The MLS may just be onto something with how they schedule their last day of the season. So many teams across both conferences still had plenty to play for which led to some exciting games and some thrilling finishes. To give you an idea of how tight things were, 4 teams in the East were separated by only 3 points and in the West, the top 5 teams were separated by only 4 points, not to mention that 1 point separated 3 other teams from that 6th and final playoff spot.
Since MLS calls this Decision Day, I aptly decided to come up with the Decision Day Awards
Best Drama Award
Urena at the death! Scenes! San Jose are going to the playoffs!!!!! 3-2 final! pic.twitter.com/HOJhmtC0RZ
— Total MLS (@TotalMLS) October 22, 2017
That easily goes to the San Jose Earthquakes. Sitting at 46 points they had the slight edge on the final playoff spot in the West by virtue of having more wins. Dallas FC and Real Salt Lake each had an opportunity to overtake them. Both won their matches (Dallas 5-1 over the LA Galaxy and Real 2-1 over Sporting KC) which left the Earthquake out of the playoffs until… get this… Marcos Urena scored in the 93rd minute to give San Jose a 3-2 victory over Minnesota United and that last playoff spot.
The Best 12th Man & Best Debut Award
There are a number of places in MLS that are getting a reputation for being a hostile environment and a difficult place to play. BMO Field is up there as is Providence Park where the Portland Timbers play. Mercedes-Benz Stadium, host to Atlanta United, has now overtaken them all.
On this day they hosted Toronto FC and although the exciting game ended in a 2-2 draw, Atlanta had set the record for the most fans in a single regular season game… again. They now hold the top 2 spots with this total being 71, 874. Yes this an incredible feat for any team, but for one that is in the very first year of existence? That’s unbelievable and well deserved too I might add because of all the teams that made the playoffs, this is the one team that scares me the most. In its inaugural season, Atlanta has not only made the playoffs, but they had a chance with a victory to finish second. Instead they finished fourth which means that should they win their first ever playoff match versus Columbus, they will face the Reds next. Not a good thing then for Toronto as their next game could very well be at Mercedez-Benz stadium again. It will be exciting and thrilling but also quite nerve wracking. I’m thankful I am bald otherwise I’d lose all my hair all over again if I had any left.
The Aww Shucks Award
The Vancouver Whitecaps had a chance to finish first in the West this year with a victory and even took a 1-0 lead in the game. The Portland Timbers stormed back tying it three minutes later then took the lead for good in the 48th minute. Portland’s victory did not only prevent Vancouver from finishing first, it helped leapfrog them over the Whitecaps and the Seattle Sounders into first place. That means the only other Canadian team in the playoffs do not get a first round by and will have to face our previous award winner, San Jose. You have to feel for the Whitecaps but regardless of what happens, they certainly improved over last year’s performance.
The Best of the Best of the Best Award
We knew that Toronto FC had a very good team reaching the finals last year. The addition of Victor Vazquez, second in the league in assists this year, made them a great team. But with earning a point in their 2-2 draw in hostile Atlanta, they solidified themselves as one of, if not the, best team ever in MLS. They reached 69 points which is 1 more than what the LA Galaxy accomplished in 1998. The debate as to the greatest ever can be settled at bars over beers, but what is important to note is that the Galaxy demolished everyone during the season but did not win the MLS Cup that year.
Sure TFC were by far the best team this season not only in points, but scoring the most goals with 74, allowing the fewest goals with 37 and having the best goal differential which, coincidentally is also 37. What this all means is… nothing. Wins and stats don’t carry over to the postseason and the Reds will have to start from scratch all over again.
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