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Report: New MLS playoff format includes play-in matches, best-of-3 opening round

Major League Soccer’s new playoff format is coming.

DC United v LAFC - Pre-Season Friendly
A general detail view of the MLS logo on the Adidas White 2023 MLS Speedshell Pro Ball during the MLS Pre-Season 2023 Coachella Valley Invitational match between D.C. United v LAFC at Empire Polo Club on February 6, 2023 in Indio, California.
Photo by Matthew Ashton - AMA/Getty Images

Major League Soccer’s new playoff format includes play-in games and a best-of-3 opening round, according to a report from The Athletic. The play-in games are single elimination, and each matchup after the opening round will also be a single elimination. No draws in the best-of-3 opening round means we’ll be potentially seeing penalty kicks early in the postseason.

Playoff expansion, in one of the only soccer leagues in the world to not feature promotion and relegation, is a great way to make the regular season more important throughout the duration of the campaign. While MLS has been able to expand its overall presence with more teams, the competitiveness of those news clubs has not quite met the level of expectations. Adding more value to matches at the end of the season will likely create more competition to improve rosters and in turn, improve the overall product.

According to DraftKings Sportsbook, LAFC are the favorites to repeat as MLS champions at +400. The new season kicks off Saturday, February 25.