How I Would Fix the 2023 MLS Playoffs

How I Would Fix the 2023 MLS Playoffs

I got into the MLS season in 2022 and became a bigger fan of the league in 2023. I even got my friends into the league in 2022 / 2023 and went to numerous games with them. As much as 2023 has been a great season, the playoffs have been awful due to how much time has passed.


Here are my thoughts on how to fix the playoffs in 2024 and beyond. It starts with fixing the regular season and then moves into the playoffs.


A Video Going Over How to Fix the MLS Playoffs

Speed up the Regular Season

speed up the regular season in mls

In 2023, the first MLS game occurred on February 25th between Nashville SC and NYCFC. The MLS Cup Final will be on December 9th, which should tell you everything. There is too much happening with the Leagues Cup, U.S. Open Cup, and regular season.


I recommend adding mid-week games early in the season before any Leagues Cup games. We have to get to October (when the playoffs should start) sooner, so getting more games out of the way would be critical. Especially since MLB does not start till April, get as many games as you can in March while that is not happening.


Eliminate the U.S Open Cup

Eliminate the U.S Open Cup

The U.S. Open Cup is a big waste of time in the MLS season. I know this because ticket prices for these games were less than those of a regular MLS match for NYCFC. I’m sure that was the case for other teams as well.


MLS rosters are not built to handle so many games in the season. If MLS wants to keep the Leagues Cup, which I’m okay with, we must eliminate the U.S. Open Cup. It feels silly that MLS is playing games against divisions beneath them that never have the chance for promotion. Without promotion and relegation, this one time of year game is a waste of time.


No Best of 3 Playoff Format

No Best of 3 Playoff Format

The best-of-three playoff format is horrible for so many reasons. First, it doesn’t incentivize a better team to play better for the season because they have no home-field advantage. I know the league wants more money, but having three rounds to decide who goes to the next round loses fan momentum.


I would have the format as a single-game elimination, but I am sure that teams want at least one home playoff game.


Add Aggregate Scoring if you Must

If the league must have one playoff game in the first round for both teams, make it an aggregate score. Give the team with the better record a one-goal advantage as well. There needs to be an incentive to play better in the regular season. A one-goal advantage is a big deal, forcing teams to try to have a better record in the season.


Make the MLS Playoffs Wrap up In November

Speeding up the regular season and getting into the playoffs is critical for MLS. Another thing they need to do is wrap up the MLS Cup Final in November. I know there is an international break during this period, so to reach this conclusion before that is a must. Speeding up the regular season to get here can certainly help.



From my experience as a fan, I’ve been checked out of the playoffs this year. I did watch a few of the games at the start of the playoffs, but between the long breaks and the best-of-three format, I can’t get into it anymore.


I went to a playoff game for NYCFC in 2022, and it was electric. It was a one-game format and would likely be the team’s last home game. The turnout at Citi Field was incredible. The atmosphere was electric. Even watching the highlights, the next day, it was still incredible to see the fan passion.


In 2023, I don’t see any of that. Sure, some games have some great moments and endings, but too much time has passed to care anymore.

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