MLS Decision Day: The big winners, big losers and the super duper extra loser

FC Dallas
FC Dallas won the Supporters’ Shield for the best regular-season record. (@MLS)

There are 340 Major League Soccer games in the book this year, and at length, the playoffs can start. But before all that, there were the final regular-season games to play simultaneously in another glorious installment of Decision Day on Sunday.

[ Major League Soccer: Decision Day Tracker | Scoreboard | Standings ]

So let’s sort through it all and anoint some winners and losers.


FC Dallas: After falling short on goal difference last year, FCD finally lifted its first Supporters’ Shield this year with a consistent and impressive campaign. Oscar Pareja’s splendid team was deserving of its first piece of MLS silverware, after an MLS Cup runner-up spot in 2010. And while the 0-0 stalemate with the Los Angeles Galaxy didn’t do the season justice, Dallas was entitled to plaudits all the same.

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Eliminated teams: In a strange twist, three teams who were already eliminated – or eliminated all but mathematically – won their games. The New England Revolution, which had to make up a dozen tallies on goal difference to have a chance at the playoffs, beat the Montreal Impact 3-0. Orlando City beat D.C. United 4-2. And the Vancouver Whitecaps humiliated the Portland Timbers 4-1, ensuring that the defending champions would miss the playoffs.

Seattle Sounders: After a 6-12-2 start to the season, the campaign seemed doomed for the Sounders. But after a coaching change, they turned it around, going 8-2-4 the rest of the way. It culminated with a 2-1 win over Real Salt Lake on Sunday. But that fails to appreciate the height of the challenges they faced. Star striker Obafemi Martins left for China on the eve of the season. And fellow designated player and forward Clint Dempsey missed the tail-end of the season with an irregular heartbeat that has apparently required two procedures. In their place, rookie Jordan Morris stepped up with a dozen goals, good for 12th in the league, and made good on all the hype.

Bradley Wright-Phillips: The New York Red Bulls striker spent a lot of his life in the shadow of his brother, England international Shawn Wright-Phillips, and his father, Arsenal legend Ian Wright. But these last few years have been his time. With another goal against the hated Philadelphia Union – the only one of the game – he clinched a second Golden Boot in three years with 24 goals.

Brian Schmetzer: He had been the Sounders’ head coach for seven years when they were a minor-league team and spent the subsequent 7½ years as Sigi Schmid’s assistant when the club got to MLS. When Schmid was fired midseason, Schmetzer finally got his chance at the highest level, and he thrived, turning the season around. He remains the interim coach, but he has earned serious consideration for the full-time job.



The 2015 MLS Cup final: Never before in league history had both finalists of the previous season failed to reach the playoffs. Which is to say, in 20 years, it never happened. But both the Columbus Crew and the Timbers had a hangover of a season. In Columbus, the Kei Kamara kerfuffle – the Kei-fuffle? – set in motion the rapid decay of the year. In Portland, the Timbers were unrecognizable from the season prior. Yay, parity … right?

The Timbers again: At the risk of piling on, we’re not quite done with Portland. The Timbers somehow managed to slog their way through 17 away games without winning a single one. That’s the defending league champions we’re talking about, who seemed well-positioned to dominate for years to come. In all, it was surely one of the most disappointing seasons in league history. Cue head coach Caleb Porter shaking his head ruefully.

Caleb Porter: Sorry, Caleb. We need to talk about you some more as well. In spite of all the talent and resources in the Rose City, one of the American game’s most vaunted young managers continues to post fickle results. He reached the playoffs in his first season in charge in 2013, then missed them in 2014. He won MLS Cup last year and now has missed the playoffs a second time in three years. And lest we forget, he followed up building a college powerhouse at the University of Akron with failing to qualify for the 2012 Olympics with a deep and experienced United States men’s under-23 team.


Toronto FC: Going into the final day, TFC had a good chance of avoiding the knockout round, trailing NYCFC by just a point for second place. They were hosting the league-worst Chicago Fire while NYCFC was taking on the trickier Crew. The Torontonians eventually managed to pull a win out of the fire (get it?) in spite of going behind, but NYCFC won handily 4-1. That means Toronto has to face the Union for a place in the conference semifinals. Oh, and TFC has won just one of its last six.

Real Salt Lake: While RSL managed to cling to a playoff spot in spite of the 2-1 loss to the Sounders, it tumbled from fourth place to sixth in the West. As such, Real Salt Lake will play away in the knockout round and will face the feared L.A. Galaxy instead of Seattle or Sporting Kansas City.


Ilsinho: Come on, Ilsinho.


The humorless drone who decided twerking after a goal merits a yellow card: I mean, come on.

Leander Schaerlaeckens is a soccer columnist for Yahoo Sports. Follow him on Twitter @LeanderAlphabet.