Competition Rules and Regulations
- Each of the 20 MLS clubs will play 34 games, 17 at home and 17 away.
- Clubs will play each team in the opposing conference once for five (5) home and five (5) away matches
- Clubs will play each of their nine conference opponents at least twice (one home, one away)
In the Knockout Round, the third seed will play the sixth seed from their conference and the fourth seed will play the fifth seed from their conference in a single knockout match. The winners from the Knockout Round matches will advance to their respective Conference Semifinals. The lowest seeded teams that advance from the Knockout Round will play the first seed team in each of the respective Conference Semifinals while the highest seeded teams that advance will play the second seeded team in each of their respective Conference Semifinals.
The four Conference Semifinals will be decided by two-game aggregate series, with the lower seed hosting the first leg and the higher seed hosting the second leg. If the aggregate score is tied after 180 minutes of play, the away goals rule will apply so as to be consistent with CONCACAF and FIFA practice. If the series remains tied, two 15-minute extra time periods will be played in their entirety, followed by penalty kicks, if necessary. The away goals tiebreaker will not apply to overtime in the second leg of any two-legged playoff series.
The two Conference Championships will be decided by a two-game aggregate series, with the lower seed hosting the first leg and the higher seed hosting the second leg. If the aggregate score is tied after 180 minutes of play, the away goals rule will apply so as to be consistent with CONCACAF and FIFA practice. If the series remains tied, two 15-minute extra time periods will be played in their entirety, followed by penalty kicks, if necessary. The away goals tiebreaker will not apply to overtime in the second leg of any two-legged playoff series.
- Total number of wins
- Goal Differential (GD)
- Goals For (GF)
- Fewest Disciplinary Points
- Road Goals Differential
- Road Goal For
- Home Goals Differential
- Home Goal For
- Coin Toss (2 clubs) or Drawing of Lots (3 or more)When two or more teams are tied in the standings on points, the above tiebreakers will be used until one team ranks ahead of the other(s).
- Postponement Policy
- In the event a match is abandoned in or after the 76th minute (i.e. 75:00 on the official game clock), the result and all statistics will stand.
- In the event a match is abandoned prior to the 76th minute, it will be postponed, rather than cancelled. In the event the game is abandoned prior the 76th minute, any remaining time will be completed the following day or as soon as practical.
- The League will determine in its discretion whether to postpone/abandon a match after considering all relevant factors and circumstances including:
- Although not determinative, whether the delay in play exceeds 3 hours; and
- Although not determinative, whether resuming play would begin after 12:00 am local time and/or whether the game would be completed by 1:00 am local time
- Match Recommencement
- The match must restart on the same spot where the abandoned match action occurred (i.e. free-kick, throw-in, goal kick, corner kick, penalty, etc.). If the match was stopped during the normal flow of the game, a dropped ball on the spot where it was abandoned shall be used to restart
- The match shall recommence with the same players on the pitch and substitutes available as when the match was initially abandoned
- Any player in play at the time the match was abandoned who subsequently is injured before the resumption of the match and cannot play can only be replaced by a substitute on the official match day roster of the abandoned match. Such substitute will NOT count against a team’s normally allotted substitutions.
- No additional substitutes may be added to the list of players on the official match day roster.
- The teams can make only the number of substitutions to which they were still entitled when the match was abandoned (except as provided above in the case of a subsequent injury)
- Single yellow cards imposed before the match was abandoned are not carried forward to any other matches before the abandoned match is completed
- Players sent off during the abandoned match cannot be replaced and the number of players in the starting line-up remains as it was when the match was abandoned
- Players who were suspended following a match played after the abandoned match in question can be included on the team sheet so long as they were on the official match day roster of the abandoned match
- Any sanctions imposed before the match was abandoned remain valid for the remainder of the match
- Authority of MLS
- The kick-off time; date (foreseen for the following day) and location shall be decided by MLS in consultation with the participating teams