Having missed out on the MLS Cup playoffs in a disappointing 2022, the New England Revolution might be again within the postseason after clinching a playoff berth on Sept. 23.
3 takeaways from the Revolution’s common season finale win vs. Philadelphia Union
Groton teenager Malcolm Fry indicators first-team contract with Revolution
The playoffs have a brand new format this 12 months, with 18 groups qualifying — 9 from every convention — an uptick from 14 in current seasons, with a brand new wild-card spherical figuring out the ultimate individuals within the single-elimination bracket.
Right here’s what it is advisable to know.
The brand new format
This season, 18 groups will attain the postseason, with 14 (the highest seven from every convention) getting a bye into the spherical of 16. The No. 8 and No. 9 seeds from every convention will sq. off for the ultimate spot to spherical out the 16-team single-elimination bracket.
One other new wrinkle this season comes within the spherical of 16 — which MLS is looking “Spherical One” — the place sequence might be performed as a best-of-three as an alternative of the one-match showdowns typical of the MLS postseason. The upper seed will host the primary match, the decrease seed hosts the second, and the upper seed hosts the decisive third contest if needed.
The convention semifinals, convention finals, and MLS Cup closing will all be a single match.
What’s the outlook for the Revolution?
The Revolution are again within the playoffs after a disappointing 2022 and regardless of a chaotic 2023 that featured a number of teaching modifications set off by the prolonged and mysterious investigation (and eventual resignation) of Bruce Enviornment.
New England has struggled since interim coach Richie Williams was ousted in favor of a second interim coach, Clint Peay, who has misplaced 4 of his seven video games in cost with simply two wins and one draw. The Revolution have struggled because the departure of star goalkeeper Djordje Petrovic to Premier League membership Chelsea — New England has saved only one clear sheet since his departure on Aug. 26, permitting a number of objectives in six of the final 10 matches.
The fifth-seeded Revolution will head to Philadelphia with maybe a little bit of a psychological edge: The Revolution beat the Union within the closing sport of the season Saturday, 2-1, to arrange this first-round playoff matchup. That win break up the season sequence, as New England took a 3-0 drubbing in Philadelphia in Might, the second-heaviest defeat of the season for the Revolution.
The Union are led at one finish by Jamaican goalkeeper Andre Blake, one of many league’s greatest between the sticks, and on the different by Argentine striker Julian Carranza, who has 14 objectives in 31 video games this season.
With the primary and third video games of the sequence to be held in Philadelphia, the Revolution should steal one on the street, which historical past says might be a troublesome process. The Revolution haven’t received — and even managed a draw — in Philadelphia since 2015.
Revolution vs. Union first-round schedule
Recreation 1: Saturday, Oct. 28, 5 p.m. (Subaru Park, Philadelphia)
Recreation 2: Wednesday, Nov. 8, 8 p.m. (Gillette Stadium, Foxborough)
Recreation 3 (if needed): Sunday, Nov. 12, 3 p.m. (Subaru Park, Philadelphia)
MLS Cup playoff schedule
The playoffs will start with the wild-card video games on Wednesday and conclude with the MLS Cup closing on Dec. 9, an prolonged schedule lengthened by a world break that can put the postseason on pause between Spherical One and the convention semifinals.
Right here’s the tough define of the schedule, with dates, occasions, and matchups for future rounds to be decided. You can too discover the complete first-round schedule right here.
Wild Card spherical
No. 8 New York Purple Bulls vs. No. 9 Charlotte FC (7:30 p.m.)
No. 8 Sporting Kansas Metropolis vs. No. 9 San Jose Earthquakes (9:30 p.m.)
Oct. 28-Nov. 12
No. 1 FC Cincinnati vs. wild-card winner
No. 2 Orlando Metropolis SC vs. No. 7 Nashville SC
No. 3 Columbus Crew vs. No. 6 Atlanta United
No. 4 Philadelphia Union vs. No. 5 New England Revolution
No. 1 St. Louis Metropolis SC vs. wild-card winner
No. 2 Seattle Sounders vs. No. 7 FC Dallas
No. 3 LAFC vs. Vancouver Whitecaps
No. 4 Houston Dynamo vs. No. 5 Actual Salt Lake
Who’re the MLS Cup favorites?
There are many surprises within the standings, with the highest seeds held by a number of the league’s less-established franchises. FC Cincinnati, beneath the stewardship of former Revolution standout Pat Noonan, stormed to the Supporters’ Protect in simply its fourth season within the league after successful 12 consecutive residence video games to open the season.
Cincinnati was the laughingstock of the league for its first three years, ending lifeless final within the East typically by vital margins, making the membership’s 2023 ascent dizzying. Regardless of shedding star striker Brenner to Italian membership Udinese within the spring, Noonan’s facet by no means skipped a beat, driving 16 objectives from MVP candidate Luciano Acosta to a cushty prime seed to place the league on discover forward of the postseason.
Out west, St. Louis Metropolis has been the shock of the season, locking up the No. 1 seed within the Western Convention — admittedly the weaker of the 2 conferences — in its first season of play. Backstopped by Swiss goalkeeper Roman Bürki, lengthy one of many prime keepers in Europe with German membership Borussia Dortmund, St. Louis posted an 11-3-2 residence document (bested solely by Cincinnati) to complete forward of established contenders like Los Angeles FC and the Seattle Sounders.
Defending champion LAFC will all the time be a risk. Golden Boot winner Dénis Bouanga scored 20 objectives in 31 video games, and whereas captain Carlos Vela is a great distance from his record-setting 34-goal season in 2019, Steve Cherundolo’s staff has the expertise to beat any staff on its day regardless of an up-and-down common season.
Different groups to observe embody the Philadelphia Union, Orlando Metropolis SC, and Houston Dynamo.
What occurred final 12 months?
Every thing that led to the MLS Cup closing was pretty easy in 2022, with a lot of the bracket going chalk and the highest seeds, LAFC and Philadelphia, advancing to the ultimate after comfy victories of their respective convention finals.
The championship match was as removed from easy as could possibly be.
There was already loads of drama in regular time, when Jesús Murillo regarded as if he might have received it for LAFC with an 83rd-minute header from a nook, however the screenwriters have been removed from completed. It took simply two minutes for the Union to equalize from a set piece of their very own, with Jack Elliott’s header giving Philadelphia new life and sending the sport to further time at 2-2.
The ultimate went to a unique dimension within the a hundred and tenth minute, when an errant LAFC again go left Union ahead Cory Burke by on aim, leaving goalkeeper Maxime Crépeau no selection however to return off his line and take out Burke, struggling a critical leg harm — and being despatched off with a crimson card — within the course of.
The harm to Crépeau meant there was loads of stoppage time to be performed when the 120 minutes have been up, and Elliott’s second aim of the day, this one within the 124th minute, regarded all however sure to stun the house crowd and provides Philadelphia its first title.
And but, it wasn’t over; with LAFC right down to 10 males nearly 8 minutes into stoppage time, Welsh star Gareth Bale rose highest to move residence the most recent (and most dramatic) equalizer possible within the 128th minute and ship the sport to penalties, the place Los Angeles prevailed to assert its first MLS Cup.
Gamers to observe within the MLS Cup playoffs
For a lot of this MLS season, all eyes have been on Inter Miami’s Lionel Messi, as one of many biggest gamers of all time — who’s more likely to declare his document eighth Ballon d’Or because the world’s greatest participant on the finish of October — landed stateside and instantly took American soccer by storm.
The Argentine legend seemingly couldn’t cease scoring, with 11 objectives in 13 appearances for Inter Miami. The difficulty is that a lot of that manufacturing got here as Messi arrived at the beginning of the Leagues Cup, contested between groups from MLS and Liga MX because the home season got here to a pause. Messi was sensational, bagging 10 objectives in seven video games as Inter Miami lifted the trophy.
By the point he debuted in MLS play on Aug. 26, Inter Miami had been winless in its final 11 video games floundering properly exterior the playoff image, and even the presence of Messi (additionally coping with a hamstring problem) wasn’t sufficient to get Inter Miami into the postseason. Meaning stars like Messi, Spain’s Sergio Busquets, maybe the most effective defensive midfielder of the final decade, and former MVP Josef Martinez received’t be collaborating within the playoffs.
Listed below are another stars to regulate.
Luciano Acosta, FC Cincinnati: Acosta is the heavy frontrunner to assert MVP this season, because the driving pressure behind Cincinnati’s ascension to the highest of the MLS. As dynamic as he’s diminutive, the 5-foot-3 Acosta has been sensational, with 16 objectives from attacking midfield (second behind Dénis Bouanga) and 13 assists (fifth within the league), however his affect goes far past the numbers. Acosta’s risk as a dribbler, passer, and finisher may have any staff that attracts Cincinnati within the playoffs involved.
Hany Mukhtar, Nashville SC: Final 12 months’s MVP regarded on monitor to assert a second consecutive Golden Boot after a scorching begin with seven objectives in his first seven video games, however the German star cooled off after that and has scored simply twice in his final 12 appearances. Nonetheless, Mukhtar is likely one of the most electrical attackers within the league, and makes Nashville — a Leagues Cup finalist towards Inter Miami — a risk towards anybody in one-off playoff matches.
Thiago Almada, Atlanta United: Messi’s worldwide teammate has exploded into probably the most prolific playmaker within the MLS, with a league-best 17 assists to his identify (plus 11 objectives from midfield) in his second season in Atlanta. The 22-year-old is the artistic hub of a staff that has scored 64 objectives in 33 video games, one shy of Columbus for the league lead with one sport to play.
Dénis Bouanga, LAFC: LAFC has been probably the most inconsistent of the league’s prime groups, however Bouanga’s constant aim scoring has been sufficient to land the defending champions a top-2 seed and could possibly be sufficient for one more run on the Cup.
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