The 2023 MLS NEXT Pro Playoffs are right around the corner, and an exciting new format will take place for the first time.
A pick-your-opponent structure will take place in the opening two postseason rounds on both sides of the bracket. While the No. 1 seeds in the Eastern and Western Conference (Crown Legacy FC and Colorado Rapids 2) will receive a first-round bye, the remaining six qualified teams in each conference will kick off their playoff schedules on the weekend of September 29.
The No. 2 and No. 3 seeds will choose their opponent for the quarterfinal round while also playing at their home venue. New England Revolution II and Tacoma Defiance have clinched the No. 2 seeds in their respective conferences, while five teams remain eligible to clinch the No. 3 seed on Decision Day.
Columbus Crew 2 and New York Red Bulls II are both fighting for the No. 3 seed in the East. Austin FC II, Sporting KC II, and St Louis CITY2 are all in contention to claim the No. 3 seed in the West.
The remaining two teams not selected by the No. 2 or No. 3 seeds will then play each other with the higher-seeded team hosting.
As the playoffs move into the Conference Semifinal round, both Crown Legacy FC and Colorado Rapids 2 will enter and choose their respective opponent from the remaining two lowest-seeded teams from their Conference. The second-highest seed will host the remaining team in the second semifinal showdown.
The Conference Finals will be played at the home venue of the higher seed remaining.
The MLS NEXT Pro Cup is scheduled for October 22, with the team having the most regular season points serving as hosts.
Decision Day will occur on September 24 across MLS NEXT Pro, with two playoff spots still up for grabs in each conference. Four teams are fighting for two places in the Eastern Conference, with Chicago Fire II and Philadelphia Union currently sitting above the cut-off line.
MNUFC2 and Earthquakes II are currently occupying the final two playoff spots in the Western Conference, but Houston Dynamo 2 remains alive for a postseason berth with one match to play.
The MLS NEXT Pro Golden Boot race remains up for grabs as well on Decision Day, with several players in the running.
Orlando City B’s Jack Lynn and NYCFC II’s Matthew Myers are tied atop the goalscoring list with 18 goals apiece. Colorado Rapids 2’s Remi Cabral and ATL UTD 2’s Nicolas Firmino have 16 goals and could cause some decision-day drama in their season finales.
New York Red Bulls II and Tacoma Defiance also have one representative each, as Ibrahim Kasule and Braudilio Rodrigues have 15 goals each.
1) CHI 1 or more points
2) NYCFC 2 or fewer points
3) PHI 1 or fewer points
1) PHI regulation win
2) PHI shootout win + CHI regulation loss
3) PHI shootout win + NYCFC 2 or fewer points
4) PHI shootout loss + NYCFC 1 or fewer points
5) NYCFC regulation loss + HNT 2 or fewer points
1) NYCFC regulation win + CHI regulation loss
2) NYCFC regulation win + PHI 2 or fewer points
3) NYCFC shootout win + PHI 1 or fewer points
4) NYCFC shootout loss + PHI regulation loss + HNT 2 or fewer points
1) HNT regulation win + PHI regulation loss + NYCFC 1 of fewer points
MNUFC2 clinches a playoff spot:
1) MNUFC 1 or more points
2) Earthquakes regulation loss
3) HOU 2 or fewer points
1) Earthquakes 2 or more points
2) Earthquakes shootout loss + MNUFC regulation loss
3) Earthquakes shootout loss + HOU 2 or fewer points
4) HOU 1 or fewer points
1) HOU regulation win + MNUFC regulation loss
2) HOU regulation win + Earthquakes 1 or fewer points
3) HOU shootout win + Earthquakes regulation loss
The Eastern Conference kicks off Sunday's action at 2:00 pm ET, while the Western drama starts at 5:00 pm ET. All matches will air exclusively on MLS Season Pass on Apple TV. Below is a rundown of the schedule which includes direct links to the match stream, as well as the match page where you will be able to track lineups, statistics, match highlights, and more.
Columbus Crew 2 vs. Atlanta United 2 (2 PM ET, Live Stream, Match Center)
Huntsville City FC vs. Chicago Fire II (2 PM ET, Live Stream, Match Center)
Inter Miami II vs. NYCFC II (2 PM ET, Live Stream, Match Center)
New York Red Bulls II vs. Philadelphia Union II (2 PM ET, Live Stream, Match Center)
Orlando City B vs. FC Cincinnati 2 (2 PM ET, Live Stream, Match Center)
Toronto FC II vs. Crown Legacy FC (2 PM ET, Live Stream, Match Center)
Colorado Rapids 2 vs. MNUFC2 (5 PM ET, Live Stream, Match Center)
Earthquakes II vs. LAFC2 (5 PM ET, Live Stream, Match Center)
LA Galaxy II vs. Houston Dynamo 2 (5 PM ET, Live Stream, Match Center)
North Texas SC vs. Austin FC II (5 PM ET, Live Stream, Match Center)
Sporting KC II vs. St Louis CITY2 (5 PM ET, Live Stream, Match Center)
Tacoma Defiance vs. Whitecaps FC2 (5 PM ET, Live Stream, Match Center)
Timbers2 vs. Real Monarchs (5 PM ET, Live Stream, Match Center)