A rough guide to the 2023 MLS Cup playoffs: teams, format, dates
The 2023 MLS season is in its final stretch as teams jockey for an all important playoff place with Decision Day scheduled for 21 October.
All 29 MLS clubs are in the final stretch of their 34 game season and as October 21 Deadline Day looms, a handful of teams (Colorado, Toronto) know that they will be out of action with the bulk of sides still very much in the hunt for playoff places with other sides such as Cincinnati, St. Louis, Philadelphia, Orlando and Columbus already mathematically guaranteeing a place in postseason after the results from midweek games.
This season, securing a place in the top nine is the bare minimum to keep the season alive with MLS introducing a new wild card round for teams who end up in 8th/9th positions in both Eastern and Western Conferences.
The top seven teams in both conferences head to postseason action and will be joined by the one off game wild card winners with these matches scheduled for 25/26 October.
2023 MLS Playoffs
Another change affects the format of the playoffs as the eight teams per conference now enter a best of three series to see who advances to the semi final stages.
The top four sides will have home field advantage in the series and no games will be drawn with spot kicks used to decide a winner (as we saw in Leagues Cup).
The Conference semifinals revert to single games with the winners advancing to the final. Tied games will be decided on extra time and then penalty kicks should ties be level after 120 minutes. The conference finals will be staged on the same format and as is traditionally the case, the home team at the 2023 MLS Cup final will be the higher ranked for the regular season.