FC Cincinnati’s spot in the 2023 MLS Cup Playoffs is secured, and the pathway to the cup will run through TQL Stadium as The Orange and Blue own the top seed and home-field advantage in the tournament as Supporters’ Shield winners.
MLS is introducing a brand new postseason playoff format to determine the champions, with five rounds of playoffs all factoring into FC Cincinnati’s pathway to the trophy. The format runs from October 25 to December 9 and showcases the best teams and players in high-stakes, must-win matches.
The Audi MLS Cup Playoffs begin this week with single-elimination Wild Card matches in each conference featuring the eighth and ninth seeded teams. In the Eastern Conference Wild Card, No. 8 seed New York Red Bulls will host No. 9 seed Charlotte FC on Wednesday with the winner advancing to play No. 1 seed FC Cincinnati in the Round One, Best-of-3 series.
FC Cincinnati will host Game 1 of the Best-of-3 series against the Wild Card winner on Sunday, October 29 at 8 p.m. at TQL Stadium. The Orange and Blue will then travel to the Wild Card winner’s stadium for Game 2 on Saturday, November 4 at 7 p.m. If necessary, a third and decisive Game 3 would come back to TQL Stadium with TBD start time on Saturday, November 11.
The first team to win two matches in the Round One series will move on to the Eastern Conference Semifinals. All Round One matches will be played until a winner is earned, so there will be no draws. Matches will be held with the same tiebreakers as Leagues Cup, with games going straight from regular time to penalty kicks to decide a winner. After Round One draws will be resolved with the more traditional 30 minutes of extra time, followed by penalty kicks if a draw remains.
From there, it's win and advance or lose and go home. As Supporters’ Shield winners, FC Cincinnati would host the Eastern Conference Semifinals, Eastern Conference Finals and MLS Cup Finals at TQL Stadium in single-elimination matches should they continue to advance. In all other matches across the MLS Cup, home field advantage will be determined by the higher seeded team in each match.
Specific dates and kickoff times for the Conference Semifinals and Finals will be confirmed after all matches in Round One have been completed. The Conference semifinals will take place on November 25 and 26, after the FIFA International Window closes from November 13-21. Conference finals will take place on December 2 and 3.
MLS Cup is set to take place on Saturday, December 9th with kickoff at 4 p.m. ET. As the top seed in the MLS Cup Playoffs, should FC Cincinnati qualify for the final the match would be played at TQL Stadium.
Through MLS Season Pass, fans can catch every playoff match, ensuring they never miss a moment of the excitement. The Wild Card matches and Game 1 of each Round One series will be available for free, with all subsequent matches available on MLS Season Pass on Apple TV. Select matches are also broadcast on major networks like FOX Sports in the U.S. and TSN and RDS in Canada, bringing the intensity of the playoffs to screens across North America.
Tickets for Game 1 of FC Cincinnati’s Round One series will go on sale Monday, Oct. 23 beginning at 10 a.m. ET for Season Ticket Members and Orange and Blue reserve members. Public on-sale is set for 1 p.m. ET. Tickets can be purchased here.