Here are the ten things we learned from Week 33 of the 2017 MLS season.
1. San Jose Sneaks In, Ignominy for Dallas
There was only one playoff spot up for grabs on the season’s final day: the Western Conference’s sixth and final seed.
San Jose, by virtue of its wins tiebreaker over FC Dallas and point advantage over Real Salt Lake, held the keys going into the day. Beat Minnesota United at home, and they’d make their first postseason trip since the Goonies’ magical 2012.
But on a day when Dallas and Salt Lake – seemingly for the first time in months – both won, the ‘Quakes nearly fumbled their golden ticket away. They entered stoppage time in a 2-2 tie, when Marco Ureña, from a Chris Wondolowski assist, scrambled home the game-winning goal.
San Jose, which finished the season with a -21 goal differential and more losses than wins, doesn’t deserve to be in a playoff game. But FC Dallas, who would have gone had the Loons held on, deserved it less.
Their collapse – starting with a 4-0 home loss to Vancouver at the end of July – will go down as the most extraordinary and most improbable in MLS history.
2. Timbers Top The West
The Western Conference crown – not to mention the Cascadia Cup – was on the line in Portland, where the Timbers faced the Vancouver Whitecaps needing a win to take both titles.
A win – for the sixth straight home game and third time this year over Vancouver – is just what they got, with goals on either side of halftime from Liam Ridgewell and Darren Mattocks overturning Kendall Waston’s opener.
The Timbers are playing the West’s best soccer right now, and they have been since August. Ridgewell and Larrys Mabiala have turned one of the league’s worst defenses into a decidedly above-average one, while Mattocks has done more than enough in Fanendo Adi’s absence to keep the attack humming.
The Whitecaps, meanwhile, have to be worried. They were thoroughly outplayed in this game – unable to generate any offense from the run of play – and, considering they were shutout over 180 minutes in their last playoff trip, that can’t feel good.
3. Farewell to RFK
DC United bid RFK Stadium farewell in front of one of its biggest crowds in years – announced at more than 40,000 – and a bevy of its great former coaches and players.