New York (AFP) – Reigning MLS Cup champions the Portland Timbers missed out on a playoff berth as the regular season concluded Sunday with a welter of matches that included a big win for New York City FC.
Portland needed a win against the Vancouver Whitecaps to reach the post-season, but fell 4-1 to their Cascadia Cup rivals at BC Place. The defeat, and Sporting Kansas City’s 2-0 win over the San Jose Earthquakes saw the Timbers become the first reigning MLS cup winners to miss the playoffs since the Los Angeles Galaxy in 2006.
The Timbers finished seventh in the Western Conference and were edged for the final three berths in the West by the Seattle Sounders, Real Salt Lake and Sporting — who joined FC Dallas, the Colorado Rapids and the Galaxy.
Dallas closed the season with a goalless draw against the Galaxy — but claimed the Supporters’ Shield awarded to the team that tops the overall table after the regular season.
As a result, they have homefield advantage throughout the MLS Cup playoffs and will enjoy a first-round bye, as will Colorado.
The East-leading New York Red Bulls charge into the playoffs on a 16-match unbeaten streak capped by Sunday’s 2-0 triumph over the Philadelphia Union.
Bradley Wright-Phillips opened the scoring, chipping a long cross over union keeper Andre Blake and tapping in for a goal that gives him a second MLS Golden Boot with 24 goals this season.
Wright-Phillips, who won the 2014 scoring title with 27 goals, became the fourth player in MLS history to claim multiple Golden Boot awards, finishing one goal ahead of New York City’s David Villa for the honor.
Spain’s Villa, however, was more than satisfied to come away from “Decision Day” — as the final day of the regular season has been dubbed — with a 4-1 rout of Columbus Crew, the second seed in the East and a first-round bye.
At the same time last year, Villa was apologizing to fans for the club’s disappointing inaugural season, vowing they would come back stronger.
With his help the club made a 17-point turnaround from last season.
“I’m very happy because I don’t like promising the people a lot,” said Villa, who contributed a sensational side volley against Columbus on Sunday. “I believe in the strong work day by day.”
Despite their late-season swoon the Union punched their playoff ticket. The New England Revolution did what they could with a 3-0 victory over the Montreal impact but they couldn’t overcome the goal difference they need to pass Philadelphia in the standings.
The Union will face Toronto in a knockout game this week while DC United will host the Montreal Impact.
The Galaxy will host Salt Lake City and Seattle host Kansas City in search of Western Conference semi-final spots.
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