By the end of the year, some lucky club will get a fabulous opportunity to host an MLS Cup final in its building.
Of course, they’ll have to fight their way through the playoffs to get there.
But once the two finalists have been sorted out, the surviving club with the best regular season mark will be presented with oh-so-dandy chance.
The point is, teams like New York have probably already done enough to feel good about their playoff chances. Barring an epic collapse over the final third, the Red Bulls should make the post-season.
So Sunday’s stirring comeback win over Portland is all about positioning. It’s about being among the top three, first. (Because those three dodge the first playoff round.)
And then it’s about gaining as many points as possible, for Supporters Shield pursuits and also for that glistening opportunity come the Dec. 1, MLS Cup time.
It’s the points gathered up right now that matter. Yes, we all will circle the final match and talk about vital points and the jostling at that time. But points collected in matches like Sunday’s, when the Red Bulls seemed less likely along the way, matter just as much.
The Red Bulls fell behind by a pair to struggling Portland, but fought their way back to level. Then Heath Pearce got forward to provide the late game-winner in the 3-2 result, as Hans Backe’s team kept pressing first-place Kansas City for Eastern leadership – and everything that goes with it.
Highlights are here: