Each Western Conference club’s greatest achievement in 2021

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The new year is approaching, so let’s take a moment and look back at 2021 before you decide.

This year’s MLS campaign was full of all the usual drama and entertainment we have come to expect from this league. Remarkable moments and fantastic goals are run by the mill.

Below is a list of each Western Conference team’s biggest highlight from the 2021 season to make you even more excited for the fast-approaching 2022 campaign.

HISTORICAL NIGHT AT @ Q2Stadium! Our first three points at home !! pic.twitter.com/x4zl1LVF11

– Austin FC (@AustinFC) July 2, 2021

Austin FC’s first ever MLS victory – away against Colorado Rapids in Week 2 – was a fantastic moment, but proved a bit misleading with the expansion team struggling in its first year.

There is no place like home and with that in mind, their highlight of 2021 must beat the Portland Timbers – who eventually went all the way to the MLS Cup final – 4-1 to win for the first time at their wonderful Q2 Stadium.

There is talent in this Austin side and if their top players reach their full potential, there will be many more nights to celebrate before the faithful Verde.

We feel sorry for everyone who does not get goosebumps from seeing this. # Rapids96 x @Toyota pic.twitter.com/U3B5qP0M55

– Colorado Rapids (@ColoradoRapids) November 10, 2021

Rapid’s home game in the MLS Cup playoffs against the Portland Timbers will go down in history – a full stadium, a large television audience and the league’s first Thanksgiving game ever. But in the end, Colorado will always be remembered as the team that lost that game.

Instead, their biggest highlight of 2021 must simply be the 5-2 win over LAFC on Decision Day that sealed their place at the top of the Western Conference. That’s right, Rapids, with the lowest salary spending in the league, finished at the top of the West and secured their place in next year’s Concacaf Champions League.

There is no end to the credit Robin Fraser and his players deserve.

No slow down El Tren. ?

18-year-old Ricardo Pepi is the 2021 young player! pic.twitter.com/ZE8fpVxqBL

– Major League Soccer (@MLS) November 18, 2021

FC Dallas won the Copa Tejas trophy as the best MLS team in Texas, but considering that the three teams involved all finished in the bottom three in the West, that performance is far less impressive.

Instead, 2021 was about Ricardo Pepi’s growth. The best goal season of all teens in MLS history and hitting the door on an international level are just a few of the things this remarkable teenager achieved. As first reported by 90min, a move with big money to Europe is now waiting.

It sucks for Dallas fans to lose another young star, but few will miss Pepi his big chance.

The suite is … OVER.

For the first time since May 22, @HoustonDynamo wins a match. Their 3-0 win over @AustinFC, in Austin’s first trip to @BBVAStadium, takes a 16-match win-free streak. # HoldItDown #MLS pic.twitter.com/kwEEsvMXP2

– Adam Winkler (@ AdamWinkABC13) September 12, 2021

There really wasn’t much to shout about for Dynamo 2021. If you had to pick a highlight, it’s probably beating Texas rivals Austin FC and FC Dallas as part of a three-game unbeaten streak in September. That 3-0 win over Austin was the only time Houston won a game with more than a single goal all season.

Fafa Picault also scored in both of those victories, as he did in five of his six Texas derby appearances. Six of his 11 MLS goals in 2021 were against Houston state rivals.

What end of @ CH14_ ❤️‍? pic.twitter.com/c7AjKI4ES6

– LA Galaxy (@LAGalaxy) November 8, 2021

If it were not for Chicharito, Galaxy would have disappeared into obscurity very quickly by 2021. If they had kept him in shape all season, they would definitely have made it to the playoffs instead of missing out on a heartbreaking decision Day.

And that’s the biggest highlight of the Galaxy 2021; in just 1,736 minutes of action, Chicharito scored 17 MLS goals, leaving him just two behind eventual Golden Boot winner Taty Castellanos – a huge improvement from his 2020 fight.

More of the same next year and Galaxy will always have a chance.

It was fun.

FT | #LAFCvSEA 3-0 pic.twitter.com/PiMyWDGMGp

– LAFC Central (@LAFCCentralShow) October 27, 2021

After walking the 2019 Supporters’ Shield and making the final of the Concacaf Champions League 2020, so much was expected of LAFC last season but they simply did not get started. Was of course not helped by consistent injuries to key players or the departure of Diego Rossi.

If we had to pick a positive, it’s probably the 3-0 win over Seattle in October where they blew the Sounders away with three goals in 30 minutes. That and the form of the new striker Cristian Arango, who may be among the Gold Boots’ favorites next year.

Standard MLS 2021 #golazo. This time a free kick goal from Minnesota United’s Emanuel Reynoso #MNUFC ???? ⚽️ pic.twitter.com/XMOv85q2dU

– James Nalton (@JDNalton) May 9, 2021

It was messy, but the 3-3 Decision Day draw with Galaxy that drew Minnesota United into the playoffs at LA’s expense must be their highlight in 2021.

But if you’re looking for something a little more stylish and nicely packaged, just keep together a new run of Emanuel Reynoso’s goals. The guy is just magical.

Ninety minutes or so to kick-off and Timbers Army already with a good voice. #RCTID pic.twitter.com/JOXmvsgidK

– Jeff Carlisle (@JeffreyCarlisle) December 11, 2021

They lost in a heartbreaking way on penalties, but the Portland Timbers hosting the MLS Cup must be the highlight of 2021. The Timbers Army were in full swing hours before kick-off, and the roof almost took off Providence Park when Felipe Mora equalized in the match. last seconds of normal time to keep the tie alive.

There will always be a sting of sadness when you look back on the day, but it was Portland’s moment in the sun and a wonderful opportunity for everyone involved.

90 ‘+ 5’ GOAL !!

DAMIR KREILACH SENSES #RSL TO THE AFTER SEASON! #SKCvRSL // #DecisionDay pic.twitter.com/Cns97LSmX9

– Major League Soccer (@MLS) November 8, 2021

Damir Kreilach. 95th minute. Sporting Kansas City. RSL’s MLS Cup play-off place booked.

Real Salt Lake will go down as the Cinderella’s story of the 2021 playoffs to beat Sounders and SKC, but it was the dramatic win to get them there that will be remembered most.

The drama and emotions behind the moment were all that football fans live for.

“I knew the tears would come.” ?

Chris Wondolowski announces that he is retiring. pic.twitter.com/J3ZRv8VOvr

– Major League Soccer (@MLS) November 8, 2021

Quakes never really got into the playoffs, so highlights were in short supply.

With that in mind, we give the floor to Chris Wondolowski, who announced that he is withdrawing from the game just after scoring his last MLS goal ever for San Jose. A fairy tale ending for a league icon.

78 ‘GOAL, #Sounders! JIMMY MEDRANDA SAID MORE FOR SEATTLE !!! #PORvSEA | 2-5 | #MLS pic.twitter.com/JXdWnEQlaq

The Last Word on Football (@LastWordSC) August 16, 2021

The Sounders were fully engaged at the end of the season, so there will be no of their usual playoff moments to keep in the scrapbook.

Instead, the highlight of their 2021 campaign was beating arch-rivals Portland Timbers 6-2 on their own note in August. The score was 2-2 until Raul Ruidiaz restored Seattle’s advantage in the 55th minute and from there they took apart the Timbers.

A nod must also be given to Seattle who reach the final of the Leagues Cup, which pushes Club Leon all the way in a brave 3-2 loss.

BANGERS ONLY IN @AUDI #MLSCUPPLAYOFFS

Graham Zusi. Majestic. pic.twitter.com/LBXfQG6NF8

– Major League Soccer (@MLS) November 20, 2021

SKC underperformed a bit in 2021, which is proof of their quality, as they almost went all the way.

Their season definitely reached its peak when Graham Zusi dropped from 30 yards to seal a 3-1 victory over the Vancouver Whitecaps in round one of the playoffs. It’s a goal we’re used to seeing Zusi score now and a fan will play over and over again.

Andiamo! ? #VWFC announces Vanni Sartini as head coach. https://t.co/eyuTF6xb8D pic.twitter.com/WHMbCpSZHl

– Major League Soccer (@MLS) November 30, 2021

After a tough start, Vanni Sartini took over from Marc Dos Santos and inspired the Whitecaps to a series of just two losses of 22 to end the season – enough to place them in the playoffs for the first time since 2017.

Sure, they crashed in round one, but even getting that far was a hell of an achievement for this team.

Optimism is high for 2022 under the eccentric but lovable Sartini, with Brian White and Ryan Gauld leading the attack.

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