MLS 2020 Playoff Plans, Incomplete Season
Major League Soccer today confirmed that multiple clubs will finish the season without playing the full 23 scheduled matches due to disruptions from Covid-19.
As a result, qualification for the 2020 MLS Cup Playoffs will be determined by points earned on a per match basis, or points per game.
Prior to resuming the season following the MLS is Back Tournament, MLS stated in early August the league would use points per game as opposed to total points to determine playoff qualifiers in the case clubs played an uneven number of games. Points per game will also be used to determine the overall MLS standings, with the top U.S.-based team earning a berth in the Concacaf Champions League. For Canada, the champions of the Canadian Championship, qualify for the Champions League.
MLS also confirmed that the regular season would conclude on Decision Day on November 8 and that matches will not be scheduled during the FIFA international window. Due to the limited number of remaining match dates, not all clubs will be able to play all of their originally scheduled games this season. While the 14 Eastern Conference teams are on track to complete all 23 regular season matches, the 12 Western Conference teams will not finish the regular season with the same number of matches played.
In addition to the postponed Minnesota United vs. FC Dallas match originally scheduled for Oct.14, the following postponed Colorado matches will not be rescheduled: vs. Sporting Kansas City (scheduled for Sept. 27 and the rescheduled date of Oct. 21), vs. Los Angeles Football Club (scheduled for Oct. 7), vs. LA Galaxy (scheduled for Oct. 10), at Seattle Sounders FC (scheduled for Oct. 14), and vs. Real Salt Lake (scheduled for Oct. 18). The Colorado Rapids vs. Portland Timbers match originally scheduled for Oct. 3 will be played on Nov. 4 at 10 p.m. ET as previously announced.
In addition, the tiebreaking procedures will be calculated on a per match basis:
Total number of wins per match
Goal Differential (GD) per match (Goals For per match minus Goals Against per match)
Goals For (GF) per match
Fewest Disciplinary Points* per match
Away Goals Differential per Away match (Away Goals For per Away match minus Away Goals Against per Away match)
Away Goals For per Away match
Home Goals Differential per Home match (Home Goals For per Home match minus Home Goals Against per Home match)
Home Goals For per Home match
Coin Toss (tie of two clubs) or Drawing of Lots (tie of three or more clubs)
As the MLS is Back Tournament matches in Florida -- including the three rescheduled matches between Dallas and Nashville -- are considered played at a neutral site, they are not factored in determining tiebreakers 5-8 that feature away and home goals.
In an expansion of the playoffs for 2020, the top 10 teams in the Eastern Conference and top eight teams in the Western Conference will qualify for the 2020 MLS Cup Playoffs. Eight Eastern Conference teams have already qualified for the playoffs (Philadelphia Union, Toronto FC, Columbus Crew SC, Orlando City SC, New York City FC, New York Red Bulls, New England Revolution, Nashville SC) while five Western Conference teams have now qualified (Sporting Kansas City, Seattle Sounders FC, Portland Timbers, Los Angeles Football Club, and Minnesota United FC, which clinches a berth in the 2020 MLS Cup Playoffs with the update in standings calculation).
With just two weeks remaining in the MLS regular season, none of the 26 MLS teams have been eliminated from playoff contention, and all eyes will be on the remaining matches leading into Decision Day on Nov. 8.