Three big storylines
- Look at that MLS table, the symmetry is gorgeous. MLS does some weird things with their schedule throughout the season, I’m looking at you FIFA international breaks and stadium construction inspired extended road trips to start the season followed by incredibly home game heavy summers. But with two weekends to go every team has played 32 games. And all but two teams have 16 home matches and 16 away matches in the books. Only New York City FC has completed their home slate and will finish with two road games. The Montreal Impact are the beneficiaries with two home games. Everyone else has one home and one away to close out the regular season. To take advantage of the symmetry, MLS has scheduled every game for Sunday this weekend. The Eastern Conference goes first with six concurrent kickoffs at 2 PM while the Western Conference sees their six kickoffs at 4:30 PM.
- In the Western Conference LAFC have already secured the number one seed and the Supporters’ Shield. They have 68 points with two matches to go and are in striking range of the all time MLS points record of 71 set way back in 2018 by the New York Red Bulls. LAFC are at Minnesota on Sunday and host Colorado to close out the season next Sunday. Minnesota United, the LA Galaxy and the Seattle Sounders have clinched a playoff berth and currently sit in the 2-4 spots that guarantee a home playoff game coming into the weekend. Real Salt Lake, the Portland Timbers and FC Dallas currently occupy the 5-7 playoff spots but are not guaranteed a berth yet as the San Jose Earthquakes and incredibly the Colorado Rapids are still in the mix. The Houston Dynamo, Sporting Kansas City and Vancouver Whitecaps can finalize their early fall vacation plans as they will not be playing after next weekend.
- The Eastern Conference see NYCFC leading and they can clinch the number one seed and home field throughout the playoffs with a single point in their last two road games at the New England Revolution this weekend or at the Philadelphia Union next Sunday. With the number one seed comes a berth in next season’s Concacaf Champions League as well. Recent reports suggest that NYCFC might not benefit as much from the great regular season as there are concerns about Yankee Stadium’s availability over the next month. The Philadelphia Union, United's both Atlanta and D.C., New York Red Bulls and Toronto FC have clinched playoff berths. The New England Revolution lead a pack that includes the Chicago Fire, Montreal Impact and Orlando City SC with chances at the last playoff berth. Caleb Porter’s Columbus Crew and expansion side FC Cincinnati have been eliminated from the playoffs. FC Cincinnati have only 22 points on the season but avoided the worst expansion season in history as Chivas USA had only 18 in their inaugural season. The good news for FC Cincinnati fans is that Chivas quickly shrugged off their dismal start, made a coaching change firing Thomas Rongen and replacing him with Bob Bradley, and promptly made the playoffs the next four seasons under Bradley and then Preki after Bradley left to take the USMNT job.
From a Sounders point of view
Conference positioning is key as the playoff format has changed, so the higher you finish the more home games you can host. And with the playoffs transitioning to a one game format from the traditional home and home two legged series, home field advantage is very desirable.
With that being said, we are LAFC fans this weekend. Beat Minnesota, go get that points record guys!
The LA Galaxy are hosting our northern neighbors. Maybe Fredy Montero can help out his old team and lead the Vancouver Whitecaps to an unlikely result in Carson?
We are also cheering for the Houston Dynamo to get even a point in Utah as they are playing Real Salt Lake who are only three points behind the Sounders coming into the weekend.
Most importantly, the Sounders can put themselves into good position with a win at the San Jose Earthquakes.
National TV listings
New York Red Bulls v D.C. United
Date/Time: Sunday, 2:00 PM PT
TV: Fox Sports 1
Streaming: Fox Sports Go
Minnesota United v Los Angeles FC
Date/Time: Sunday, 4:30 PM PT
TV: Fox Sports 1
Streaming: Fox Sports Go
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This is your Sounder at Heart MLS Week 30, the penultimate weekend of the regular season, gamethread. Watch with us.