MLS Cup Playoffs

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MLS Cup Playoffs
Founded 1995
Region United States
Canada
Number of teams 12
Current champions Portland Timbers
(1st title)
Most successful club(s) Los Angeles Galaxy
(5 titles)
2015 MLS Cup Playoffs

The MLS Cup Playoffs is the postseason elimination tournament of Major League Soccer held at the end of the regular season en route to the MLS Cup, the playoff championship game. Twelve teams in total from the Eastern Conference and Western Conference qualify for the tournament based on regular-season records, and a tiebreaking procedure exists in the case of equal records. Awarding a championship through a postseason tournament differs from most other soccer leagues around the world where the team with the most points at the end of the season is deemed champion. MLS awards the regular-season champions with the Supporters' Shield and a direct berth in the CONCACAF Champions League, the continental tournament. The regular-season champion must be a U.S.-based club in order to receive direct entry to Champions League. Since 2015 Audi is the official sponsor.

Playoff system[edit]

Since 2015, the top six teams in each conference qualify for the playoffs, playing in separate conference brackets. The first round of each conference has two one-off matches between the fourth- vs. fifth-place teams and the third- vs. sixth-, with the two higher seeds hosting. The lowest-seeded winner advances to play the conference's top seed, and the next-lowest playing the second in the Conference Semifinals. (This format matches that of the NFL Playoffs.)

The Conference Semifinals and Conference Finals are conducted in a home-and-away, aggregate-goal format. The team that scores the most goals in the home-and-away series advances to the two-game, total-goals Conference Finals or single-game MLS Cup Final, respectively. Since 2014 the away goals rule is used.[1][2] In both rounds the lower-seeded team hosts Game One and the higher-seeded team Game Two. If the teams are tied after two games (180 minutes) in the Conference Semifinals or Finals, the team which scored more goals away from home advances. If there is still a tie after the away goals rule is applied, a 30-minute overtime period (divided into two 15-minute periods) will be played followed by a penalty kick shootout, if necessary. The away goals rule does not apply to goals scored in the overtime period.

Qualification[edit]

12 teams qualify for the playoffs: the top six teams in each conference that have the most points in the standings at the end of the 34-game regular season.

The seeding is as follows:[3]

  • The top six teams in each conference are seeded first to sixth in their respective six-team playoff conference brackets.
  • Top two teams get byes; third through sixth place teams in each conference play in the first round.

Tie-breaking procedures[edit]

If two teams finish the regular season with an equal number of points, the following system is used to break the tie:[4]

  1. most wins
  2. goal differential
  3. goals for
  4. fewest disciplinary points
  5. road goals
  6. road goal differential
  7. home goals
  8. home goal differential
  9. coin toss/draw of lots

Note:

  • Unlike previous seasons, head-to-head competition results will not be used as a tie-breaker, since the 2012 season.[5]
  • If two clubs remain tied after another club with the same number of points advances during any step, the tie breaker reverts to step 1 of the two-club format.

History[edit]

Seasons League teams Playoff teams
1996–1997 10 8
1998–2001 12 8
2002–2004 10 8
2005–2006 12 8
2007 13 8
2008 14 8
2009 15 8
2010 16 8
2011 18 10
2012–2014 19 10
2015–2016 20 12

MLS playoff records[edit]

  • Win–Loss–Draw records include all knock out playoff matches, individual home–and–home playoff matches, and MLS Cup appearances.
Legend
Defunct Club
0-0-0 Win–Loss–Draw

Records[edit]

  • Matches determined by shoot out counted as win-loss, not draw
As of December 1, 2015
MLS Cup Playoff Club Records
Club MLS Cup
Apps
MLS Cups Win Loss Draw
LA Galaxy 9 5 40 23 6
D.C. United 5 4 29 11 5
New England Revolution 5 0 17 17 7
Houston Dynamo 4 2 15 8 5
Sporting Kansas City 3 2 18 20 6
Chicago Fire 3 1 20 15 5
San Jose Earthquakes 2 2 13 10 1
Colorado Rapids 2 1 14 17 3
Columbus Crew 2 1 16 21 4
Real Salt Lake 2 1 9 8 4
Portland Timbers 1 1 6 2 2
FC Dallas 1 0 13 22 6
New York Red Bulls 1 0 15 20 8
Seattle Sounders FC 0 0 7 9 4
Miami Fusion 0 0 3 7 0
Tampa Bay Mutiny 0 0 2 9 0
Montreal Impact 0 0 2 2 0
Chivas USA 0 0 1 4 3
Vancouver Whitecaps FC 0 0 0 3 1
Philadelphia Union 0 0 0 2 0
Toronto FC 0 0 0 1 0
New York City FC 0 0 0 0 0
Orlando City SC 0 0 0 0 0

Appearances[edit]

As of October 26, 2015
MLS Playoff Appearance Records
Club MLS Playoff
Apps
Active
Streak
Longest
Streak
LA Galaxy 16 7 10
New York Red Bulls 15 6 6
FC Dallas 14 2 7
Sporting Kansas City 14 5 5
New England Revolution 13 3 8
Columbus Crew SC 13 2 4
Chicago Fire 12 0 6
Colorado Rapids 12 0 5
D.C. United 12 2 4
San Jose Earthquakes 8 0 5
Seattle Sounders FC 7 7 7
Real Salt Lake 7 0 7
Houston Dynamo 7 0 4
Chivas USA 4 0 4
Tampa Bay Mutiny 4 0 2
Vancouver Whitecaps FC 3 2 2
Miami Fusion 3 0 2
Montreal Impact 2 1 1
Portland Timbers 2 1 1
Toronto FC 1 1 1
Philadelphia Union 1 0 1
New York City FC 0 0 0
Orlando City SC 0 0 0

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ "Major League Soccer to introduce away-goals rule for first time in 2014 MLS Cup Playoffs". MLS. March 7, 2014. Retrieved March 9, 2014. 
  2. ^ "MLS adopts away goals rule". ESPN. March 8, 2014. Retrieved March 9, 2014. 
  3. ^ 2015 Competition Rules and Regulations, MLS, retrieved March 20, 2015 
  4. ^ "Competition Rules and Regulations". Retrieved November 30, 2014. 
  5. ^ "New tiebreakers designed to encourage attacking play". MLS Communications. MLSSoccer.com. Retrieved October 1, 2012. 

External links[edit]