MLS POSTSEASON 2019 “AUDI MLS PLAYOFFS”

Competition Structure and Rules

QUALIFICATION: 

At the end of the 2019 MLS Regular Season, the top seven teams from each conference (14 teams total), will qualify for the Audi 2019 MLS Cup Playoffs.

TEAM STANDINGS, TIE-BREAKING PROCEDURES:

The team awarded the highest position in the MLS standings (table) will be the team with the greatest number of points (three points for a win, one point for a draw, zero points for a loss). In the event that two or more teams finish the regular season sitting on an equal number of points, the following system will be used to break the tie:

  1. Total number of wins
  2. Goal Differential (GD)
  3. Goals Scored (GF)
  4. Fewest Disciplinary Points*
  5. Away Goals Differential
  6. Away Goal For
  7. Home Goals Differential
  8. Home Goal For
  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, 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.

*An illustration is below:

CLUBPOINTS1.TOTAL WINS2. GOAL DIFF3. GOALS FOR4. DISCP POINTS
Team A4515118400
Team B4515114300
Team C4514109200

*Here in the example, when the three (3) Clubs go through the first round of the MLS Regular Season Tiebreaker, Team A advances: Team A and B here had the same number of wins and the same goal differential, but Team A advances as they have the most “Goals For” (Tiebreaker #3) after Team C is eliminated from contention due to only having fourteen (14) wins in relation to Team A and B’s fifteen (15)  in the first column of the comparison. The remaining tied Clubs, Team B and Team C, then go through a second round MLS Regular Season Tiebreaker, wherein Team B next advances as the Club with the best “Total Wins (Tiebreaker #1).

Disciplinary Points are calculated as follows:

InfractionPoints
Foul1 Point
Yellow Card3 Points
2nd Yellow Card7 Points
Straight Red Card7 Points
Coach Dismissal7 Points
Any Supplemental Discipline8 Points

FORMAT:


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

Round One


Round One will consist of six single-elimination games. Six teams, Seeds 2-7 in each the Eastern Conference and the Western Conference 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 seed hosting the lower seed: No. 2 hosting 7, No. 3 hosting 6 and No. 4 hosting 5.

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 six winners, three from each conference, advance to the Conference Semifinals.

Conference Semifinals


The Conference Semifinal 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 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 hosted by the finalist with the most MLS Regular Season points.

If the two finalists have the same number of MLS Regular Season points, the tiebreaker procedures for postseason qualification will be applied to determine the host club.

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 continuing into sudden death kicks from the penalty mark if still tied at completion of such five kicks), if necessary.


Playoff Substitutions

One additional substitute (a fourth substitute) will be available to teams only if an MLS Cup Playoff  game goes to extra time. The fourth substitute may be used during the two 15-minute extra time periods regardless of the number of substitutes a team has made during regulation time. 

Playoff Disciplinary Guidelines

Yellow Card Accumulation Entering the Playoffs 

Yellow card accumulation thresholds are reset entering the Playoffs.

  • A player who reaches an accumulation threshold in the last MLS Regular Season match (e.g. Fifth, Eighth, etc.) IS ELIGIBLE for the Playoffs and IS ELIGIBLE for the first Regular Season match of the following season.
  • A player who receives a straight red card or second yellow card (thus a red card) in his last MLS Regular Season match IS SUSPENDED for the next match for which he is eligible including a Playoff match(es) or the first Regular Season match of the following season.
  • A player sanctioned by the Disciplinary Committee will have any corresponding suspension applied to the next match(es) for which he is eligible including a Playoff match(es) or the next Regular Season match(es).

Yellow Card Accumulation during MLS Playoffs

  • Once the Playoffs begin and up until MLS Cup (when playoff yellow card accumulation resets), a player accumulating a yellow card in Round One AND the Conference Semifinal will be suspended for the Conference Final (if a player’s Club does not advance in the MLS Cup Playoffs, the suspension DOES NOT carry over to the next MLS Regular Season).
  • Yellow Card accumulation does NOT carry over to the MLS Cup, so, for clarification purposes, a player who earns his second yellow card in the Conference Championship IS ELIGIBLE to play in MLS Cup.
  • A player who is issued two (2) yellow cards in the same match, which of course = Red, IS SUSPENDED for the next match for which he is eligible including MLS Cup or his next Regular Season match.

Red Card Accumulation during the Playoffs

  • A player who earns a straight red card in the same match in which he previously earned his second cumulative yellow card WILL BE SUSPENDED for his next Playoff match.
  • Example: A player earns a yellow card in his Round One match. He then earns a yellow card (his second consecutively) in the Conference Semifinal and a straight red card (different from earning a second yellow card) in the same match. The player IS SUSPENDED for the Conference Final (for his red card) but IS ELIGIBLE to play in MLS Cup (in which yellow cards reset).

 Red Card Suspensions

A player who earns a red card in any Playoff match, whether a straight red card or two (2) yellow cards, IS SUSPENDED for his next match (if this occurs in the final game of a team’s season, then the suspension carries over to the first regular season match of the following season). 

Disciplinary Committee. Under Video Review, the Disciplinary Committee will only act on red card incidents which warrant a two (2) or more game suspension.  A player sanctioned by the Disciplinary Committee will have any corresponding suspension applied to the next match(es) for which he is eligible including any Playoff match(es), MLS Cup or the following MLS regular season. In instances in which a player receives a yellow card in a match and the Disciplinary Committee acts to suspend the player for the offense, the yellow card will not count toward the player’s cumulative yellow card total.