Home sweet home: The 6 places your team should avoid come MLS' playoffs
BMO Field was a star in its own right in 2016, as TFC won the first three home playoff games in club history in front of a delirious crowd, only to fall just short in the final. The atmosphere in Toronto promises to be a big factor again this year.
But which of the current MLS Stadiums deserve a reputation as playoff fortresses? And which have proved to be straw houses over the years?
FourFourTwo rounded up some of the contenders:
StubHub Center, LA Galaxy
W18 L2 D1
The most formidable venue in MLS playoff history will not see postseason action this year. Since StubHub Center (formerly Home Depot Center) opened in 2003, it’s been a playoff fortress for the Galaxy — especially in the era of home-field advantage to the higher-seeded finalist, wherein the venue has hosted two Galaxy MLS Cup wins. The team has lost just twice in 21 playoff games at the stadium, and only one of those games (a 3-0 loss to Dallas in 2010) proved decisive.
Children’s Mercy Park, Sporting Kansas City
W5 L1 D0
You can see why Sporting KC is so desperate to ensure home-field advantage this year. Children’s Mercy Park has earned a reputation as a Cup fortress for the team’s U.S. Open Cup exploits, but Sporting has not played a home playoff game since winning MLS Cup at home in an epic 2013 penalty shootout against Real Salt Lake.
Three consecutive play-in eliminations on the road have left their scars, but the team is capable of doing real damage if it can just get back to Kansas.
RFK Stadium, D.C. United
W16 L5 D4
RFK will close at the end of the season, doing so without getting one last playoff game. Fittingly, the team will host the rival Red Bulls on the final day of the season. Marco Etcheverry’s goal in a 1-0 victory over the Metrostars in 1996 kickstarted a run of 12 straight home wins in the playoffs up to the turn of the century.
Since then, results have been rather more indifferent. Even serial D.C. playoff victims New York have won there in recent years, while a home capitulation to Montreal last year tarnished a proud record.
CenturyLink Field, Seattle
W9 L2 D3
Known as Qwest Field when Seattle joined MLS, CenturyLink has hosted the Sounders since 2009 and has been a solid venue through the years, even if it’s hosted it fair share of heartbreak in being unable to turn over road deficits. The 2-0 win over Real Salt Lake in 2011 for example, ended up being mere consolation after a 3-0 loss in the first leg on the road.
But 2016 saw the team win all three home games before holding on to beat Toronto on the road in the final, and with Seattle having finally won an MLS Cup, the venue will be one nobody wants to visit this year.
Gillette Stadium, New England Revolution
W12 L2 D5
The Revs are out of the playoff picture again, but they’ve been pretty strong at home over the years, losing only two home games out of the 19 they’ve played in Foxboro. Like D.C., the numbers are padded a little by the three-game format of early MLS playoffs.
Despite the most memorable home game being the loss to LA in the 2002 MLS Cup, the Revs’ home form has done its part over the years. The serial heartbreak has mostly come on the road.
BMO Field, Toronto FC
W3 D1 L0
It might seem premature to include BMO Field after one season of playoff games, but Toronto’s delirious run to the final last season featured some electric atmospheres and charged performances from the Reds.It’s no wonder Michael Bradley and his teammates made such a fixation of securing home-field advantage again this year.
Still, if you’re going to mention Toronto’s home on such a small sample size, you maybe have to mention Portland’s Providence Park (W3 L1 D1) and its “magic goalposts,” Real Salt Lake’s Rio Tinto Stadium (W5 L2 D2), and perhaps even FC Dallas’ Toyota Stadium (W 5 L3 D2).
Red Bull Arena, New York Red Bulls
W4 L6 D0
When their state-of-the-art stadium opened in 2010, the Red Bulls rode their home form to an Eastern Conference title, and all looked bright. Then the first-ever home playoff game was lost 3-1 to San Jose, and so began an uphill battle to establish any kind of intimidating playoff aura at what in regular-season play is one of the toughest venues in North America.
The Red Bulls finally won a home playoff game in 2014 only to lose another one that ultimately eliminated them, and since then, it’s been more postseason frustration in Harrison.
See also: Mapfre Stadium, (Columbus Crew) — W8 L5 D1; Dicks Sporting Good Park (Colorado Rapids) — W4 L2 D0; Toyota Park (Chicago Fire) — W3 L2 D0