MLS Cup playoffs push games to weeknights

The Audi 2017 MLS Cup Playoffs will extend more than six weeks, finishing with MLS Cup -- the championship game -- on Dec. 9. MLS Cup 2016 aired in prime time on Fox. The 2017 final will air on ESPN (as well as UniMas) at 4 p.m. ET.

The league will use the same playoff format to get down to the final two teams -- single Knockout Round games followed by two-leg conference semifinals and finals.

The big change is the move to weeknights when seven of the 12 games over the conference semifinals and finals will be played. In 2016, just the second legs of the conference finals were played during midweek.

Breathing room. The move will give the winners of the Knockout Round games more time to prepare for the first legs of the conference semifinals at home, though the quick turnaround didn't hinder them in 2016. All four lower seeds won their home legs and three advanced to the conference semifinals, including eventual MLS Cup finalists Seattle and Toronto FC.

Big gap. Once again, the MLS schedule is complicated by the FIFA's international calendar -- World Cup 2018 qualifying playoffs, plus friendlies -- that rules out games on Nov. 6-14.

That will create a gap of 16 days between the second legs of the conference semifinals and first legs of the conference finals. Put another way, it will take just 12 days to get down from 12 teams to four in the MLS playoffs, but 34 days to get down from four to the champion.

Eastern Conference Schedule:
Knockout Round
Wednesday, October 25
Thursday, October 26
Semifinals, First Leg
Monday, October 30
Tuesday, October 31
Semifinals, Second Leg
Sunday, November 5
Sunday, November 5
Final, First Leg
Tuesday, November 21
Final, Second Leg
Tuesday, November 28
or Wednesday, November 29

Western Conference Schedule:
Knockout Round
Wednesday, October 25
Thursday, October 26
Semifinals, First Leg

Sunday, October 29
Tuesday, October 31
Semifinals, Second Leg
Sunday, November 5
Sunday, November 5
Final, First Leg
Tuesday, November 21
Final, Second Leg
Thursday, November 30 

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1 comment about "MLS Cup playoffs push games to weeknights".
  1. Mike Polonski, August 24, 2017 at 11:11 a.m.

    I hope that I live to see the day when MLS abolishes the playoffs and uses only the regular season as a means to determine league champion. I am so tired of seeing sub .500 mediocre as hell teams like Seattle (2016) and Portland (2015) being declared champions because they won a six game post season knockout tournament. When are the powers that be going to understand that excellence over 34 games is a more valid measurement than excellence over six games?

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