Major League Soccer has released the match schedule and broadcast details for the Audi 2021 MLS Cup Playoffs and 2021 MLS Cup, which include the league’s first Thanksgiving Day match on FOX, as well as four consecutive weekends of postseason action on ABC. Minnesota United currently sits in fifth place in the Western Conference, just two points above Vancouver and the playoff line.

In addition to broadcast coverage, MLS has outlined mechanisms for postseason qualification, including a required minimum number of matches played, as well as the competition format for the Audi 2021 MLS Cup Playoffs.

Following MLS Decision Day on Sunday, November 7, the Audi 2021 MLS Cup Playoffs will kick off on Univision on November 20 and will see the 12 single-elimination playoff matches, played across two weeks, aired on national television leading into 2021 MLS Cup on December 11. 

2021 MLS Cup, Major League Soccer’s championship match, will be played on December 11 at 2:00 p.m. CT, aired nationally in the U.S. on ABC and Univision’s UniMás and TUDN networks, as well as in nearly 190 countries and territories around the world. 

FOX Sports coverage of the Audi 2021 MLS Cup Playoffs will see, for the first time, an MLS postseason match hosted on Thanksgiving Day, Thursday, November 25, aired nationally on FOX broadcast network and FOX Deportes. FS1 and FOX Deportes will also present coverage of four additional matches across the three rounds of the Audi 2021 MLS Cup Playoffs. 

ABC and the networks of ESPN will cover all four rounds of postseason action, providing over-the-air network coverage of every round, every weekend. The robust lineup of action will see ABC and ESPN doubleheaders in both Round One and the Conference Semifinals with Spanish-language coverage of all ABC and ESPN matches covered by ESPN Deportes.

Univision’s networks will showcase a Round One doubleheader on November 20 on Univision, and return with exclusive Spanish-language coverage of the 2021 MLS Cup available on UniMás. The broadcast will mark the 10th consecutive year that Univision’s networks will air Major League Soccer’s championship match over the air. Matches will also be simulcast on TUDN.

In Canada, TSN and TVA Sports networks will provide comprehensive coverage of the postseason, airing every match of the Audi 2021 MLS Cup Playoffs as well as 2021 MLS Cup with specific channel designations to be announced at a later date.

Audi 2021 MLS Cup Playoffs Schedule

Round One (Six Games)_
(The No. 1 Eastern Conference seed and the No. 1 Western Conference seed will have a Round One bye. The No. 2 seed will host the No. 7 seed, the No. 3 seed will host the No. 6 seed, and the No. 4 seed will host the No. 5 seed)_

Saturday, November 20 Doubleheader

  • 11:00 a.m. CT (Univision and TUDN / local English-language broadcast / TSN / TVA Sports)
  • 2:00 p.m. CT (Univision and TUDN / local English-language broadcast / TSN / TVA Sports)

Sunday, November 21 Doubleheader

  • 2:00 p.m. CT (ABC / ESPN Deportes / TSN / TVA Sports)
  • 4:30 p.m. CT (ESPN / ESPN Deportes / TSN / TVA Sports)

Tuesday, November 23 Doubleheader

  • TBD (FS1 / FOX Deportes / TSN / TVA Sports)
  • TBD (FS1 / FOX Deportes / TSN / TVA Sports)

Conference Semifinals (Four Games)
(The No. 1 seed will play the winner of No. 4 vs. No. 5. The winner of No. 2 vs. No. 7 will play the winner of No. 3 vs. No. 6, with the higher-seeded club hosting)

Thursday, November 25 (Thanksgiving Day)

  • 3:30 p.m. CT (FOX / FOX Deportes / TSN / TVA Sports)

Sunday, November 28 Doubleheader

  • 3:00 p.m. CT (ABC / ESPN Deportes / TSN / TVA Sports)
  • 4:30 p.m. CT (ESPN / ESPN Deportes / TSN / TVA Sports)

Tuesday, November 30 

  • TBD (FS1 / FOX Deportes / TSN / TVA Sports)

Conference Finals (Two Games)

Saturday, December 4 

  • TBD (FS1 / FOX Deportes TSN / TVA Sports)

Sunday, December 5

  • 2:00 p.m. CT (ABC, ESPN Deportes / TSN / TVA Sports)

MLS Cup (One Game)

Saturday, December 11

  • 2:00 p.m. CT (ABC / UniMás and TUDN / TSN / TVA Sports)

Audi 2021 MLS Cup Playoffs Competition Guidelines

QUALIFICATION:

At the end of the 2021 MLS Regular Season, the top seven teams from both the Eastern Conference and the Western Conference (14 Clubs total) will qualify for the Audi 2021 MLS Cup Playoffs. The Audi MLS Cup Playoffs will again consist of single-elimination matches hosted by the higher-seeded team and follow a straight bracket format through MLS Cup on December 11.

Qualification for the Audi 2021 MLS Cup Playoffs will be determined by points earned in each respective conference if every club plays the same number of matches during the Regular Season (three points for a win, one point for a tie, zero points for a loss).

In the event that all 27 teams do not end the season with the same number of matches played, qualification for the Audi 2021 MLS Cup Playoffs will be determined by points earned on a per match basis, or points per game.

MLS clubs must play at least 30 games to qualify for the postseason unless a club is unable to reach 30 games due to one of the following factors:

  • A club’s opponent is unable to play a match due to COVID-19 protocols.
  • MLS, in its sole discretion, including for competitive reasons, has determined not to reschedule a match.
  • The club has had matches postponed or cancelled for other reasons.

TEAM STANDINGS, TIE-BREAKING PROCEDURES:

The team awarded the highest position in the MLS standings will be the team with the greatest number of points (three points for a win, one point for a tie, zero points for a loss).

In the event that two or more teams finish the regular season with an equal number of points, the following tiebreakers will be used. If points per match are used, the tiebreakers will be used on a per match basis.

  1. Total number of wins per match
  2. Goal Differential (GD) per match (Goals For per match minus Goals Against per match)
  3. Goals For (GF) per match
  4. Fewest Disciplinary Points* per match
  5. Away Goals Differential per Away match (Away Goals For per Away match minus Away Goals Against per Away match)
  6. Away Goals For per Away match
  7. Home Goals Differential per Home match (Home Goals For per Home match minus Home Goals Against per Home match)
  8. Home Goals For per Home match
  9. Coin Toss (tie of two clubs) or Drawing of Lots (tie of three or more clubs)

When two or more teams are tied in the standings on points (or points per game if utilized), the above tiebreakers will be used until one team ranks ahead of the other(s).

After the winner of the MLS Regular Season Tiebreaker advances, any remaining tied clubs not advancing from the first round MLS Regular Season Tiebreaker shall again go through a second round MLS Regular Season Tiebreaker in order to determine the next advancing club. The MLS Regular Season Tiebreaker system will continue until qualification/seeding has been determined.

DISCIPLINARY POINTS:

  • Foul - 1 Point
  • Technical Staff Warnings - 2 Points
  • Yellow Card - 3 Points
  • 2nd Yellow Card - 7 Points
  • Straight Red Card - 7 Points
  • Coach Dismissal - 7 Points
  • Any Supplemental Discipline - 8 Points

When a Player receives a second yellow card, his Club will receive a maximum of seven (7) points total.

**A Player who receives a yellow card, who then receives supplemental discipline for that yellow card, will receive eight (8) points toward the Club’s total Disciplinary Points calculation for this incident.

*A Club can only receive a maximum of eight (8) points for any individual incident.

FORMAT:

The format for the Audi 2020 MLS Cup Playoffs will consist of 13 single-elimination matches, including MLS Cup.

Round One:

  • Round One will consist of six single-elimination games that will feature six teams from each the Eastern Conference and Western Conference (12 teams total). 
  • The No. 2-7 seeds in each the Eastern Conference and the Western Conference will compete in Round One while the No. 1 seeds in each the Eastern Conference and the Western Conference earn a first-round bye. 
  • The intraconference matchups will feature the higher-seeded teams against the lower-seeded teams:
  • Round One Matchups: No. 2 vs. No. 7, No. 3 vs. No. 6, No. 4 vs. No. 5
  • If the match is tied after 90 minutes of regulation, two 15-minute extra time periods will be played in their entirety. Should the score remain tied after the extra time periods, both teams will take five kicks from the penalty mark (and continue into sudden death kicks from the penalty mark, if necessary) until a winner has been determined. 
  • There is no longer an away goals tiebreaker.
  • The six winners, three from each conference, advance to the Conference Semifinals.

Conference Semifinals:

  • The Conference Semifinals will consist of four single-elimination games, two games in each conference.
  • The No. 1 seed in each conference will host the winner of the No. 4 vs. No. 5 from Round One. 
  • The winner of No. 3 vs. 6 will play the winner of No. 2 vs. 7, with the higher-seeded team hosting.
  • If the match is tied through 90 minutes of regulation, two 15-minute extra time periods will be played in their entirety. Should the score remain tied after the extra time periods, both teams will take five kicks from the penalty mark (and continue into sudden death kicks from the penalty mark, if necessary) until a winner has been determined.  
  • The winners advance to the Conference Finals.
  • If the match is tied after 90 minutes of regulation, two 15-minute extra time periods will be played in their entirety. Should the score remain tied after the extra time periods, both teams will take five kicks from the penalty mark (and continuing into sudden death kicks from the penalty mark) until a winner has been determined. 
  • There is no longer an away goals tiebreaker.
  • The winners advance to the Conference Finals.

Conference Finals:

  • The Conference Finals will consist of two single-elimination games, one game in each conference.
  • The higher-seeded team in each conference will host the lower-seeded team. 
  • If the match is tied through 90 minutes of regulation, two 15-minute extra time periods will be played in their entirety. Should the score remain tied after the extra time periods, both teams will take five kicks from the penalty mark (and continuing into sudden death kicks from the penalty mark) until a winner has been determined. 
  • There is no longer an away goals tiebreaker.
  • The winner from each conference, the Conference Champion, advances to MLS Cup.

MLS Cup:

  • MLS Cup will be a single championship match.
  • If the score is tied at the conclusion of the match, two 15-minute extra time periods will be played in their entirety, followed by five kicks from the penalty mark (and continue into sudden death kicks from the penalty mark, if necessary).

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