Format & Tiebreakers: What if Decision Day goes down to the wire?

WHO QUALIFIES: Twelve teams – the top six teams from each conference – qualify for the Audi 2016 MLS Cup Playoffs. Playoff berths will be determined by points in the standings upon the completion of the regular season. All 20 teams will have played 34 games. 

PLAYOFF FORMAT:

  • The top six teams in each conference will qualify for the playoffs and be seeded 1-6 in their respective conferences.
  • The No. 3 and No. 4 seeds in each conference will host the No. 6 and No. 5 seeds in a single-elimination knockout game. The No. 1 and No. 2 seeds will get a bye to the Conference Semifinals. The lower-seeded winners of each knockout game will face the No. 1 seed in their respective conferences. The higher-seeded winners from the knockout games will face the No. 2 seed in the conferences.
  • The four Conference Semifinals will be decided by a two-game aggregate series, with the lower seed hosting the 1st leg and the higher seed hosting the 2nd leg.
    • If the aggregate score is tied after 180 minutes of play, the away goals tiebreaker rule will apply so as to be consistent with CONCACAF and FIFA practice.
    • If the series remains tied, two 15-minute extra time periods will be played in their entirety, followed by penalty kicks, if necessary.
    • The away goals tiebreaker will not apply to extra time in the 2nd leg of any two-legged playoff series.
  • The two Conference Championships will be decided by a two-game aggregate series, with the lower seed hosting the first leg and the higher seed hosting the second leg.
    • The same tiebreakers will apply in the Conference Championships as in the Conference Semifinals.
  • MLS Cup will be a single championship match hosted by the finalist with the most regular season points. If the two finalists have the same number of regular season points, the tiebreakers for MLS Cup Playoff qualification will be applied to determine the host team.
    • If the score is tied after 90 minutes of play, two 15-minute extra time periods will be played in their entirety, followed by kicks from the penalty mark, if necessary.

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 (3 points for a win, 1 point for a tie, 0 points for a loss). In the event that two teams finish the regular season with 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 For (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 2 clubs) or Drawing of Lots (tie of 3 or more clubs)

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