The 2013 MLS Cup Playoffs was the eighteenth post-season tournament culminating the Major League Soccer regular season. The tournament began in late October and culminated on December 7, 2013 with MLS Cup 2013, the eighteenth league championship for MLS. This was the third year that the playoffs included ten teams, and the second playoff series since 2006 in which teams could not cross conference brackets. The top five teams in both the Eastern and Western conferences of the league earned berths, with the top three clubs in each conference earning direct byes to the conference semifinals. The fourth and fifth-place finishers of both conferences competed in a single-elimination play-in match.
|Defending champions||Los Angeles Galaxy|
|Champions||Sporting Kansas City (2nd title)|
|Runners-up||Real Salt Lake|
|Goals scored||42 (2.8 per match)|
|Top goal scorer(s)|| Aurélien Collin|
The play-in winner played their respective conference regular season champion in the conference semifinals, which was a two-leg aggregate series, without the away goals rule enforced. For the second year in a row, each Conference Championship will also be a two-leg aggregate series, as opposed to the traditional single elimination match. The Conference winners meet in the MLS Cup, a single match hosted by the finalist with the better regular season record.
In a break from previous years, only Sporting Kansas City, the MLS Cup winner, directly entered the 2014–15 CONCACAF Champions League, earning a Pot A seed. They were joined by the New York Red Bulls, the Supporters' Shield winner; the Portland Timbers, the conference winner from the conference opposite the Supporters' Shield winner; and D.C. United, the 2013 U.S. Open Cup champion. However, none of these berths were available to the league's three Canadian teams, which instead participated in the Canadian Championship for that country's single berth in the CONCACAF Champions League. The change from the MLS Cup runner-up gaining entry to the CONCACAF Champions League to the opposite conference winner gaining entry was new for 2013. The change was announced after the MLS Cup had been played, with the announcement stating that the teams knew in advance.
For 2013, the league kept the format the same as the 2012 edition. In 2012, the league's previous system of "wild card" qualification—which had the potential for "crossover" series in which one team could play in the other conference's bracket—was scrapped. Instead, the current system has the top five teams in each conference qualify for the playoffs and the two conference brackets are entirely separate. The First Round of each conference is a one-off match between the 4th and 5th place teams, similar to the previous wild card system, with the 4th-place team hosting. The First Round winner advances to play the conference's top seed in the Conference Semifinals.
Conference Semifinals and Conference Championship series are conducted in a home-and-away aggregate-goal format. The lower-seeded team in the Conference Semifinal hosts the first game, and the higher seed hosts the second. If the teams are tied after two games, a 30-minute extra time period (divided into two 15-minute periods) will be played followed by penalty kicks, if necessary. The away goals rule or golden goal is not used.
In the case of ties in the First Round and MLS Cup, extra time and penalty kicks are used in the same manner as above.
|1||New York Red Bulls (SS, E1)||34||17||9||8||58||41||+17||59||2013 MLS Cup Conference Semifinals|
|2||Sporting Kansas City||34||17||10||7||47||30||+17||58|
|3||New England Revolution||34||14||11||9||49||38||+11||51|
|4||Houston Dynamo||34||14||11||9||41||41||0||51||2013 MLS Cup Knockout Round|
|1||Portland Timbers (W1)||34||14||5||15||54||33||+21||57||2013 MLS Cup Conference Semifinals|
|2||Real Salt Lake||34||16||10||8||57||41||+16||56|
|4||Seattle Sounders FC||34||15||12||7||42||42||0||52||2013 MLS Cup Knockout Round|
|6||San Jose Earthquakes||34||14||11||9||35||42||−7||51|
|7||Vancouver Whitecaps FC||34||13||12||9||53||45||+8||48|
(W1) = Western Conference champion
- Most wins
- Goals for
- Goal differential
- Fewest disciplinary points in the official points table (foul: 1 pt, first yellow: 3 pts, second yellow: 5 pts, straight red: 6 pts, disciplinary commission suspension: 6 pts, etc.)
- Road goals
- Road goal differential
- Home goals
- Home goal differential
- Coin toss (two teams) or drawing of lots (three or more teams)
|Conference Semifinals||Conference Finals||MLS Cup 2013|
|E2||Kansas City (a.e.t.)||1||3||4|
|E2||Kansas City (p)||1 (7)|
|W2||Salt Lake||1 (6)|
|W2||Salt Lake (a.e.t.)||0||2||2|
|Houston Dynamo||3–0||Montreal Impact|
|Bruin 16', 72'
García 27' (pen.)
|Seattle Sounders FC||2–0||Colorado Rapids|
|New England Revolution||2–1||Sporting Kansas City|
|Sporting Kansas City||3–1 (a.e.t.)||New England Revolution|
Sporting Kansas City won 4–3 on aggregate
|Houston Dynamo||2–2||New York Red Bulls|
|New York Red Bulls||1–2 (a.e.t.)||Houston Dynamo|
|Wright-Phillips 23'||Report||Davis 36'
Houston Dynamo won 4–3 on aggregate
|Seattle Sounders FC||1–2||Portland Timbers|
|Alonso 90'||Report||Johnson 15'
|Portland Timbers||3–2||Seattle Sounders FC|
|Johnson 29' (pen.)
Portland Timbers won 5–3 on aggregate
|Los Angeles Galaxy||1–0||Real Salt Lake|
|Real Salt Lake||2–0 (a.e.t.)||Los Angeles Galaxy|
Real Salt Lake won 2–1 on aggregate
|Houston Dynamo||0–0||Sporting Kansas City|
|Sporting Kansas City||2–1||Houston Dynamo|
Sporting Kansas City won 2–1 on aggregate
|Real Salt Lake||4–2||Portland Timbers|
|Portland Timbers||0–1||Real Salt Lake|
Real Salt Lake won 5–2 on aggregate
|Sporting Kansas City||1 – 1 (a.e.t.)||Real Salt Lake|
|Collin 76'||Report||Saborío 52'|
- "Competition Rules and Regulations". MLSsoccer.com. Archived from the original on September 20, 2012. Retrieved October 17, 2012.
- "Big changes for MLS Cup Playoffs format in 2012". MLSsoccer.com. November 20, 2011. Retrieved November 25, 2012.
- "Portland Timbers headed to 2014-15 CONCACAF Champions League after USSF rule change approved". MLSsoccer.com. Retrieved March 10, 2014.
- "2012 MLS Cup Playoffs". MLSsoccer.com. Archived from the original on October 31, 2012. Retrieved October 30, 2012.
- "New tiebreakers designed to encourage attacking play". MLS Communications. MLSSoccer.com. Retrieved October 1, 2012.