC in its last two games. TFC's historic first playoff appearance is dampened by another loss to close out the season and set up a knockout match against Montreal on Thursday at Stade Saputo.

MLS Results, Week 34:
SUNDAY, OCTOBER 25
Columbus 5 D.C. United 0.
CLB: Jack McInerney (Mohammed Saeid) 25
CLB:  Justin Meram (Michael Parkhurst) 54
CLB:  Ethan Finlay (Jack McInerney, Wil Trapp) 66
CLB: Ethan Finlay (Tony Tchani) 67
CLB: Aaron Schoenfeld (Waylon Francis) 80
Att.: 19,121.

Montreal 2 Toronto FC 1.
TFC: Jozy Altidore (Sebastian Giovinco) 45
MTL: Didier Drogba (Ignacio Piatti) 54
MTL: Didier Drogba (Marco Donadel, Ignacio Piatti) 55
Att.: 20,801.
                       
New York City 1 New England 3.
NE: Lee Nguyen (Charlie Davies) 2
NE: Charlie Davies (Jose Goncalves) 38
NE: Kelyn Rowe (Chris Tierney) 55’
NYC: David Villa pen. 91+
Att.: 34,150.

Philadelphia 1 Orlando 0.

PHI: Sebastien Le Toux pen. 41
Red Card:
ORL: Cristian  Higuita 87.
Att.: 17,309.

Chicago 1 NY Red Bulls 2.

NY: Bradley Wright-Phillips (Sal Zizzo, Sacha Kljestan) 8
NY: Sacha Kljestan pen. 35
CHI: Gilberto (Patrick Nyarko, Patrick Doody) 78
Att.: 19,850.

Final MLS Standings:
EASTERN CONFERENCE

PTS (GP) TEAM W-L-T GF/GA

60 (34) *NY Red Bulls 18-10-6 62/43
53 (34) *Crew SC 15-11-8 58/53
51 (34) *Montreal 15-13-6 48/44
51 (34) *D.C. United 15-13-6 43/45
50 (34) *New England 14-12-8 48/47
49 (34) *Toronto FC 15-15-4 58/58
--------------------------------------
44 (34) Orlando City 12-14-8 46/56
37 (34) New York City 10-17-7 49/58
37 (34) Philadelphia 10-17-7 42/55
30 (34) Chicago 8-20-6 43/58
*Clinched playoff berth.
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