Atlanta and New England seal playoff berths with Western Conference still wide open
Atlanta’s win over Montreal and the Revs securing a point away in Chicago were enough to mathematically clinch playoff spots.
The MLS regular season is in the home straight with the countdown to 2023 Decision Day on 21 October well underway. This weekend’s round of fixtures saw two more teams in the East clinch postseason football as the situation remain wide open in the Western Conference with just St. Louis SC automatically guaranteed a playoff spot as things currently stand.
The Five Stripes from Atlanta secured the win they needed to make the playoffs as they brushed Montreal aside at the Mercedes Benz Stadium with an emphatic win bagging four goals in the process. The win came just a week after they put five past Miami and now Gonzalo Pineda’s men are the top scorers across both conferences on 61 goals.
The New England Revolution tried to put the recent turmoil relating to former manager Bruce Arena to one side and they had Spaniard Carles Gil to thank for netting the equaliser against the Fire and securing the point that guarantees postseason action.
The Eastern Conference now only has one automatic playoff spot left to fill along with the two wild card places awarded to the sides who finish in eighth and ninth. Nashville SC are the side best placed to see the final place and then it’s a real dogfight with seven teams in contention for wild card places with just five points separating Montreal (currently in 7th) all the way down to Inter Miami (14th) who have games in hand.
Wide open in the West
It’s a very different story in the Western Conference where just one team have clinched a playoff spot. In their debut season St Louis SC have torn up the rule book and continue to generate headlines and break records as the side from Missouri now lead reigning MLS Cup holders LAFC by eight points.
Just four points separate the Black and Gold in second place from San Jose in ninth but the latest trailblazers in the West are the Portland Timbers as the side from Oregon have recorded five wins from six since severing ties with former head coach Giovanni Savarese in late August. The 2015 MLS Cup champions have discovered a new lease of life and picked up momentum at a critical stage of the season and are a decent outside bet for the title.
The only team out of the equation in the West are Colorado Rapids and with the likes of Dallas and Vancouver with games in hand, the next rounds of games will be instrumental in determining who has the impetus to get over the line.