The MLS Cup Playoffs are coming up and it is a perfect time to talk about the major leagues in North America. At the top of all, Major League Soccer has been making waves with its expansion plans as it looks to increase their reach beyond just North America
The “MLS Cup playoffs 2020 format” is the upcoming MLS Cup playoffs. The schedule for this year’s playoffs will be released in December 2019.
29th of October, 2021
ESPN FC’s Austin Lindberg
The competition for playoff spots is heating up with just over a week before the 2021 Major League Soccer season closes with Decision Day (watch games LIVE on ESPN+). Five teams have clinched postseason berths, and seven more know they’ll be watching from home, but 15 teams are still vying for a playoff berth.
The 14 playoff players are made up of the top seven from each of the Eastern and Western Conferences (the top seed in each conference receives a first-round bye), and as slots are secured, we’ll keep you updated on who has qualified and who has been eliminated.
In addition, we’ll take a look at probable Round 1 opponents based on current standings. On Nov. 20, the MLS Cup playoffs begin.
Who is in and who is out?
A playoff berth has been secured:
New England Revolution, Nashville SC (Eastern Conference) Sporting Kansas City, Seattle Sounders FC, and Colorado Rapids are in the Western Conference.
The following teams have been ruled out of contention for the playoffs:
FC Cincinnati, Toronto FC, and Chicago Fire FC are in the Eastern Conference. Houston Dynamo FC, Austin FC, FC Dallas, and San Jose Earthquakes are in the Western Conference.
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Who will win this weekend?
Atlanta United: With a victory versus Toronto and some support, Atlanta can complete their remarkable recovery from bottom feeders to playoff contenders. The Five Stripes require three points from a win, with Orlando losing to Nashville, Montreal to the Red Bulls, and D.C. to Columbus.
LA Galaxy: Another team that can clinch with a victory and some assistance is the Galaxy. With a victory versus Seattle, Minnesota losing points to Kansas City, and LAFC dropping points to Vancouver, they’ll secure a postseason berth.
New York City FC (NYCFC) has a number of options for securing a playoff berth. If they defeat Miami, the Red Bulls must lose to Montreal, D.C. must lose to Columbus, Orlando must lose to Nashville, and Atlanta must lose to Toronto, or the Red Bulls and Montreal must tie, with Atlanta and Toronto splitting the spoils. If NYCFC draws with Miami, they may still qualify for the playoffs if Montreal loses to the Red Bulls, Orlando loses to Nashville, and D.C. loses to Columbus.
Orlando City: To secure a playoff spot, Orlando must defeat Nashville, and one of the following situations must occur: D.C. losing points to Columbus and the Red Bulls while drawing with Montreal, or D.C. losing points to Columbus and the Red Bulls while drawing with Montreal and Toronto beating Atlanta.
Philadelphia Union: The Union are in as long as they don’t lose to MLS’s poorest club, FC Cincinnati. Even if they are beaten, they may still qualify for the playoffs if one of the following circumstances occurs: The Red Bulls lose to Montreal and Orlando loses to Nashville; the Red Bulls and Montreal draw and D.C. drops points vs. Columbus and Atlanta loses to Toronto; the Red Bulls and Montreal draw and Orlando drops points against Nashville and Atlanta loses to Toronto; the Red Bulls and Montreal draw and D.C. drops points vs. Columbus and Atlanta loses to Toronto; the Red Bulls and Montreal draw and D.C. drops points vs. Columbus and Atlanta loses to Toronto; the
Portland Timbers: If LAFC loses to Vancouver or the Galaxy loses to Seattle, and Minnesota loses to Sporting KC, the Timbers are in.
Real Salt Lake: RSL has to defeat San Jose and receive some assistance from Minnesota losing to Kansas City and LAFC dropping points to Vancouver, or LAFC dropping points to Vancouver and the Galaxy dropping points to Seattle, to secure a postseason spot before Decision Day.
Vancouver Whitecaps: For Vancouver, it’s very straightforward: defeat LAFC and you’re in.
This weekend, who will be eliminated?
Columbus Crew: If the reigning MLS Cup winners lose or tie against D.C. United, they will be eliminated from playoff contention.
LAFC: If the Black and Gold lose to Vancouver and one of the following situations occurs: the Galaxy score a point or more from Seattle and RSL defeats San Jose; the Galaxy beat Seattle and Minnesota beats Kansas City; RSL beat San Jose and Minnesota beats Kansas City.
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SUNDAY, OCTOBER 30 • New York Red Bulls vs. Montreal Impact (4 p.m. ET) • Atlanta vs. Toronto (Atlanta vs. Toronto) (6 p.m. ET) • Columbus Crew vs. D.C. United (7:30 p.m. ET) • Texas vs. Dallas (8 p.m. ET)
• Houston vs. Colorado (1 p.m. ET) • Minnesota vs. Kansas City (1 p.m. ET) (3 p.m. ET) • The matchup between Philadelphia and Cincinnati (7:30 p.m. ET)
Inter Miami: Miami is out if it loses points versus NYCFC. The Herons may be eliminated regardless of their outcome against NYCFC if D.C. obtains a point or more against Columbus, or if the Red Bulls and Montreal do not tie.
Minnesota United: If the Loons lose to Kansas City and Vancouver defeats LAFC, the Galaxy defeats Seattle, and RSL defeats San Jose, the season will finish on Decision Day.
Byes in the first round
New England Revolution: You’re probably used to seeing the Revs here, as they’ve been the East’s No. 1 seed for weeks, but something’s changed in the last few days: Bruce Arena’s team now has 73 points in a season, thanks to a midweek win over Colorado — and there’s still three points up for grabs in the regular-season finale against Miami.
Sporting Kansas City: Sporting and Seattle have been battling for the Western Conference title all season, and with Decision Day only a week away, SKC has recaptured the top spot on goal difference. On Wednesday, the two teams squared battle against the Galaxy and LAFC, and with Kansas City winning 2-0 and the Sounders losing 3-0, Peter Vermes’ squad is now in position for a well-deserved vacation during Round 1 — and has a game in hand over its opponents.
San Jose Earthquakes: With their fifth defeat in their last nine games, the Earthquakes have been eliminated from playoff contention, joining Cincinnati, Toronto, Chicago, Houston, Austin, and Dallas. The Quakes have only made two playoffs appearances since winning the Supporters’ Shield in 2012: first in 2017 and again last season, in the enlarged playoff field for 2020. San Jose will select a new general manager this offseason after firing Jesse Fioranelli in July after an unsuccessful four-plus-year stint, with the hopes of regaining competitiveness on a West Coast stacked with regular MLS Cup contenders.
7. D.C. United vs. 2. Nashville SC: Nashville has allowed the fewest goals in MLS, and that’s despite letting three in a game against Cincinnati on Wednesday — the most NSC have allowed in a game all season. Is this a ray of light for Ola Kamara, the league’s top goal scorer? Most likely not.
3. Philadelphia Union vs. 6. Atlanta United: Atlanta was once on the outside of the postseason race, but six victories in their last nine matches have propelled them to sixth place in the East, with a game in hand that may propel them as high as fourth. Only one of the six triumphs came against a playoff club (D.C.), while the three losses came against probable postseason opponents Philadelphia, Montreal, and NYCFC. Josef Martinez and company will not be welcoming opponents for a Philadelphia club that has lost points in three of its last four games.
4. New York City FC vs. 5. Orlando City SC: Calling all expansion relatives! Much has changed since Kaka and David Villa faced off in these clubs’ opening encounter six years ago, but one thing hasn’t: despite their hype, both teams are still fighting for MLS relevance. This is just Orlando’s second postseason participation, and NYCFC has never looked particularly dangerous in the playoffs. The Lions have allowed the third-most goals of any Eastern Conference team remaining in postseason contention, which bodes well for league second-leading scorer Valentin Castellanos, who has two goals and an assist in two games versus the Magic this season.
Western Conference Matchmaking
7. Real Salt Lake vs. 2. Seattle Sounders: On September 19, these two teams clashed, with RSL winning 1-0. Since then, both outfits have had a lot of ups and downs. The Sounders bounced back by winning four consecutive league games, only to lose three of four in the last two weeks to Houston, Sporting KC, and LAFC. Salt Lake, on the other hand, has defeated contenders like as the Galaxy and Colorado, but has been thrashed by Portland and has lost to bottom-dwellers Austin and Chicago.
6. LA Galaxy vs. 3. Colorado Rapids: With just two victories in their last 13 games and only five points separating fourth and ninth place in the Western Conference, the Galaxy may count themselves fortunate to be in sixth place. Los Angeles has allowed 50 goals this season, the second most of any club in postseason contention, which should appeal to Rapids captain Jack Price, who has 12 assists this season, third most in MLS.
5. Vancouver Whitecaps vs. 4. Portland Timbers: When the playoffs come around, you can always bank on a Cascadia showdown — it’s just not usually Vancouver. The rivalry between Portland and Seattle is well-known, but it’s worth noting that the two teams have played 111 times in their history, going back to their first meeting in the NASL in 1975. And, believe it or not, the Whitecaps lead the Timbers in all-time head-to-head encounters, with 46 wins to 44 for the Timbers. This season’s series was split, with each team winning on the road, and the goal difference in those games was zero. Since 2015, a Cascadia team has represented the Western Conference in every MLS Cup; will it be Vancouver’s time this year?
The “MLS playoffs bracket” is a tool that provides the latest information on the MLS Cup Playoffs. It also includes an interactive map with game times and scores. Reference: mls playoffs bracket.
Frequently Asked Questions
How do playoffs work in MLS?
A: The MLS playoffs will typically be a single-elimination tournament, with the final match being played on an annual basis. If both teams in the series are tied at one win apiece and lose their next game, then they would play each other once more to determine third and fourth places.
What cups do MLS teams play in?
A: The MLS Cup is the final game in the season of Major League Soccer. It determines who will be crowned champions for that year.
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