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MLS Clinching Scenarios: LAFC trying to win Shield, NYCFC after No. 1 seed in East

Kelvin Kuo-USA TODAY Sports

Los Angeles FC has had one hand firmly on the Supporters’ Shield for months. 

On Wednesday, the Black-and-Gold can finally make the trophy theirs with a victory over the Houston Dynamo. 

The Western Conference clash is one of six Major League Soccer matches taking place midweek, and there are plenty of playoff implications involved throughout the slate. 

Below is a look at the impact each of the contests could have on the postseason picture. 

Atlanta United at New York City FC (7 p.m. ET, ESPN+) 

Sep 22, 2019; Frisco, TX, USA; New York City midfielder Valentin Castellanos (11) and defender Maxime Chanot (4) walk off the pitch after the match against FC Dallas at Toyota Stadium. (Kevin Jairaj-USA TODAY Sports)

The Eastern Conference playoffs could go through Yankee Stadium if New York City FC knocks off Atlanta United in the Bronx. 

Dome Torrent’s side carries a four-point lead over the Five Stripes into Wednesday, and it has an advantage with Josef Martinez out for Frank De Boer’s squad. 

If NYCFC secures the No. 1 spot, some focus will shift to the MLB playoff schedule since a conflict with the New York Yankees could come into play. 

The MLS conference semifinals are set for October 23 and 24 as is Game 2 of the World Series. The conference finals are slated for October 29 and 30, the dates of Games 6 and 7 of the World Series. 

If the Yankees earn home-field advantage in the Fall Classic, MLS could run into a nightmare scenario since it takes three days to turn over the field from baseball to soccer. 

An Atlanta win keeps the race for the top seed open between it, NYCFC and Philadelphia going into Sunday. 

Sporting Kansas City at Minnesota United (8 p.m. ET, ESPN+) 

Sep 22, 2019; Portland, OR, USA; Minnesota United midfielder Osvaldo Alonso (6) looks to pass the ball against the Portland Timbers during the second half at Providence Park. (Troy Wayrynen-USA TODAY Sports)

There are four clinching scenarios for Minnesota United. 

The first is simple: Beat Sporting Kansas City. 

If the Loons tie with Peter Vermes’ side, they need draws from Portland and San Jose to qualify Wednesday. 

A loss by the Quakes combined with a Timbers draw, or vice versa, would also put Adrian Heath’s side into the postseason. 

Minnesota is in possession of a five-point buffer from third to San Jose and Portland at the playoff line and it has lost once at home in league play. 

LA Galaxy at Real Salt Lake (9:30 p.m. ET, ESPN+) 

Sep 21, 2019; Carson, CA, USA; Los Angeles Galaxy forward Zlatan Ibrahimovic (9) steals the ball from Montreal Impact defender Rod Fanni (16) and takes it down field in the second half of the game at StubHub Center. (Jayne Kamin-Oncea-USA TODAY Sports)

The victor at Rio Tinto Stadium could secure its postseason spot. 

LA Galaxy enter in fourth place with 48 points and are in with a victory over Real Salt Lake, who are fifth on 47 points. 

If Freddy Juarez’s RSL comes out on top, it needs a loss or tie from San Jose and Portland to earn one of the six remaining Western Conference positions. 

The Galaxy can also get in with a draw combined with ties from San Jose and Portland, as well as the combination of a San Jose loss and Portland draw, or Quakes draw and Portland loss. 

Houston Dynamo at Los Angeles FC (10:30 p.m. ET, ESPN+) 

Sep 21, 2019; Los Angeles, CA, Los Angeles, CA, USA; Los Angeles FC midfielder Mark-Anthony Kaye (14) moves the ball while pressured by Toronto FC midfielder Michael Bradley (4) during the first half at Banc of California Stadium. (Kelvin Kuo-USA TODAY Sports)

LAFC’s season-long dominance can produce a trophy with a win over Houston, or NYCFC dropping points versus Atlanta. 

Bob Bradley’s side has a seven-point lead over the Pigeons in the Supporters’ Shield race, and one win would make it mathematically impossible for NYCFC to steal the trophy. 

Houston’s playoff outlook is bleak at best. The Dynamo are seven points back of the playoff line with three games to go. A loss or tie at Banc of California Stadium, or wins by the Quakes and Timbers eliminate them. 

New England Revolution at Portland Timbers (10:30 p.m. ET, ESPN+)

Sep 22, 2019; Portland, OR, USA; Portland Timbers midfielder Cristhian Paredes (22) reacts after missing a shot on goal against Minnesota United during the second half at Providence Park. (Troy Wayrynen-USA TODAY Sports)

New England and Portland can’t clinch anything Wednesday, but they could put themselves in position to do so in the coming matches. 

The Revs are the favorite to earn the No. 7 seed in the Eastern Conference with a three-point advantage over Chicago and four points over Montreal. 

Bruce Arena’s side can eliminate the Impact and Orlando from playoff contention with a victory at Providence Park, but it has to wait until the weekend to knockout the Fire. 

A home victory keeps Portland afloat in the West race, and it would move ahead of FC Dallas at minimum. It could shift up multiple spots depending on the results from RSL and San Jose and how the wins and goal differential tiebreakers play out. 

Philadelphia Union at San Jose Earthquakes (11 p.m. ET, ESPN+) 

Sep 21, 2019; Atlanta, GA, USA; San Jose Earthquakes defender Guram Kashia (37, left), midfielder Florian Jungwirth (23) and defender Nick Lima (24) react after Atlanta United midfielder Emerson Hyndman (not pictured) scored a goal in the second half at Mercedes-Benz Stadium. (Jason Getz-USA TODAY Sports)

The Union already have a home playoff game locked up, but they are still jockeying for seeding alongside NYCFC and Atlanta. 

A draw at Yankee Stadium would suit them well in their chase to be within three points of NYCFC for their Decision Day meeting at Talen Energy Stadium. 

An Atlanta loss combined with a win at Avaya Stadium would move the Union into second place ahead of Sunday. 

As we have mentioned above, the Quakes dropping points has ramifications throughout the West, especially if tied in with a Portland loss or draw.

Simply put, the Quakes have to find a way to win without the suspended pair of Cristian Espinoza and Chris Wondolowski to feel slightly comfortable going into the final two matches. 




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