EDITORIAL – Going into Decision Day 2019, four teams were still alive for the final two playoff spots in MLS and the Western Conference: Portland Timbers, FC Dallas, San Jose Earthquakes, and Colorado Rapids. The MLS playoff race shook out as follows.
MLS Playoff Race: Portland and Dallas Last Teams in
For the two teams that were in a playoff spot going into MLS Decision Day 2019 had simple situation. Portland Timbers were hosting San Jose Earthquakes and just needed a point to get into the playoffs. Dallas hosted the already eliminated Sporting KC. They needed just a draw to clinch the playoffs.
The Quakes meanwhile needed a win or a draw and some help elsewhere. Colorado Rapids played at Los Angeles FC. They needed a win in Los Angeles, a Dallas loss, and at most a draw for San Jose.
Dallas got a much needed result and did not take anytime in doing so. Zdenek Ondrasek scored just 9 minutes into the match then Matt Hedges added a second goal minutes later. They dominated chances creation. Santiago Mosquera and Michael Barrios added goals early in the second half. This was just the result that FC Dallas needed heading into the playoffs, having struggled in September.
By the time the Rapids weren’t getting help from SKC, they were about to get in trouble. Carlos Vela scored a golazo from outside the box in the 28th minute. Minutes later, he scored on a fantastic bicycle kick after as LAFC’s passing took apart Colorado’s back line. Kei Kamara pulled a goal back before halftime but Vela got his hat-trick early in the second half and LAFC won the match comfortably. It ended Tim Howard’s professional career and the season for Colorado.
San Jose and Portland had an interesting game to an extent. Larrys Mabiala scored on recycled ball off a set piece but Chris Wondolowski made it 1-1 before halftime in his final regular season game. Dairon Asprilla and Sebastian Blanco scored with Diego Valeri not in the 18 again, allowing Portland to cruise to a win.
With that, Dallas and Portland clinched the final two playoff spots without having to worry about scores elsewhere. Both teams have been poor on the road of late. With Valeri still in contract disputes, it’s unclear what his availability will be. Regardless, Portland have been poor in close games against struggling teams. Dallas looked great on Decision Day but were poor prior to that.
Both of these teams should be underdogs in their opening playoff game. This reporter would expect both to be one-and-done regardless of match up on the road in the 2019 MLS playoff race.