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Sounders clinch 11th straight postseason

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Despite dropping to fourth in the West, the Sounders can’t finish worse than seventh.

MLS: New York Red Bulls at Seattle Sounders FC Joe Nicholson-USA TODAY Sports

For much of the night, results around MLS didn’t seem to be going the Seattle Sounders’ way. Minnesota United scored a come-from-behind win over Sporting KC — with Seattle native Hassani Dotson providing the game-winner — to jump the Sounders in the standings. Then the LA Galaxy scored a road-win over Real Salt Lake to drop the Sounders to fourth in the table. Meanwhile, both the Portland Timbers and San Jose Earthquakes had leads at home, meaning the Sounders’ chances of at least clinching a playoff spot were looking slim.

But then their fortunes changed. The Timbers had to settle for a tie after leading 2-0 in the 86th minute at home. Just moments later, the Earthquakes surrendered their own equalizer before giving up another to fall 2-1 to the Philadelphia Union.

Although the Sounders will go into the weekend in fourth place, they have at least secured their 11th straight postseason thanks to the results in Portland and San Jose. That sets a new MLS record for longest postseason streak (the Sounders were previously tied with the 1996-2005 LA Galaxy).

The Sounders can still finish as high as second in the Western Conference, but will now need a bit of help. The Galaxy have to be considered the favorites for that spot as they trail Minnesota by just one point and have two very winnable games (vs. Vancouver and at Houston). Minnesota, who has a two-point lead on the Sounders, have a home game against LAFC and close out the season at Seattle.

The other bit of bad news is that the Sounders will likely finish no better than fourth in the Supporters’ Shield standings. LAFC and New York City FC were already out of reach before Wednesday’s games, but now the Union have a five-point lead on the Sounders. Atlanta United, however, remains within reach at 54 points. Their last two games are at Montreal and at home against New England.