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Audi 2023 MLS Cup Playoffs: Round One & Wild Card matchups

Image Credit: MLS

The following was published on on Sunday, October 22nd — Audi 2023 MLS Cup Playoffs: Round One & Wild Card matchups

The Audi 2023 MLS Cup Playoffs field is set!

After Decision Day, 18 teams – nine apiece across both the Eastern Conference and Western Conference – have qualified for the postseason and will start the journey to MLS Cup presented by Audi on Dec. 9.

The single-elimination Wild Card games (No. 8 vs. No. 9) are set for Oct. 25, then the Round One Best-of-3 series begin. Just like during the regular season, all games will be viewable via MLS Season Pass on Apple TV.

NOTE: This story will be updated with schedule info when available.

Eastern Conference: Wild Card

(8) New York Red Bulls vs. (9) Charlotte FC

  • When: Wednesday, Oct. 25 | 7:30 pm ET
  • Watch: MLS Season Pass
  • Location: Red Bull Arena

New York hold the MLS record for consecutive playoff appearances (14), extending their run with a 1-0 Decision Day win at Nashville behind John Tolkin‘s 94th-minute penalty kick. Charlotte, meanwhile, clinched their first-ever playoff berth with a 1-0 Decision Day win over Miami thanks to Kerwin Vargas‘ red-hot form and goalkeeper Kristijan Kahlina‘s heroics.

Western Conference: Wild Card

(8) Sporting Kansas City vs. (9) San Jose Earthquakes

  • When: Wednesday, Oct. 25 | 9:30 pm ET
  • Watch: MLS Season Pass
  • Location: Children’s Mercy Park

Kansas City shook off a 10-game winless streak to start the season and have returned to the playoffs, thanks in large part to Johnny Russell‘s two-goal heroics in Saturday’s 3-1 Decision Day win over Minnesota United FCSan Jose outlasted a do-or-die matchup of their own, extending their season with a 1-1 draw vs. Austin FC wherein talisman Cristian Espinoza reached 13g/13a on the year.

Image Credit: MLS

Eastern Conference: Round One Best-of-3

(1) FC Cincinnati vs. Wild Card winner

Cincinnati hold the East’s top seed after winning the 2023 MLS Supporters’ Shield, going from also-rans to the league’s elite as led by Landon Donovan MLS MVP favorite Luciano Acosta. Head coach Pat Noonan’s team awaits the Wild Card matchup between New York and Charlotte, knowing they have home-field advantage through MLS Cup.

(2) Orlando City SC vs. (7) Nashville SC

Orlando are the hottest team in the league, losing just twice (11W-2L-4D) since mid-June – and they boast two of the league’s top young attackers in winger Facundo Torres and striker Duncan McGuire. Nashville, conversely, have won just twice (2W-3L-5D) since losing the Leagues Cup Final as their Hany Mukhtar-dependent attack has slowed down.

(3) Columbus Crew vs. (6) Atlanta United

Columbus are an MLS Cup dark-horse under first-year head coach Wilfried Nancy, whose unique tactical approach has allowed striker Cucho Hernández, midfielder Aidan Morris and more to thrive. Atlanta are led by the one-two punch of striker Giorgos Giakoumakis and midfielder Thiago Almada, though the latter will miss ATLUTD’s first playoff game after getting a Decision Day red card.

(4) Philadelphia Union vs. (5) New England Revolution

These are two of the past four Supporters’ Shield winners: Philadelphia in 2020 and New England in 2021, plus they just met on Decision Day as the Revs took a 2-1 victory behind Gustavo Bou‘s brace. If you’re looking for star power, Union goalkeeper Andre Blake and Revs midfielder Carles Gil are both in the Best XI presented by Continental Tire conversation.

Western Conference: Round One Best-of-3

(1) St. Louis CITY SC vs. Wild Card winner

St. Louis‘ expansion season has been nothing short of remarkable: 57 points, several records, a 2024 Concacaf Champions Cup berth and defying all external expectations. João KlaussEduard LöwenRoman Bürki and the rest of head coach Bradley Carnell’s squad will now look to prove they’re playoff warriors as the West’s road to MLS Cup runs through CITYPARK.

(2) Seattle Sounders FC vs. (7) FC Dallas

Seattle are in strong form, entering the playoffs on a nine-game unbeaten run (4W-0L-5D) that vaulted them into the West’s second seed. The Rave Green, with a veteran core, are back in the playoffs with a point to prove. Meanwhile, Dallas used a 4-1 Decision Day rout of the LA Galaxy to end their streak of pesky draws and prove Jesús Ferreira & Co., could cause damage.

(3) LAFC vs. (6) Vancouver Whitecaps FC

This matchup is a Decision Day (and CCL quarterfinal) rematch after Vancouver rallied for a 1-1 draw against LAFC, who are reigning MLS Cup champions. Dénis Bouanga is in fantastic form, finishing the regular season with 20 goals and seven assists to win the Golden Boot presented by Audi. The Whitecaps’ own star, Ryan Gauld, will look to rebound after missing two penalty kicks against Black & Gold goalkeeper Maxime Crépeau on Saturday.

(4) Houston Dynamo FC vs. (5) Real Salt Lake

Can Houston add a second trophy to their cabinet as head coach Ben Olsen and midfielder Héctor Herrera lead their revival? The 2023 US Open Cup champs sure hope so, clinching home-field advantage after a 3-1 win at Portland on Decision Day. But RSL, even as star striker Cristian Arango (hamstring) recovers from injury, are no pushovers – certainly not while US youth international Diego Luna rounds into form.

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