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MLS announces Best-of-3 series, Wild Card matches as part of new playoff format


Major League Soccer has continued to think of new ideas for the league playoffs and several major format changes will begin in 2023.

The 2023 MLS Postseason will include a pair of single-elimination Wild Card matches ahead of an enhanced Round One, which now includes a Best-of-3 series, MLS announced Tuesday. The top seven teams from each conference will automatically qualify to the Round One Best-of-3 series while the next two teams in each conference standings will qualify for a single-elimination Wild Card match.

The winners of each Wild Card game will earn a spot in the Round One Best-of-3 series.

Every game of the Best-of-3 Series will have a winner and a loser, and all 16 qualifying teams will earn at least one home playoff match. Should a series go the full three matches, the higher seed will play host for Game 3.
The Conference Semifinals, Conference Finals, and MLS Cup will continue to be single elimination, win-or-go-home matches hosted by the team with the better regular season record.
Higher MLS regular season ranking is rewarded with greater homefield advantage and grouping with lower seeded Liga MX opponents during the group stage of the 2023 Leagues Cup.

MLS Decision Day is slated for Saturday, Oct. 21 before the Wild Card matches take place on Oct. 25-26. Round One Best-of-3 series will take place from Oct. 28-Nov. 12. The Conference Semifinals and Conference Finals will be played between Nov. 25-Dec. 3 before MLS Cup takes place on Dec. 9. 


  1. It doesn’t matter what MLS do with the playoff format, the true champion in my mind will always be the Supporters’ Shield winner. This is equal to the league champions in the rest of the world. MLS Cup winner is like any cup winner around the world. Luck plays major role in deciding it.

  2. I was intrigued by the “World Cup” format idea for MLS playoffs with groupings of 4 teams that played round robin and the top team or two from each group advanced to knockouts. This is just more of the same, adding a few games to satisfy the new tv deal. Doesn’t make any real sense from a competitive standpoint. At some point MLS needs to just settle on a format. The constant changes every year are hard to keep up with, and I am a soccer fan.

  3. Yet another gimmick from the MLS. On the bright side at least they aren’t re-instituting the timed shoot out at the end of regulation that provide so much comedy for the fans and so many talking points for the Spanish announcing crew.

    If you are a youngster look it up. It was truly dreadful


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