Decision Day

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Decision Day Recap: Vela breaks record; Dallas, Timbers clinch playoffs; Howard, Beasley play final game

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MLS Decision Day is behind us, and the league has a new single season goalscoring king and a complete lineup for the MLS Cup playoffs.

One goal short of breaking Josef Martinez’s record set last season, Carlos Vela erupted for a hat trick in LAFC’s 3-1 win over the Colorado Rapids on Decision Day, lifting the single season goalscoring record to 34 goals.

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In 31 games, LAFC’s captain recorded a total of 34 goals and 15 assists, an average of 1.62 goals plus assists per game.The Mexican finished four goals above LA Galaxy’s Zlatan Ibrahimovic (30) and seven above former record holder Martinez (27). In other words, the 30-year-old placed his foot firmly on the pedal and never let go.

Following the game, Bob Bradley, as expected, was full of praise for the Mexican, who more than doubled his goal count of 14 last season and was crucial in the team’s historic season, which saw them lift the Supporter’s Shield and set the most points in a single season.

Some may say it’s up for debate (it’s really not), but Vela’s season should be considered as the league’s best ever.

FC Dallas, Portland Timbers clinch spot in MLS Cup playoff field

In convincing fashion, FC Dallas and the Portland Timbers punched their tickets into the the MLS Cup playoffs.

In Frisco, specifically, first-year coach Luchi Gonzalez and company took the “win and your in” motto to heart, drilling a helpless Sporting Kansas City 6-0. Every player in Dallas’ front four bagged goals, with defender Matt Hedges contributing one of his own in the 12th minute.

Over in Portland, the Timbers sent Matias Almeyda and the San Jose Earthquakes packing, edging past them 3-1 with to second-half goals from Dairon Asprilla and Sebastian Blanco.

After conceding a goal in the 29th minute, the Quakes responded within 10 minutes when Chris Wondolowski header home his 15th goal of the season. It wasn’t enough for the Black-and-Blue, however, as a ghost of the past hunted them once again: second-half meltdowns.

After placing as high as second in the Western Conference over the summer, the Quakes ended their season on a six-game losing streak and four points short of the cut.

Tim Howard, DaMarcus Beasley say goodbye to the beautiful game

Decision Day also saw the illustrious careers of Tim Howard and DaMarcus Beasley come to a close – two U.S. soccer legends and trailblazers.

Howard hangs up the boots after a 22-year journey that saw him play in the United States and England, where he featured for Manchester United and Everton. At Everton, the New Jersey native recorded 414 appearances in a decade-long career. The 40-year-old also recorded 121 caps with the U.S. men’s national team, eighth in the all-time list.

At 37 years of age, Beasley, too, is riding off into the sunset.

The longtime fullback completes a career that started 20 years ago, and saw him play in Holland, England, Scotland, Germany, Mexico and the United States. Throughout that stretch, Beasley won multiple titles with Rangers, two Eredivisie’s with PSV and three U.S. Open Cups with the Chicago Fire and, most recently, with the Houston Dynamo.

On an international level, the Indiana native featured 126 times for the USMNT, scoring on 17 occasions. Like Howard, Beasley hoisted multiple Gold Cup’s with the Stars and Stripes.

MLS Decision Day Preview: One chance left for Galaxy, Montreal, Crew

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Here’s your cheat sheet for Decision Day, the final match day of the Major League Soccer regular season.

[ PL PREVIEW: Liverpool vs. Cardiff City ]

Supporters’ Shield, East top seed: The Supporters’ Shield will learn its new home this Sunday, as Atlanta United heads to Toronto and the New York Red Bulls hope for a win of its own and failure from the Georgian outfit in Canada.

West top seed: The Western Conference No. 1 seed still has plenty of intrigue. Sporting KC hosts LAFC in a beauty which will go a long way toward deciding things. KC has a 2-point lead on LAFC, and a draw would be enough unless FC Dallas hangs a record blowout on Colorado.

West’s final playoff spot: If LA Galaxy beats Houston, it leapfrogs Real Salt Lake. Anything else, and RSL skates into the playoffs on its couch as a bye week witness.

East’s final playoff spot: Columbus gets into the playoffs with a home win over lowly Minnesota, but a draw or loss opens the door for Montreal to snag the sixth seed with a win in New England.

MLS 2016 Schedule sees Decision Day go next level; Five games to watch

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Last season’s MLS Decision Day was fun, but this year Major League Soccer is taking its final regular season match day to dramatic new heights.

All 10 finales will be staged at the same time: 4 p.m. ET on Sunday, October 23.

It’s not a unique move to MLS, obviously, but it’s the next step in fair play. North America has to deal with a time zone landscape that means plenty of teams would have to sacrifice in such a situation (in terms of ideal kickoffs for attendance, etc).

[ MLS: Meet the five Generation Adidas players for the 2016 SuperDraft ]

That said, if you’re going to finish on a Sunday (Why not Friday night, we ask?), then fight against the lesser-scheduled late afternoon NFL games.

We won’t work too hard here and stretch to say things like, “Jeff Larentowicz’s return to Chicago is of more import than a Cascadia Cup match”, but we’ll also try not to be too obvious when we offer these five games we’re pumped about:

Portland Timbers vs. Columbus Crew — Sunday, March 6, 4:30 p.m. ET

We’ve known about this one for a couple weeks, but the MLS Cup rematch will be worth a watch for sure.

Houston Dynamo vs. Sporting KC — Saturday, May 7, Time TBA

After a mere 271 MLS appearances, Brad Davis will return to Houston in a rival’s colors. Come. On.

Montreal Impact vs. Toronto FC — Sunday, October 16, 5 p.m. ET

Quebec is the province for the third season match-up between these two rivals, and will come with likely playoff implications one week before Decision Day.

Columbus Crew vs. New York Red Bulls — Sunday, June 25, 7:30 p.m. ET

To say that the Eastern Conference final was intense, physical, and begging for a rematch is an understatement.

Vancouver Whitecaps vs. Portland Timbers — Sunday, October 23, 4 p.m. ET

Our favorite Decision Day match-up could possibly see the Cascadia Cup and Western Conference honors decided, and that’s awesome.