MLS releases playoffs schedule, includes break for FIFA dates in November

GalaxyCupCelebration (Getty)


For teams in the 2013 Major League Soccer playoff race, finishing in third place or higher becomes paramount.

With two matches remaining in the regular season for all teams, MLS released their postseason schedule on Thursday, which happens to observe the FIFA international dates in November, the first time MLS has included a league-wide break all season.

As such, the opening rounds of the MLS Cup playoffs are very congested, and teams finishing in fourth or fifth place could find themselves playing five games in a 15 to 18 day span, which could take it’s toll and really test those squad’s depth.

The playoffs begin on October 30-31 with the knockout games, followed by the Conference Semifinals on November 2-3 (first leg) and November 6-7 (second leg). The Conference Finals are split up by the international break, with the first leg occurring on November 9-10 and the second leg on November 23-24.

Following a break for Thanksgiving, the MLS Cup final will be played on December 7 at the home of the team with the best record of the two participants in the final.

Here’s a closer look at the MLS Playoff schedule:

  • Knockout Games: October 30-31 (Wed.-Thurs.)
  • Conference Semifinals, Leg 1: November 2-3 (Sat.-Sun.)
  • Conference Semifinals, Leg 2: November 6-7 (Wed.-Thurs.)
  • Conference Finals, Leg 1: November 9-10 (Sat.-Sun.)
  • Conference Finals, Leg 2: November 23-24 (Sat.-Sun.)
  • MLS Cup: December 7 (Sat.)


What do you think of this news? Do you like the way the schedule is designed? Do you feel like teams who finish fourth or fifth will struggle due to the congested schedule? Which teams have the best chance of advancing to the MLS Cup final?

Share your thoughts below.

  • Jacknut

    Of all the times not to take FIFA break, this is the one. How many players would get called up?


    • beto

      right.. and all the other times they should but don’t acknowledge the fifa break are when every national team in the world is playing and all mls teams are in action. idiotic.


  • Brain Guy

    Wow – you don’t want to finish fourth or fifth. Including your last regular season game, if you remain alive you may have to play three games in seven days, four games in eleven days, and five games in fourteen days. And even if you finish first, if you reach the conference finals you will have to play three playoff games in eight days. This is going to be a war of attrition.


    • West of the Cascades

      And if you finish first, two of the three playoff games in eight days are on the road. It almost suggests that finishing third gives you the most beneficial schedule (you open the second-third playoffs at home, and if you win, you likely get the conference champion coming in after bouncing around half the country for a week).


      • West of the Cascades

        On the other hand, I’m deliriously happy because I have to be away from Portland between November 11th and 20th, and there’s no possibility of missing a home game this way (assuming they make the playoffs and keep moving forward).


  • ComeOn

    I don’t like this one bit. I agree with the break for the international window. But putting that break between the two legs of the Conference Finals? WHAT IS WRONG WITH THEM?!
    Who came up with this? Seriously.

    They should’ve went with the knockout rounds on the dates listed. And then the first semifinal leg is okay. But the 2nd semifinal leg you push to the next weekend 11/9-10. Take your FIFA break. And then have the conf final legs each on a weekend. And finish with MLS Cup on 12/7.

    I get that they need time since they don’t know who will host MLS Cup but give me a break. If it was that bad then I suppose you could try to condense the conference finals into a shorter window. But still…. don’t break up the conference finals by what… TWO WEEKS??


  • Ron

    Personally, I would have preferred:

    4/5 games: Oct 30/31
    Conf Semifinals: Nov 2/3 and 9/10

    FIFA Break

    Conference Finals Nov 23/24 and Nov 30/Dec 1
    MLS Cup Dec 7

    I think this is a much better shedule, but MLS and or TV partners want a two week break between the Conference Finals and MLS Cups. Probably to sell tickets.


    • slowleftarm

      Also 30/1 is Thanksgiving weekend. No one is going to those games if they’re that weekend outside the PNW.


    • beto

      +1 i like this schedule better.

      Thanksgiving Weekend isn’t a bad time to host some big games at all! Thanksgiving Day might be a bad idea (even tho the nfl monopoly on that day isn’t really all that great detriot/dallas-lame!).. just because of tradition and all but that weekend would be a fine time.


  • slowleftarm

    This schedule is terrible but I don’t see a better alternative because of the international break. Unless you play the 2nd legs of the conference finals on Thanksgiving weekend. I have been decidely anti-switching to Euro schedule but nonsense like this is making me at least reconsider. At least until I have to go to RBA in December.


    • beto

      +1, my comments exactly.

      would you rather go to a regular season game this time of year and have the playoffs in May or have it this way..


  • @freepdx

    Not a fan of this. Is there still time to change this madness? Could someone from MLS explain why they need 2 weeks prior to MLS final? If there’s a good reason I’d be in favor of pushing the whole thing back to avoid the 2 week break in middle of conference finals.

    Knockout Games: October 30-31
    Conference Semifinals, Leg 1: November 2-3 (Sat.-Sun.)
    Leg 2: 9-10 (Sat-Sun)
    Conference Finals, Leg 1: November 23-24 (Sat.-Sun.)
    Leg 2: 30-31(sat-Sun)
    Final Dec 14th


  • go euro or go home

    Forget about promotion and relegation, but this tournament should happen during the season and move to single table.


  • jmadsen

    not saying we should change to single table, just…

    Have you seen what the single table looks like at the moment? Wow!


  • Smith

    Ok. let’s start from scratch:

    1) Three conferences
    2) Three conference winners & one wild card
    3) Seed them 1-4
    4) One game knockouts for the two playoff rounds.
    5) Final a week later


  • JC

    This will be even more difficult for San Jose, SKC and Houston since they have must win CCL next week. San Jose and Houston can easily end up in the 4/5 spot and be stretched really thin by playing 5 games in the next two weeks with plenty of travel.


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