MLS play-offs format overhauled for 2019

Major League Soccer has unveiled significant changes to its play-offs, expanding the number of teams taking part while also speeding up the format.

Fourteen of the league’s 24 teams will qualify for the post-season next year, up from 12 in 2018, while two-legged qualifiers will be replaced with a new single-game elimination format.

It means the play-offs will take place entirely between the October and November Fifa international windows, beginning on October 19 and ending on November 10 in 2019. This year’s MLS Cup final, by contrast, took place on December 8.

In addition, the higher-seed team – based on the regular-season final standings – will host every match, with the top seed in each conference receiving a first-round bye.

The new format allows the play-offs to finish before the the 2022 World Cup, which begins on November 21 that year.