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MLS announces 2014 playoff format, dates

MLS Cup Playoffs 2014


We do not know just yet all of the teams that will be participating in the MLS playoffs this year, but we do know the schedule.

MLS announced on Tuesday the fixtures dates and format for the 2014 postseason. It is the same format as last year’s playoffs but there are minor adjustments, including the removal of the bye week between the two legs of the conference finals that was heavily criticized in 2013.

The playoffs begin with the Conference Knockout games on Oct. 29-30, and end with the MLS Cup final on Sunday, Dec. 7 at 3 p.m.

There will still be a break to accommodate the international FIFA dates that run from Nov. 14-18, but it will take place after the conference semifinals and before the conference finals. This will mark the first time playoff games will be held the weekend after Thanksgiving, which will allow for more weekend games than in the past.

The format remains the same, as the conference semifinals and finals will be determined by an aggregate score after two legs. The knockout games and championship bout are just one match.

Currently, the only two teams to book their places in the postseason are the Seattle Sounders and LA Galaxy.

Here is the full 2014 MLS playoffs format and schedule:


  • The fourth- and fifth-place teams will play a single knockout game, and the winner will advance to the conference semifinals and face the first-place team in the conference;
  • The conference semifinals will be decided by a two-game, aggregate-goal format;
  • The conference championships will be decided by a two-game, aggregate-goal format;
  • MLS Cup will be hosted by the finalist that finished the regular season with the most points in the standings


Conference Knockout Round

  • Wed-Thurs, Oct. 29-30

Conference Semifinals

  • Leg 1, Sat-Sun, Nov. 1-2
  • Leg 2, Sat-Sun, Nov. 8-9

Conference Championships

  • Leg 1, Sat-Sun, Nov. 22-23
  • Leg 2, Sat-Sun., Nov. 29-30

MLS Cup Final

  • 3 p.m., Sunday, Dec. 7


Like the adjusted schedule ? Think there is still room for improvement? Would you have made any other changes?

Share your thoughts below.


  1. I don’t like that the 4 and 5 seed will have to play 3 games in 8 days. Most teams are playing their final game on Oct 25/26, then the 4/5 seeds play on Oct 29/30 with the winner playing again on Nov 1/2. The CCL teams are also playing on Oct 21-23 and will have 4 games in two weeks if they fall into the 4/5 slot.

    • As a fan of a team that could very easily finish in the fourth or fifth slot (New England) all I can say to that is: well you should have finished higher. You can’t complain that fourth and fifth seeds have a tougher time than those who finished ahead of them. That’s kind of the point.

      • The tougher time is already there with having to play an extra game and being matched against the #1 seed in the semifinals. Having to turn around and play a 3rd game in a week is excessive. The problem only gets worse when we add in the fact that Red Bull, Portland, SKC, or DC could play 4 games in two weeks due to CCL.

      • Disagree – these are marginal playoff teams anyway so it should be harder. If they happen to also be playing CCL, that’s too bad. The solution to this problem is to finish higher.

  2. For those buying MLS Cup Final Tickets, Seattle is 48 degrees average on Dec 7th.

    Raining, but the 300 level is undercover

  3. glad to see MLS has found a way to fit them all on weekend dates (except the play-in games) should be a big improvement (until Seattle and NE have some conflict with their eggball landlords)

    in the long run I hope that MLS starts the season a week or two earlier (should be easier with Orlando, Atlanta, Sacramento, Miami, others in domes or non-arctic climates) and targets Thanksgiving weekend for the MLS Cup. it would be a more recognizable/consistent date and there are three days that weekend to choose from depending on when the lease amount of eggball conflicts. also i think limiting the playoffs to 4 (4/10 in 2015, 4/12 eventually) teams with 2 leg qf’s, sf’s and finals would make for a great tournament.

  4. Scheduling is much better than last season. I’d still like a format that gave more of an advantage to teams that finished higher in the regular season. Here there is virtually no advantage. Having the second leg at home is nice but not that big a deal.

    • I would love to see them use the page playoff system for each conference. The 1st and 2nd place in each conference would get a second chance if they lost the first game/series. 3rd and 4th don’t get a second chance.

    • does the higher seed have to host second? I could see a number of situation where hosting first could be beneficial.. at least for the #1 seed
      – more advanced planning; not having to wait until 3 days prior to know who/where you are going to play
      – establish the lead first and defend in the second leg
      – interrupt the 4/5 seed’s multiple games at home in the same week

    • Need to go three game series. The two game series is maybe the dumbest thing in sports. I understand a need to solve a no home field advantage in CCL, but there SHOULD be a home field advantage.

      • Two team series make perfect sense when you aren’t trying to give one team an advantage. But I still don’t want to turn this into the NBA playoffs, they’d take an eternity that way.

        Maybe make the conference finals one game, hosted by the #1 seed, and give that team an automatic bye to the conference final. 2-5 playoff to determine the other team. Only problem is that the #1 team is sitting around too long.

  5. “MLS Cup will be hosted by the finalist that finished the regular season with the most points in the standings”

    Love the fact they’re keeping this. As a SKC STM it was an incredible experience last year… even with the freezing temp.

    • Yea, I agree 100%. It gives the regular season more emphasis, and no one can complain about certain cities being favored.

      Having said that, Dec 7 could be a serious problem for a handful of teams. Snow-fro could make a return.

    • Even though it’s entirely unfair to reward whoever had the best schedule, even though the two teams have played entirely different schedules in different conferences. Excellent example is last year, glad you mentioned it. The difference between RSL and SKC last year was 2 points! Last year (and just about every other year) the West had more competition than the East and you can’t say that the 2 points would be the difference if they had played in the same conference!?

      I would suggest that MLS change this aspect of the playoffs and reward the team based on who won the game between them that year? Or switch alternate the home team based on conference every other year (i.e. West team hosts this year, the East team will host next year)? It’s good to reward good teams (like SKC last year), but it’s bad to punish other good teams with some inconsistent silly rule (like RSL).

      • The issue I have with it is the two-week gap in games from Nov. 9th to 22nd. Is it a FIFA date or something? In any case, I would have held games on the 16th so as to move up MLS Cup to Nov. 30th, which decreases (a bit) the chance of freezing temps.

      • I respect your opinion and your reasoning but I prefer to give as much incentive to teams to win during the regular season.

      • If only the league gave some kind of silverware for the team with the most points at the end of the season….or sent the top 10 teams to some kind of playoffs or something…then teams might have more incentive to win…

        I think that while it would be awesome to be hosting, it gives one of the teams an unfair advantage in the Cup Final. It should be done A – somewhere temperate, we had the potential for an amazing Final last year. We got a good one, but because of field conditions it wasn’t nearly as great of a game as it could have been. B – Somewhere neutral. No homefield advantage. That’s my 2 cents.

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