Audi 2019 MLS Cup Playoffs: Top Seeds Earn Home-Field Advantage - This Week in MLS
October 8, 2019 - Major League Soccer (MLS) News Release
The stage is set for the new single-elimination Audi 2019 MLS Cup Playoffs, which begin with Round 1 games on Saturday, Oct. 19, and Sunday, Oct. 20. The higher-seeded teams will have home-field advantage working in their favor, as MLS history reveals that two-thirds of the time in postseason play, higher-seeded teams (67.3%) and home teams (66.7%) have won playoff matchups.
A similar margin rings true for the regular season, with home teams holding down a 67.1 winning percentage from 1996-2018.
The No. 1 Eastern Conference team New York City FC and top team in the Western Conference, Supporters' Shield winners Los Angeles Football Club, have each earned a Round 1 bye.
Round 1 matchups and broadcast details are below:
Audi 2019 MLS Cup Playoffs Round 1 Schedule
*Note: Schedule subject to change. All Times Eastern.
Date Time Home Team Away Team Stadium Broadcast
Oct. 19 1:00 p.m. Atlanta United New England Revolution Mercedes-Benz Stadium Univision / TSN
Oct. 19 3:30 p.m. Seattle Sounders FC FC Dallas CenturyLink Field FOX Sports / FOX Deportes / TVA Sports
Oct. 19 6:00 p.m. Toronto FC D.C. United BMO Field TUDN / TSN / TVA Sports
Oct. 19 10:00 p.m. Real Salt Lake Portland Timbers Rio Tinto Stadium ESPNews / ESPN Deportes
Oct. 20 3:00 p.m. Philadelphia Union New York Red Bulls Talen Energy Stadium FS1 / FOX Deportes / TVA Sports
Oct. 20 8:30 p.m. Minnesota United FC LA Galaxy Allianz Field ESPN / ESPN Deportes
MLS launches Audi 2019 MLS Cup Playoffs Bracket Challenge
Fans have 12 days to lock their picks in the Audi 2019 MLS Cup Playoffs Bracket Challenge for a chance to win season tickets to their favorite club, a $500 MLSStore.com gift card, or even an exhilarating VIP Audi driving experience to test the limits of the Audi R8 V10 Plus at the only Formula One track in the United States.
Participants can join a public league or create their own leagues, with one bracket providing entry into an unlimited number of leagues.
All bracket selections must be set by 1 p.m. ET on Saturday, Oct. 19, prior to kickoff of Atlanta United vs. New England Revolution from Mercedes-Benz Stadium (Univision / TUDN / TSN).
MLS youngsters among October call-ups for Argentina, Uruguay and South Korea
More than 100 MLS players are set to participate in international competition during the October FIFA Window. A total of 106 players representing 34 national team federations will play in either international friendlies or continental tournaments across the globe, with additional rosters set to be announced in the coming days. Of the 106 players, nearly 60 percent (62/106) play for teams set to compete in the Audi 2019 MLS Cup Playoffs.
Among the MLS standouts are a pair of midfielders receiving their first calls to represent the Argentina U-23 team in New York City FC's Valentín Castellanos and D.C. United's Lucas Rodríguez. In total, four MLS players have been called to the Argentina U-23 team this year, with Atlanta United midfielder Ezequiel Barco and Inter Miami forward Julian Carranza joining Castellanos and Rodríguez this season.
USA Today Sports Images - NYC's Valentin Castellanos (R) and Philadelphia's Mark McKenzie (L)
The 21-year-old Castellanos experienced a breakout season with 11 goals and seven assists to help NYCFC top the Eastern Conference. Rodríguez, meanwhile, finished with six goals and three assists, as the 22-year-old helped D.C. back to the postseason in his first year with the club.
A pair of Young Designated Players who joined MLS this season continue to receive calls to represent their national teams, with Vancouver Whitecaps FC midfielder Hwang Inbeom (South Korea) and LAFC forward Bryan Rodríguez (Uruguay) each being called into a second consecutive camp.
Union, Real Salt Lake academy products fueling U.S. toward Gold Cup and Olympic Qualifying
The U.S. Men's National Team has called 18 MLS players, including 10 MLS academy products, into its roster for its first two matches in Concacaf Nations League play. Under the Nations League format, if the U.S. finishes in the top two spots of its group, it will automatically qualify to the 2021 Concacaf Gold Cup. The U.S. begins Nations League play against Cuba on Friday, Oct. 11 at Audi Field in Washington D.C. (7 p.m. ET, FS1 / UniMás / TUDN).
Receiving a call to the U.S. for the first time is 18-year-old Philadelphia Union academy product Brenden Aaronson, who helped the team finish with a club-best record and the No. 3 seed in the Eastern Conference for the Audi 2019 MLS Cup Playoffs. Aaronson, a candidate for the AT&T MLS Rookie of the Year award, could follow in the footsteps of Real Salt Lake academy product Corey Baird, who won the award last year and was also called by the U.S. in the October window.
Along with the senior USMNT, the United States U-23 squad is making preparations for 2020 Olympic Qualifying, calling in 16 MLS players into camp this cycle. Real Salt Lake leads all clubs with five academy products called by the U.S. U-23 squad, including four players who logged over 1,000 minutes this season (Justen Glad, Aaron Herrera, Brooks Lennon, Sebastian Saucedo) in helping the club lock down the No. 3 spot in the Western Conference for the Audi 2019 MLS Cup Playoffs. The fifth Real Salt Lake player called is 18-year-old David Ochoa , who started for the U.S. in the 2019 FIFA U-20 World Cup and could replace Nick Rimando as the leading man between the posts.
The Philadelphia Union send three players to the U-23 camp, second most in MLS, as defenders Auston Trusty and Mark McKenzie, and goalkeeper Matt Freese join the U.S. squad. Trusty represented the U.S. at the 2017 FIFA U-20 World Cup, while McKenzie participated in the 2019 tournament.
RSL's academy products pave way to home-field position in postseason
Thanks in large part to heavy contributions from their academy products, third-seeded Real Salt Lake have earned a home-field Western Conference Round 1 match against the No. 6 Portland Timbers on Oct. 19 (10 p.m. ET, ESPNews / ESPN Deportes). With the new knockout round format of the Audi 2019 MLS Cup Playoffs, RSL has the fortune of playing in its fortress Rio Tinto Stadium, where the club posted 12 regular season victories this year (tied for second in MLS).
They also showcase a young side that has grown quickly over the past two seasons, led by 23-year-old striker Corey Baird, the 2018 AT&T MLS Rookie of the Year who has been called up to the U.S. Men's National Team for the Concacaf Nations League this month. Baird, who has netted 13 goals in two seasons, is also one of three Salt Lake academy products who have posted four assists this year, including 22-year-old midfielder Sebastian Saucedo and 22-year-old defender Aaron Herrera. Five RSL academy products have played more than 1,000 minutes this season, with Herrera leading the club with 2,768 minutes and 32 appearances.
FC Dallas also tout a robust academy arsenal heading into the Audi 2019 MLS Cup Playoffs. Five former Academy players have logged more than 1,000 minutes, including recent U.S. MNT call-up and defender Reggie Cannon, and midfielder Paxton Pomykal who captained the U.S. U-20s at the 2019 FIFA U-20 World Cup and earned an MLS All-Star selection. The attack includes 18-year-old striker Jesus Ferreira, who leads FC Dallas with eight goals and is second in assists with six, potentially providing the No. 7 seed with enough offensive prowess to upset No. 2 Seattle Sounders FC on Oct. 19 (3:30 p.m. ET, FS1 / FOX Deportes).
Celebs, stars, politicians soak in thrilling Decision Day presented by AT&T
MLS Decision Day presented by AT&T reached the bounds of many celebrities and high-profile stars and owners who took in the thrilling regular season spectacle filled with club and team records, strong attendances and teams that solidified home-field advantage before transitioning to the Audi 2019 MLS Cup Playoffs:
Michael K. Williams, best known for his role as Omar Little in the acclaimed series The Wire, repped Atlanta United's Five Stripes.
Reggae musician Ziggy Marley and his family soaked in the Los Angeles Football Club's record-breaking feat of reaching 72 points.
Washington governor Jay Inslee heralded Seattle's 11th consecutive postseason berth.
After dust settled on Decision Day presented by AT&T
RECORDS ON REPEAT
Goals record goes down in straight seasons: LAFC's Carlos Vela crushed the previous 31-goal MLS single-season scoring record (31 goals set in 2018), netting his 34th in 31 games, including a scissor-kick for the brace en route to his Sunday hat trick.
Three years and three new points records: MLS clubs have reached an all-time high for regular season points in each of the past three seasons. LAFC (2019, 64 points); New York Red Bulls (2018, 71 points); Toronto FC (2017, 69 points).
LAFC is meeting the mark: LAFC players combined to score 85 goals this season, tying the league record set by the 1998 LA Galaxy. The next closest total was the 74 scored by Toronto FC in 2017.
Quakes' Wondo kept them coming: Chris Wondolowski broke the previous MLS career goals record (145) on May 19, and put away 15 total this regular season - including this game-tying finish on a diving header to reach 159 on the final day of the regular season.
Retiring Rimando ruled in six different stats: Goalkeeping giant Nick Rimando has broken record after record during his illustrious MLS career, and he completed his final MLS regular season on Sunday with as the sole owner of league records in each of the following categories.
MLS Career Statistics
Career Shutouts 154
Career Wins 222
Career Games Played 514
Career Starts 514
Career Saves 1,705
Career Minutes 46,336
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