It’s put up or shut up time in Major League Soccer. After the final 2021 MLS playoff bracket is set on Decision Day (Nov. 7), the path to the 2021 MLS Cup title will be clear.
Here are the basics: A total of 14 teams make the postseason (seven from East, seven from West). The team with the best record hosts every match, and the No. 1 seed in each conference gets a first-round bye and home-field advantage throughout. It’s straight single-elimination knockouts from there on out.
The madness starts on Nov. 20, and the full schedule for the 13 playoff matches through MLS Cup on Dec. 11 will be listed below when it’s officially released.
If there are any ties after 90 minutes, teams will have 30 minutes of extra time. A penalty-kick shootout will determine a winner if the deadlock persists beyond extra time.
MLS playoff teams
Playoff places and seeding are left to be decided in both conferences on Decision Day:
The top seven teams make it. Four teams have already clinched (noted with an ‘X’), and the New England Revolution has secured the No. 1 seed. Six teams are left to battle for the final three spots.
If teams are tied on points, the first tiebreakers are (1) total wins, (2) goal differential and (3) goals scored. Here’s how the East playoff seeding looks like with one match left to be played:
The top seven teams make it. Four teams have already clinched (noted with an ‘X’), leaving five teams to battle it out for the final three spots.
If teams are tied on points, the first tiebreakers are (1) total wins, (2) goal differential and (3) goals scored. Here’s how the West playoff seeding looks like with one match left to be played:
How MLS playoffs work
A total of 12 single-elimination matches will leave two finalists, one from each conference, to play for MLS Cup. Here’s how the playoff format works:
The same extra time rules for the playoffs — 90 minutes, 30 extra time minutes, penalty-kick shootout — apply to the MLS Cup championship.
MLS 2021 playoff bracket
MLS 2021 playoff schedule, TV & streaming
EASTERN CONFERENCE FIRST ROUND
EASTERN CONFERENCE SEMIFINALS
EASTERN CONFERENCE FINAL
WESTERN CONFERENCE FIRST ROUND
WESTERN CONFERENCE SEMIFINALS
WESTERN CONFERENCE FINAL
MLS Cup 2021
The 26th MLS Cup championship final will be played on Sat., Dec. 11 and will be hosted by the finalist with the best regular season record.
Who will win MLS Cup?
The New England Revolution, which amassed the best record in MLS during the 2021 regular season, is the favorite going into the postseason. The three teams vying for the No. 1 seed in the West are next in line.
There are some wild disparities in the odds between major sportsbooks, which will all likely revise their numbers when the playoff bracket is set.
MLS Cup 2021 outright winner odds
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