- Inter Miami was already ruled out of postseason contention earlier this month
- Both conferences will now hold their respective play-in matches on Wednesday
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The final day of the regular MLS season proved to not only be busy but also stressful for several teams, as the New York Red Bulls and Charlotte FC emerged as winners, but who else joins them in the playoffs and who’ll join Inter Miami on the sidelines in the offseason?
A string of fine saves late-on by Charlotte goalkeeper Kristijan Kahlina against Lionel Messi and Inter Miami, including an insane free-kick in the second half of Saturday’s night’s 1-0 win, preserved his team’s status in the postseason by a whisker. Whether they would’ve won or not, the Herons were already out ruled out of the playoffs after after a 1-0 loss to Cincinnati earlier this month.
But, Miami’s game against Charlotte wasn’t the only match to have an impact on the MLS playoff picture, as CF Montreal was knocked out of postseason contention in the cruelest of ways after a 3-1 loss to the Columbus Crew and a dramatic New York Red Bulls win.
The Red Bulls were awarded a penalty in stoppage time against Nashville at Geodis Park to claim a 1-0 victory and leapfrog the Impact as the No. 8 seed in the Eastern Conference – one of two play-in seeds- on tiebreakers.
They will now face The Crown on Wednesday night to determine which of the East’s two play-in teams will get a spot in Round One of the playoffs.
Lionel Messi won’t feature in MLS Playoffs with Miami after ending the season as No. 11 seed
The New York Red Bulls sealed a dramatic 1-0 win against Nashville to book a play-in game
Red Bulls defender John Tolkin coolly converted his penalty (90+4′) to keep the club’s playoff streak going to 14 consecutive seasons
The Red Bulls’ dramatic win and their own loss to Columbus saw the Montreal Impact crash out
Elsewhere, NYCFC’s 1-0 victory over the Chicago Fire wasn’t enough to see the Blues reach the postseason, while Chicago was also eliminated.
Columbus ended the season as the East’s No. 3 seed and will next face Atlanta, who are ranked No. 6. Atlanta will be without Thiago Almada for the first leg of its first-round series next week in Ohio.
Cincinnati, Orlando City, the Philadelphia Union, New England Revolution and Nashville are the other teams guarantying a top seven finish, meaning that they have all automatically qualified for the playoffs.
As the No. 1 seed of its conference, Cincinnati will face the winner of the Red Bulls-Charlotte game, while No. 2 Orlando City will host Nashville – No. 7. The Union – the No. 4 seed – will take on the Revolution – the No. 5 seed – at home in the first round of the postseason too.
New York will play Charlotte FC on Wednesday to determine who makes Round 1 of the playoffs
Like the Impact, the Portland Timbers were leapfrogged on the last day of the regular season after a 3-1 loss to Houston but started the day as the No. 8 seed of the West
Sporting Kansas City players celebrate after defeating Minnesota and making the playoffs
Kansas will play against San Jose on Wednesday to determine who will make it to the playoffs
In the West, St. Louis City ended its inaugural season in MLS as the highest ranked team of its conference, despite losing to second-place Seattle on Saturday night.
Sporting Kansas City and San Jose clinched the eight and ninth spots – both play-in seeds – respectively. Kansas brushed off Minnesota with a commanding, 3-1 win and the Earthquakes earned a 1-1 draw against Austin FC to save their seasons by the finest of margins.
The Portland Timbers’ 3-1 home loss to the Houston Dynamo saw them drop from eighth to to 10th and effectively out of the postseason picture, allowing Kansas and San Jose to leapfrog them.
Sporting Kansas City and the Earthquakes will now battle it out in a play-in match on Wednesday, like Charlotte and the Red Bulls, to determine who’ll make it to the first round of the playoffs.
The winner of that game will go on to face St. Louis City (No. 1). Seattle – No. 2 – will take on FC Dallas – the No. 7 seed of the West – at home.
LAFC, who finished third, will host the No. 6 Vancouver Whitecaps, while Houston (No. 4) will battle against Real Salt Lake City in the first round of the postseason.
2022-23 MLS playoff matchups:
In the Eastern Conference:
(No. 8) New York Red Bulls vs. (No. 9) Charlotte FC
(No. 1) FC Cincinnati vs. Red Bulls/Charlotte winner
(No. 2) Orlando City vs. (No. 7) Nashville SC
(No. 3) Columbus Crew vs. (No. 6) Atlanta United
(No. 4) Philadelphia Union vs. (No. 5) New England Revolution
In the Western Conference:
(No. 8) Sporting Kansas City vs. (No. 9) San Jose Earthquakes
(No. 1) St. Louis City vs. Kansas City/San Jose winner
(No. 2) Seattle Sounders vs. (No. 7) FC Dallas
(No. 3) LAFC vs. (No. 6) Vancouver Whitecaps
(No. 4) Houston Dynamo vs. (No. 5) Real Salt Lake