Market Report: 2018 MLS Cup Playoff Tickets

Conference Championships
 
The MLS playoffs are down to four teams and the Eastern Conference final series features the league's biggest powerhouses, Atlanta United vs. the New York Red Bulls. The Western Conference finals won't have the same sort of scoring power, but Kansas City will be trying for its fourth shot at an MLS title (it's won two) if it can get past the Portland Timbers. 
 
MLS conference finals are two-game home-and-home series, with the winner  decided on aggregate. The victors move on to the single-game MLS Cup, which is scheduled for December 8, and the winner of the East will have home-field advantage. 
 
According to secondary ticket marketplace TicketIQ.com, all four conference final venues have average asking prices of $135 or more. The priciest venue will be Kansas City's Children's Mercy Park, which has a current average asking price of $184. Mercedes-Benz Stadium, home the United, has the lowest average asking price, at $135. Those prices will seem like steals for fans whose teams reach the MLS Cup -- all available average prices are above $380, with tickets to Red Bull Arena trending at a whopping $2,464.The arena seats 25,000.
 
Below is a look at how the conference final shape up:
 
mls-cup-conference-champoionship-prices
 
EASTERN CONFERENCE - Atlanta United vs. New York Red Bulls
 
Through the regular season, the Red Bulls (71) and United (69) were ranked No. 1 and 2 in points, and this series marks only the fifth time in 23 MLS seasons that the top teams in the league have met in a conference championship. Atlanta holds the edge in overall number of goals scored, with a league-leading 70 to New York's 62, which ranked No. 5. In only its second season, Atlanta is making its first appearance in the conference championship, while New York is making its fifth. Given the kind of output these two teams have, this game promises to be a shootout in the most traditional meaning of the phrase. Atlanta advanced by eliminating NYCFC while New York knocked Columbus out of the playoffs. The $179 Red Bulls average asking price on the secondary market is the second-highest of the four remaining teams, according to secondary marketplace ticket vendor TicketIQ.com. 
 
WESTERN CONFERENCE - Portland Timbers vs. Sporting Kansas City
This matchup will be a repeat of the "Double Post" game in the 2015 playoffs, so called because one player managed to hit both goalposts on his penalty shootout attempt. Regulation ended in a 2-2 tie, and the Timbers advanced on PKs. Portland and Kansas City played twice during the regular season, with Kansas City winning the series, 1-0-1. Kansas City enters the game with the fourth-most prolific offense in the regular season, when it scored 65 goals. The Timbers scored only 54. Kansas City advanced by defeating Real Salt Lake in the conference semifinals while the Timbers ousted regional rival Seattle. This game marks Kansas City's eighth conference championship series and Portland's fourth. Kansas City's  $184 average asking price on the secondary market is the highest of the four remaining teams, according to data from TicketIQ.com. 

 

Conference Semifinals

One team needed a penalty shootout to advance and one had a key player ejected, so the MLS playoffs are already filled with drama. The Columbus Crew beat D.C. United on penalty kicks and Portland’s Larrys Mabiala will be watching from the bench when the Conference Semifinal series kick off Sunday.

Demand for tickets is highest in Portland, where the Seattle Sounders and Timbers will renew their postseason rivalry. Collectively, these teams have won two of the last three MLS Cups – Portland in 2015 and Seattle in 2016 – and the Sounders were runners-up to Toronto last season. The $205 average asking price for the game in Portland is the highest among all eight remaining playoff teams, according to data collected by TicketIQ.com. The average asking price in Seattle is $117, ranked No. 4.

Only two other teams have averages above $100 – fan demand has pushed the average asking price in Atlanta to $124 and to $119 in Kansas City. The cheapest ticket is currently $53 for NYCFC, a 2015 expansion team that plays in Yankee Stadium.

The Conference Semifinals are two-game, home-and-away sets decided by aggregate. The four games will kick off Sunday. Here’s a look at how the series shape up:

MLS Cup Conference Semis

EASTERN CONFERNCE

New York Red Bulls vs. Columbus Crew

Columbus might be the only team in soccer to embrace the penalty kick shootout. The Crew advanced out of the Knockout Round into the Eastern Conference Semifinals on a shootout victory against D.C. United, marking the second straight season Columbus has advanced on a shootout victory. The Crew will host the first game of this Eastern Conference home-and-away semifinal series. Tickets are trending at $65 on the secondary market, making them the second cheapest of the conference semifinals. Though the Red Bulls enter the game as the favorite, Columbus beat New York, 3-2, in New York during the regular season and the teams drew when they met at Columbus.

Atlanta United vs. New York City FC

New York FC moved into the Eastern Conference Semifinals with a 3-1 Knockout Round victory against Philadelphia. NYCFC will host the first game of the home-and-away series. Atlanta and NYCFC played twice during the regular season with no clear winner – the teams drew in both meetings. Atlanta played the last two games of the season without Miguel Almiron (hamstring), but he returned to training Tuesday and is expected to play Sunday. The $53 NYCFC secondary market average asking price is the cheapest among the eight playoff teams.

WESTERN CONFERENCE

Sporting Kansas City vs. Real Salt Lake

  • When: November 4, 10 p.m. and November 11, TBA
  • Kansas City primary get-in: $59
  • Kansas City secondary get-in: $77
  • Salt Lake primary get-in: $28
  • Salt Lake secondary get-in: $67

The last time these teams met was in the 2013 MLS, Cup, which Sporting KC won on penalty kicks. At the time, Kansas City played in the Eastern Conference. Real Salt Lake advanced to the Western Conference Semifinals following a 3-2 Knockout Round victory against LAFC. Salt Lake will host the first game of the home-and-away series, and the $84 average asking price for tickets on the secondary market is ranked No. 6 among the eight playoff teams. Kansas City, which ended the season with three consecutive wins and won the Western Conference, is the favored in this series.

Seattle Sounders vs. Portland Timbers

  • When: November 4 5:30 p.m. and November 8, 10:30 p.m.
  • Seattle primary get-in: $30
  • Seattle secondary get-in: $52
  • Portland primary get-in: $42
  • Portland secondary get-in: $80

The last time these teams met in the postseason was 2013, when the Timbers won, 5-3, on aggregate in the Western Conference Semifinals. And this series is only possible because Portland ousted Dallas, 2-1, in the Knockout Round earlier this week. The Timbers will host the first game and won two of three during the regular season. But Portland will be without Larrys Mabiala, who was red-carded late in the Dallas game. Seattle enters the game having won 14 of its last 16. The $205 secondary market average asking price is the highest of the Conference Semifinals.

 

Knockout Round

With last season’s champion sitting at home in Toronto, the MLS Cup kicks off on Halloween Night with games in New York City and Texas. The Knockout Round features New York-Philadelphia and Dallas-Portland matchups on the first night followed by D.C. vs. Columbus and LAFC vs. Salt Lake on November 1. Twelve teams qualified for the tournament, which culminates December 8.

Based on secondary-market prices, demand for Knockout Round tickets is highest in Los Angeles, where expansion LAFC will host Real Salt Lake. According to TicketIQ.com, the average asking price is currently $86. The winner of each Knockout Round game will go on to the conference semifinals, which are home-and-away series, the winner determined on aggregate.

In the Eastern Conference, the regular-season champion New York Red Bulls will host the lowest remaining seed in the conference semifinals and Atlanta will host the highest remaining seed. In the Western Conference, regular-season champion Sporting KC will host the lowest remaining seed and 2018 MLS Cup runners-up Seattle will host the highest remaining seed. The conference semifinals will be held November 4 and 11.

Demand for postseason tickets is already high in MLS hotbeds, with a current $171 average asking price for the conference semifinals in Seattle. The next highest average asking price is $146 in Atlanta.

Below is a look at the Knockout Round matchups:

mls-cup-knockout-round-prices

New York City FC vs. Philadelphia Union

  • When: October 31, 7 p.m.
  • Where: Yankee Stadium, NY
  • Secondary Market: Average asking price: $30
  • Secondary Market: Get-in price: $18
  • Primary Market Availability: Yes

The $30 average asking price is the cheapest among the four Knockout Round games, likely owing in part to the size of Yankee Stadium. While the average soccer stadium seats around 20,000 people, Yankee Stadium has a capacity of 49,653 for soccer. These teams last played on MLS Decision Day, with NYCFC as the victor. NYCFC (16-10-8) enters the game as the No. 3 seed in the Eastern Conference and has won five of the last seven games these teams have played. NYCFC and the Union  (15-14-5) have never met in the playoffs before. Prior to Decision Day, NYCFC was 1-8 in its last 10 games.

FC Dallas vs. Portland Timbers

The $74 average asking price is the third most expensive across all Knockout Round games. Dallas and Portland are meeting for the second time in the postseason. The Timbers beat FC Dallas on aggregate in the Western Conference Finals in 2015. FC Dallas (16-9-9) enters the game on a three-game losing streak, capped by an MLS Decision Day upset loss to Colorado, 2-1. FC Dallas, which just weeks ago was the Western Conference leader, is the No. 4 seed. The Timbers (15-10-9) also lost on MLS Decision Day, and are the No. 5 seed in the Western Conference.  Dallas, which is making its 14th playoff appearance, is 3-0-2 at home in the postseason all-time.

D.C. United vs. Columbus Crew

The $82 average asking price is the second highest for the Knockout Round, just $4 cheaper than tickets at Los Angeles, but the $65 get-in price is the highest among all four matches. Unbeaten in their last 10 games, D.C. United (14-11-9) enters the postseason as the No. 4 seed in the Eastern Conference while the Crew (14-11-9) clinched a playoff berth in the final game of the season. The teams split their regular-season meetings in 2018. D.C. and Columbus are playing for the fourth time in the postseason, and D.C. has won the last three, including the last time in 1999. D.C. has made 16 postseason appearances and Columbus has made 15.

Los Angeles FC vs. Real Salt Lake

This game is commanding the highest average asking price of the four knockout round games. The expansion LAFC (16-9-9) nearly won the Western Conference, but an MLS Decision Day loss to Sporting KC kept it from getting a Knockout Round bye. LAFC is the No. 3 seed in the Western Conference and Real Salt Lake is the No. 6 seed. LAFC won both regular-season meetings, including a 5-1 victory at Real Salt Lake (14-13-7).

Related Articles