2023 MLS Season Guide

The 2023 MLS season will be the 28th season of the Major League Soccer (MLS), the top professional soccer league in the United States and Canada. This year, the league will feature 29 clubs (26 in USA and 3 in Canada).

Unlike most major football leagues around the world — but similar to other leagues in the Americas — the MLS regular season is followed by a postseason knockout tournament (called the Playoffs) to determine the league champion.

The team with the best record during the season wins the Supporters’ Shield.

18 teams will then compete in the postseason MLS Cup Playoffs in late October and November — ultimately ending with the league’s championship game, the MLS Cup.

2023 MLS

In this article, FootballOrbit guides you to the 2023 MLS season.


American soccer does not have promotion and relegation, making MLS one of the few first-division professional soccer leagues around the world where clubs don’t have to fear the drop.

Furthermore, MLS operates with a different transfer calendar than European leagues. While Major League Soccer clubs can complete transactions among themselves outside the first and second transfer windows, they can generally only buy players from abroad during specific dates.

The first MLS transfer window of 2023 (when players can be bought from other leagues) runs from the 31st of January to the 24th of April 2023. While the second transfer window this year will be from the 5th of July to the 2nd of August.

2023 MLS Season

2023 MLS Season

The 2023 Major League Soccer season is scheduled to begin on the 25th of February and end on the 21st of October 2023 — before being followed by the Playoffs.

Among the major reasons while the MLS season calendar is different to most other leagues (especially European leagues) is weather factor and the potential conflicts that may arise between MLS clubs and NFL teams that are using the same stadiums.

2023 MLS Teams

The 2023 MLS season will be competed by 29 clubs following the addition of St. Louis City SC as an expansion team in the Western Conference, with Nashville SC moving back to the Eastern Conference.

¶Atlanta United
¶Austin FC
¶Charlotte FC
¶Chicago Fire FC
¶FC Cincinnati
¶Colorado Rapids
¶Columbus Crew
¶FC Dallas
¶D.C. United
¶Houston Dynamo FC
¶LA Galaxy
¶Los Angeles Football Club
¶Inter Miami CF
¶Minnesota United
¶CF Montréal
¶Nashville SC
¶New England Revolution
¶New York Red Bulls
¶New York City Football Club
¶Orlando City
¶Philadelphia Union
¶Portland Timbers
¶Real Salt Lake
¶San Jose Earthquakes
¶Seattle Sounders FC
¶Sporting Kansas City
¶St. Louis CITY SC
¶Toronto FC
¶Vancouver Whitecaps FC.


Each of the league’s 29 teams will play 34 matches — 17 at home and 17 away games; the frequency of opponents is different for each conference due to the unequal number of teams.

The 15 Eastern Conference teams will play two matches against every other team in the same conference and one match each against six Western Conference teams.

The 14 Western Conference teams will face each other twice as well as an additional one or two matches against an intra-conference team; they will have one match each against six or seven Eastern Conference teams.

The regular season is scheduled to begin on February 25 and culminate in Decision Day on October 21, where all teams will play each other in simultaneous intra-conference matches.

The season will be paused for the 2023 Leagues Cup that will take place from the 15th of July to the 20th of August.

2023 MLS Playoff format

Ahead of the 2023 season, the league announced a new postseason format and the schedule for this year’s Playoffs.

The expanded MLS format will kick off with two Wild Card matches featuring the 8th and 9th-place teams in each conference, with the winners of those matches entering Round One of the playoffs, which will now be a best-of-three series.

Every game in the Wild Card and Round One will have a winner, with no ties and no aggregate score kept.

In Round One, Match 1 will be hosted by the higher seed, Match 2 by the lower and, if necessary; the series will return to the higher seed’s stadium for Match 3.

For the first time since its founding, MLS qualification berths for the 2024 CONCACAF Champions League will not be exclusively allocated to American clubs, allowing expatriated Canadian clubs an opportunity to qualify for the tournament without necessarily winning the Canadian Championship.

Los Angeles FC are currently the defending champions of both the MLS Cup and the Supporters’ Shield; while Philadelphia Union are the Eastern Conference champions.

LA Galaxy are the most successful club in Major League Soccer history with 5 MLS Cups and 4 Supporters’ Shield titles.

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