2021 MLS Cup Playoffs

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2021 MLS Cup Playoffs
Tournament details
CountryUnited States
DatesNovember 20 – December 11
Defending championsColumbus Crew
(did not qualify)
Final positions
ChampionsNew York City FC (1st title)
Runner-upPortland Timbers
Tournament statistics
Matches played13
Goals scored32 (2.46 per match)
Attendance299,891 (23,069 per match)
Top goal scorer(s)Argentina Valentín Castellanos
Germany Hany Mukhtar
(3 goals each)
← 2020
2022 →

The 2021 MLS Cup Playoffs (branded as the 2021 Audi MLS Cup Playoffs for sponsorship reasons) was the 26th edition of the MLS Cup Playoffs, the post-season championship of Major League Soccer (MLS), the top soccer league in the United States and Canada. The tournament culminated the 2021 MLS regular season. The tournament began on November 20 and concluded with MLS Cup 2021 on December 11.[1]

The Columbus Crew were the defending MLS Cup champions, but failed to qualify for the playoffs after finishing ninth in the Eastern Conference.

The 2021 MLS Cup Playoffs marked the first time since 2004 that no club from Texas qualified, and the first time ever that no club from California qualified.[2]

Qualified teams[edit]

Conference standings[edit]

The top seven teams in the Eastern and Western Conference qualify for the MLS Cup Playoffs, with the conference champions receiving second round byes. Background colors denote playoff teams, with green also qualifying for the 2022 CONCACAF Champions League.


First round
November 20–21, 23
Conference semifinals
November 25, 28, 30
Conference finals
December 4–5
December 11
E1 New England Revolution 2 (3)
E4 New York City FC (p) 2 (5)
E4 New York City FC 2
E5 Atlanta United FC 0
E4 New York City FC 2
Eastern Conference
E2 Philadelphia Union 1
E3 Nashville SC 3
E6 Orlando City SC 1
E3 Nashville SC 1 (0)
E2 Philadelphia Union (p) 1 (2)
E2 Philadelphia Union (a.e.t.) 1
E7 New York Red Bulls 0
E4 New York City FC (p) 1 (4)
W4 Portland Timbers 1 (2)
W1 Colorado Rapids 0
W4 Portland Timbers 1
W4 Portland Timbers 3
W5 Minnesota United FC 1
W4 Portland Timbers 2
Western Conference
W7 Real Salt Lake 0
W3 Sporting Kansas City 3
W6 Vancouver Whitecaps FC 1
W3 Sporting Kansas City 1
W7 Real Salt Lake 2
W2 Seattle Sounders FC 0 (5)
W7 Real Salt Lake (p) 0 (6)

Note: The higher seeded teams hosted matches, with the MLS Cup host determined by overall points.

First round[edit]

The second through fourth seeded teams in each conference hosted the first round matches. The top seeds in each conference got a bye to the Conference Semifinals.

Eastern Conference[edit]

Philadelphia Union1–0 (a.e.t.)New York Red Bulls
Glesnes 120+3' Report
Attendance: 18,623
Referee: Fotis Bazakos

New York City FC2–0Atlanta United FC
Attendance: 25,267
Referee: Chris Penso

Nashville SC3–1Orlando City SC
Report Dike 14'
Attendance: 26,043
Referee: Ismail Elfath

Western Conference[edit]

Portland Timbers3–1Minnesota United FC
Attendance: 22,533

Conference semifinals[edit]

The higher-seeded teams in each match-up hosted the matches.

Eastern Conference[edit]

Western Conference[edit]

Colorado Rapids0–1Portland Timbers
Report Mabiala 90'
Attendance: 17,438
Referee: Ted Unkel

Sporting Kansas City1–2Real Salt Lake
Russell 24' (pen.) Report
Attendance: 21,650
Referee: Kevin Stott

Conference finals[edit]

The higher-seeded teams in each conference hosted the matches.

Eastern Conference[edit]

Philadelphia Union1–2New York City FC
Callens 63' (o.g.) Report
Attendance: 19,487
Referee: Ted Unkel

Western Conference[edit]

Portland Timbers2–0Real Salt Lake
Attendance: 25,218
Referee: Alan Kelly

MLS Cup 2021[edit]

The highest-ranked team remaining in the overall table (Portland Timbers) hosted the match.

Top goalscorers[edit]

Rank Player Club Goals[4]
1 Argentina Valentín Castellanos New York City FC 3
Germany Hany Mukhtar Nashville SC
3 Argentina Sebastián Blanco Portland Timbers 2
Democratic Republic of the Congo Larrys Mabiala Portland Timbers
Chile Felipe Mora Portland Timbers
6 Canada Tajon Buchanan New England Revolution 1
Poland Adam Buksa New England Revolution
Venezuela Jhonder Cádiz Nashville SC
Peru Alexander Callens New York City FC
Colombia Cristian Dájome Vancouver Whitecaps FC
United States Daryl Dike Orlando City SC
Argentina Franco Fragapane Minnesota United FC
Hungary Dániel Gazdag Philadelphia Union
Norway Jakob Glesnes Philadelphia Union
France Nicolas Isimat-Mirin Sporting Kansas City
Ecuador Anderson Julio Real Salt Lake
Brazil Talles Magno New York City FC
Argentina Maximiliano Moralez New York City FC
Colombia Santiago Moreno Portland Timbers
Uruguay Santiago Rodríguez New York City FC
Scotland Johnny Russell Sporting Kansas City
United States Khiry Shelton Sporting Kansas City
United States Bobby Wood Real Salt Lake
United States Graham Zusi Sporting Kansas City


  1. ^ "MLS announces Audi 2021 MLS Cup Playoffs schedule". MLSSoccer.com. Major League Soccer. September 9, 2021. Retrieved September 24, 2021.
  2. ^ Creditor, Avi (November 7, 2021). "MLS Decision Day: No Playoffs for Defending Champ Columbus, California or Texas Teams". Sports Illustrated. Retrieved October 10, 2022.
  3. ^ Serrano, Rodrigo (September 22, 2021). "New England Revolution first team in MLS to clinch playoff spot". Diario AS. PRISA. Retrieved September 24, 2021.
  4. ^ "Stats". MLSsoccer.com. Major League Soccer. Retrieved December 11, 2021.