Minnesota United FC in the Mix as MLS Season Comes to a Close


Josh Klopp

The playoff picture is taking shape in Major League Soccer (MLS) as only 3 weeks remain until the playoffs begin on November 19. In the MLS, seven teams make the playoffs in each conference. Time is expiring for those on the outside, looking in. However, there is still much to straighten out down the stretch in both the Eastern and Western Conferences.

Minnesota United find themselves in the thick of the race to finish the season among the top seven in the Western Conference. Only 4 points separate the fourth place Portland Timbers from Real Salt Lake in ninth place. Minnesota is right in the middle of these two. They’re in sixth place with 45 points. One point behind the Timbers. Though it is not the Timbers that are the primary concern for Minnesota. Their focus is on the Vancouver Whitecaps FC and the Los Angeles Galaxy. Upcoming matches against both of these foes on October 27 and November 7 will determine how things shake out in the west. The top seed in the conference earns a first-round bye. That currently belongs to the Seattle Sounders FC. Sporting Kansas City and the Colorado Rapids are trailing close behind. These three teams have already clinched their spot in this year’s playoffs.

Unfortunately for Minnesota United, these teams are still in the hunt for the bye and will definitely send their best squad out. This undoubtedly spooks Minnesota as they look ahead to a Halloween showdown with Sporting Kansas City. Although this challenge is frightening, supporters of Minnesota United have not lost hope of hosting a postseason game. For this to happen, Minnesota would have to finish above all five teams who are in the mix but have not clinched. If they’re able to pull it out, they will host the fifth seed on November 20 at Allianz Field in St. Paul.

The Eastern Conference is led by the best team in the league. The New England Revolution are 21-4-7 and have an astonishing 21-point lead on the second place Philadelphia Union. Their record has already earned them a claim on the Supporters’ Shield, which is the award given to the team with the best record at the end of the regular season. Not only are they the best team this season, but if they are able to collect 3 points in their last two matches, they will break the single-season points record that currently belongs to Los Angeles FC. With the top seed excluded, there is a great playoff race in the Eastern Conference. Philadelphia Union have shown themselves to be the second-best team in the east, but they’ve been chasing that spot in the standings for some time now. They could have taken the second spot on October 20th against Minnesota United, but Minnesota held on to beat them 3-2. Luckily for Philadelphia, their next match was against the team that held the standing they were chasing. That team is Nashville SC and Philadelphia was able to secure a 1-0 win over them. They are now tied with Nashville SC in points but hold the tiebreaker to officially be the leader of those who are not New England. These two clubs will surely duke it out to hold onto their place in the standings, along with Orlando City, who is only two points behind. The Eastern Conference is just as spicy when you consider spots five through nine in the standings. Both New York teams, New York City FC and New York Red Bulls, are atop this section. With Atlanta United, CF Montreal, and DC United all within two points of each other, two competing teams will be left out of the playoffs.

All the contending teams and fan bases are gearing up for a run that will bring playoff soccer to some and devastation to others. Whether you support a team that is in the mix or just soccer in general, there will be top-tier entertainment unfolding for the next three weeks while the MLS regular season comes to a close.