Three Big Storylines:
- Eleven of the twelve MLS Cup playoff spots are locked in heading to decision day. The Eastern Conference is set with Toronto FC securing the Supporters’ Shield and a bye but New York City FC, the Chicago Fire, Atlanta United FC and Columbus Crew SC all have a shot at the 2 seed and the second bye. Toronto FC need just one point to break the all time MLS points record, TFC are in Atlanta to play the United. Interestingly enough, this match will feature the highest combined goal differential coming into the game in the history of MLS as Toronto sports a +37 and Atlanta enters the game at +30.
- The Western Conference sees three teams; San Jose Earthquakes (43 points), FC Dallas (43) and Real Salt Lake (42); vying for the last playoff spot. San Jose owns the tiebreaker over FC Dallas on total wins (12-10). All three teams are at home as San Jose hosts Minnesota United, FC Dallas hosts the LA Galaxy and Real Salt Lake hosts Sporting Kansas City. First place in the Western Conference will go to the winner of the Portland Timbers vs Vancouver Whitecaps in Portland with the Whitecaps taking the #1 seed with a draw.
- The Golden Boot race sees Nemanja Nikolic on 24 goals with a three goal lead over Diego Valeri. Notable records that will fall on Sunday are the single game stand alone attendance record and the single season attendance record. Atlanta United will exceed their own record of 70,245 fans on Sunday and they currently have 747,530 tickets sold this year. They will surpass the Sounders 752,199 attendance number from 2015. Nicolas Lodeiro is currently third all time in fouls suffered in a season with 104, the Colorado Rapids would have to be particularly ruthless to foul Lodeiro nine times to break the record, although New York City FC did just that in their June 17th 2-1 win over Seattle.
- Today sees the last MLS game being played in one of US Soccer’s most historic venues. D.C. United will play their last home game in RFK Stadium, next season they will embark on a lengthy road trip to start the year before opening their own soccer specific stadium in downtown D.C. RFK might be racoon infested now and the bouncing grandstands may have transitioned from a feature to a bug, but RFK has been a historic home for US Soccer. It has hosted both Men’s and Women’s World Cup matches, the most successful MLS franchise in the league's early years in D.C. United and more USMNT team home games than any other stadium and the second most USWNT home games. In an article straight out of The Onion as part of the stadium’s closing day festivities Freddy Adu will join other former D.C. United players in an alumni game before the regular season finale. Adu debuted for United as a 14 year old to much fanfare, but is now 28 years old and currently without a team.
From a Sounders Point of View:
If the Sounders win they will finish second in the Western Conference regardless of the results in all the other games. Beat the Colorado Rapids at home, secure a bye.
The Sounders would like to host MLS Cup should they progress that far. The only playoff team in the Eastern Conference they can finish ahead of is the New York Red Bulls. Cheer for a healthy Red Bulls leaving today’s game at D.C. United.
Of the three Western Conference teams vying for the last playoff spot, your author wants nothing to do with Real Salt Lake. There are two scenarios where they make the playoffs so let’s hope this does not happen:
Win vs Sporting Kansas City AND San Jose loss or tie to Minnesota AND FC Dallas loss or tie to the Galaxy.
Real Salt Lake tie against SKC AND San Jose loss AND FC Dallas loss.
National TV Listings:
MLS Decision Day Whiparound Coverage
Date/Time: Sunday, 1 PM
Streaming: Watch ESPN
MLS.com is going to host a pregame show at 1 PM, then throw to ESPN for whiparound coverage of all 11 simultaneous kickoffs.
This is your Sounder at Heart MLS Regular Season Final games open gamethread, it’s been a pleasure to be here all year, see you in the playoffs! Watch with us.