MLS Playoff format change

MLS Playoff Format to Change in 2019

NEW YORK – When Nashville’s Major League Soccer team begins play, it will do so under a revamped MLS playoff format. Beginning with the 2019 season, the Audi MLS Cup Playoffs will move to a single-elimination tournament and grow from 12 to 14 total playoff teams. The dates of the playoffs will also change, moved up to fall between the October and November FIFA windows.

The top seven teams from each of the Western and Eastern Conferences will make the MLS Cup Playoffs with the top seed from each conference earning a first round bye. The higher seed (better seed) will host each single elimination matchup, giving the team with the better regular season record an advantage. Historically, teams that host a single-game playoff in the MLS playoffs win more than two-thirds of the time, making the advantage that much more significant.

With the single-elimination format, the Audi MLS Cup Playoffs will be a three week sprint to the MLS Cup Final. Prior to the 2019 season, the November FIFA international break fell in the middle of the playoffs, leaving more than a week break in the middle of the tournament for players to participate in international duty. Now, the MLS playoffs will not only be positioned perfectly between two international windows, the earlier start will likely mean better weather for the playoffs.

Looking ahead to the 2022 season, the end of the Audi MLS Cup playoffs will end just in time for the start of the 2022 World Cup in Qatar which begins November 21, 2022.

Nashville Soccer Club is preparing for its second professional season in the United Soccer League (USL). Season tickets are on sale now, starting at just $10 a game. To purchase season tickets, visit or call a ticket representative at (615) 457-8200.