2023 MLS Cup Season Highlights Intense Competition and Milestones
The revamped structure of the MLS playoffs for the 2023 season commenced with the commencement of two wild-card games on Wednesday, October 25th. This marked the commencement of an exciting journey toward MLS Cup victory, with the prospect of Cincinnati's TQL Stadium hosting a key role in the championship quest. FC Cincinnati, securing the Supporters' Shield, thereby earning the advantage of hosting MLS Cup games, positioned themselves as strong contenders, although historical trends have not been in favor of Supporters' Shield winners in the playoffs. Notably, Los Angeles FC's 2017 double triumph remains a rare occurrence in recent MLS history.
In the Western Conference, the remarkable inaugural season of St. Louis City SC led to their conquest of the conference title, with the team set to face challenging opposition in their pursuit of MLS Cup glory. The return of the second-seeded Seattle Sounders FC to the playoffs after their absence in 2022, along with the formidable presence of LAFC, the reigning league champions boasting the prolific Dénis Bouanga, promises intense competition in the Western Conference playoffs.
Additionally, the New York Red Bulls achieved a significant milestone by clinching a playoff spot for the 14th consecutive season, solidifying their position as the team with the longest active playoff streak in major U.S. pro sports leagues. This achievement was sealed with a dramatic stoppage time penalty kick by the emerging talent of the USMNT prospect, John Tolkin.
The 28th edition of the highly anticipated MLS Cup is scheduled to take place on Saturday, December 9th, set to culminate the thrilling journey of the playoffs.
As for the newly introduced MLS playoff format for 2023, a total of 18 teams qualified for the playoffs, with the top nine teams from each conference earning their spots. The format entailed wild-card matches for the eighth- and ninth-place finishers in each conference, followed by the participation of the top seven seeds in the Round 1 best-of-three series.
Fans can catch all the action of the MLS playoff games on the MLS Season Pass available on Apple TV, with select games also accessible on FOX Sports networks.
The playoff schedule encompasses key dates, such as the wild-card matches, Round 1, Conference Semifinals and Finals, all leading up to the grand MLS Cup showdown on December 9th.
Notably, the host for the 2023 MLS Cup is determined by the finalist that concluded the regular season with the most points, adding an extra layer of competitiveness to the prestigious event.
While FC Cincinnati was considered the favored team to win the 2023 MLS Cup according to BetMGM, other prominent teams such as Los Angeles FC and St. Louis City SC boasted strong odds as well, intensifying the anticipation surrounding the outcome of the tournament.
With a rich history of MLS Cup winners including the Los Angeles Galaxy, D.C. United, and the Houston Dynamo, the 2023 MLS Cup season promised to be a captivating and unpredictable journey, with numerous high-caliber teams vying for the ultimate soccer glory.