2018 MLS Cup Playoff Brackets

Alejandro Bedoya

After 34 grueling games, the participants of the 2018 MLS Cup have been decided. Last year’s winners (Toronto FC) failed to qualify, meaning we will have a new champion for the fifth consecutive year.

The unique format of the MLS Cup combines the top six teams through the regular season in the Eastern and Western Conferences and places them in a knockout tournament to decide the MLS Champions.

The top two teams in each conference will receive a bye to the semi-finals. The team placed third will host the sixth placed team, and fourth and fifth will play in a winner takes all game to determine the semi-finalists.

Due to the re-seeding which takes place after the first round, the semis will not be decided until each first round game has a winner.

Roger Espinoza

Unlike the first round, the semi-finals and Conference Final are two legs, with both teams having the chance to play at home.

The MLS Cup Final is scheduled for December 8, 2018 and will be hosted by whichever finalist finished higher in the regular season.

Eastern Conference

New York Red Bulls, who finished top, and Atlanta United who secured second received a bye into the semi-finals.

Both teams have had excellent regular seasons, predominantly due to their star strikers, Josef Martinez (Atlanta United) and Bradley Wright-Phillips (New York Red Bulls).

Martinez and Wright-Phillips have been the difference makers in several regular season games and their teams will be hoping the attackers can fire them to MLS glory.

Bradley Wright Phillips.jpg

The other four teams qualifying from the Eastern Conference are New York City FC, Philadelphia Union, DC United, and Columbus Crew.

First Round Matches (seeding in brackets):

  • New York Red Bulls (1).
  • Atlanta United (2).
  • New York City FC (3) v Philadelphia Union (6).
  • DC United (4) v Columbus Crew (5).

Western Conference

Sporting Kansas City and Seattle Sounders secured a bye and go straight to the semis.

Sporting Kansas defeated conference rivals Los Angeles FC in their final regular season game, and Seattle emerged victorious over San Jose Earthquakes to jump from fourth to second.

Clint Dempsey

FC Dallas, who were in second place at the time the games started, were beaten by the Colorado Rapids and dropped to fourth.

Joining FC Dallas and Los Angeles FC in the first round will be the Portland Timbers and Real Salt Lake.

First Round Matches (seeding in brackets):

  • Sporting Kansas City (1).
  • Seattle Sounders (2).
  • Los Angeles FC (3) v Real Salt Lake (6).
  • FC Dallas (4) v Portland Timbers (5).

New York Red Bulls won their third Supporters’ Shield trophy, finishing the regular seasons with the highest number of points across both conferences.

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