Regular Season Ends, Playoff Field Set in MLS
Decision Day in Major League Soccer was Sunday, with all 26 teams in action for the final day of the regular season. When the dust, and in some cases snow, was settled, all 18 playoff spots were set. The race to the MLS Cup begins on Friday, Nov. 20, with a champion scheduled to be crowned on Saturday, Dec. 12.
Philadelphia Wins First Supporters Shield
With a 2-0 Sunday win over New England, the Philadelphia Union made franchise history. The win gave the Union 47 points over 23 games as they clinched the 2020 MLS Supporters’ Shield, which is given to the team with the best regular-season record. The trophy is the first in team history for the Union, who joined MLS in 2010.
Philadelphia also finished with the best goal differential in the league at +24, and will have a bye in the first round of the playoffs. At the beginning of the season, the Union were +2800 to win the MLS Cup and +2000 to win the Eastern Conference.
Sporting KC Takes Top Spot Out West
Sporting KC entered Sunday atop the West standings, and they stayed there with a 2-0 road win in a snowstorm over Real Salt Lake. SKC takes the top seed and home field in the West, just ahead of the Seattle Sounders and Portland Timbers. SKC was +2400 to win the title at the beginning of the year and +1800 to win the West.
Rossi Wins Golden Boot
His two-game scoring streak ended in Sunday’s finale, but LAFC’s Diego Rossi won the MLS Golden Boot with 14 goals. The Uruguay native scored 14 times in 19 games and finished two goals ahead of Raul Ruidiaz (Seattle), Gyasi Zardes (Columbus), and Robert Beric (Chicago). Last year Rossi scored 16 times in 34 games, and has 42 goals in 85 games over his three MLS seasons.
Playoff Schedule and Format
The final two teams to qualify on Sunday were Montreal Impact and Inter Miami in the East. Both won their final games, eliminating Chicago Fire, Atlanta United, and D.C. United.
The Eastern Conference has 10 teams in the playoffs while the Western Conference has eight. The East kicks things off with two play-in games on Nov. 20 as (7) Nashville SC hosts expansion (10) Inter Miami and (8) New England Revolution hosts (9) Montreal Impact.
The lowest remaining seed of those four teams will travel to face (1) Philadelphia Union while the higher remaining seed goes to (2) Toronto FC. The other two round one games are (3) Columbus Crew hosting (6) New York Red Bulls and (4) Orlando City SC hosting (5) New York City FC.
The Western Conference will have four games in the first round, played Nov. 21-24. (1) Sporting Kansas City will host (8) San Jose Earthquakes while (2) Seattle Sounders host (7) LAFC. Meanwhile, (3) Portland Timbers host (6) FC Dallas, and (4) Minnesota United host (5) Colorado Rapids.
The second round will take place Nov. 29 – Dec. 2, with the Conference Finals set for Dec. 6. The MLS Cup will take place on Dec. 12. Last year the Seattle Sounders beat Toronto FC 3-1 to win their second MLS Cup.
Before Sunday’s final games, oddsmakers had Seattle as the favorites with the Sounders at +450 to repeat. Toronto is just ahead of Philadelphia in the East with TFC at +550 and the Union at +700. LAFC are +750 despite being the seven seed in the West with Orlando City SC at +800.
The Columbus Crew and NYCFC check in at +1000 with Portland and SKC at +1500. Expect some adjustments to those odds this week as Orlando City and Columbus flip-flopped in the bracket when Orlando lost to Nashville on Sunday, and LAFC dropped three spots in the standings on the league’s final day with a 1-1 draw against Portland.