Everything was on the line in the final day of the season, and the MLS teams in action didn't disappoint.
The LA Galaxy ensured that the Seattle Sounders would have to battle through the knockout round after Robbie Keane's 78th-minute goal resulted in a 1-1 draw. The Houston Dynamo and New England Revolution each clinched playoff spots with key wins on Sunday. The New York Red Bulls clinched the league's Supporters' Shield with a win over the Chicago Fire.
And the Colorado Rapids cost themselves a No. 3 seed in the Western Conference playoffs after losing to the Vancouver Whitecaps 3-0, a game that saw Camilo Sanvezzo notch a hat trick and earn the league's Golden Boot award.
So the playoff picture is set, and a memorable postseason certainly appears to be in the cards, with all 10 teams separated by just 10 points in the standings this season. Let's take a closer look at the road to the MLS Cup.
|MLS Playoff Schedule|
|Wednesday, October 30||10:30 p.m. ET||Western Conference Knockout||Colorado Rapids at Seattle Sounders||MLS Live|
|Thursday, October 31||8 p.m. ET||Eastern Conference Knockout||Montreal Impact at Houston Dynamo||TSN; RDS|
|Saturday, November 2||8 p.m. ET||Eastern Conference Semifinals||Sporting KC at New England Revolution||MLS Live|
|Saturday, November 2||10 p.m. ET||Western Conference Semifinals||Portland Timbers at TBD||NBCSN|
|Sunday, November 3||3:30 p.m. ET||Eastern Conference Semifinals||New York Red Bulls at TBD||NBC|
|Sunday, November 3||9 p.m. ET||Western Conference Semifinals||Real Salt Lake at LA Galaxy||ESPN|
|Wednesday, November 6||TBD||Eastern Conference Semifinals||New England Revolution at Sporting KC||TBD|
|Wednesday, November 6||TBD||Western Conference Semifinals||TBD at Portland Timbers||TBD|
|Thursday, November 7||TBD||Eastern Conference Semifinals||TBD at New York Red Bulls||TBD|
|Thursday, November 7||TBD||Western Conference Semifinals||LA Galaxy at Real Salt Lake||TBD|
|Saturday and Sunday, November 9/10||TBD||Conference Finals||TBD||TBD|
|Saturday and Sunday, November 23/24||TBD||Conference Finals||TBD||TBD|
|Saturday, December 7||4 p.m. ET||MLS Cup||TBD||ESPN; UniMas; TSN2; RDS2|
Clint Dempsey erased a 590-minute scoreless drought since his return to the MLS, but Seattle was once again unable to earn a win, extending their winless streak to end the season to seven games (they had two draws in that time). They face a Colorado side they went 1-1-1 against this season but recently lost 5-1 against.
Still, Seattle is a dramatically better team in their home stadium, having lost just two games at home all season. They'll advance, but by the skin of their teeth.
Montreal won two of their three matches against Houston this season, but both of those games were at home. Houston can be vulnerable at home, with four losses their on the season, but they'll use a rowdy home crowd to advance to the conference semifinals.
Is anyone willing to bet against the LA Galaxy at this point? The team has won back-to-back MLS Cups, and that experience will shine through as they advance to the Western Conference finals. They'll face the Portland Timbers, who will vanquish rival Seattle on the form that saw them go unbeaten in the season's final eight games.
Chalk will hold in the East, as New York and Sporting KC will meet in the Eastern Conference Finals.
Portland beat the LA Galaxy twice and drew with them in the one match in Los Angeles, and they have given up just three goals since the beginning of September. They'll stifle a potent Galaxy attack and ensure there is a different MLS Cup champion this season.
They'll face a New York Red Bulls side that also hit the playoffs on an eight-game unbeaten streak and desperately wants to add the MLS Cup to their trophy mantle. It won't happen—Portland has simply been too good this season and will beat New York behind a superior defense.