2023 MLS Cup playoffs: Who's qualified for the postseason?

  • Several powerhouses have qualified for the postseason playoffs
  • Eastern Conference teams dominate the list thus far
  • 2022 MLS Cup champions LAFC have yet to qualify
LAFC won 2022 MLS Cup
LAFC won 2022 MLS Cup / Omar Vega/GettyImages

As the 2023 MLS regular season comes to a close, teams around the league have already qualified for the playoffs while others hope to do the same in the final stretch of the campaign.

It's the time again when teams begin to nervously watch how other sides are doing around them in their respective tables as Decision Day looms in the background.

Several teams that have already punched their ticket to the postseason may look to give some of their star players rests in the coming games, while others aim to finish in a top-four spot to claim home field advantage.

Here's all the teams that have qualified for 2023 MLS Cup playoffs...

Teams that have qualified for 2023 MLS Cup playoffs

18. San Jose Earthquakes

Cristian Espinoza
Cristian Espinoza is San Jose's talisman / Maciek Gudrymowicz/ISI Photos/GettyImages

San Jose Earthquakes' form fell a little during the summer, but they remained in and around the playoff spots in the Western Conference table for most of the 2023 regular season.

Luchi Gonzalez's side finished the campaign with just one win in their last eight outings, but all that matters is that they've made it to the dance. With Cristian Espinoza and Jeremy Ebobisse leading the charge up front, the Earthquakes could be a dark horse in the playoffs as they gear up for a Wild Card matchup with Sporting Kansas City.

17. Sporting Kansas City

Alan Pulido
SKC are led by Alan Pulido / Fernando Leon/ISI Photos/GettyImages

It seemed unimaginable for Sporting Kansas City to make the playoffs after their dismal start to the 2023 season that was ravaged by injuries. But SKC have done it at the death with a 3-1 triumph over Minnesota United on Decision Day.

The Western Conference side won their last six out of nine games in the campaign to book their place in the postseason, where they'll take on San Jose Earthquakes in the Wild Card round. Alan Pulido's comeback season has been nothing short of impressive, as the 32-year-old has bagged 14 goals in 2023.

16. FC Dallas

Jesús Ferreira
Jesus Ferreira leads the way for Dallas / Shaun Clark/GettyImages

A dominant 4-1 triumph over LA Galaxy saw FC Dallas punch their ticket to 2023 MLS Cup playoffs.

Jesus Ferreira's 12 goals propelled the Texas side to a postseason spot, while Alan Velasco and Bernard Kamungo played their part in 2023. Despite drawing seven out of their last nine games in the regular season, Dallas qualify for the playoffs for the second consecutive year and will look to do damage against Seattle Sounders.

15. Charlotte FC

Inter Miami CF v Charlotte FC
The Crown make history / Matt Kelley/GettyImages

With their 1-0 win over Inter Miami and Lionel Messi, Charlotte FC have punched their ticket to the postseason for the first time in club history.

A 13th minute strike from Kerwin Vargas was enough to see off the Herons, and with Karol Swiderski and Enzo Copetti leading the way, the Crown will look build on this unforgettable moment for their supporters in the wild card round.

14. New York Red Bulls

Elias Manoel, Tom Barlow, Luquinhas
RBNY are in the playoffs / Jeff Dean/GettyImages

Troy Lesesne has done it.

Despite starting the season in horrendous fashion that saw the club part ways with head coach Gerhard Struber, interim boss Lesesne has guided Red Bulls to eight place in the Eastern Conference with 43 points in the East.

John Tolkin's 94th minute penalty at GEODIS Park against Nashville SC booked New York's place in the 2023 playoffs, and who knows what the Eastern Conference team could achieve with all of the momentum they've created.

13. Houston Dynamo

Hector Herrera has stepped up for Houston
Hector Herrera has stepped up for Houston / Troy Taormina-USA TODAY Sports

First-year head coach Ben Olsen, who was previously with DC United, has completely transformed Houston Dynamo.

Their impressive turnaround has seen them capture a playoff spot for the first time since 2017 while also taking down Inter Miami to win their second-ever US Open Cup.

Club captain Hector Herrera has led by example for Houston, as his four goals and nine assists have propelled the Dynamo up the Western Conference table. Could Houston pick up another piece of silverware before the end of the calendar year?

12. Real Salt Lake

Cristian Arango
Cristian Arango has impressed in his MLS return / Chris Gardner/GettyImages

Real Salt Lake have clinched a third consecutive playoff spot behind Cristian 'Chichi' Arango's spectacular return to MLS, as the former LAFC player has notched six goals and one assists in just 12 appearances (737 minutes played).

Despite losing their creative spark Pablo Ruiz to a long-term knee injury, RSL haven't missed a beat. Jefferson Savarino has pitched in with six goals, which is tied for most on the team with Arango.

Should Ruiz be available for selection when the playoffs start, RSL could make noise out West with the lethal combination of Arango their midfield maestro.

11. Vancouver Whitecaps

Brian White
Vancouver return to MLS Cup playoffs / Jordan Jones/GettyImages

Welcome back to the playoffs, Vancouver Whitecaps.

After failing to qualify in 2022, Vancouver return to the postseason and in doing so, they become the first Canadian side to punch their ticket this season.

The Whitecaps have made headlines thanks to the impressive play from their star duo Brian White and Ryan Gauld. Gauld has been in MVP form with 11 goals and 12 assists this campaign, while White hasn't been too shabby, either, with 15 goals while dishing out four assists.

If their duo can remain fit and firing, Vancouver could be a dark horse in the 2023 playoffs as they now aim for a fourth-place finish in the Western Conference.

10. LAFC

Denis Bouanga remains vital for LAFC
Denis Bouanga remains vital for LAFC / Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports

LAFC qualifying for the playoffs seemed inevitable, and the 2022 MLS Cup champions did just that after putting five unanswered goals past Minnesota United in a 5-1 rout.

Steve Cherundolo has relied heavily on star forward Denis Bouanga, who stands alone at the top of the Golden Boot standings with 17 goals after his hat trick fired the Black and Gold into the postseason.

Although LAFC haven't had the best end to the regular season with just three wins in their last nine MLS contests, they'll look to throw form out of the window to defend their MLS Cup title.

9. Seattle Sounders

Seattle look ahead to the postseason
Seattle look ahead to the postseason / Joe Nicholson-USA TODAY Sports

Seattle Sounders have qualified for the postseason after a 2-1 triumph over Western Conference rivals LA Galaxy at Lumen Field.

Led by their talisman Jordan Morris, who's amassed 11 goals this term, the Sounders experienced a dominant start to the season but cooled off over the summer. However, they're riding a seven game unbeaten streak (three wins during that stretch) and will look to use that momentum as they return to the playoffs after missing out last season.

8. Nashville SC

Hany Mukhtar
Nashville are in the postseason / John Wilkinson/ISI Photos/GettyImages

Nashville SC and the reigning MLS MVP Hany Mukhtar have punched their ticket to the playoffs after drawing with Seattle Sounders 0-0 at GEODIS Park.

Gary Smith's side came storming out of the gates in the first couple of months but then cooled off during the middle of the campaign. Mukhtar has a chance of reclaiming the MVP award again with his 15 goals and eight assists this term.

After the heartbreaking Leagues Cup final loss to Inter Miami, the Coyotes went back to work and now find themselves in a favorable position with the regular season coming to a close.

7. New England Revolution

Carles Gil
Carles Gil has been in excellent form for the Revs / Andrew Katsampes/ISI Photos/GettyImages

New England Revolution just might be the definition of consistency.

Despite their head coach Bruce Arena stepping down amidst an investigation and their starting goalkeeper Djordje Petrovic leaving for Chelsea, the Revs have gone under the radar and consistently been in and around the top four in the Eastern Conference.

Carles Gil has been the x-factor for New England, and they'll need him to continue his impressive run as the playoffs get started next month.

6. Atlanta United

Tyler Wolff
Atlanta United have shined / Jason Allen/ISI Photos/GettyImages

Up until the summer transfer window, Atlanta United would put together a strong performance every not and then, but than changed after the Five Stripes brought in several new players during the window.

The additions of Xande Silva, Tristan Muyumba and Saba Lobjanidze have all proved to be masterstrokes by the Atlanta front office. All three players have become part of the startin XI, with Jamal Thiare the lone signing that is still being integrated into the team (he made his debut against Montreal).

With Atlanta's defense looking much-improved and Thiago Almada in MVP form, the Five Stripes could make some noise in the postseason this year.

5. St Louis City

Klauss, Tim Parker
MLS' newest club are in the playoffs / Dilip Vishwanat/GettyImages

They've done it: the league's newest expansion side, St Louis City, have made it to the postseason.

St Louis has wasted no time in MLS as they've been off to a flying start in their first ever season, becoming the first side to reach the postseason in the Western Conference.

Players like Eduard Lowen and Nicholas Gioacchini have stepped up big at CITY Park and they'll need more of the same from them as well as Joao Klauss to continue their magical first season run.

St Louis qualified for the postseason for the first time ever after their 0-0 draw with 2022 MLS Cup champions LAFC. Was it somehow a passing of the guard? Only time will tell.

4. Philadelphia Union

Dániel Gazdag
Daniel Gazdag has been in top form / Omar Vega/GettyImages

Stop me if you've heard this before: Philadelphia Union have qualified for MLS Cup playoffs.

That's right, Jim Curtin's side have booked their place in this year's dance after a 2-2 draw with Charlotte FC. Dating back to 2018, the Union have now qualified for the playoffs for six consecutive seasons with head coach Curtin at the helm.

The Union have been inspired by performances from playmaker Daniel Gazdag, forwards Julian Carranza and Mikael Uhre as well as the dynamic Kai Wagner.

3. Columbus Crew

Cucho Hernández
Columbus Crew are set for the playoffs / Kirk Irwin/GettyImages

Columbus Crew making it to the postseason always seemed as if it was a matter of when, not if.

Even after the departure of fan-favorite Lucas Zelarayan, the Crew haven't skipped a beat. Juan 'Cucho' Hernandez has recorded hat-tricks in two out of three games played and amassed 13 goals and seven assists this term.

Should Hernandez remain in fine form alongside their plethora of attacking talent that boasts the likes of Christian Ramirez, Diego Rossi and Julian Gressel, Columbus could be gearing up for a deep postseason run.

The Crew clinched a spot in the playoffs after triumphing 3-0 over Chicago Fire.

2. Orlando City

Facundo Torres
Facundo Torres has led the way for Orlando / Julio Aguilar/GettyImages

Although Orlando City are second in the Eastern Conference at the time of writing, they seem to have still gone under the radar in 2023 as they've come on strong in the last couple of months.

Facundo Torres has led the way for the Lions with 12 goals and three assists while the emergence of Duncan McGuire (eight goals, two assists) has been nothing short of impressive.

Despite their 2-0 loss at New York City FC, Orlando have punched their ticket to the playoffs.

1. FC Cincinnati

Inter Miami CF v FC Cincinnati - Semifinals: 2023 U.S. Open Cup
FC Cincinnati are poised for a deep run / Michael Miller/ISI Photos/GettyImages

Who else other than FC Cincinnati to qualify for the playoffs first?

Pat Noonan's side have been on an unbelievable tear in 2023, with Luciano 'Lucho' Acosta in MVP form with his 14 goals and eight assists. Brandon Vazquez has chipped in with six goals while wing-back Alvaro Barreal has dished out five assists.

It seems like the sky is the limit for Cincy as they have high hopes for capturing the Supporters' Shield as well as MLS Cup. The Orange and Blue needed only 26 games to qualify for the playoffs after taking down Atlanta United 2-1 in late August.



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