Early MLS Playoff Preview

Despite each team only playing 34 games, Major League Soccer has one of the longest regular seasons in professional sports. The season began way back in the beginning of March and will conclude on October 22, also known as Decision Day. The playoff picture is beginning to take form, but there are teams that could still make a splash in the final weeks. At this point, Toronto FC is the only team to officially cement itself in the playoffs, which means a lot can happen between now and Decision Day.

If The Playoffs Started Today

With almost exactly a month until the seedings are locked in and the playoffs commence, every team is still within reach of at least the final playoff spot, although it would take a miracle for some teams to sneak their way in. Nevertheless, if the playoffs were to start today, Toronto FC would be the number one overall seed and the top seed in the Eastern Conference. New York City FC would earn the second bye in the East, while Vancouver FC and Portland would take the top two seeds and first-round byes in the Western Conference.

The Chicago Fire would host the New York Red Bulls, and Columbus Crew SC would host surprise expansion team Atlanta United FC in a first-round, single-elimination match to round out the East. In the West, Sporting KC would host Real Salt Lake, and the Seattle Sounders would host San Jose in the first round. The second and third rounds consist of a two-game aggregate match, where the lower-seed would host game one and the higher seed would host game two.

Teams Still In Contention

While we could see a lot of shifting among seedings in the East, the gap between the final playoff spot held by NYRB and the seventh seed is six points. Montreal could definitely make a run for that slot, but it seems like the teams are pretty much set in that conference. The Western Conference is an entirely different story. Currently, seeds one through four are only separated by one point, and seeds five through eight are only separated by one point as well. Needless to say, there will be plenty of movement out West by the time the regular season ends.

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