The wait is almost over: We are just 7 days from #MLSisBack, the same number of days as playoff places up for grabs in each conference.
With the league continuing to grow, the playoffs have expanded with it. In 2019, there's a new playoff structure with the top seven teams in each conference qualifying for the postseason.
All playoff matches will be single-elimination games with the higher seed hosting. Gone are the two-legged series starting after the opening Knockout Round and only the top seed gets a first-round bye. The playoffs will be played between the October and November FIFA international dates, leaving a hectic three-week sprint to winnow 14 teams to one champion.
With every game hosted by the team who enjoyed the superior regular season, every point matters. How different would the conference finals have looked last season, in which the lower seed in each matchup prevailed? The New York Red Bulls stared down a near-inescapable 3-0 hole against Atlanta United when the series shifted to Harrison, N.J. in the East, while the Portland Timbers' enthralling 3-2 Leg 2 triumph over Sporting Kansas City in the West made up for the cagey 0-0 first leg.
As always, the race for playoff places will be fierce, as will the jostling atop the conference for that lone bye.
The clubs to miss the playoffs last season have all taken steps to bridge the distance. Orlando City SC signed Portuguese star Nani, the Vancouver Whitecaps underwent a complete rebuild, Toronto FC are chasing a big-money Designated Player, Minnesota United added a handful of expensive defensive upgrades, and the list goes on and on.
Last season's heavyweights are far from relinquishing their stay toward the top of each conference, while those in the middle are focused on climbing. Expect the playoff picture to be crowded for most of the season. #intermiaminews #intermiami #intermiamicf #miami #miamibeach #ThisIsMiami #florida #usa #soccer #mls #mlssoccer #futbol #football #sports #sport #basketball #nba #baseball #hockey #floridapanthers #mlb #miamimarlins #beckham