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MLS playoff picture: Vancouver Whitecaps lead the Canadian charge

Major League Soccer has entered the final stretch of the regular season, and there is plenty to talk about regarding the two Canadian teams in MLS Cup Playoffs contention.

Of the three Canadian MLS teams, only two have a chance of securing their spot in the postseason.

This year's MLS playoffs will be played under a new format, and some teams have as many as eight games remaining before the postseason begins.

There will be 18 teams that qualify for this year's MLS playoffs, with the top nine from the Eastern Conference and the top nine from the Western Conference.

Those teams seeded one to seven in each conference automatically qualify for the Round One Best-of-3 series, while those seeded eight to nine will secure their spot in the Wild Card matches.

Wild Card matches will occur towards the end of October, while the Round One Best-of-3 series games are penciled to start on October 28th, running through to November 12th. 

The Conference Semifinals and Conference Finals are single-elimination matches set to take place between November 25th to December 3rd, while the MLS Cup finale is scheduled for December 9th.

We take a look at what to expect and who the Canadian teams could face later this year.

WhatUSA MLS 2023
WhereUSA & Canada
WhenSaturday, February 25 - Saturday, October 21 (regular season) & Wednesday, October 25 - Saturday, December 9 (play-offs)
How to watchApple TV, TSN & RDS
Odds (To win MLS Cup)FC Cincinnati +400, Inter Miami CF +600, Los Angeles FC +700, Philadelphia Union +900, St. Louis City SC +1100

Whitecaps setting the example

None of the three Canadian teams are sitting at the top of the standings, with St. Louis City on top of the pile in the Western Conference, while FC Cincinnati are leading the way in the Eastern Conference.

The Vancouver Whitecaps are the pick of the bunch in Canada, and they are sixth in the Western Conference after the first 26 matches.

Vanni Sartini's side sit comfortably in the table, but a dip in form could see them drop out of the playoff race.

Thankfully for Sartini, his side are unbeaten in three MLS matches, with all three games coming away from home. Wins over Portland Timbers and Chicago Fire have renewed their confidence.

If the playoffs started with the current standings they would travel to Los Angeles FC, who sit third.

Vancouver are +2500 to win the MLS Cup, but even reaching the playoffs would be an upturn in fortunes after they failed to qualify in 2022.

Montreal hanging on to a playoff spot

CF Montreal are the other Canadian team in the hunt for the playoffs this year, and they occupy the eighth spot in the Eastern Conference standings.

Hernan Losada's team have picked up 35 points so far from their 27 matches, thanks to 11 wins, but only two draws suggest they need to become harder to beat.

After a tough few weeks, CF Montreal got their form back on track with three successive wins against Charlotte FC, Toronto FC and New England Revolution, but back-to-back defeats to New York City and Columbus Crew have halted any momentum.

Losada's side has D.C. United breathing down their neck, with just one point separating the two teams, but CF Montreal do have a game in hand. Chicago Fire are 10th, just three points behind the Canadian outfit, so it is all to play for over the next month.

CF Montreal would currently occupy one of the Wild Card spots in the playoffs, and they would host D.C. United in the Eastern Conference fixture, should both teams remain in the same positions in October.

At +6600, CF Montreal are considered outsiders for the MLS Cup, but they are at least on track to finish in the playoffs.

Toronto FC focused on the future

Sadly for fans of Toronto FC, the Reds are rock-bottom of the Eastern Conference, and they will do well to pick up several wins considering their form this season.

Toronto FC have only won four games all year, and after picking up 22 points, they will already be planning for next season. 

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