Major League Soccer has revamped its playoff format with two extra teams making the post-season from each conference and an expanded first round featuring best-of-three series.
The Eastern and Western Conference will each send nine teams to the post-season, one up from last yr.
At the tip of the regular season, the highest seven teams from each conference will mechanically make the primary round of the playoffs. The eighth- and ninth-place teams in each conference will try to hitch them via a single-elimination wild-card match that may go on to a penalty shootout if tied after regulation time.
The primary round will feature No. 1 versus No. 8 or 9, No. 2 versus No. 7, No. 3 versus No. 6 and No. 4 versus No. 5 in each conference. Just like the wild-card matchups, tie games will go on to a penalty shootout.
The upper seed will host the primary game and the third, if required. Game 2 shall be played on the lower seed.
The conference semifinals, finals and MLS Cup final shall be single-elimination matches hosted by the team with the higher regular-season record. Should these games finished knotted after 90 minutes, two 15-minute additional time periods shall be played of their entirety, with a penalty shootout to follow if needed
In 2022, the highest seven clubs from each conference made the playoffs with the No. 1 seeds within the East and West getting first-round byes. All of the post-season games were single-elimination affairs.
The wild-card matches are scheduled for Oct. 25-26 with the first-round series to follow Oct. 28 to Nov. 12. The conference semifinals and finals shall be played between Nov. 25 and Dec. 3 with the championship game slated for Dec. 9.
MLS is as much as 29 teams this season with the addition of expansion St. Louis City FC.
MLS said the revamped format got here after a review designed “to deliver an enhanced playoff format that might provide fans with more games of consequence and higher reward regular-season results while maintaining one of the best elements from the single-elimination format.”
Along with the advantage earned within the MLS post-season, the league says higher MLS regular-season rating shall be rewarded with greater home-field advantage and grouping with lower seeded LIGA MX opponents during Leagues Cup group play.
The MLS Cup champion will earn a bye past the group stage.