MLS: Logjam in playoff races

With just three weeks left in the MLS regular season, only two teams -- conference leaders New England and Seattle -- have clinched playoff berths.

The next three teams in both conferences are in good shape to advance to the playoffs, but after that it's a logjam.

In the Eastern Conference, six teams separated by five points are fighting for three playoff berths. In the Western Conference, it is almost as close -- five teams are separated by five points in the battle for three playoff berths.

Three teams were eliminated from playoff contention on Saturday: Chicago and Toronto FC in the Eastern Conference and Austin FC in the Western Conference. FC Cincinnati, which was already eliminated from the playoffs, remained on course to have the worst record in MLS for the third straight season when it lost to Orlando City at home, 1-0.

Eastern Conference. On Saturday, Atlanta United climbed from eighth to fifth place in the Eastern Conference when it beat Toronto FC, 2-0. Brazilian winger Luiz Araújo scored his second goal of the season in first-half stoppage time and Marcelino Moreno added his eighth goal of the season in second-half stoppage time to clinch the win that moved the Five Stripes ahead of D.C. United and CF Montreal, which both tied.

D.C. United played to a 0-0 tie with Nashville SC, while Montreal needed a goal from Sunusi Ibrahim in the fifth minute of stoppage time to tie visiting Philadelphia, 2-2.

Defending champion Columbus kept its playoff hopes alive when it beat floundering Inter Miami, 4-0. Gyasi Zardes led the Crew with a pair of goals.

On Sunday, the New York Red Bulls host New York City FC in the Hudson River Derby. The Red Bulls can pull even with eighth-place NYCFC with a win. A month ago, they trailed the Cityzens by 12 points but have since gone on a six-game unbeaten run with four wins and two ties.

Eastern Conference:
1. x-New England (20-4-6) 66 pts.
2. Nashville SC (11-3-15) 48 pts.
3. Philadelphia Union (12-7-10) 46 pts.
4. Orlando City (12-8-9) 45 pts.
5. Atlanta United (11-9-9) 42 pts.
6. D.C. United (12-12-5) 41 pts.
7. CF Montreal (11-10-8) 41 pts.
8. New York City FC (11-10-7) 40 pts.
9. NY Red Bulls (10-11-7) 37 pts.
10. Columbus (10-12-7), 37 pts.
11. Inter Miami (9-15-5), 32 pts.
12. e-Chicago (7-16-7), 28 pts.
13. e-Toronto  (6-16-7), 25 pts.
14. e-FC Cincinnati (4-17-8), 20 pts.

Western Conference. Colombian Cristian Arango has proven to be one of the top mid-summer pickups, scoring his seventh and eighth goals in 12 games and adding an assist for LAFC, which beat San Jose, 3-1, to drop the Earthquakes eight points below the playoff zone.

LAFC has been without 2019 MLS MVP Carlos Vela, who is injured, since August, and Diego Rossi, the 2020 Golden Boot winner, is on loan at Turkey's Fenerbahce.

Despite the win, LAFC remained in eighth place four points behind seventh-place Minnesota United when the three teams ahead of it -- Real Salt Lake, the LA Galaxy and Loons -- all won on Saturday.

RSL clinched the Rocky Mountain Cup for the 12th time in 17 seasons with a 3-1 win over Colorado that featured a goal by Damir Kreilach for the fifth straight game.

LA Galaxy beat Portland, 2-1, on Sacha Kljestan's penalty kick in stoppage time after Efrain Alvarez drew a foul in the Timbers' penalty area. Tyler Miller tied a club record with his 11th shutout on the year for Minnesota United in its 1-0 win at expansion Austin FC.

Vancouver can move within one point of Minnesota United with a win over Sporting KC on Sunday.

Eastern Conference:
1. x-Seattle (17-6-6) 57 pts.
2. Sporting KC (15-6-7) 52 pts.
3. Colorado (14-6-9) 51 pts.
4. Portland (14-11-4) 46 pts.
5. Real Salt Lake (12-11-6) 42 pts.
6. LA Galaxy (12-11-6) 42 pts.
7. Minnesota United (11-10-8) 41 pts.
8. LAFC (10-12-7) 37 pts.
9. Vancouver (9-9-10) 37 pts.
10. San Jose (8-12-9) 33 pts.
11. Houston (6-12-12) 30 pts.
12. FC Dallas (6-13-10) 28 pts.
13. e-Austin FC (7-18-4) 25 pts.

3 comments about "MLS: Logjam in playoff races".
  1. Peter Bechtold, October 17, 2021 at 7:32 p.m.

    The three Texas teams occupy the last three spots; is it the water, or the heat/humidity or their governor ?

  2. Mark Zylker replied, October 17, 2021 at 8:48 p.m.

    What a knucklehead comment.  Stick to sports

  3. Santiago 1314 replied, October 18, 2021 at 6:59 a.m.

    They need to Form a "League of Their Own"... Governor.???...I agree, He needs to Close the Border... Borders, Language, Culture... #1 Things, if you going to have a Country.!!!

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