MLS Decision Day 2022: Playoff scenarios and teams who can clinch a spot
The participating teams in the 2022 MLS post-season will be confirmed on Sunday as a dramatic ‘Decision Day’ round of fixtures awaits,
The 2022 MLS regular season draws to a close on Sunday (9 October) with an end of campaign ‘Decision Day’ with harmonised kick-off times to decide which sides advance to postseason. There are 2 play-off spaces available in each conference with the MLS Cup Playoffs, starting on 15 October and the MLS Cup final set o take place on 5 November 5, just 16 days before the 2022 World Cup gets underway in Qatar.
Here’s a state of play ahead of the last round of league fixtures in the 2022 season.
2022 MLS Cup playoffs – format and system
14 clubs will participate in the Audi 2022 MLS Cup playoffs, the top seven in the regular season from the Western Conference and the top seven from the Eastern Conference with teams from either conference not meeting until the MLS Cup final – after the Conferences finals – and that each tie is a one-off match.
The top team from each Conference receives a bye to the semi-finals and therefore won’t feature in the first round, which is made up of the following one-off games (taking place on 15-17 October):
The winners of the two semi-finals then meet in the Conference final on October 30, before the MLS Cup final crowns the overall winners on November 5.
Here’s an overview of how things stand in both the Western and Eastern Conferences.
LAFC are guaranteed to finished in top spot and are fast tracked into the semi-finals and a guaranteed home tie. A win away at Portland last Sunday saw the ‘Black and Gold’ secure the top spot and the prestigious 2022 Supporters’ Shield.
Austin FC, FC Dallas, LA Galaxy and Nashville have also secured post-season action in the West with the final two playoff placed to be decided between four clubs: Real Salt Lake (currently 8th, 44 points) must win at home to Portland Timbers (6th, 46 points) to finish in the top seven, while Vancouver Whitecaps (9th, 43 points) need to pick up three points at Minnesota United (7th, 45 points) to leapfrog their opponents. All games in the Western Conference kick-off at 4:00 pm (ET) / 1:00 pm (PT).
Earlier in the day, business in the Eastern conference will be resolved with Philadelphia Union currently holding a two-point lead over CF Montréal heading into their final league game. A home victory against Toronto FC will ensure they finish top of the Eastern Conference and progress to the semi-finals but dropped points and a Montréal win at Inter Miami would see Wilfried Nancy’s men move above them into first place.
New York City FC and New York Red Bulls secured their playoff spots at the weekend and Inter Miami did the same with a midweek win over Orlando City.
The race for the final two playoffs spots will be a three way battle between FC Cincinnati and Columbus Crew both tied on 46 points, one ahead of Orlando City (currently 8th, 45 points). With their midweek draw against Columbus, Charlotte FC said goodbye to any post season aspirations.
Orlando are at home to Columbus in a titanic match with Cincinatti away to basement side DC United. All games in the East start at 2:30 pm (ET).