The MLS Cup final is set. It doesn’t always work out this way, but in 2022, the top two seeds both defended their regular season conference dominance on either end of the country
The game will be played in Los Angeles, with LAFC topping No. 2 seed Austin FC in the Western Conference final. As LAFC were the Supporters’ Shield winners, it was known they would host the final no matter who emerged from the Eastern Conference.
In the nightcap, No. 1 seed Philadelphia Union took down No. 3 seed New York City FC in the Eastern Conference final. With the score 0-0 at halftime, NYCFC took an early second-half lead, but that woke up the Union, and they scored three unanswered to go through.
As No. 1 seeds, LAFC and Philadelphia have both only played two playoff matches. They each had first-round byes granted to them by virtue of their finishing atop their respective conference at season’s end.
The two powers actually finished with the same points total (67) but LAFC won the tiebreaker (total wins with 21 vs. Philly’s 19). That meant LAFC came away with the Supporters’ Shield awarded to the team with the best regular season record, and thus they earned the right to host MLS Cup.
MLS playoffs schedule 2022
Sat, Oct 15
RBNY 1,CIN 2
Sat, Oct 15
LAG 1,NSH 0
Sun, Oct 16
ATX 2,RSL 2(ATX 3-1 PKs)
Sun, Oct 16
MTL 2,ORL 0
Mon, Oct 17
NYC 3,MIA 0
Mon, Oct 17
DAL 1MIN 1(DAL 5-4 PKs)
MLS Cup Final
Sat, Nov 5
LAFC vs. PHI
Fox, UniMas, fuboTV
TSN, TVA Sports
How do MLS playoffs work?
The MLS Cup playoffs are a single elimination knockout tournament consisting of four rounds of competition that culminate in the MLS Cup final.
First Round (12 teams, No. 2-No. 7 seeds in each conference)
Conference Semis (8 teams, No. 1 seeds join first-round winners)
Conference Finals (4 teams)
MLS Cup (2 teams)
The 14 participating teams are seeded based on their regular season finish (No. 1 through No. 7 in each conference), and the team with the best regular season record hosts every match.
In 2022, the first round saw six teams from each conference take part (No. 2 through No. 7 seeds) with the No. 1 seeds sitting out with a first-round bye and automatic qualification to the Conference Semifinals.
The teams battle opponents from their same conference until the MLS Cup final, when the last team standing in the East and the West contest the championship matchup with the trophy on the line. The team with the best regular season record will get to host the title match.
What happens if MLS playoff games are tied after 90 minutes?
If any of the single-elimination playoff matches ends in a draw after 90 minutes, the match will head into two 15-minute periods of extra time. If the deadlock persists after extra time, a penalty-kick shootout will follow.
In the 2021 playoffs, one of the 13 matches was decided in extra time, while four needed a penalty shootout to determine the winner.
We’ve already had two penalty shootouts after the first round in 2022 as Austin FC and FC Dallas both advanced on PKs.
How many teams make MLS playoffs?
The 2022 MLS Cup playoffs are the same as last season, with a single-elimination format providing the league a host of compelling matchups.
A total of seven teams make the playoffs from each conference, allowing 14 teams to dream of hoisting MLS Cup on Nov. 5. The league featured a total of 28 teams competing in the 2022 regular season, meaning half the field qualified for the postseason.
Only the No. 1 seed in each conference earned a first-round bye and qualified directly to the second round, while every other team takes the field in the first round. The team with the best regular season record (most points) hosts every matchup, including the MLS Cup final.
Below are the final seeds in each conference as of Decision Day, Sunday, Oct. 9 following the conclusion of the 2022 regular season. Total wins represented the first points tiebreaker in MLS in 2022, but the third tiebreaker (goals scored) was needed to separate Inter Miami (47 goals) and Orlando City (44 goals), who finished even on 48 points.
If LAFC and Philadelphia both advance to MLS Cup, LAFC would host despite the fact that both teams finished the season with the same points total (67). LAFC has the edge on the total wins tiebreaker (21 to Philly’s 19).
Philadelphia Union (67 pts)
LAFC (67 pts)
CF Montreal (65 pts)
Austin FC (56 pts)
NYCFC (55 pts)
FC Dallas (53 pts)
NY Red Bulls (53 pts)
LA Galaxy (50pts)
FC Cincinnati (49 pts)
Nashville SC (50 pts)
Inter Miami (48 pts)
Minnesota United (48 pts)
Orlando City (48 pts)
Real Salt Lake (47 pts)
MLS playoffs bracket 2022
The MLS playoffs feature three rounds of single-elimination knockout matches leading up to the 2022 MLS Cup final, where the last team surviving from each conference meet for the title.
The No. 1 seed in each conference enters the postseason competition in the second round (Conference Semifinals), having earned a first-round bye as a reward for finishing top during the regular season.
The higher seed hosts every playoff matchup. Home teams listed first below and corresponding playoff seed indicated for each club.
First Round (Oct. 15-17)
2-CF Montreal vs. 7-Orlando City (Result: 2-0)
3-NYCFC vs. 6-Inter Miami (Result: 3-0)
4-NY Red Bulls vs. 5-Cincinnati (Result: 1-2)
2-Austin vs. 7-RSL (Result: 2-2; 3-1 PKs)
3-Dallas vs. 6-Minnesota (Result: 1-1, 5-4 PKs)
4-LA Galaxy vs. 5-Nashville (Result: 1-0)
Conference Semifinals (Oct. 20-23)
1-Philadelphia Union vs. 5-FC Cincinnati (Result: 1-0)
2-CF Montreal vs. 3-NYCFC (Result: 1-3)
1-LAFC vs. 4-LA Galaxy (Result: 3-2)
2-Austin FC vs. 3-FC Dallas (Result: 2-1)
Conference Finals (Oct. 30)
1-Philadelphia vs. 3-NYCFC (Sunday)
1-LAFC vs. 2-Austin FC (Sunday)
MLS Cup Final (Nov. 5)
Conference final winners TBD
When did MLS playoffs start?
With the regular season wrapping up on October 9, the MLS Cup playoffs kicked off on Saturday, October 15 with the first round.
There are three single-elimination knockout rounds which will determine the two MLS Cup finalists, one from each conference (Eastern and Western). If any match ends in a draw after 90 minutes throughout the playoffs, two 15-minute extra time periods will be played. If the deadlock persists, a penalty shootout will determine the winner.
The playoff schedule will push all the way into early November, when the MLS Cup final is played on Saturday November 5 to decide the league champion.
This timing ensures the season wraps up nine days before players are to be released to their national teams for the 2022 FIFA World Cup in Qatar.