It’s Decision Day in MLS, all 26 teams will kick off at either 2:30pm or 5:30pm (Central Time) today in the final games of the regular season. Sporting Kansas City hold their fate in their own hands, win against Real Salt Lake at Rio Tinto Stadium and Sporting will finish first in the Western Conference. Lose or draw and they’d need help from Los Angeles FC and the San Jose Earthquakes to finish first in the West. Here’s how Sporting will finish on points per game (PPG) depending on the result today.
Win: 39 points, 1.86 PPG
Draw: 37 points, 1.76 PPG
Loss: 36 points, 1.71 PPG
Here’s a look at the rest of the games around the league.
NYCFC at Chicago
Atlanta at Columbus
Montreal at DC
Cincinnati at Miami
Toronto at New York
New England at Philadelphia
What we want to happen: does not matter
Most of the Eastern Conference match ups don’t matter one bit to Kansas City as the teams either can’t catch Sporting in PPG to potentially host an MLS Cup or Sporting can’t catch them to host a potential MLS Cup.
Nashville at Orlando
What we want to happen: Nashville win
A loss by Orlando City and a win by Sporting is the only way that Sporting can finish with a higher PPG than Orlando City in the regular season standings. So Nashville SC getting the win here is the only Eastern Conference match up today that Sporting fans are rooting for a specific result.
Colorado at Houston
What we want to happen: Playoff seeding questions
The Colorado Rapids are the “freshest” team heading into the playoffs as they’ll finish the season with just 18 games played, three fewer than any other team in the league. After losing their first two games after their month long battle with COVID, the Rapids have been Kansas City’s favorite team as they’ve knocked off both Seattle and Portland to put first place in the West in Sporting’s hands heading into Decision Day. The question comes down to playoff seeding at this point and whether you’d potentially want to play a Rapids team that seems to be rounding into form at the right time. On the other side, the Houston Dynamo are eliminated from playoff contention and need a win and help to avoid finishing at the bottom of the West.
Portland at LAFC
What we want to happen: LAFC win
Two reasons here, one an Los Angeles FC win against the Portland Timbers gives Sporting just a little bit of breathing room in terms of options to finish first in the West. Two, while LAFC has struggled at times this season, they’re a team that has so many attacking weapons that they still are a scary team on paper and facing them in the first round of the playoffs is going to be a tall task for anyone (depending on potential quarantining upon return from international duty for some of those players). An LAFC win would see them finish in at least fifth place in the West matching up against Dallas or Minnesota in the first round.
Dallas at Minnesota
What we want to happen: playoff seeding questions
The winner of this game (if there is a winner) will get the fourth seed in the West and host a first round playoff game. A draw and that spot will go to FC Dallas. The question here becomes about potential playoff opponents for Kansas City, and as I’ve mentioned in the past, KC doesn’t have the best record against Dallas over the last few years. Minnesota United on the other hand has been a team that KC has done well against, especially at home. A Dallas win would potentially see Minnesota fall to sixth if LAFC win (a draw and LAFC win would do that too).
San Jose at Seattle
What we want to happen: San Jose win
As with the Portland/LAFC game, this desire is to give Kansas City some breathing room in terms of results, if KC, Portland, and Seattle all get the same result, KC finishes in first place in the West.
LA at Vancouver
What we want to happen: does not matter
Both teams are eliminated from the playoff race, the only game of the 13 taking place today that has no impact on playoff qualification or positioning.