Major League Soccer unveiled its playoffs schedule on Monday, and the postseason will start at Subaru Park with the Union hosting the rival New York Red Bulls on Saturday, Nov. 20.
The game, which will kick off at around 2:30 p.m., will be televised nationally on Univision and TUDN and simulcast locally in English on PHL17. There will also be a free English-language live stream on MLS’ website and and mobile app.
All 13 games of the postseason will be nationally televised, starting with six in the first round from Nov. 20 to 23.
Univision’s sister channel UniMás will also air a game on Nov. 20, Kansas City-Vancouver at 5 p.m., with the same simulcasting arrangement.
Originally, Univision was to carry a doubleheader at noon and 2:30, but the second game was moved later. That will benefit soccer fans who want to watch the National Women’s Soccer League’s championship game at noon on CBS3. It’s not known whether the rescheduling was done for that reason, but both leagues were aware of the conflict.
In the rest of the first round, ABC and ESPN will split a twin bill on Nov. 21, with both games in Spanish on ESPN Deportes; and FS1 and Fox Deportes will have a doubleheader on Nov. 23.
The conference semifinals start on Thanksgiving, Nov. 25, with the Western Conference regular-season champion Colorado Rapids hosting the No. 4 seed Portland Timbers or No. 5 seed Minnesota United on Fox’s flagship broadcast network.
It’s not the most glamorous game to put in such a glamorous broadcast slot. But when the Seattle Sounders slipped up at rival Vancouver on the last day of the regular season, they lost the No. 1 seed in the west and the first-round bye that comes with it.
Multiple sources around MLS told The Inquirer that after a long day of negotiations on Monday, the league and the TV networks settled on putting Colorado in the slot.
It could have gone to Eastern Conference and Supporters’ Shield winner New England, which will face New York City FC or Atlanta United in the second round. That’s a heavyweight matchup either way, but a late-afternoon kickoff time on Thanksgiving Day in Foxborough, Mass., would be a tough sell for local fans to attend.
The Inquirer and reporters in Seattle also learned that there were discussions of moving the Sounders’ first-round game to Thursday, which would have really upended things. But in the end, the Western Conference’s No. 1 seed landed in that slot — as made sense since the day the TV schedule was first announced on Sept. 9.
Fox isn’t the only entity getting a short straw. Portland and Minnesota are too, because their first-round game is Sunday, Nov. 21 instead of Saturday, Nov. 20. They could have had an extra day of rest. But the various entities involved ended up slotting them on Sunday and the other Western Conference first-round game, Kansas City vs. Vancouver, on Saturday.
Fox’s MLS game will air at the same time as CBS’ NFL game that day, Las Vegas Raiders-Dallas Cowboys. That will obviously beat everything else on TV at that hour, but we’ll see what audience the soccer game can muster.
New England’s semifinal is set for Tuesday, Nov. 30 on FS1 and Fox Deportes, meaning the Revs will not have played an official game for 23 days when they start their playoff run. NYCFC or Atlanta will have nine days to prepare.
The other two conference semifinals — including the one with the Union-Red Bulls winner — will air on Sunday, Nov. 28. ABC and ESPN will have one each, with both games in Spanish on ESPN Deportes. The Union-Red Bulls winner notably will have three days’ more rest than their opponent, Nashville or Orlando.
The conference finals are set for Saturday, Dec. 4, on FS1 and Fox Deportes; and Sunday, Dec. 5, on ABC. Which conference goes into which time slot will be determined later.
The championship game is set for Saturday, Dec. 11, on ABC, UniMás, and TUDN, at the highest remaining seed.
MLS playoffs schedule
All times listed are Eastern.
Saturday, Nov. 20: E2. Philadelphia Union vs. E7. New York Red Bulls, 2:30 p.m. (Univision 65, TUDN, PHL17, MLSSoccer.com) and W3. Sporting Kansas City vs. W6. Vancouver Whitecaps, 5 p.m. (UniMás, TUDN, MLSSoccer.com)
Sunday, Nov. 21: E4. New York City FC vs. E5. Atlanta United, 3 p.m. (6abc, ESPN Deportes) and W4. Portland Timbers vs. W5. Minnesota United, 5:30 p.m. (ESPN, ESPN Deportes)
Tuesday, Nov. 23: E3. Nashville SC vs. E6. Orlando City, 8 p.m. (FS1, Fox Deportes) and W2. Seattle Sounders vs. W7. Real Salt Lake, 10 p.m. (FS1, Fox Deportes)
Thursday, Nov. 25: W1. Colorado Rapids vs. W4. Portland Timbers or W5. Minnesota United, 4:30 p.m. (Fox29, Fox Deportes)
Sunday, Nov. 28: Matchups TBD, 3 p.m. (6abc, ESPN Deportes) and 5:30 p.m. (ESPN, ESPN Deportes)
Tuesday, Nov. 30: E1. New England Revolution vs. E4. New York City FC or E5. Atlanta United, time TBD (FS1, Fox Deportes)
Saturday, Dec. 4: Matchup TBD, time TBD (FS1, Fox Deportes)
Sunday, Dec. 5: Matchup TBD, 3 p.m. (6abc, ESPN Deportes)
Saturday, Dec. 11: Matchup TBD hosted by the highest remaining seed, 3 p.m. (6abc, UniMás, TUDN)