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2021 MLS Cup Playoffs: bracket, schedule, games, dates

The MLS Cup is underway after the regular season concluded with seven teams from the Eastern and seven from the Western conference booking their place in the playoffs.

Nov 21, 2021; Bronx, NY, USA; New York City FC celebrates a goal by defender Alexander Callens (6) against the Atlanta United during the second half in a round one MLS Playoff game at Yankee Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Vincent Carchietta-USA TODAY Sports
Vincent CarchiettaUSA TODAY Sports

The MLS playoffs started on November 20 and the full schedule for the 13 playoff matches is upon us.

A total of 14 teams made the postseason. The team with the best record hosts every match of the playoffs. The No. 1 seed in each conference has a first-round bye and home advantage throughout. It’s straight single-elimination knockouts from beginning to end.

MLS playoffs

A total of 12 single-elimination matches will leave two finalists from each conference. The finalists will then play for the MLS Cup on December 11.

How the playoff format works:

First round: Three matches in each conference pitting No. 2 vs. No. 7, No. 3 vs. 6 and No. 4 vs. No. 5. The No. 1 seed gets a bye. Higher seeds host.

Conference semis: It’s predetermined that the No. 1 seed will face the winner of the No. 4 vs. No. 5 match. The other two winners face off: No. 3/No. 6 vs. No. 2/No. 7.

Conference finals: The final two teams left standing in each conference meet at the home of the highest remaining seed.

MLS Cup: The two conference champions meet at MLS Cup, hosted by the team with the best record across the season.

The same extra time rules apply to the playoffs. There will be 30 minutes of extra time after 90 minutes of regulation, and a penalty-kick shootout, if necessary.

MLS 2021 playoff bracket

Eastern Conference

First Round:

No. 2 Philadelphia 1, No. 7 NY Red Bulls 0 (a.e.t.)

No. 3 Nashville SC vs. No. 6 Orlando City

No. 4 NYCFC 2, No. 5 Atlanta United 0

Conference Semifinals:

No. 1 New England Revolution vs. No. 4/5 NYCFC / Atlanta

No. 2 Philadelphia Union vs. 3/6 Nashville / Orlando (higher seed hosts)

Conference Final:

No. 1/4/5 vs. No. 2/3/6 (higher seed hosts)

Western Conference

First Round:

No. 2 Seattle Sounders vs. No. 7 Real Salt Lake

No. 3 Sporting KC 3, No. 6 Vancouver Whitecaps 1

No. 4 Portland Timbers 3, No. 5 Minnesota United 1

Conference Semifinals:

No. 1 Colorado Rapids vs. No. 4/5 Portland / Minnesota

No. 3 Sporting KC vs. No. 2/7 Seattle / RSL (higher seed hosts)

Conference Final:

No. 1/4/5 vs. No. 2/3/7 (higher seed hosts)


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