MLS Playoff Picture Roundup: Where each team stands after Matchday 32

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With eight games or less in the season for all teams coming into MLS’s Matchday 32, each and every result is starting to feel like it has a bit more pressure to it, and it should. With the exception of MLS’s Supporters Shield race, both conferences are wide open and could see an abundance of movement in the table before things are all said and done on Decision Day.   Here’s how the action played out over the weekend and what that means for the MLS playoff picture.

Union, MLS
Mandatory Credit: Philadelphia Union

Matchday 32 MLS Playoff Picture Roundup

Atlanta United 5 – 2 Inter Miami

While Miami’s hopes of making the playoffs are getting stronger by the day, their chances once again have gotten smaller after suffering a 5-2 loss on the road to Atlanta United.  But for Atlanta, this feels like a statement win, a proclamation that Atlanta is still serious players in the Eastern Conference. 

2 goals by Campana for Messi-less Miami gives them confidence that supporting players can still contribute down the stretch, but 5 different goal-scorers in this game for Atlanta puts them in 6th place in the Eastern Conference with 5 games to go. 

Zero points for Miami in this one leaves them in 14th place in MLS’s East, 6 points from the final playoff spot.

Philadelphia Union 2 – FC Cincinnati 2

Philadelphia Union had the opportunity to chip away at the MLS Supporters’ Shield lead in this one with FC Cincinnati visiting Subaru Park and having a game in hand.  With both of those games suddenly the Shield lead was reduced to 5 points with 6 games left for Union, and it all looked to be going to plan in the first half.  Jose Martinez gave Union a 1-0 lead in the 23rd minute with a rocket from outside the box, and Daniel Gazdag scored his 10th PK of the season to make it 2-0 before the half. 

But FCC came out blazing in the 2nd half and cut the lead to 1 just 4 minutes into the game off the foot of Aaron Boupendza.  In the 75th minute, Boupendza put his mark on the game again, when collected an arrant pass, carried the ball down the flank and towards the box, and played the ball to Vazquez who flicked the ball past Blake to level the game at 2-2. 

FC Cincinnati walks away with 1 point, keeping their Shield Lead at 8 points.  1 point for Union has them in 4th place, with a game in hand against all 3 teams above them in the standings.  

Orlando City SC 4 – 3 Columbus Crew 

Columbus jumped out to an early lead on the road in the 16th minute when Julian Gressel ran onto a ball to the back post and passed it into an open net for the first-half’s only goal.  Orlando’s Ojeda drew them level minutes into the 2nd half, but consecutive goals by Diego Rossi and Cucho Hernandez in the 56th and 68th minute put Columbus back in front by a score of 3-1.

Orlando showed resilience once again when Facundo Torres drew one back in the 73rd minute to make it 3-2 and give Orlando some hope.  In the 86th minute, a free-kick into the box allowed Enrique to run onto the ball and draw the game level with minutes to go.  Orlando would have been happy with a point after being down 3-1, but in the 7th minute of stoppage time, Orlando was awarded another free kick, allowing them to get numbers in the box. 

Enrique was able to run onto the ball bouncing in the box and smashed it home, giving Orlando the last-second win.  The win for Orlando jumps them up into 2nd place in MLS’s Eastern Conference while dropping 3 points from a winning position sees Columbus end the weekend in 5th place in the East.   

Colorado Rapids 2 – 1 New England Revolution

After a multi-month fiasco that leaves New England with a new coach in charge, what better way to alleviate that tension than going on the road and playing against a team that’s dealing with their own issues?  Rapids fans are really unhappy with how things are going in Colorado, and they displayed their displeasure with a walk-out from the stands in this game. 

Unlucky for them, it was the Rapids that took control of this game.  Cole Bassett opened the scoring just after halftime with his 3rd goal of the season with a header from a free kick.  Calvin Harris would double Colorado’s lead in the 62nd minute, which proved to be essential in this one as New England’s Omar Gonzalez netted a consolation goal in the 92nd minute. 

The 3 points for Colorado gets them to 22 points overall for the season, which has them tied for MLS’s Wooden Spoon, the team with the league’s worst overall point total

LAFC 4 – 2 LA Galaxy

One of this week’s biggest matchups was El Trafico.  LAFC and LA Galaxy seldom disappoint, and this one was no different.  Denis Bouanga scored his 13th goal of the season to give LAFC a lead in the 24th minute, but Galaxy would punch right back from the restart, getting the equalizer from Billy Sharp.  In the 33rd minute, outside back Ryan Hollingshead wandered into the middle of the pitch and let a shot fly towards the net, beating Bond and regaining the lead for LAFC before halftime. 

LA Galaxy came out of the 2nd half determined to get back on level terms in this one and were rewarded with their second equalizer of the game in the 59th minute by Maya Yoshida.  But LAFC was too much for Galaxy to handle, and goals from Denis Bouanaga and Timothy Tillman gave the MLS Cup Champs a 4-2 win. 

LAFC ends the weekend in 2nd place of MLS’s West, just 6 points off of first place, and the loss means Galaxy stays at 13th in the conference, 6 points away from making the playoffs.  

FC Dallas 1 – 1 Seattle Sounders

A big home game for Dallas, and a big road match for Seattle.  Dallas looking to gain some momentum to make a push for the playoffs going down the stretch, and Seattle looking to maintain their spot as one of the Western Conference’s top teams.  Dallas opened the scoring early on with a goal from Jader Obrian, but were unable to extend their lead before halftime. 

Before the clock hit the hour mark, Seattle found their equalizer on the road from Alex Roldan, who volleyed the cross into the back of the net. That would be it in this one and the the two teams would share a point each. 

Seattle sits at 3rd in the Western Conference, and Dallas is stuck on the outside looking in after dropping 3 points from a winning position, currently in 11th place in MLS’s west.  

Toronto FC 1 – 2 Vancouver Whitecaps

Toronto, sitting in last place in the Eastern Conference, found the opening goal in this one when Deandre Kerr was sent in one-on-one with the keeper.  Kerr made no mistake, netting his 5th of the season in the 50th minute.  The glory was short-lived however, with Vancouver’s Tristian Blackmon drawing the game level just 6 minutes later with a header from a corner. 

In typical Toronto fashion this season (except against the Union, I guess), things went from bad to worse really quickly, when Brian White found himself wide open to head home the winner in the 66th minute.  That’s 3 wins and a draw to start Vancouver’s 7 game road trip at the end of the season. 

The win for Vancouver pushes them up to 4th place in MLS’s west, and the loss leaves Toronto tied for the Wooden Spoon.  

San Jose Earthquakes 2 – 1 Real Salt Lake 

Both of these teams came into this game just barely holding on to a playoff position and knowing every point possible will be vital going down the stretch.  It was the home team jumping out to the lead early with Jeremey Ebobisse finishing off a chance provided to him by Espinoza.   In the 15th minute, Espinoza once again provides a great ball in the box, this time to Rodrigues who makes it 2-0. 

Chicho Arango would force the ball across the line just before the half to make it 2-1, but ultimately San Jose is the one who collected all 3 points in this one.  The loss for Salt Lake Leaves them in 6th place in the West, 4 points above the line and 9 points behind 1st place. 

3 points for San Jose puts them level on points with RSL and Houston with 40 and in 7th place overall in MLS’s playoff picture. 

Houston Dynamo 1 – 1 St Louis City SC

St Louis is doing the unthinkable in MLS. 1st place in the Western Conference in their first season in the league, and coming into this game they’d be the Supporter’s Shield leaders if it weren’t for FC Cincinnati having an incredible season.  Despite that, they have won in just 1 of their last 5 matches.  On the other hand, Houston Dynamo haven’t lost their last 6 games, collecting 12 of a possible 18 points from those games.  But the points were shared in this one. 

Corey Baird scored his 7th of the season and his 4th goal in his last 5 games for Houston just before halftime.  But it was St Louis City’s big striker Joao Klauss back from injury who equalized the game in the 87th minute to keep Houston from taking all 3 points. 

The 1 point keeps St Louis 6 points clear of 2nd place LAFC in MLS’s Western Conference, and pushes Houston up to 5th in the West, 9 points off first place and 4 points above the line.  


It’s the Hudson River Derby, and it’s two teams below the playoff line desperate for points.  Both teams were hungry, both teams were searching for the go-ahead goal that would give them a derby win to jump-start their final push to make the playoffs, but it never came. 

A good save from both Matt Freese for NYCFC and Carlos Coronel for NYRB keeps this game level at 0-0, and the two teams end the weekend outside the playoff line at 12th and 13th in MLS with 31 and 30 points.  

Charlotte FC 0 – 0 DC United 

Speaking of teams below the line desperate for points, Charlotte  FC and DC United could both use a win to nudge them on in their playoff push.  Despite being just below the line, DC United have won just 1 of their last 7 matches, and Charlotte are victorious in just 1 of their previous 12. 

Charlotte thought they had an opportunity to take the lead at home after a ball deflected off a hand and onto the post, but VAR decided the deflection was not worthy of a PK.  Benteke had an opportunity to give DC all 3 points in the second half with his signature header on net, but the attempt rattled the crossbar.  Benteke had another opportunity to win it later on, but the shot was saved by the face of Alex Bono and the teams share a point each. 

DC sits in the final playoff spot with 35 points, and Charlotte is two spots behind them outside the MLS playoffs with 32 points.  

CF Montreal 0 – 0 Chicago Fire

Scoreless draws were the story on Saturday night from teams battling the secure one of the final playoff spots, and Montreal-Chicago was no different.  George Campbell was close to giving Montreal the lead early but his header was denied by the crossbar. 

Montreal had a flurry of chances in the second half to find the winner but Chicago’s keeper Chris Brady stood strong in net to earn a scoreless draw on the road.  While a draw on the road can feel like a win, 3 points would have done Chicago well on Saturday night with Charlotte, DC, NYCFC, NYRB, and Montreal all dropping points, but 1 point leaves them in 10th place in MLS’s east, just 2 points behind DC in 9th. 

The draw leaves Montreal in 8th place, just 1 point above DC.  

Minnesota United 0 – 1 Sporting Kansas City 

This game might have huge implications on how the bottom portion of the Western Conference Playoffs play out.  6 points separate teams from 4th to 11th place, so getting 3 points against conference opponents is huge right now. 

One team that’s turned their season around completely is Sporting Kansas City on the back of Alan Pulido, but it was Gadi Kinda in the 84th minute who scored the winner to give SKC all 3 points on the road.  The win moves SKC up to 10th place on 35 points, just 1 point behind Portland in 9th place. 

The loss keeps Minnesota on 37 points, currently good enough to be in the 8th spot in MLS’s West, but just 1 point above Portland.  

Austin FC 1 – 2 Portland Timbers

The weekend ended with 2 teams battling for the final spot in MLS’s West, and 2 teams that have struggled this season.  Austin is so far from the team that ended in #2 place in the Western Conference last season,  and Portland is learning how to live with a new manager. 

But it’s the new manager bounce that got the better of this one, with Felipe Mora giving Portland the lead on the road in the 39th minute.  Evander would score his 8th of the season to give Portland the 2-0 lead in the second half. 

Driussi would get one back in the 75th minute to give Austin fans some hope of resurrecting a point, but Portland would hold on to secure all 3 points.  

MLS Matchday 32’s biggest winners

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Mandatory Credit: Philadelphia Union

FC Cincinnati – One of the biggest winners from MLS’s matchday 32 has to be FC Cincinnati.  Although they didn’t get all 3 points, earning a draw after being down 2 goals on the road against Philadelphia Union shows that this team is not only likely going to win the Support Shield, but they’re serious players heading toward playoffs

Atlanta UnitedAtlanta’s win feels like a statement in MLS.  A little tension between them and Miami is building, and while having a full-strength squad for Miami might have seen a different result, Atlanta took advantage of the situation on Saturday and now sees themselves securely 10 points above the final playoff line

San Jose Earthquakes – The win for the Quakes is just their only win in their previous 5 games, but It feels like it could serve as a bit of a spark.  Even being at home, beating RSL has proven to be difficult at times, but San Jose jumped out to an early lead and held on well, bringing them 4 points above the final MLS playoff spot, and just 3 points from 2nd place.  

MLS Matchday 32’s biggest losers

AUSTIN, TX – AUGUST 26: Austin FC forward Sebastián Driussi (7) is grabbed by Los Angeles FC defender Jesús Murillo (3) during the MLS match between Austin FC and LAFC on August 26, 2022 at Q2 Stadium in Austin, TX. (Photo by David Buono/Icon Sportswire)

Philadelphia Union – This was a huge opportunity for the Union to keep climbing the table and chipping away at MLS’s supporters’ shield lead.  While a 2-2 draw isn’t the worst result in the world, it’s certainly not the greatest after being 2-0 at halftime.  The Union might regret not closing this one out.  

Austin FC – This is just a different team than the one we saw last year in MLS, plain and simple.  Just 1 win in their last 7, and just 4 points across those games.  You’d think being at home against a wounded Portland would be a good opportunity to get back on track, but they just looked off the mark once again.  

Minnesota United – Minnesota has been playing pretty well lately, losing just 1 of their previous 10 games coming into this match.  But that’s why this one was so big to win at home, against a conference opponent below the playoff line in MLS.  I don’t think this will be the start of a downward spiral for Minnesota or anything, but I do think it gives confidence to teams around them in the playoff hunt. Hopefully, this is just a speed bump for the Loons.

Now that the International break is over, Playoffs are starting to feel real.  Here’s what the MLS matchups would look like if the season ended Sunday night.  What matchups would you most be excited about?  What team do you think is the easiest first-round matchup for Union?

Eastern Conference Round 1 Best-of-3

#1 FC Cincinnati vs. #8 Montreal / #9 DC United
#2 Orlando City SC vs. #7 Nashville SC
#3 New England Revolution vs. #6 Atlanta United
#4 Philadelphia Union vs. #5 Columbus Crew

Western Conference Round 1 Best-of-3

#1 St Louis City SC vs. #8 Minnesota United / #9 Portland Timbers
#2 LAFC vs. #7 San Jose Earthquakes
#3 Seattle Sounders vs. #6 Real Salt Lake
#4 Vancouver Whitecaps vs. #5 Houston Dynamo

CHESTER, PA – DECEMBER 05: A Philadelphia Union Fan holds up a “Believe” sign during the first half of the Major League Soccer Cup Playoffs match between New York City FC and the Philadelphia Union on December 5, 2021, at Subaru Park in Chester, PA. (Photo by Gregory Fisher/Icon Sportswire)

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Mandatory Credit: Philadelphia Union, Photo by David Buono/Icon Sportswire, Photo by Gregory Fisher/Icon Sportswire.