2012 MLS Cup Playoffs
|Defending champions||Los Angeles Galaxy|
|Champions||Los Angeles Galaxy (4th title)|
|Goals scored||34 (2.27 per match)|
|Top goal scorer(s)||
The 2012 MLS Cup Playoffs was the seventeenth post-season tournament culminating the Major League Soccer regular season. The tournament began on October 31, and culminated on December 1, 2012 with MLS Cup 2012, the seventeenth league championship for MLS, won by the Los Angeles Galaxy 3-1 over Houston Dynamo. It was the second year that the playoffs included ten teams, and the first playoff series since 2006 in which teams could not cross conference brackets. The top five teams in both the Eastern and Western conferences of the league earned berths, with the top three clubs in each conference earning direct byes to the conference semifinals. The fourth and fifth-place finishers of both conferences played in a single-elimination play-in match.
The play-in winner played their respective conference regular season champion in the conference semifinals, which was a two-leg aggregate series, without the away goals rule enforced. For the first time in MLS Cup Playoffs history, each Conference Championship was also a two-leg aggregate series, as opposed to the traditional single elimination match. The MLS Cup championship still remain a single match, but the team with the stronger regular season record, the Los Angeles Galaxy, hosting the final at their home venue.
Both finalists directly entered the 2013–14 CONCACAF Champions League, with the champion earning a Pot A seed. They were joined by San Jose Earthquakes, the Supporters' Shield winner, and Sporting Kansas City, the 2012 U.S. Open Cup champion. However, none of these berths were available to the league's three Canadian teams, which instead participate in the Canadian Championship for that country's single berth in the CONCACAF Champions League.
For 2012, the league's previous system of "wild card" qualification—which had the potential for "crossover" series in which one team could play in the other conference's bracket—was scrapped. Instead, the top five teams in each conference will qualify for the playoffs and the two conference brackets are entirely separate. The First Round of each conference is a one-off match between the 4th and 5th place teams, similar to the previous wild card system, with the 4th-place team hosting. The First Round winner advances to play the conference's top seed in the Conference Semifinals.
Conference Semifinals and Conference Championship series are conducted in a home-and-away aggregate-goal format. The lower-seeded team in the Conference Semifinal hosts the first game, and the higher seed hosts the second. If the teams are tied after two games, a 30-minute extra time period (divided into two 15-minute periods) will be played followed by penalty kicks, if necessary. The away goals rule or golden goal is not used.
In the case of ties in the First Round and MLS Cup, extra time and penalty kicks are used in the same manner as above.
|1||Sporting Kansas City (E1)||34||18||7||9||42||27||+15||63||2012 MLS Cup Conference Semifinals|
|3||New York Red Bulls||34||16||9||9||57||46||+11||57|
|4||Chicago Fire||34||17||11||6||46||41||+5||57||2012 MLS Cup Knockout Round|
|9||New England Revolution||34||9||17||8||39||44||−5||35|
(E1) = Eastern Conference champion
|1||San Jose Earthquakes (SS, W1)||34||19||6||9||72||43||+29||66||2012 MLS Cup Conference Semifinals|
|2||Real Salt Lake||34||17||11||6||46||35||+11||57|
|3||Seattle Sounders FC||34||15||8||11||51||33||+18||56|
|4||LA Galaxy||34||16||12||6||59||47||+12||54||2012 MLS Cup Knockout Round|
|5||Vancouver Whitecaps FC||34||11||13||10||35||41||−6||43|
- Goals for
- Goal differential
- Fewest disciplinary points in the official points table (foul – 1 pt, first yellow – 3 pts, second yellow – 5 pts, straight red – 6 pts, disciplinary commission suspension – 6 pts, etc.)
- Road goals
- Road goal differential
- Home goals
- Home goal differential
- Coin toss (2 teams) or drawing of lots (3 or more teams)
|East Wild Card|
|West Wild Card|
|Conference Semifinals||Conference Finals||MLS Cup 2012|
|Chicago Fire||1 – 2||Houston Dynamo|
|Alex 83'||Report||Bruin 12', 46'|
|Los Angeles Galaxy||2 – 1||Vancouver Whitecaps FC|
Donovan 73' (pen.)
|Houston Dynamo||2 – 0||Sporting Kansas City|
|Sporting Kansas City||1 – 0||Houston Dynamo|
Houston Dynamo won 2 – 1 on aggregate
|D.C. United||1 – 1||New York Red Bulls|
|Miller 61' (o.g.)||Report||Hamid 65' (o.g.)|
|New York Red Bulls||0 – 1||D.C. United|
D.C. United won 2 – 1 on aggregate. Note: While D.C. United won the right to host the second leg owing to being the higher seed, the order of the legs was reversed owing to the effects of Hurricane Sandy. The second leg was originally scheduled for November 7 but was postponed one day due to snow.
|Los Angeles Galaxy||0 – 1||San Jose Earthquakes|
|San Jose Earthquakes||1 – 3||Los Angeles Galaxy|
|Gordon 82'||Report||Keane 21', 34'|
Los Angeles Galaxy won 3 – 2 on aggregate
|Seattle Sounders FC||0 – 0||Real Salt Lake|
|Real Salt Lake||0 – 1||Seattle Sounders FC|
Seattle Sounders won 1 – 0 on aggregate
|Houston Dynamo||3 – 1||D.C. United|
|D.C. United||1 – 1||Houston Dynamo|
|Bošković 83'||Report||García 34'|
Houston Dynamo won 4 – 2 on aggregate
|Los Angeles Galaxy||3 – 0||Seattle Sounders FC|
|Keane 46', 67'
|Seattle Sounders FC||2 – 1||Los Angeles Galaxy|
|Report||Keane 68' (pen.)|
Los Angeles Galaxy won 4 – 2 on aggregate
|Los Angeles Galaxy||3 – 1||Houston Dynamo|
Donovan 65' (pen.)
Keane 90+4' (pen.)
Post-season statistical leaders
Note: Statistics only for post-season games.
- "2012 MLS Cup Playoffs". MLSsoccer.com. Archived from the original on October 31, 2012. Retrieved October 30, 2012.
- "Competition Rules and Regulations". MLSsoccer.com. Retrieved October 17, 2012.
- "Big changes for MLS Cup Playoffs format in 2012". MLSsoccer.com. November 20, 2011. Retrieved November 25, 2012.
- "History: MLS Cup 2011". MLSsoccer.com. Retrieved October 30, 2012.
- "Champions League Qualifying 2013-14". CONCACAF. Retrieved November 4, 2012.
- "New tiebreakers designed to encourage attacking play". MLS Communications. MLSSoccer.com. Retrieved October 1, 2012.
- "MLS Cup Playoffs 2012". MLSsoccer.com. Retrieved 2012-11-02.
- "Hurricane Sandy forces Red Bulls, D.C. United to switch home dates for playoff series". NJ.com.
- "Snow postpones Red Bulls-DC United". ESPNFC.com.