MLS Decision Day: Winners & Losers

A dramatic Decision Day produced a winner in MLS's Supporters' Shield race and the final two playoff teams, one of whom wasn't even playing.

For all the winners and losers ...

Supporters' Shield.
Winner: The New York Red Bulls won their third Supporters' Shield in six years when they beat Orlando City, 1-0, on the final day of the season. The Red Bulls trailed Atlanta United by four points when they beat the Five Stripes, 2-0, on Sept. 30 and finished the season with five straight wins.

Unlike rival NYCFC, which struggled after Patrick Vieira left for French club Nice, the Red Bulls didn't miss a beat following Jesse Marsch's departure for the RB Leipzig. They lost the first game after Chris Armas took over as head coach -- to NYCFC -- but they went 12-2-3 after that to finish with MLS records for most points in a season (71) and wins (22).

Loser: Atlanta United  would have won the Supporters' Shield with a win at Toronto FC but it never recovered after falling behind, 2-0, in the first 21 minutes and lost, 4-1. The lone goal was scored by Josef Martinez, who ended a four-game drought with his 31st goal of the season, adding to his single-season MLS record.



Playoff berths.
Winners: Columbus and Real Salt Lake clinched the final two playoff berths. The Crew began the day knowing it would open the door for Montreal if it didn't beat Minnesota United, but the outcome of its game at Mapfre Stadium, delayed because of lightning, became moot when the Impact lost at New England, 1-0. With MLS going with 23 teams in 2018, RSL was the odd team out on Decision Day, needing help from Houston to stay alive.

Loser: RSL's playoff chances depended on the LA Galaxy failing to beat the Dynamo. Those chances looked slim after a pair of Ola Kamara goals gave the Galaxy a 2-0 lead on the half-hour mark, but the Galaxy's defensive frailties came back to haunt it in the second half when it gave up three goals in 22 minutes and lost, 3-2. For the second year in a row, the Galaxy failed to make the playoffs, beginning what should be a turbulent offseason in Carson.

Knockout Round byes.
Winners: Atlanta United and the Red Bulls had clinched the top two spots in the Eastern Conference weeks earlier, but the two top spots and all-important byes in the Knockout Round went down to the final day in the Western Conference, where four teams remained in contention.

Sporting Kansas City clinched first place when it beat LAFC, 2-1, in a winner-take-all match that saw it finish with 10 players after Seth Sinovic was sent off for a handball on the line, a decision made on Video Review. Seattle climbed two spots, leapfrogging LAFC and FC Dallas, to claim second place when it rallied to beat San Jose, 2-1, on a pair of goals by Peruvian Raul Ruidiaz. On June 30, the Sounders were 11 points below the red line, but they ended up making the playoffs with 10 points to spare in one of the hottest runs in MLS history (14 wins in their last 16 games).



Loser: FC Dallas entered the final two games in first place in the Western Conference. A 3-0 loss to Sporting KC dropped it into third, but it would have moved up to second place with a win at Colorado, regardless of the outcome of the Sporting KC-LAFC game. The Rapids rallied from a goal down, though, thanks to goals by 17-year-old Cole Bassett and Tommy Smith that gave them a 2-1 win and dropped FC Dallas to fourth place. LAFC would have become the first expansion team to win its conference with a win at Sporting KC but couldn't take advantage of playing the last 28 minutes with an extra man.

Knockout Round home games.
Winners: With a 1-5-3 record over its last nine games, NYCFC was in danger of dropping out of the top four in the Eastern Conference, but it took care of business quickly against Philadelphia, jumping out to a 2-0 lead after 10 minutes and holding on for a 3-1 win at Yankee Stadium. A week after clinching a playoff berth following a seven-game homestand during which it went 6-0-1, D.C. United could only tie Chicago, 0-0, on the road, but it proved to be enough to clinch a home game on Thursday against the Crew at new Audi Field, where it is 12-2-1.

Loser:
Philadelphia moved into the October FIFA break with a playoff berth in its back pocket, and all the Union needed to do to clinch its first home playoff game since 2011 was win one of its final two games, but it could not get the job done. Its loss Sunday on Yankee Stadium was reminiscent of its defeat to the Houston Dynamo in the U.S. Open Cup final when it got off to a terrible start and lost, 3-0. With the Crew finally prevailing over Minnesota United, 3-2, on Gyasi Zardes' third goal of the game, the Union, which began Sunday with its on third place, dropped to sixth and will have to return to Yankee Stadium on Wednesday in the Knockout Round opener.

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