The Audi 2015 MLS Cup Playoffs are underway. Having defeated the LA Galaxy 3-2 on Wednesday, Sounders FC moves on to the Western Conference Semifinals beginning on Sunday at CenturyLink Field. Here is a look at the bracket (Download your copy now) and some key things to know regarding the postseason.
Schedule for each round
Following the midweek Knockout Round fixtures, the Conference Semifinal round is to be played on Nov. 1 and 8, with the lower seed hosting the first leg and the higher seed hosting the second. So although it will be another quick turnaround for the Sounders after their win over the Galaxy, at least they get to stay home for the first leg. The Conference Championship series begin on Nov. 22 following a FIFA break, and MLS Cup is scheduled for Dec. 6.
Conference Semifinal scenarios
The playoff bracket is reseeded after the Knockout Round, meaning top seeds FC Dallas and the New York Red Bulls will face the highest ranked remaining team in the Conference Semifinals. If the Portland Timbers beat Sporting Kansas City on Thursday, Seattle would be up against Dallas in the next round. But if SKC wins on the road over Portland, the Rave Green would face Cascadia rival Vancouver Whitecaps FC. The Sounders are 3-1-1 against Vancouver and 1-0-1 against Dallas this year.
MLS Cup hosting scenarios
For the MLS Cup Final, the team with the better regular-season record gets the right to host, regardless of what seed the two finalists held in their respective conferences. The Sounders would host MLS Cup against any team in the Eastern Conference other than the Red Bulls and Columbus Crew SC. Seattle finished tied with the Montreal Impact and D.C. United on points and in total wins (the first tiebreaker), but the second tiebreaker of goal differential gives Seattle the edge.
History of MLS Cup winners by seed
The Sounders learned the hard way last season that winning your conference doesn’t necessarily give you the easiest path to the MLS Cup Final. In fact, no No. 1 seed from either conference has reached MLS Cup since 2011, when the Galaxy won the Supporters' Shield and the Cup. That Galaxy group is one of just five teams to win the Shield and the Cup in the league's 19-year history.
A team seeded fourth or lower, as the Sounders are this year, has won MLS Cup on four occasions. The Galaxy accomplished that feat as the No. 4 seed in 2012.