Swedish striker Zlatan Ibrahimovic’s Los Angeles Galaxy missed the Major League Soccer playoffs by losing Sunday while the triumphant New York Red Bulls captured the regular season crown in record-setting fashion.
The Galaxy squandered a two-goal half-time lead in their first home loss since May, a 3-2 defeat to the Houston Dynamo that allowed idle Real Salt Lake to claim the final Western Conference playoff berth on the closing day of the regular season.
The Red Bulls edged visiting Orlando City 1-0 on US midfielder Derrick Etienne’s goal in the 53rd minute to grab their third Supporters Shield in six seasons with an MLS-record 71 points, two more than Toronto’s old mark from last year.
Toronto missed the playoffs but denied Atlanta United the Shield and the record with a 4-1 home triumph, allowing Red Bulls to overtake them for the top record in MLS.
Argentine forward Lucas Janson’s brace, with goals in the ninth and 83rd minutes, powered Toronto’s win with US midfielder Marco Delgado scoring in the 21st and Italy’s Sebastian Giovinco adding another in the 88th minute while Atlanta could only muster Josef Martinez’s 77th-minute penalty kick.
Venezuelan Martinez won the MLS Golden Boot with a one-season league record 31 goals, nine more than runner-up Zlatan.
The final Eastern Conference playoff berth was sealed when Montreal lost 1-0 at New England, the Revolution’s Diego Fagundez scoring in the 74th minute to ensure the Canadian side would not reach the post-season and the Columbus Crew would advance.
In the West, Norwegian forward Ola Kamara scored in the 27th and 30th minutes to put the Galaxy ahead but Houston netted second-half goals by Honduran forward Romell Quioto and two from Colombian Mauro Manotas in the 73rd on a penalty kick and another in the 79th to doom the Galaxy’s playoff dream.
MLS knockout round playoff matches to be staged Wednesday and Thursday will find Columbus facing Wayne Rooney-led D.C. United in the East and New York City FC against the Philadelphia Union in the East with the Portland Timbers meeting FC Dallas and Real Salt Lake facing Los Angeles FC in the West.
Red Bulls and Atlanta await the East winners while Sporting Kansas City and the Seattle Sounders will face the West knockout match winners.
– LA, Dallas defeated –
Ten-man Sporting KC edged LA FC 2-1 on Hungarian forward Daniel Salloi’s 72nd-minute goal to capture the top spot in the Western Conference. Roger Espinoza opened the scoring for host Sporting in the 37th minute but Carlos Vela equalized for LA in the 63rd on a penalty kick after defender Seth Sinovic was red carded for blocking a shot with his right arm.
FC Dallas could have avoided the knockout round but lost 2-1 at Colorado, England-born New Zealander Tommy Smith netting the winner for the Rapids in the 84th minute after US midfielder Cole Bassett equalized in the 80th for Colorado.
The Dallas and LA losses were enough to allow Seattle, a 2-1 winner over visiting San Jose, to avoid the knockout round. (AFP)