MLS to use points-per-game system to determine regular season standings and 2020 Audi Cup Playoffs seeding


Several MLS clubs will close out the 2020 regular season without playing the full 23-match schedule due to matches being impacted by COVID-19. Because not all teams will play the same number of matches, the league announced on Thursday that it will utilize a points-per-game system, rather than overall points, to determine qualification for the Audi Cup Playoffs and overall MLS standings.

For example, as of this writing, Philadelphia was first in the Eastern Conference with 44 points in 21 games played. That points per game average comes out to 2.09, with MLS setting the PPG to two decimal places.

Eastern Conference, Western Conference, and overall standings will be sorted by points per game. The top U.S.-based team in the overall standings will earn a berth in the Scotiabank CONCACAF Champions League. (Canadian clubs earn qualification to the Champions League via the Canadian Championship.)

Prior to resuming the regular season in home markets in August, the league indicated it would use a points per game system to determine playoff qualifiers in the case clubs played an uneven number of matches. While the 14 Eastern Conference teams are on track to complete all 23 regular season matches, the 12 Western Conference teams will not finish the regular season with the same number of matches played.

Based on points the points-per-game system, several standings positions have been updated in both the Eastern and Western Conferences, and Minnesota United have mathematically clinched a spot in the Audi MLS Cup Playoffs. 

Standings Tiebreakers

The standings tie-breaking procedures will also be calculated on a per match basis:

  1. Total number of wins per match played;
  2. Goal Differential (GD) per match played;
  3. Goals For (GF) per match played;
  4. Fewest disciplinary points per match played;
  5. Away Goal Differential per away match played; 
  6. Away Goals For per away match played;
  7. Home Goal Differential per home match played;
  8. Home Goals For per home match played;
  9. Coin toss (tie between two clubs) or drawing of lots (tie between three or more clubs).

Disciplinary points are considered and will be calculated based on general fouls, yellow cards, straight red cards, coach dismissal, and any supplemental discipline. Since all MLS is Back Tournament matches in Florida, including the three rescheduled matches between FC Dallas and Nashville SC, are considered as played at a neutral site, and will not be factored in determining tiebreakers Nos. 5-8.

Uneven conference playoffs

Due to the number of matches not being played out of the Western Conference, playoff seeding will see 10 eastern conference playoff teams and eight western conference playoff teams. Five of the eight in the Western Conference are currently set (Seattle Sounders, Sporting Kansas City, Portland Timbers, Minnesota United, LAFC). While, eight of the 10 Eastern Conference playoff spots have been clinched  (Philadelphia Union, Toronto FC, Columbus Crew, Orlando City, NYCFC, Nashville, New York Red Bulls, New England Revolution).

Several matches not rescheduled 

Six postponed matches will not be rescheduled and the league also confirmed that the regular season will end on Decision Day on Sunday, Nov. 8, with no matches scheduled after this date during the FIFA international window.

  • Colorado Rapids vs. Sporting KC (originally scheduled Sept. 27 and Oct. 21)
  • Colorado Rapids vs. LAFC (originally scheduled for Oct. 7)
  • Colorado Rapids vs. LA Galaxy (originally scheduled for Oct. 10)
  • Seattle Sounders vs. Colorado Rapids (originally scheduled for Oct. 14)
  • Minnesota United vs. FC Dallas (originally scheduled for Oct. 14)
  • Colorado Rapids vs. Real Salt Lake (originally scheduled for Oct. 18)





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