Commerce City, Colo – The 2021 MLS regular season is over. It ended Sunday night with Decision Day, and it was the race for the top seed in the Western Conference had a proverbial photo finish. Seattle Sounders entered the day a point ahead of second place playing at Vancouver Whitecaps. Sporting KC and Real Salt Lake both had bad midweek games and were set to play each other. Colorado Rapids hosted a Los Angeles FC team needing a win to make the playoffs. Let’s take a look at how the Colorado Rapids became MLS Western Conference Regular Season Champions.
Colorado Rapids Become Western Conference Champions in wild Decision Day
Colorado Rapids 5-2 Los Angeles FC
LAFC were the better team to start with several chances for Cristian Arango. The Rapids asserted themselves to take a 2-0 lead at half. First Danny Wilson passed out of the back to Kellyn Acosta who found Jonathan Lewis for a tap in goal. Then Collen Warner opened his Rapids account on a half volley off a corner that was defected in. Carlos Vela subbed in a half hour in when it was still 1-0 but couldn’t do enough.
LAFC had good energy to start the second half, but they conceded again as Lewis got a brace being set up by Diego Rubio in the box. Temporarily up a man, LAFC pulled one back to make it 3-1 as Brian Rodríguez found Arango in tight spacing. Cole Bassett, Rodríguez, and Dom Badji all scored in the final half hour as the match ended 5-2.
— Colorado Rapids (@ColoradoRapids) November 8, 2021
Vancouver Whitecaps 1-1 Seattle Sounders
The visitors asserted themselves early winning a penalty in the opening minutes. Freddy Montero converted. Ryan Gauld, the recent talisman for the Caps, tied it up on 19 minutes. Brian White headed the ball into the air in the box for Gauld to run on unopposed and head it in.
White had the best chance in the second half with a header from close range but he could not convert. The match slowed down after that with very few chances or shots. Neither team could find a winner as the game ended 1-1.
— Vancouver Whitecaps FC (@WhitecapsFC) November 7, 2021
Sporting KC 0-1 Real Salt Lake
RSL came into this game needing a win to make the playoffs. The first half of this match was less eventful than the other two. Rubio Rubin had a decent look early and so did MVP candidate Daniel Salloi. Neither team could finish and the half ended 1-1.
Khiry Shelton found Salloi for a chance in the opening minutes of the second half that could have opened the scoring but it was off target. Kansas City starting to press more looking for a winner in the final minutes. Out of nowhere, Damir Kreilach scored right off a bicycle kick on a corner from Justin Meram. With LA Galaxy drawing it was the goal that clinched playoffs for RSL.
Sporting Kansas City had a clear handball shout in the 89th minute. To everyone’s surprise it was not called, nor reviewed and play continued.
— Major League Soccer (@MLS) November 8, 2021
With these result, Colorado Rapids jumped both Seattle and SKC. Seattle getting a draw had them clinch the second seed outright on points over Sporting. This was the most unlikely outcome in this battle between the top three teams in the West. On top of that, Colorado Rapids might be the most unlikely regular season conference champs in MLS history.
Despite all the doubts around this team with their lack of stars or a reliable goal scorer, they earned this behind consistency and collective play.
Photo Credit: Mark Shaiken, Last Word on Soccer.