Cahill's Red Bulls top MLS regular season
Tim Cahill has been rewarded with a standing ovation from home fans after helping the New York Red Bulls secure top spot in the Major League Soccer standings at the end of the regular season.
There was plenty for home fans to celebrate after Sunday's 5-2 win over the Chicago Fire as the Red Bulls claimed their first significant silverware, the Supporters Shield, secured home advantage throughout the playoffs and claimed a spot in next season's CONCACAF Champions League.
Socceroos star Cahill was unable to add to his tally of 11 goals for the season but he combined with Thierry Henry to set up his team's fifth by Jonny Steele in the 84th minute.
French great Henry scored a goal in the first half and finished the regular season with 10, one less than Cahill whose major contribution to the team's success was acknowledged by the crowd as he left the field with a few minutes to go.
The Red Bulls' win took them to 59 competition points, lifting them over Eastern conference rivals Sporting Kansas City, who had 58 points, while Real Salt Lake led the Western Division with 56 points.
"It's really special for the fans, for the club, how far we've come this season from last season," said Cahill. "It's a reward for the manager but most importantly the fans.
"This is something that people expected us and wanted us to fail - it's just nice to deliver, especially so soon.
"It's a proud moment and we're blessed to be part of such a great club."
The Red Bulls will go into the playoffs on an eight-game winning streak and first-year coach Mike Petke is a relieved man.
"I feel like over the last two weeks, the pressure and stress I put on my shoulders, I feel like I can handle anything in life," Petke said. "It was a very emotional two weeks."
"At 12 midnight tonight it will be a wonderful memory because we still have five games left," Petke said.
"We're going to refocus and get ready for the playoffs."
The New England Revolution qualified for the playoffs for the first time since 2009 after beating the Columbus Crew 1-0 and Houston wrapped up a playoff spot for the third consecutive season with a 2-1 win over DC United.
At Columbus, Juan Agudelo scored midway through the first half to clinch the win for the Revolution, who needed to win their regular-season finale because Houston defeated DC United earlier in the day to also reach 51 points.
New England moved from sixth in the Eastern Conference, one spot out of the playoffs, to third with the victory and will play Sporting KC next weekend.
At Washington, Boniek Garcia and Giles Barnes scored in the first half to help Houston finish fourth in the Eastern Conference and move into a knockout match against Montreal this week.
DC United was winless in its last 12 games and set the MLS record for fewest victories (three) in a season, breaking the previous mark of four set by Tampa Bay in 2001 and matched by Chivas USA in 2005.