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Win Or Go Home: Audi 2020 MLS Cup Playoffs Kick off - This Week in MLS

November 17, 2020 - Major League Soccer (MLS) News Release


The pressure is mounting for the Audi 2020 MLS Cup Playoffs, with the highly anticipated Play-In Round set to kick off this Friday. Only two of the four Eastern Conference teams will advance to Round One, as winners take all and losers go home from the very beginning of this single-elimination postseason.

With more clubs, more stakes, and more urgency than ever before, the Audi MLS Cup Playoffs have no margin for error en route to crowning the MLS Cup champions on Dec. 12 (8 p.m. ET, FOX, UniMas/TUDN, TSN, TVA Sports).

Audi 2020 MLS Cup Playoffs Schedule

Friday, Nov. 20: Play-In Round (Eastern Conference)

New England Revolution vs. Montreal Impact (6:30 p.m. ET, FS1 / FOX Deportes / TSN / TVA Sports)

Nashville SC vs. Inter Miami CF (9 p.m. ET, ESPN2 / ESPN Deportes / TSN / TVA Sports)

Beginning with Round One of the Audi 2020 MLS Cup Playoffs, fans have the opportunity to predict the outcome of each postseason matchup by participating in the Audi 2020 MLS Cup Playoffs Bracket Challenge to earn points that could add up to prizes at the end of the competition.

Fans can fill out a bracket in public leagues or create their own. However, all predictions will lock on Saturday, Nov. 21 at 12 p.m. ET.

More information on the Audi 2020 MLS Cup Playoffs Bracket Challenge is available here.

Expansion Partners Inter Miami CF and Nashville SC to Make History in Play-In Round Clash

Either No. 7 Nashville SC or No. 10 Inter Miami CF will become the second expansion team ever, and the first since the Chicago Fire in 1998, to win an Audi MLS Cup Playoffs match. The expansion partners will face off in the Play-In Round on Friday at Nissan Stadium (9 p.m. ET, ESPN2 / ESPN Deportes / TSN / TVA Sports) for a chance to play in Round One next Tuesday against either the Philadelphia Union or Toronto FC.

Nashville SC thrived in its expansion season with a historically great defense, posting the best goals against average (0.956) of any expansion club in league history. Behind MLS Defender of the Year finalist Walker Zimmerman and goalkeeper Joe Willis, Nashville posted nine clean sheets, tied for most in the league. Head coach Gary Smith's defensively oriented squad allowed 22 goals on the season, third-fewest in the league, and only two behind leaders Philadelphia.

Inter Miami will look to ride the momentum of a dramatic berth into the postseason on MLS Decision Day presented by AT&T. The club featured an international flair with Scotland National Team midfielder Lewis Morgan leading the club with five goals and eight assists. Elsewhere on the roster, Miami features a pair of FIFA World Cup veterans in France's Blaise Matuidi and Argentina's Gonzalo Higuaín.

Before this season, five expansion clubs in history have qualified for the Audi MLS Cup Playoffs, with only Chicago advancing to the next round. Nashville or Miami will make history on Friday becoming the second to advance.

First-Year Henry Stepping up to Decorated Arena

When Thierry Henry and his Montreal Impact face Bruce Arena's New England Revolution in the Play-In Round this Friday (6:30 p.m. ET, FS1 / FOX Deportes / TSN / TVA Sports), it will be the ultimate test of a first-year manager against the winningest coach in MLS postseason history.

Henry is eying his first Audi MLS Cup Playoffs coaching win, but his uphill battle against Arena will be steep. Arena is unmatched in MLS history with 32 postseason victories as a five-time MLS Cup champion (D.C. United 1996, 1997; LA Galaxy 2011, 2012, 2014). With Gustavo Bou (5 goals, 3 assists) back from injury on the Revs attack, and Matt Turner, the runner-up for the 2020 Allstate MLS Goalkeeper of the Year, minding New England's nets, can Henry's masterful first-season magic continue?

Young Academy Products, Star Internationals Shine in National Team Play

Across the globe, young MLS internationals and academy products shined during the November FIFA international window with players starring in competition in Europe, Africa, Asia, and North and South America. A total of 47 current MLS players are in international competition during the FIFA window, with dozens more former MLS players and academy products in action.

The United States saw significant contributions from an array of MLS players and academy products in a 6-2 victory over Panama on Monday including two goals from 20-year-old Sebastian Soto (Real Salt Lake academy) and goals from 18-year-old Giovanni Reyna (NYCFC Academy) and Sebastian Lletget (LA Galaxy). Likewise, the U.S. saw two assists from Richie Ledezma (Real Salt Lake Academy), along with assists from Matt Miazga (New York Red Bulls Academy) and Reggie Cannon (FC Dallas Academy). Meanwhile USMNT regulars Weston McKennie (FC Dallas Academy) and Tyler Adams (New York Red Bulls Academy) manned the midfield from the starting whistle.

Additional Concacaf action will see Mexico midfielders Jonathan dos Santos (LA Galaxy) and Rodolfo Pizarro (Inter Miami) face Japan today at Liebenauer Stadium in Austria (3 p.m. ET, TUDN).

European contests featured Ján Greguš (Minnesota) and Albert Rusnák (Real Salt Lake) helping Slovakia qualify for Euro 2021 next summer.

A total of 19 current MLS players are competing in CONMEBOL 2022 FIFA World Cup qualifiers, with Ecuador and Uruguay are off to strong starts, each tied for third place with six points apiece. Ecuador features MLS standouts Xavier Arreaga (Seattle), Jhegson Méndez (Orlando), and Diego Palacios and Jose Cifuentes (LAFC). Former FC Dallas star Carlos Gruezo scored the game-winning goal in a Thursday victory over Bolivia. Ecuador continues action today at 1 p.m. when hosting Colombia. Uruguay, which features LAFC stars Brian Rodríguez and Diego Rossi, is coming off a 3-0 victory over Colombia on Thursday and will host first-place Brazil today at 3 p.m.

Major League Soccer and Wells Fargo Name 26 Community MVPs Making a Difference in Support of Local Communities

Major League Soccer and Wells Fargo today announced the 26 Community MVPs that were selected for making a positive impact during the COVID-19 pandemic. Fans throughout the soccer community had the opportunity to nominate themselves or individuals who have provided critical services, including healthcare professionals, social workers, teachers, first responders and many other essential workers keeping our communities resilient and safe.

Through the 2020 MLS WORKS Community MVPs Program presented by Wells Fargo, $65,000 will be donated to charity on behalf of each Community MVP, one representing each MLS club, for going above and beyond to serve their communities during these challenging times. Each Community MVP will receive a donation to a 501(c)(3) charity of their choice, a customized adidas MLS jersey and an MLS adidas 2020 NATIVO XXV Official Match Ball.

Fans are encouraged to visit MLSsoccer.com/CommunityMVP for additional information on this year's Community MVPs.

Audi 2020 MLS Cup Playoffs Play-In Round & Round One Game Notes

Friday, Nov. 20

Play-In Round

East: No. 8 New England Revolution vs. No. 9 Montreal Impact, 6:30 p.m. ET

(FS1 / FOX Deportes, TSN, TVA Sports)

The teams met four times during the regular season, with New England winning three. In the last meeting, Adam Buksa had a goal and an assist as the Revolution took a 3-2 win Oct. 14 at Red Bull Arena. The Revs won the previous two meetings, getting goals from three different players for a 3-1 win Sept. 23 at Gillette Stadium, also meeting in group play in the MLS is Back Tournament as Gustavo Bou scored the game's only goal on July 9. On Opening Day (Feb. 29) at Olympic Stadium, Teal Bunbury gave the Revolution an early lead, but Romell Quioto and Maxi Urruti scored on either side of halftime to give the Impact the 2-1 win

The Revolution win in the last meeting in Foxborough ended a two-game Impact winning streak at Gillette Stadium, which had ended a four-game Revolution winning streak there in the series dating back to 2016.

The Revolution have reached the MLS Cup Playoffs for a second consecutive year, following a three-year postseason lapse. A year ago, they fell 1-0 to Atlanta United at Mercedes-Benz Stadium in Round One.

The Impact are making their return to the MLS Cup Playoffs for the first time since 2016,, when they qualified for the second time in club history, in back-to-back seasons. Their last participation in the postseason ended in a dramatic Eastern Conference Championship vs. Toronto FC, the series ending 7-5 on aggregate, the Impact winning 3-2 at home in the first leg before TFC took an incredible 5-2 win in extra time at BMO Field to gain a place in MLS Cup.

The teams have never before met outside of MLS regular season play.

The Revolution concluded their 2020 regular season with a 2-0 defeat by the Philadelphia Union at Subaru Park on Decision Day. They were victorious the previous weekend in their final home game, Teal Bunbury scoring two goals in a 4-3 come-from-behind win vs. D.C. United.

The Impact claimed their berth in the MLS Cup Playoffs in dramatic fashion on Decision Day, overcoming a 2-goal deficit and hauling themselves back into a playoff spot in a 3-2 win at D.C. United. The game ended a three-game losing slide for the Impact.

East: No. 7 Nashville SC vs. No. 10 Inter Miami CF, 9 p.m. ET

(ESPN2 / ESPN Deportes, TSN, TVA Sports)

Both teams have qualified for the MLS Cup Playoffs in their expansion seasons, the sixth and seventh clubs to reach the postseason in their first year. It's the first time since 1998 two expansion teams have reached the same postseason; with the teams facing each other, it's also a guarantee that an expansion team will advance in the playoffs for the first time since the 1998 Chicago Fire, who won MLS Cup.

The teams met twice during the regular season, a home-and-home series over a week, their first-ever meetings in league play. Anibal Godoy scored the game's only goal as Nashville SC took the victory Aug. 30 at Nissan Stadium; the teams then reached a goalless draw Sept. 6 in Fort Lauderdale.

Nashville SC won the final game of their inaugural campaign, defeating Orlando City SC 3-2 at Exploria Stadium behind goals from Daniel Lovitz, Hany Muhktar and Jhonder Cadíz. The match previous, Nashville SC saw their nine-game home undefeated streak put to an end in a loss by the game's only goal to FC Dallas at Nissan Stadium, which also snapped a five-game undefeated streak overall.

Inter Miami secured their berth in the MLS Cup Playoffs on Decision Day, defeating FC Cincinnati 2-1 in Fort Lauderdale behind goals from Mikey Ambrose and Leandro González Pirez. Inter Miami CF have a four-game home undefeated streak alive, with wins in three of those.

Saturday, Nov. 21

Round One

East: No. 4 Orlando City SC vs. No. 5 New York City FC, 12 noon ET

(UniMás / TUDN, TSN, TVA Sports, MLSsoccer.com, MLS App)

Orlando City SC are making their MLS Cup Playoffs debut, in the club's sixth season of play in Major League Soccer.

NYCFC have reached the postseason for five consecutive seasons, missing out only in their expansion season of 2015, when they came in along with Orlando City SC. A year ago, NYCFC suffered a loss by the game's only goal to Toronto FC at Yankee Stadium in the Eastern Conference Semifinals; just once have NYCFC advanced, that in 2018, when they defeated the Philadelphia Union in a wild card match before falling to Atlanta United in the conference semis.

The teams met twice during the regular season. Chris Mueller scored early for OCSC and Keaton Parks netted after the break for NYCFC, leaving the teams in a 1-1 draw Oct. 14 at Exploria Stadium. The teams met earlier this year in group play in the MLS is Back Tournament, as Mueller scored a pair of goals to lead Orlando City SC to a 3-1 win on July 14.

The win in the first meeting ended a six-game NYCFC undefeated streak in the league series, the teams reaching draws in their two meetings in 2019 following a four-game NYCFC winning streak. All four wins had come by shutout; the first OCSC goal last year ended a 458-minute shutout streak vs. New York City FC.

NYCFC has come away with points on their last four trips to Orlando, OCSC last winning at home in the series in 2017.

Orlando City SC saw a three-game winning run put to an end on Decision Day, falling 3-2 to Nashville SC at Exploria Stadium, their first loss at home in 10 regular-season matches this year.

NYCFC concluded their campaign with a four-game winning streak, defeating Chicago Fire FC 4-3 at Soldier Field on Decision Day. Valentin Castellanos scored his fourth goal in two games, while Jesús Medina netted his third goal in four matches.

East: No. 3 Columbus Crew SC vs. No. 6 New York Red Bulls, 3 p.m. ET

(UniMás / TUDN, TSN, TVA Sports, MLSsoccer.com, MLS App)

Crew SC have returned to the postseason following a one-year absence, qualifying for the MLS Cup Playoffs for the 16th time in club history. Their last appearance ended in a loss to the New York Red Bulls in the Eastern Conference Semifinals in 2018; they have reached MLS Cup on two occasions, winning in 2008.

The Red Bulls have qualified for the MLS Cup Playoffs for the 21st time in 25 seasons - the most of any club in MLS history. The Red Bulls this year extended their streak of consecutive playoff appearances to 11 years, second only to Seattle Sounders FC (12 in a row) in MLS history. A year ago, the Red Bulls saw their postseason run end at the first hurdle in a wild 4-3 loss to the Philadelphia Union in extra time in Chester.

The teams met once during the regular season. Gyasi Zardes and Lucas Zelarayán scored in each half as Crew SC took a 2-0 win in the opening match for each team in the MLS is Back Tournament on July 16.

Crew SC have a six-game undefeated streak in the series in league play. The Red Bulls have not won in Columbus since March 28, 2015, a span of five games; Crew SC have won two of those, with three draws. The Crew have won the last two meetings in Harrison.

The teams have met four times in all in the MLS Cup Playoffs, last in the Eastern Conference Semifinals in 2018. Crew SC won the first leg 1-0 at home, but the Red Bulls took the second leg 3-0 at Red Bull Arena, winning the series 3-1 on aggregate. It was the first series win for the Red Bulls vs. Crew SC, who won MLS Cup 2008 when the teams met.

Crew SC concluded the 2020 regular season with a third consecutive home victory, defeating Atlanta United 2-1 at Mapfre Stadium on Decision Day, as Lucas Zelarayán and Gyasi Zardes scored on either side of halftime.

The Red Bulls won for a second time in three weeks to cap their 2020 campaign, defeating Toronto FC 2-1 at Red Bull Arena on Decision Day. Brian White netted a goal for the fourth time in five games, coming in a third win (with three draws) over the final seven matches of the year.

Sunday, Nov. 22

West: No.1 Sporting Kansas City vs. No. 8 San Jose Earthquakes, 4 p.m. ET

(FS1 / FOX Deportes, TSN, TVA Sports)

Sporting are returning to the MLS Cup Playoffs after a one-year absence, a string of eight consecutive years in the postseason ended last year. In their last appearances, Sporting got past Real Salt Lake in the Western Conference Semifinals, before falling to the Portland Timbers in the conference championship 3-2 on aggregate.

The Quakes are making their return to the postseason for the first time in 2017, which was their first qualification in five years. In their last appearance, the Quakes suffered a 5-0 loss to Vancouver Whitecaps FC in the wild card match.

The teams have met twice in the MLS Cup Playoffs. In 2003, the Quakes won 3-2 in extra-time in the Western Conference Championship, on their way to the second MLS Cup in club history. The following year, Kansas City overcame a 2-goal deficit from the first leg to win 3-0 at home on their way to an MLS Cup Final berth.

The teams last met during the 2019 season, each winning at home. Danny Hoesen netted a pair of goals before the break as the Quakes eased to a 4-1 win on April 20 at Avaya Stadium, then Sporting took a 2-1 win Aug. 17 at Children's Mercy Park.

The Quakes win in the first meeting last year ended a six-game Sporting undefeated streak in the series, their first win in the series since 2016. Sporting have won the four three meetings in Kansas City; the last San Jose win at Children's Mercy Park came in 2015, a 5-0 victory, which is the largest in the all-time series.

Sporting concluded their regular season with a third consecutive victory, defeating Real Salt Lake 2-0 at Rio Tinto Stadium on Decision Day. Sporting won six of eight games (with one draw) to end the campaign, from the start of October.

The Quakes had a two-game winning streak put to an end on Decision Day, dropping a 4-1 decision to Seattle Sounders FC at CenturyLink Field. Marcos López scored the San Jose directly from a free kick.

West: No. 4 Minnesota United FC vs. No. 5 Colorado Rapids, 7:30 p.m. ET

(ESPN / ESPN Deportes, TSN, TVA Sports)

The teams met twice during the regular season. An 89th-minute own goal was the difference as Minnesota United FC took a 2-1 win Oct. 28 at Allianz Field. The teams also met during the group stage of the MLS is Back Tournament on July 22. Ethan Finlay scored twice, but Jonathan Lewis came off the substitutes' bench to net a second-half equalizer, leaving the teams in a 2-2 draw.

The teams met twice a season ago, each winning by a 1-0 scoreline. Kei Kamara scored the game's only goal in the 29th minute, leading the Rapids to the victory on June 8 at Dick's Sporting Goods Park. Darwin Quintero scored the only goal for the MNUFC win Aug. 14 at Allianz Field.

Minnesota United FC qualified for the MLS Cup Playoffs for the first time in club history a year ago, suffering a 2-1 loss to the LA Galaxy at Allianz Field in Round One.

The Rapids have returned to the postseason for the first time since 2016, a 14th appearance in the MLS Cup Playoffs in their 25 seasons. In their last qualification, the Rapids advanced past the LA Galaxy on penalty kicks in the Western Conference Semifinals, before falling 3-1 on aggregate to Seattle Sounders FC with a trip to MLS Cup 2016 on the line.

MNUFC ended the season with an eight-game undefeated streak (4-0-4), winning for a third time in four games to close out the campaign in a 3-0 win against FC Dallas at Allianz Field on Decision Day behind a pair of goals from Kevin Molino and three assists from Robin Lod. Minnesota United concluded the season with an eight-game home undefeated streak in St. Paul.

The Rapids won their third match to close out the 2020 regular season, defeating the Houston Dynamo 2-1 at BBVA Stadium on Decision Day as Younes Namli and Diego Rubio scored goals. The Rapids won five of their final seven games to put an end to the campaign.

West: No. 3 Portland Timbers vs. No. 6 FC Dallas, 10 p.m. ET

(ESPN / ESPN Deportes, TSN, TVA Sports)

The teams last met during the 2019 season, each winning at home. Jesús Ferreira and Reto Ziegler netted goals as FC Dallas took a 2-1 win on April 13 at Toyota Stadium, then Brian Fernández scored the game's only goal for a Timbers win June 30 at Providence Park.

When FC Dallas won 3-1 at Portland on April 13, 2016, it was their first victory ever at Providence Park; the Timbers had won four of the first six league meetings there with two draws. The Timbers have won once in 12 league visits all-time to Toyota Stadium, in 2014.

The Timbers have qualified for the MLS Cup Playoffs for each of the last four seasons, now six times in their 10 years in MLS. A year ago, the Timbers were knocked out of the postseason at the first hurdle in 2-1 Round One loss to Real Salt Lake; that followed a trip to the 2018 MLS Cup, where they dispatched FC Dallas, Seattle Sounders FC and Sporting Kansas City before falling 2-0 to Atlanta United.

FC Dallas have reached the postseason for a third consecutive year, now having qualified for the MLS Cup Playoffs 18 times in the club's 25 seasons. Each of the last two years FCD have seen their postseason end in the first time of asking, last year in a wild 4-3 loss in extra time to Seattle Sounders FC at CenturyLink Field in Round One.

The teams are meeting in the postseason for a third time. They last met in the Knockout Round in 2018, with the Timbers taking a 2-1 win at Toyota Stadium on their way to an eventual appearance in MLS Cup. They also met in the 2015 Western Conference Championship, the Timbers winning 5-3 on aggregate on their way to the first MLS Cup title in club history.

The Timbers closed out the 2020 regular season with a late 1-1 draw with Los Angeles Football Club at Banc of California Stadium on Decision Day, the 90th-minute equalizer scored by Jorge Villafaña. The Timbers concluded the year without losing back-to-back games all season.

FC Dallas had a three-game winning run put to an end on Decision Day, falling 3-0 to Minnesota United FC at Allianz Field. FCD concluded the year with a nine-game undefeated streak at Toyota Stadium.

Tuesday, Nov. 24

East: No. 2 Toronto FC vs. higher advancing seed from the Play-In Round, 6 p.m. ET

(FS1 / FOX Deportes, TSN, TVA Sports)

TFC have reached the MLS Cup Playoffs for a second consecutive year and fifth time in the last six seasons after not qualifying for the postseason in the first eight seasons in club history. Toronto FC last year reached MLS Cup for the third time in four years, dropping a 3-1 decision to Seattle Sounders FC at CenturyLink Field, after winning the first MLS title in the club's history in 2017 in a 2-0 win against Seattle at BMO Field.

Toronto FC come into the MLS Cup Playoffs following a 2-1 loss to the New York Red Bulls at Red Bull Arena on Decision Day. Tsubasa Endoh netted his first goal of the season for TFC.

East: No. 1 Philadelphia Union vs. lower advancing seed of the Play-In Round, 8 p.m. ET

(ESPN / ESPN Deportes, TSN, TVA Sports)

The Union come into the MLS Cup Playoffs as the overall No. 1 seed, securing the best overall record in the league with a 2-0 win against the New England Revolution at Subaru Park on Decision Day, behind goals from Sergio Santos and Cory Burke. The Union ended the campaign with six wins in their last eight games, only dropping one over that span (dating back to Oct. 7).

The Union are in the MLS Cup Playoffs for a third consecutive year, the fourth time in the last five seasons. They last year won a game in the postseason for the first time in club history, defeating the New York Red Bulls 4-3 in extra time in Chester in Round One, before falling 2-0 to Atlanta United in the Eastern Conference Quarterfinals.

West: No. 2 Seattle Sounders FC vs. No. 7 Los Angeles Football Club, 10:30 p.m. ET

(ESPN / ESPN Deportes, TSN, TVA Sports)

The defending MLS Cup champions, Sounders FC have reached the postseason for the 12th time in the club's 12 seasons - the most consecutive appearances in league history. The Sounders claimed the club's second MLS title last year in a third appearance in MLS Cup in four seasons, defeating Toronto FC 3-1 at CenturyLink Field.

LAFC have reached the playoffs in each of the club's two seasons of existence. A year ago, after earning the No. 1 seed overall in the MLS Cup Playoffs, they defeated the LA Galaxy 5-3 in the conference semifinals before falling to Sounders FC in the Western Conference Final.

The teams met three times during the regular season. In the last meeting, Danny Musovski scored a pair of goals and set up the third as LAFC took a 3-1 win Oct. 11 at Banc of California Stadium. Sounders FC won the first two meetings; first, Jordan Morris scored a pair of goals in a 3-1 win on Aug. 30 at CenturyLink Field, then Nicolás Lodeiro converted a pair of penalty kicks to give the Sounders the 3-0 win Sept. 18 in Seattle.

The wins this year were the first for Sounders FC all-time in league play. LAFC won the first three, before the teams played to a 1-1 draw April 28, 2019.

The teams also met in the round-of-16 in the MLS is Back Tournament, and Los Angeles Football Club gained a measure of redemption with a 4-1 win, as Diego Rossi netted a pair of goals and Brian Rodríguez added a goal and an assist.

When the teams met in the MLS Cup Playoffs last year, Raúl Ruidíaz scored a pair of goals, and Nicolás Lodeiro scored a goal and set up the other two, and Sounders FC claimed a remarkable 3-1 win on Oct. 29 at Banc of California Stadium in the Western Conference Final.

Sounders FC concluded their 2020 season with a 4-1 win against the San Jose Earthquakes at CenturyLink Field on Decision Day, behind goals from Nicolás Lodeiro, Raúl Ruidíaz and Jordan Morris. Sounders FC ended the campaign with a 6-game undefeated run at home, which started with a 7-1 win against San Jose, scoring 20 goals over the span.

LAFC ended their 2020 campaign with a 1-1 draw with the Portland Timbers at Banc of California Stadium on Decision Day. LAFC ended the season with two wins and two draws from their final five games.


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