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(Christopher Hanewinckel/USA TODAY Sports)
(Christopher Hanewinckel/USA TODAY Sports)

MLS Decision Day: All you need to know

The final day of the MLS Regular Season is on the horizon this weekend, as there’s still plenty to play for this Saturday.

In both conferences, there are still playoff spots up for grabs going into the weekend. In the East, only two positions are available with five teams still in contention to qualify. Out west, three spots are open for another five teams able to clinch.

All Eastern Conference games will kickoff at 3pm MST, while all Western Conference games will kickoff at 6pm MST.

In each conference, 8th and 9th place will play against each other in a best-of-three series. The winner will play the 1st place team in the conference, where they’ll be in a bracket alongside 2nd vs 7th, 3rd vs 6th, and 4th vs 5th. 

Here is all you need to know in both conferences:

East Standings

8. Montreal 41 pts

E - 9. DC United 40 pts

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10. New York Red Bulls 40 pts

11. Chicago 40 pts

12. Charlotte 40 pts

13. NYCFC 38 pts

East Matchups

Columbus vs Montreal

Nashville vs New York Red Bulls

NYCFC vs Chicago

Charlotte vs Miami

The Eastern Conference teams that have qualified for the 2023 playoffs are FC Cincinnati, Orlando City, Columbus Crew, Philadelphia Union, Atlanta United, New England Revolution, and Nashville SC. Despite currently being above the line, DC United are eliminated from the playoffs. Wayne Rooney’s team do not play on Saturday, and will drop below the line no matter what result happens.

Let's focus on the fight for 8th and 9th. Montreal Impact arguably has the most difficult match: playing away against the Columbus Crew, which are fighting for home field advantage. But Montreal has the most straightforward scenario: win and you’re in.

If Montreal fails to win, this opens the door for other teams below them. First in line would be the New York Red Bulls, who can leap over the Impact with a win away against Nashville. Another way the Red Bulls can qualify is if the Chicago Fire falls to win NYCFC, which will be played at Citi Field. Chicago themselves can also take advantage of a potential Montreal slip-up by winning in New York and the Red Bulls coming up short in Nashville.

The Fire’s opponents, NYCFC, likely have the most to do on Saturday to ensure a playoff berth. Firstly, Nick Cushing’s side must defeat Chicago, then have to rely on TWO results going their way. NYCFC need their rivals, the Red Bulls, to lose AND need a Charlotte loss/draw against Inter Miami, where Lionel Messi is likely to play for the South Florida side. Charlotte are also on the outside looking in, needing a win at home plus two of either the Red Bulls, Montreal or Chicago to not win, in order to clinch a berth.

Home field advantage for the first round is between Philadelphia, Columbus and New England. As mentioned earlier, Columbus plays Montreal in Ohio, while New England will host Philadelphia at Gillette Stadium. Columbus and Philadelphia both control their destiny with a win. New England must defeat Philadelphia by at least three goals or need Columbus to lose against Montreal for a chance of sneaking into the top 4.

West Standings

7. Portland 43 pts

- - - - - -

8. Dallas 43 pts

9. San Jose 43 pts

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10. Kansas City 41 pts

11. Minnesota 41 pts

West Matchups

Portland vs Houston

LA Galaxy vs Dallas

San Jose vs Austin

Kansas City vs Minnesota

Unlike the Eastern Conference, three spots will be up for grabs between five teams trying to get above the line in the west.

The most simple outcome for Portland, Dallas and San Jose is to win their final games. If that’s done, all three clubs will go to the playoffs at the expense of Kansas City and Minnesota.

However, a slip-up for either of those teams opens the door for Kansas City and Minnesota, who play each other in a likely win or go home game at Children’s Mercy Park. One thing is for certain: both of those clubs cannot afford a draw, as it would put BOTH of them out of the playoffs.

It’s a simpler and more straightforward scenario for the Western Conference: if Portland, Dallas and San Jose all win their respective games, all three will go to the postseason.

LAFC, Seattle and Houston hold home field advantage going into the weekend. With LAFC assured of home field advantage, it all comes down to Seattle, Houston, Real Salt Lake and Vancouver for 3rd and 4th place. Once again, the equation is simple for Seattle and Houston: win against St. Louis and Portland respectively and you’re in. Anything but three points could open the door for RSL, who play Colorado, or Vancouver at home against LAFC.

All games in each conference will kickoff simultaneously at 3pm MST and 6pm MST. You can catch all the action only on Apple TV.

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