Here is a look at all of the first-round matches of the MLS Cup Playoffs, which kick off this weekend.
E#2 PHILADELPHIA UNION v E#7 NEW YORK RED BULLS
Sat., Nov. 20, Subaru Park, Chester, Pa.
2:30 p.m. ET (Univision / TUDN; TSN / TVA Sports; PHL17; MSG)
REFEREE: Fotis Bazakos. AR1 (bench): Frank Anderson; AR2 (opposite): Oscar Mitchell-Carvalho; 4th: Rubiel Vazquez; VAR: Geoff Gamble; AVAR: Andrew Bigelow
MLS Career: 123 games; FC/gm: 24.8; Y/gm: 3.6; R: 23; pens: 40
MLS Cup Playoffs: 1 game; FC/gm: 35.0; Y/gm: 5.0; R: 0; pens: 0
ALL-TIME: Union 10 wins, 37 goals … Red Bulls 14 wins, 42 goals … Ties 7
AT UNION: Union 8 wins, 24 goals … Red Bulls 6 wins, 22 goals … Ties 2
5/15: PHI 1, NYR 0 (Burke 9)
7/8: NYR 1, PHI 1 (Klimala 60 — Santos 85)
9/29: NYR 1, PHI 1 (Fernandez 37 — Santos 17)
MLS CUP PLAYOFFS: Union 1 win, 3 goals … Red Bulls 0 wins, 2 goals … Ties 0
- The teams met three times during the regular season. The Union won the first meeting, May 15 at Subaru Park, as Cory Burke netted the game’s lone goal in the ninth minute and the Union held out for the win. The teams then played to draws at Red Bull Arena on July 8 and Sept. 29. In the first, Patryk Klimala converted a penalty kick, but Sergio Santos hit for a late leveler to leave the teams in a 1-1 draw. Then in the last, Santos opened the scoring in the 17th minute, but Omir Fernández netted the equalizer in the 37th minute.
- The Union had won three consecutive meetings between the teams before the draws in the last two matchups. The Union have won the last three meetings in Chester; their win at Red Bull Arena last Sept. 6 ended a three-game home undefeated streak for the Red Bulls, the opening goal ending a 340-minute shutout streak there for the Union.
- The teams have met once before in the MLS Cup Playoffs, in 2019. The Union overcame a two-game deficit in the second half before Marco Fabian netted the game-winner in extra time for a 4-3 win in their Round One matchup in Chester.
- The Union have reached the postseason for a fourth consecutive year, and a fifth time in the last six seasons (since 2016). A year ago, after winning the Supporters’ Shield for the first honor in club history, the Union fell 2-0 to the New England Revolution at Subaru Park in their Round One opener. Their lone victory in seven matches in the MLS Cup Playoffs came in the win vs. the Red Bulls in 2019.
- The Red Bulls have reached the MLS Cup Playoffs for a 12th consecutive season, second only to Seattle Sounders FC for the longest postseason qualification streak in league history, and the third-longest such streak among all major U.S./Canadian professional leagues, the streak starting in 2010. Last year the Red Bulls opened the postseason with a 3-2 loss to eventual MLS Cup champions Columbus Crew SC in Columbus.
- The Union come into the postseason riding a four-game undefeated streak, with two wins in the span. On Decision Day, the Union reached a 1-1 draw with New York City FC at Yankee Stadium as Kacper Przybylko scored his 12th goal of the season.
- The Red Bulls secured their place in the Audi 2021 MLS Cup Playoffs on Decision Day, gaining a 1-1 draw with Nashville SC at Nissan Stadium, Fabio scored the opener after just 38 seconds – the fourth-quickest goal from the start of a game in Red Bulls/MetroStars history – to send them on their way to qualification.
UNION: Olivier Mbaizo collected his fourth assist of the season on Decision Day, a second consecutive game with an assist. … Leon Flach gained his third assist of the year, his last coming July 17.
RED BULLS: Caden Clark recorded his fifth assist of the season, his second in the last three games. … Cristian Casseres Jr. collected his fourth assist of the season, all coming over his last eight appearances.
W#3 SPORTING KANSAS CITY v W#6 VANCOUVER WHITECAPS FC
Sat., Nov. 20, Children’s Mercy Park, Kansas City, Kan.
4 p.m. CT (UniMás / TUDN; TSN / TVA Sports; Bally Sports KC/MW+)
REFEREE: Alan Kelly. AR1 (bench): Jason White; AR2 (opposite): Mike Rottersman; 4th: Rosendo Mendoza; VAR: Drew Fischer; AVAR: Cameron Blanchard
MLS Career: 154 games; FC/gm: 24.2; Y/gm: 3.4; R: 19; pens: 56
MLS Cup Playoffs: 9 games; FC/gm: 24.0; Y/gm: 2.7; R: 4; pens: 2
ALL-TIME: Sporting 11 wins, 40 goals … Whitecaps FC 4 wins, 21 goals … Ties 4
AT KC: Sporting 6 wins, 21 goals … Whitecaps FC 1 wins, 8 goals … Ties 2
5/16: KC 3, VAN 0 (Salloi 28; Pulido 32, 58)
10/17: VAN 2, KC 1 (Gauld 23; Teibert 36 — Russell 43)
MLS CUP PLAYOFFS: First meeting.
- The teams met twice during the regular season, each winning on their home ground. Alan Pulido scored a pair of goals and Dániel Sallói added a third as Sporting eased to a 3-0 win May 16 at Children’s Mercy Park. Then on Oct. 17, Ryan Gauld and Russell Teibert scored first-half goals as Whitecaps FC took a 2-1 win at BC Place.
- The Whitecaps FC victory in the last meeting snapped a six-game Sporting Kansas City undefeated streak in the series, with five victories in that time. Whitecaps FC last won in Kansas City in 2017; Sporting have won two of the three meetings there since, with one draw. The Vancouver win in the last meeting ended a three-game winning streak for SKC at BC Place.
- The teams have never before met in the MLS Cup Playoffs, but have met twice outside of MLS league competition – in the Concacaf Champions League in 2016 (Whitecaps FC winning both matches in their group phase), and last year in the MLS is Back Tournament, where Sporting won in a penalty shootout following a goalless draw in the round-of-16.
- Sporting have reached the MLS Cup Playoffs for a second consecutive season, a year ago winning in a remarkable penalty shootout following a dramatic 3-3 draw with the San Jose Earthquakes in Round One, as goalkeeper Tim Melia saved all three penalties he faced, before falling 3-0 to Minnesota United FC at Children’s Mercy Park in the Western Conference Semifinals.
- Whitecaps FC have qualified for the MLS postseason for the first time since 2017, their fifth appearance ever in the MLS Cup Playoffs. In their last appearance, Whitecaps FC defeated the Houston Dynamo 5-0 in a Wild Card match, before falling 2-0 on aggregate to Seattle Sounders FC in the Western Conference Semifinals.
- Sporting ended their 2021 MLS league campaign with a dramatic 1-0 loss to Real Salt Lake on Decision Day at Children’s Mercy Park, a third consecutive reversal to conclude the year.
- Whitecaps FC come into the playoffs riding a six-game undefeated streak, with three draws in that time, securing their postseason berth on Decision Day with a 1-1 draw with Seattle Sounders FC at BC Place. Ryan Gauld netted the all-important goal for Vancouver to send them through.
SPORTING: Dániel Sallói, who scored 16 goals this season, is already tied for fifth in KC club history with three postseason goals for his career. Sallói was tied for fifth place in the MLS Golden Boot standings.
WHITECAPS FC: Brian White collected his sixth assist of the season, a second consecutive game with an assist, in the Decision Day finale. White had 11 goals and four assists over the final 16 games of the season.
E#4 NEW YORK CITY FC v E#5 ATLANTA UNITED
Sun., Nov. 21, Yankee Stadium, Bronx, N.Y.
3 p.m. ET (ABC / ESPN Deportes; TSN / TVA Sports)
REFEREE: Chris Penso. AR1 (bench): Jeremy Hanson; AR2 (opposite): Peter Manikowski; 4th: Marcos de Oliveira; VAR: Carol Anne Chenard; AVAR: Kyle Atkins
MLS Career: 188 games; FC/gm: 23.7; Y/gm: 3.7; R: 55; pens: 75
MLS Cup Playoffs: 6 games; FC/gm: 24.5; Y/gm: 4.0; R: 3; pens: 2
ALL-TIME: NYCFC 3 wins, 14 goals … ATLUTD 2 wins, 11 goals … Ties 3
AT NYCFC: NYCFC 3 wins, 9 goals … ATLUTD 0 wins, 3 goals … Ties 1
6/23: NYC 1, ATL 0 (Tajouri-Shradi 69)
10/20: ATL 1, NYC 1 (Moreno 17 — Thorarinsson 90)
MLS CUP PLAYOFFS: ATLUTD 2 wins, 4 goals … NYCFC 0 wins, 1 goal … Ties 0
- The teams met twice during the 2021 regular season. Ismael Tajouri-Shradi netted the game’s only goal in the 69th minute to lead NYCFC to the win June 23 at Red Bull Arena, then on Oct. 20 at Mercedes-Benz Stadium, Marcelino Moreno gave ATLUTD an early lead, but Gudmundur Thorarinsson hit a stunning direct free kick goal for the equalizer on the stroke of full time, leaving the teams in a 1-1 draw.
- The teams had last previously met during the 2019 season, each winning at home. Josef Martínez netted goals on either side of halftime, leading Atlanta United to a 2-1 win on Aug. 11 at Mercedes-Benz Stadium, then on Sept. 25 at Yankee Stadium, Alejandru Mitrita scored a hat trick in the game’s opening 33 minutes as NYCFC took a 4-1 win. NYCFC has won two of the three league meetings all-time in the Bronx, with one draw.
- The teams have faced off once in the MLS Cup Playoffs, meeting in the Eastern Conference Semifinals in 2018, with Atlanta United advancing 4-1 on aggregate. ATLUTD won the first leg 1-0 at Yankee Stadium, before taking the home leg by a 3-1 scoreline behind a pair of goals from Josef Martínez.
- NYCFC have reached the postseason for a sixth consecutive season, the third-longest active streak in MLS. A year ago, NYCFC fell to Orlando City SC in Round One in remarkable circumstances, falling in a penalty shootout following a 1-1 draw at Exploria Stadium, as defender Rodrigo Schlegel stopped one of two penalty kicks after taking over between the posts following a red card issued to starting goalkeeper Pedro Gallese during the penalty shootout.
- Atlanta United have returned to the postseason following a one-year absence, their fourth postseason appearance in five seasons in Major League Soccer. After winning MLS Cup at home in 2018, ATLUTD fell 2-1 to Toronto FC in the Eastern Conference Championship match in Atlanta in 2019, following shutout victories vs. New England and Philadelphia.
- NYCFC come into the Audi 2021 MLS Cup Playoff riding a five-game undefeated streak, with three wins in that span, ending the year with a 1-1 draw with the Philadelphia Union at Yankee Stadium on Decision Day. Valentín Castellanos secured the MLS Golden Boot presented by Audi with his 19th goal of the season in the finale, ending the campaign on a four-game goalscoring streak, with six goals in that time.
- Atlanta United booked their spot in the MLS postseason on Decision Day by extending their undefeated run to six games to close out the campaign, coming back for a 2-1 win against FC Cincinnati at TQL Stadium. Miles Robinson scored the first goal of his MLS career for the equalizer, before Josef Martínez hit a remarkable strike for the game-winner, his 12th of the season. Since the start of August, ATLUTD have posted an 11-3-4 record in league play.
NYCFC: Maximiliano Moralez collected his 11th assist of the season, his second consecutive game with an assist. Moralez has reached double figures in assists in three of his five MLS seasons.
ATLUTD: Ezequiel Barco recorded his eighth assist of the season, his last coming Oct. 16.
W#4 PORTLAND TIMBERS v W#5 MINNESOTA UNITED FC
Sun., Nov. 21, Providence Park, Portland, Ore.
2:30 p.m. PT (ESPN / ESPN Deportes; TSN / TVA Sports)
REFEREE: Armando Villarreal. AR1 (bench): Ian Anderson; AR2 (opposite): Corey Rockwell; 4th: Ted Unkel; VAR: Jon Freemon; AVAR: Jose da Silva
MLS Career: 167 games; FC/gm: 22.7; Y/gm: 3.3; R: 30; pens: 36
MLS Cup Playoffs: 8 games; FC/gm: 28.4; Y/gm: 2.6; R: 2; pens: 1
ALL-TIME: Timbers 2 wins, 14 goals … MNUFC 6 wins, 16 goals … Ties 1
AT PORTLAND: Timbers 2 wins, 9 goals … MNUFC 2 wins, 7 goals … Ties 1
6/26: POR 0, MIN 1 (Hunou 2)
7/24: MIN 2, POR 1 (Gasper 74; Lod 85 — Mora 10)
MLS CUP PLAYOFFS: First meeting.
- The teams met twice during the regular season, and Minnesota United won both. Adrien Hunou scored the game’s only goal after just two minutes, at the time the earliest goal in MNUFC’s MLS history, for the win June 26 at Providence Park. Then on July 24 at Allianz Field, Felipe Mora gave the Timbers an early lead, but goals from Chase Gasper and Robin Lod over the final quarter-hour sealed a 2-1 win for MNUFC.
- MNUFC are now undefeated over the last seven meetings in all competitions vs. the Timbers, having won the last three league meetings. Portland’s last victory in the series came April 14, 2018, a 3-2 win at home.
- The Timbers have qualified for the MLS postseason for a fifth consecutive season, a seventh occasion overall, winning MLS Cup in 2018. A year ago, the Timbers fell to FC Dallas in a penalty shootout following a 1-1 draw over 120 minutes at Providence Park, the shootout lasting 16 rounds, the longest in MLS history (with each of the first 15 attempts all scoring, as FCD won 8-7).
- Minnesota United have reached the MLS Cup Playoffs for a third consecutive year, in their fifth season in Major League Soccer. A year ago, MNUFC won in the MLS postseason for the first time with 3-0 wins vs. Colorado in Round One, and at Sporting Kansas City in the Western Conference Semifinals. Then in the Western Conference Final vs. Seattle Sounders FC, Minnesota United were two minutes away from reaching MLS Cup, before the Sounders netted two late goals for a 3-2 victory at Lumen Field.
- The teams have never before met in the MLS Cup Playoffs, but did face off in the semifinals of the U.S. Open Cup in 2019, Minnesota United taking a 2-1 win at home.
- The Timbers come into the postseason riding a three-game winning streak, concluding the regular season with a 3-0 win against Austin FC at Providence Park on Decision Day. Sebastian Blanco scored his third goal over the final two games for the capper, the Timbers’ 10th victory (with one draw) over the final 14 games to conclude the season.
- Minnesota United secured their place in the 2021 postseason in dramatic circumstances on Decision Day, claiming a 3-3 draw with the LA Galaxy at Dignity Health Sports Park. Adrien Hunou and Robin Lod each netted goals, with an own goal proving as the decider to book MNUFC’s spot. MNUFC have become the third time in MLS history to lose their first four games over the regulation 90 minutes to start a season, then reach the MLS Cup Playoffs.
TIMBERS: Sebastian Blanco added his seventh assist of the season, the ninth time in his MLS career he’s had at least one goal and one assist in the same game. … Santiago Moreno collected his fourth assist, all coming in the last nine games. … Yimmi Chará recorded his fifth assist of the season, a second consecutive game with an assist and third in the last five games. … Steve Clark was credited with four saves in recording his seventh shutout of the season, his second in the last three games.
MNUFC: Romain Métanire collected his second assist of the season, his first coming June 23. … Michael Boxall recorded his first career assist in MLS, in his 136th appearance over seven seasons. … Bakaye Dibassy recorded his first career assist in MLS, in his 37th appearance over two seasons.
E#3 NASHVILLE SC v E#6 ORLANDO CITY SC
Tues., Nov. 23, Nissan Stadium, Nashville, Tenn.
7 p.m. CT (FS1 / FOX Deportes; TSN / TVA Sports)
REFEREE: Ismail Elfath. AR1 (bench): Adam Wienckowski; AR2 (opposite): Corey Parker; 4th: Guido Gonzales Jr.; VAR: Kevin Stott; AVAR: Cory Richardson
MLS Career: 177 games; FC/gm: 25.9; Y/gm: 3.4; R: 48; pens: 54
MLS Cup Playoffs: 12 games; FC/gm: 28.3; Y/gm: 3.6; R: 2; pens: 2
ALL-TIME: Nashville SC 1 win, 9 goals … Orlando City 1 win, 10 goals … Ties 4
AT NASHVILLE: Nashville SC 0 wins, 4 goals … Orlando City 0 wins, 4 goals … Ties 3
8/18: NSH 1, ORL 1 (Sapong 23 — Carlos 58)
9/29: NSH 2, ORL 2 (Mukhtar 11; Leal 59 — Dike 76; own goal 93+)
10/31: ORL 1, NSH 1 (Dike 18 — Mukhtar 53)
MLS CUP PLAYOFFS: First meeting.
- The teams met three times this season, reaching draws in all three encounters. The first two were at Nissan Stadium: On Aug. 18, CJ Sapong gave Nashville SC a first-half lead, but Antonio Carlos equalized after the break, leaving the teams in a 1-1 draw, then on Sept. 29 in Nashville, a late goal for Orlando City left the teams in a 2-2 deadlock. On Oct. 31 at Exploria Stadium, OCSC’s Daryl Dike scored in the first half, but NSC’s Hany Mukhtar leveled after the break, leaving the teams in a 1-1 deadlock.
- The teams met three times in Nashville SC’s inaugural season, evenly splitting the series. Daryl Dike scored a pair of goals and Chris Mueller added his fifth of the year as Orlando City took a 3-1 win at Exploria Stadium on Aug. 26; Hany Mukhtar and Jhonder Cadíz scored goals five minutes after the 87th minute as Nashville SC came back for a 3-2 win on Decision Day (Nov. 8) at Nissan Stadium. The teams also reached a 1-1 draw Sept. 2, also in Nashville.
- A year ago, Nashville SC became one of seven expansion teams in MLS history to reach the postseason in their inaugural year, reaching the Eastern Conference Semifinals. They defeated fellow expansion side Inter Miami CF 3-0 in the Play-In Round, then knocked off Toronto FC 1-0 in overtime in Round One, before falling 2-0 to the Columbus Crew.
- Orlando City SC last year reached the MLS Cup Playoffs for the first time in the club’s first six seasons. They defeated NYCFC in Round One in remarkable circumstances, winning in a penalty shootout following a 1-1 draw at Exploria Stadium, as defender Rodrigo Schlegel stopped one of two penalty kicks after taking over between the posts following a red card issued to starting goalkeeper Pedro Gallese during the penalty shootout. In the Eastern Conference Semifinals, they fell 3-1 to the New England Revolution in Foxborough.
- The teams have never before met outside of MLS regular season play.
- Nashville SC come into the postseason with a three-game undefeated streak, ending the season with a 1-1 draw with the New York Red Bulls at Nissan Stadium on Decision Day. It was Nashville SC’s 18th draw of the season, tying the MLS record for most in a single year. Hany Mukhtar scored the Nashville goal, directly from a free kick, his 16th goal of the season, tying for fifth-most in the race for the MLS Golden Boot presented by Audi.
- Orlando City enters the postseason for a second time after putting an end to a five-game winless skid with a 2-0 win on Decision Day against CF Montréal at Stade Saputo. Jhegson Mendez scored the first goal of his MLS career to give Orlando City the lead, then Daryl Dike capped it off with his 10th goal of the season.
NASHVILLE SC: The Decision Day goal was the third directly from a free kick in Nashville SC’s MLS history – and all three have come from Hany Mukhtar. Two have come this season (also: July 17 vs. Chicago).
OCSC: Pedro Gallese was credited with three saves in recording his seventh shutout of the season. … Ruan recorded his fourth assist of the season, all coming over the last 13 games (since Sept. 4).
W#2 SEATTLE SOUNDERS FC v W#7 REAL SALT LAKE
Tues., Nov. 23, Lumen Field, Seattle, Wash.
7:30 p.m. PT (FS1 / FOX Deportes; TSN / TVA Sports)
REFEREE: Joseph Dickerson. AR1 (bench): Logan Brown; AR2 (opposite): Chris Elliott; 4th: Victor Rivas; VAR: Timothy Ford; AVAR: Jeremy Kieso
MLS Career: 66 games; FC/gm: 27.2; Y/gm: 4.0; R: 12; pens: 18
MLS Cup Playoffs: 1 game; FC/gm: 31.0; Y/gm: 3.0; R: 0; pens: 0
ALL-TIME: Sounders FC 12 wins, 34 goals … Real 13 wins, 35 goals … Ties 5
AT SEATTLE: Sounders FC 11 wins, 25 goals … Real 3 wins, 11 goals … Ties 2
6/23: SEA 2, RSL 1 (C. Roldan 58; Ruidiaz 88 — Rusnak 79)
9/18: RSL 1, SEA 0 (Kreilach 48)
MLS CUP PLAYOFFS: Sounders FC 3 wins, 5 goals … Real 1 win, 3 goals … Ties 1
- The teams met on two occasions this season, the home team winning each. Cristian Roldan and Raúl Ruidíaz scored second-half goals as Sounders FC took a 2-1 win June 23 at Lumen Field, then Damir Kreilach scored the game’s only goal early in the second half as RSL took the win Sept. 18 at Rio Tinto Stadium.
- Sounders FC have won 10 of the past 11 league meetings between the teams at Lumen Field, the lone RSL win coming on May 26, 2018, a 1-0 triumph. Real are undefeated in the last 10 home meetings vs. Seattle, winning eight in a row before a 2-2 draw there last Sept. 2.
- The teams have met three times in the MLS Cup Playoffs. In the last meeting in 2019 . Gustav Svensson and Nicolás Lodeiro scored second-half goals as Sounders FC took a 2-0 win in the Western Conference Semifinals, Oct. 23 at CenturyLink Field. The clubs had also met in the MLS Cup Playoffs in back-to-back seasons in 2011 and 2012, each advancing on one occasion, RSL winning 3-2 on aggregate in 2011, and Sounders FC going through 1-0 on aggregate the next year.
- Sounders FC have reached the postseason for the 13th time in the club’s 13 seasons – the most consecutive appearances in league history. A year ago, they reached MLS Cup for the fourth time overall and a third consecutive year, before falling to Columbus Crew SC in a bid for a third MLS title.
- Real Salt Lake reached the MLS Cup Playoffs following a one-year absence in dramatic fashion, getting a stoppage-time goal from Damir Kreilach for a 1-0 win at Sporting Kansas City on Decision Day that propelled the team into the top seven as they needed a victory.
- Real have reached the postseason 11 times in the club’s 17 seasons, reaching MLS Cup on two occasions, winning the title in 2009 (also playing in 2013).
- Sounders FC come into the postseason following back-to-back draws, last a 1-1 result with Vancouver Whitecaps FC at BC Place on Decision Day. Fredy Montero converted a penalty kick for the Seattle goal, his seventh of the season.
SOUNDERS FC: Raúl Ruidíaz enters the Audi 2021 MLS Cup Playoffs with nine goals and six assists in 10 career postseason games. Ruidíaz had a goal and/or an assist in each of his first seven games in the MLS Cup Playoffs, a streak stopped last Dec. 1 in the Western Conference Semifinals.
REAL: The game-winning goal came five minutes into second-half stoppage time – the latest goal ever scored in a 1-0 RSL victory. There had been one other time RSL won 1-0 with a stoppage-time goal: 4/13/2011 vs. COL, Fabián Espíndola (93+’). … Justin Meram collected his fifth assist of the season on the dramatic Decision Day decider, his third over the last five games. … David Ochoa was credited with four saves in recording his fifth shutout of the season.