Five MLS sides clinch playoff places as battle for postseason spots heats up
A busy night of midweek MLS action saw four sides join Cincinnati FC in mathematically ensuring postseason action as the season reaches its finale.
The 2023 MLS regular season is in the home straight with just a handful of games remaining ahead of Deadline Day on 21 October when we will discover which 18 teams will advance to the postseason stage.
Previously to the midweek round of games, only FC Cincinnati in the Eastern Conference had bagged a playoff place. The ‘Orange and Blue’ are now joined by Orlando, Columbus and Philadelphia whilst in the Western Conference, expansion team St. Louis SC confirmed their remarkable debut campaign by becoming the first team in the west to mathematically to guarantee playoff action.
St. Louis secure valuable point
The high profile and eagerly awaited clash between the side from Missouri and LAFC ultimately ended goalless with the tie good enough for first-place St. Louis City to clinch a playoff berth thanks to other results. With Austin FC drawing 1-1 against the New York Red Bulls and then Minnesota United losing 4-3 to the Los Angeles Galaxy, St. Louis wrapped up a postseason bid in its first MLS season.
The game marked the second MLS action for Maxime Crepeau who fractured his right leg last November during LAFC’s championship victory over the Philadelphia Union in the MLS Cup final. Crepeau returned to action on Saturday in a 4-2 home victory over the Los Angeles Galaxy and was the busier of the keepers in St. Louis.
Orlando fall but secure playoff place
Orlando City clinched their spot in the playoffs despite falling 2-0 to host NYCFC in the Big Apple with Mounsef Bakrar and Talles Magno bagging the New York goals which saw Orlando’s five-game unbeaten run in all competitions end.
While Orlando failed to claim any points, DC United’s 1-1 draw against Atlanta United allowed the Lions to clinch a postseason berth with five matches remaining in their regular-season schedule.
Meanwhile, the victory vaulted NYCFC further into playoff contention, bringing them within two points of D.C. United, the ninth-place team in the Eastern Conference and current holder of the final playoff spot.
Cucho Hernandez seals playoff berth for Crew
Hernandez scored the second-fastest hat trick from kickoff in MLS history as the host side Columbus Crew defeated the Chicago Fire 3-0 on Wednesday to clinch a playoff berth.
Hernandez converted penalties in the eighth and 16th minutes and a header off a corner kick seven minutes later as the Crew extended their home unbeaten streak to eight wins and two ties.
The Crew will return to the playoffs for the first time since winning the 2020 MLS Cup. Columbus’ latest berth was sealed when D.C. United tied Atlanta United 1-1 on Wednesday.
Late Gazdag spot kick fires Union to the playoffs
Daniel Gazdag scored on a penalty kick in the seventh minute of second-half stoppage time as the Philadelphia Union secured a 2-2 draw with host Charlotte FC on Wednesday night.
Thanks to the tie, the Union bagged a valuable point and mathematically secured a playoff berth for the sixth consecutive year.
Gazdag’s penalty kick came after Olivier Mbaizo drew a foul from Charlotte’s Brecht Dejaegere in the penalty area with the draw leaving the side from North Carolina remaining three points below the final Eastern Conference playoff position.