With the teams to compete in the 2021 MLS Cup Playoffs finally set, now is an opportune time to take a look at who is involved and who could be taking the glory once all is said and done by the time we reach the middle of December.
The MLS Cup Playoffs is an event that will see the top 14 teams battle it out to be named the overall winners of the MLS, with the top seven teams of both the Eastern and Western Conferences.
Which teams have qualified for the Playoffs?
After 34 league games, the Eastern Conference saw New England Revolution take the top spot rather comfortably, which is why many may want to use Unibet’s betting odds boost promotional offer on this team as they have been listed as the favorites to win the competition.
Philadelphia Union, Nashville SC, New York City, Atlanta United, Orlando City and New York Red Bulls are the six other sides to have managed to obtain a place in the postseason.
The Western Conference saw the Colorado Rapids secure the top spot in the division, with the team earning a bye and heading straight to the Conference Semifinals (as did New England).
They will be joined in the Playoffs alongside Seattle Sounders, Sporting Kansas City, Portland Timbers, Minnesota United, Vancouver Whitecaps and Real Salt Lake, who pipped Los Angeles Galaxy on goal difference.
What is the schedule?
As mentioned, both New England and Colorado have been able to secure a spot in the Conference Semifinals, therefore meaning that they will automatically advance to the next stage of the competition. However, the other 14 teams that remain in the competition will need to try and come through a knockout game in order to keep their hopes of being crowned the MLS Cup Champions alive.
Here is how the Playoff schedule looks for the upcoming 2021 competition:
- Philadelphia Union vs. New York Red Bulls – Saturday, November 20
- Sporting Kansas City vs. Vancouver Whitecaps – Saturday, November 20
- New York City FC vs. Atlanta United – Sunday, November 21
- Portland Timbers vs. Minnesota United – Sunday, November 21
- Nashville SC vs. Orlando City – Tuesday, November 23
- Seattle Sounders vs. Real Salt Lake – Tuesday, November 23
- Colorado Rapids vs. Portland/Minnesota – Thursday, November 25
- SKC/Vancouver vs. Seattle/RSL – Sunday, November 28
- Nashville/Orlando vs. Philadelphia/RBNY – Sunday, November 28
- New England Revolution vs. NYCFC vs. Atlanta – Monday, November 29
The Western Conference Final will be played on Saturday, December 4, whereas the Eastern Conference Final will be played a day later.
The winner of each game will then progress to the MLS Cup Final, which will see the best team from the West go up against the best team in the East for the top honor in American soccer on Saturday, December 11.
Who is the favorite to win the competition?
As highlighted already, many are already backing Bruce Arena’s New England Revolution side to become the next MLS Champions and it is hardly a surprise to learn why given their form in the regular season.
The team were able to be a dominant force within the league format, as they managed to win 22 games of the 34 played (with the closest to them being 17 by a plethora of teams in the Western Conference), whilst they drew an additional seven. This meant that the Boston-based side had only experienced five defeats throughout the entire campaign.
It should be noted, though, that one team did record fewer defeats compared to the Revs, with Nashville SC suffering just four. However, they drew 18 games and only managed 12 wins, which is why they finished the regular season in third in the Eastern Conference.
Other teams thought to be within a chance of obtaining glory in this competition are the Colorado Rapids and the Seattle Sounders, with New York City FC thought to be the next best but with a rather slim chance of doing so.
Interestingly, one of the statistics of the competition that should be known is that the higher-seeded teams in each Conference will host the Conference finals. The highest-ranked team in the overall standings will then host the final, which could provide a rather big advantage in the grand scheme of things.