Twelve teams – the top six teams from each conference – qualify for the 2018 Playoffs. Playoff berths will be determined by points in the standings upon the completion of the regular season. All 23 teams will have played 34 games.
- The top six teams in each conference will qualify for the playoffs and be seeded 1-6 in their respective conferences.
- The No. 3 and No. 4 seeds in each conference will host the No. 6 and No. 5 seeds in a single-elimination knockout game. The No. 1 and No. 2 seeds will get a bye to the Conference Semifinals. The lower-seeded winners of each knockout game will face the No. 1 seed in their respective conferences. The higher-seeded winners from the knockout games will face the No. 2 seed in the conferences.
- The four Conference Semifinals will be decided by a two-game aggregate series, with the lower seed hosting the 1st leg and the higher seed hosting the 2nd leg.
- If the aggregate score is tied after 180 minutes of play, the away goals tiebreaker rule will apply so as to be consistent with CONCACAF and FIFA practice.
- If the series remains tied, two 15-minute extra time periods will be played in their entirety, followed by penalty kicks, if necessary.
- The away goals tiebreaker will not apply to extra time in the 2nd leg of any two-legged playoff series.
- The two Conference Championships will be decided by a two-game aggregate series, with the lower seed hosting the first leg and the higher seed hosting the second leg.
- The same tiebreakers will apply in the Conference Championships as in the Conference Semifinals.
- If the score is tied after 90 minutes of play, two 15-minute extra time periods will be played in their entirety, followed by kicks from the penalty mark, if necessary.
- MLS Cup will be a single championship match hosted by the finalist with the most regular-season points. If the two finalists have the same number of regular season points, the tiebreakers for MLS Cup Playoff qualification will be applied to determine the host team.
The team awarded the highest position in the MLS standings will be the team with the greatest number of points (3 points for a win, 1 point for a tie, 0 points for a loss). In the event that two teams finish the regular season with an equal number of points, the following system will be used to break the tie:
- Total number of wins
- Goal Differential (GD)
- Goals For (GF)
- Fewest Disciplinary Points
- Away Goals Differential
- Away Goal For
- Home Goals Differential
- Home Goal For
- Coin Toss (tie of 2 clubs) or Drawing of Lots (tie of 3 or more clubs)
Major League Soccer announced that 2018 MLS Cup will be played on Saturday, Dec. 8 at 7:30 p.m. ET, hosted once again by the finalist with the best regular season record. The league’s 23rd annual championship game will be airing on the FOX broadcast network, Spanish-language broadcast partner UniMás, and in Canada on TSN (English) and TVA Sports (French). The match will also be broadcast across more than 170 countries worldwide.
In addition, the Audi 2018 MLS Cup Playoffs schedule has been set and for the fourth consecutive season, all postseason games will be broadcast nationally across the league’s domestic U.S. partners ESPN, FS1, and UniMás, and in Canada on TSN and TVA Sports networks.
After the close of regular season play on MLS Decision Day presented by AT&T, Sunday, Oct. 28, the Audi 2018 MLS Cup Playoffs rev up with four single-game elimination Knockout Round matches played October 31-November 1.
Following the Knockout Round, the 2018 postseason schedule features two action-packed dates, a week apart, for both the Eastern and Western Conference Semifinal Series (Sundays, Nov. 4 and 11). Four games will be played on each of the match dates, and just four teams, two from each conference, will advance from the two-game, aggregate-goal, home-and-home series to the Conference Championships.
The drama of the Conference Championships Series will also unfold on a pair of match dates, with both conferences facing off on Sunday, Nov. 25 and Thursday, Nov. 29, in doubleheaders that will ultimately decide the 2018 MLS Cup contenders.
As it has been since the 2012 season, the 2018 MLS Cup will be played at the home venue of the finalist with the best regular-season record.
For more information about the postseason format, please see the MLS Competition Rules and Regulations.
Audi 2018 MLS Cup Playoffs Schedule
*Subject to change. Canadian and international broadcast information to be announced at a later date.
(Conference third seed vs. sixth seed, and fourth seed vs. fifth seed in a single-game elimination match)
Eastern and Western Conference Knockout Round (4 games)
- Wed. Oct. 31 Two Games Times TBD (UniMás, English-Language broadcast to be announced**)
- Thurs., Nov. 1 Two Games Times TBD (UniMás, English-Language broadcast to be announced **)
** UniMás will broadcast all four Knockout Round matches. ESPN2 and FS1 will each broadcast one of the four Knockout Round matches.
Conference Semifinal Series
(Two-game series, aggregate-goal, home-and-home format between conference top seed vs. lowest advancing seed from Knockout Round and conference second seed vs. highest seed from Knockout Round)
Eastern & Western Conference Semifinal Leg 1 (4 games, hosted by the lower-seeded teams)
- Sun., Nov. 4 Four Games Times TBD (two games each on ESPN/ESPN Deportes and FS1/ FOX Deportes)
Eastern & Western Conference Semifinal Leg 2 (4 games, hosted by the higher-seeded teams)
- Sun., Nov. 11 Four Games Times TBD (two games each on ESPN/ESPN Deportes and FS1/ FOX Deportes)
Conference Championship Series
(Two-game series, aggregate-goal, home-and-home format)
Conference Championship Leg 1 (2 games, hosted by the lower-seeded teams)
- Sun., Nov. 25 Two Games Times TBD (one game each on ESPN/ESPN Deportes and FS1/ FOX Deportes)
Conference Championships Leg 2 (2 games, hosted by the higher-seeded teams)
- Thurs., Nov. 29 Two Games Times TBD (one game each on ESPN/ESPN Deportes and FS1/ FOX Deportes)
2018 MLS Cup
(Hosted at the home venue of the finalist with the best regular season record)
- Saturday, Dec. 8 7:30 p.m. ET (FOX, UniMás, TSN, TVA Sports)