Daniel Gazdag's hat trick clinches East crown for Philadelphia

Daniel Gazdag scored a hat trick and the Philadelphia Union clinched the Eastern Conference crown with a 4-0 rout Sunday of visiting Toronto FC on MLS Decision Day.

Mikael Uhre also scored for the Union (19-5-10, 67 points), who set a new club record for points in a season while collecting the second conference title in franchise history.

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The first-place finish gives Philadelphia a bye into the second round of the MLS Cup Playoffs. The Union will have home-field advantage over any playoff opponent, unless they face Supporters' Shield winners LAFC in the MLS Cup Final.

The Union were unbeaten (12-0-5) at home this season, outscoring opponents by a lopsided 49-9 margin in those 17 games. Philadelphia was the only MLS team this season without a loss on its home field.

It took Gazdag and the high-powered Philadelphia attack just four minutes to strike against Toronto. Gazdag added another goal on a penalty kick in the 60th minute, then scored in open play three minutes later.

Sunday's performance further strengthened Gazdag's case for MLS MVP honors. After also collecting an assist on Uhre's goal, Gazdag has 22 goals and 10 assists in 34 games, including two hat tricks.

Philadelphia Union midfielder Daniel Gazdag celebrates after scoring a goal against Toronto FC.
Philadelphia Union midfielder Daniel Gazdag celebrates after scoring a goal against Toronto FC.
USA Today Images

Uhre has 13 goals in his first MLS season, with five scores coming in his last eight games.

Philadelphia goalkeeper Andre Blake recorded his 15th shutout of the season.

Toronto (9-18-7, 34 points) missed the playoffs for the second consecutive season, finishing 13th in the 14-team East.

Toronto lost its last five games and didn't score a single goal over its last three games. Mark-Anthony Kaye had Toronto's best chance Sunday, but his open-net shot in first-half stoppage time was blocked on an excellent play from Union defender Olivier Mbaizo.

Lorenzo Insigne, Jonathan Osorio, and Domenico Criscito were among the injured Toronto starters who were absent from Sunday's lineup. Richie Laryea also didn't play due to suspension (caution accumulation).