MLS released the schedule for the 2013 playoffs and it contains no surprises. That is good news, as the league will take off for the FIFA international dates, as expected, and allow all of the teams to play with a full squad even if they do have players picked for international matches.
There are two breaks built into the playoffs schedule, with the first coming between the first and second legs of the conference semifinals so as to avoid international conflicts and the second between the second leg of the conference finals and MLS Cup. The break before the final will allow the host, which will be the higher seeded team and not determined until the conference finals end, adequate time to prepare, while the league and media also need the time to arrange travel, coverage and the festivities around the event.
Avoiding the wild card games will be as beneficial this year as it was last year, because teams will have to play three matches in a week just to qualify for the conference finals, and then the first leg of that round would follow days later. The fixture congestion is difficult on wild card teams, which is intended by the league to reward the teams who performed better in the regular season, but it is not insurmountable, as the LA Galaxy proved last year in winning MLS Cup from a wild card place.
Wild card games: Oct. 30-31 (Wed.-Thurs.)
Conference semifinals, Leg 1: Nov. 2-3 (Sat.-Sun.)
Conference semifinals, Leg 2: Nov. 6-7 (Wed.-Thurs.)
Conference finals, Leg 1: Nov. 9-10 (Sat.-Sun.)
Conference finals, Leg 2: Nov. 23-24 (Sat.-Sun.)
MLS Cup: Dec. 7 (Sat.)