MLS Review: D.C. United, Timbers earn playoff spots while Galaxy stay alive

Patrick McDermott
The Eastern Conference playoff picture is a bit clearer after Sunday's early slate, though the top spot and the final playoff place are up for grabs

D.C. United booked their tickets to the MLS Playoffs with a win on Sunday afternoon while Zlatan Ibrahimovic and co. stayed alive in the West heading into the final week.

Ben Olsen's side entered Sunday knowing that a win would complete their late-season surge to the postseason, and they got just that with a 3-1 victory over NYCFC.

Wayne Rooney scored in the eighth minute to put his side ahead, finishing a Luciano Acosta assist following a winding run from the Argentinian playmaker.

Just 16 minutes later, Acosta scored a goal of his own, curling in a shot past Sean Johnson to give the home side a 2-0 lead it would never relinquish.

Rooney added another in the second half, scoring from the penalty spot to emphatically lock up a playoff berth despite a consolation finish from David Villa.

With the win, United seals a spot in the postseason while the Montreal Impact and Columbus Crew will wait until the final week to decide the sixth and final spot.

In the West, Ibrahimovic and the Galaxy stayed in the race thanks to a win over Minnesota United.

The Swedish star scored one and assisted another in the 3-1 victory and the Galaxy will need all three points next time out against the Houston Dynamo to stay in the hunt.

No such waiting will need to be done for the Portland Timbers, who sealed their own spot while delaying Real Salt Lake's hopes with a 3-0 win.

Meanwhile, the Wests' top spot will be up for grabs heading into the final week of the season as FC Dallas' 3-0 loss to Sporting KC opened the door for a trio of teams to seal the top spot.

As things stand, Sporting KC sits top with 59 points with FC Dallas and Los Angeles FC also in the hunt following the expansion side's draw with the Vancouver Whitecaps that eliminated the Canadian team from playoff contention.

Back in the East, Atlanta United moved one step closer to the Supporters' Shield with a 2-1 win over the Chicago Fire.

Gerardo "Tata" Martino's side were led by an early Franco Escobar finish and a Johan Kappelhoff own goal.

With the victory, Atlanta can lock up the Supporters' Shield next weekend with a win over Toronto FC in their season finale.

The New York Red Bulls, meanwhile, are the only other team still in that hunt as they sit one point behind Atlanta following a 1-0 triumph over the Philadelphia Union.

Alejandro “Kaku” Romero Gamarra was the lone scorer on the day, keeping the Red Bulls in the hunt for the league's top regular season prize. 

Two teams are still alive for the one remaining playoff spot in the East, with the Columbus Crew two points clear of the Montreal Impact heading into the final week of the season. 

While the Crew fell to a 2-1 loss against lowly Orlando City in a match that would have secured a postseason spot, the Impact managed to close the gap with a 2-0 win over Toronto FC. 

Columbus can lock up a playoff spot with a win over Minnesota United next week, but anything short of that will make things very interesting, with the Impact taking on the New England Revolution in their finale.

In other action, Chris Wondolowski's pursuit of the league's goal record remained on hold as the San Jose Earthquakes settled for a 0-0 draw with the Colorado Rapids that clinched last place for the California team, while the Seattle Sounders picked up a 3-2 win over the Houston Dynamo to continue their own run after recently sealing a postseason spot.