TORONTO — MLS teams will have time to prepare for the playoffs after the regular season closes Sunday.
But the schedule will be compressed with the 17-match, 23-day post-season kicking off after the Nov. 9-17 FIFA international match window.
The Audi MLS Cup playoffs open Nov. 20 and conclude Dec. 12 with the 25th edition of the MLS Cup final, the league announced Friday. Eighteen of the league's 26 teams qualify for the post-season this year, with 10 from the East and eight from the West.
The Nov. 20 start features two Eastern Conference play-in games — No. 7 versus No. 10 and No. 8 versus No. 9. That could involve the Montreal Impact (7-13-2) who go into Sunday's Decision Day in ninth place in the East.
The playoff format throughout calls for single-game elimination matches hosted by the higher-seeded club.
Toronto FC is chasing the Philadelphia Union for the Supporters' Shield that goes to the team with the best regular-season record. Both clubs are 13-4-5 going into the final weekend, with Toronto visiting the New York Red Bulls and Philadelphia hosting New England.
Elsewhere in the East, the Chicago Fire, D.C. United, Inter Miami, Montreal and Atlanta United are competing for the two remaining layoff berths. Montreal plays at D.C. United on Sunday.
Because of pandemic-related game cancellations ruing the regular season, playoff seedings are being determined by points per game rather than total points.
The top seed in the Eastern Conference will face the lower-seeded advancing team from the play-in round with the higher-seeded advancing team face the Eastern Conference runner-up.
The Vancouver Whitecaps (8-14-0) have already been eliminated from playoff contention. They stand ninth in the West ahead of Sunday's game against the Los Angeles Galaxy in Portland.
Audi 2020 MLS Cup Playoffs Schedule
Friday, Nov. 20: Eastern Conference play-In round: Two games
Eastern and Western Conference Round One (8 games)
Saturday, Nov. 21: Two games
Sunday, Nov. 22: Three games
Tuesday, Nov. 24: Three games
Eastern and Western Conference Semifinal (4 games)
Sunday, Nov. 29: Two games
Tuesday, Dec. 1: One game
Wednesday, Dec. 2: One game
Eastern and Western Conference Final
Sunday, Dec. 6: Two games
2020 MLS Cup
Saturday, Dec. 12
This report by The Canadian Press was first published Nov. 6, 2020
Neil Davidson, The Canadian Press