Columbus Crew SC will play on in 2020. Not just in the Major League Soccer regular season, as the first three games of the Phase Two restart plan were announced on Friday morning, but likely in the MLS Cup playoffs as well. Now we know what the 2020 playoff format will look like in a strange COVID-19 interrupted season.
To go along with the schedule announcement on Friday, MLS also provided details on the 2020 MLS Cup playoffs. As was the case last year, the playoffs will be a single-elimination bracket tournament with games hosted by the higher seed.
As was previously announced, the playoff field will be expanded from 14 teams in 2019 to 18 teams for 2020. Eight sides will come from the 12-team Western Conference, while 10 sides will come out of the 14-team Eastern Conference with the four lowest seeds taking part in a play-in games to decide which teams will qualify for the first round of the playoffs. The lowest seed that advances from the play-in games will face the East’s No. 1 seed, while the higher seed from the play-in gmes will face the second overall seed.
While the full 2020 MLS Cup playoff schedule will be announced at a later date, the 2020 MLS Cup final will take place on Dec. 12 at the higher seed’s home stadium.
The Crew currently sits in first place in the Eastern Conference and has the best overall record in MLS with 23 points from 10 regular season and MLS is Back group stage matches. The Black & Gold have scored 16 goals, while allowing only two throughout those games, on pace for the best defensive record in MLS history, for a +14 goal differential, the best in MLS this year.
Columbus will face Nashville SC, Minnesota United and Toronto FC in the first three games of Phase 2 of MLS’s return to play. The Crew will host Nashville and Minnesota at MAPFRE Stadium in front of a limited capacity of supporters before traveling to East Hartford, Connecticut and Pratt & Whitney Stadium at Rentschler Field where Toronto will play its home games due to COVID-19 border restrictions in Canada.