MLS predictions: Playoff projections, standings and more from Football Manager 2020

Major League Soccer's 25th season begins Saturday, and it's a long road toward MLS Cup 2020 in November. There are plenty of new stars, two new franchises and higher expectations than ever before for a league that continues to experience tremendous growth. Instead of waiting out almost nine months to see how things finish, let's get an idea at how the season might play out with a simulation.

CBS Sports worked alongside the team at SEGA's soccer management simulation video game Football Manager 2020 to predict the upcoming MLS season. Here are the final standings, playoff results, MLS Cup champion and more. 

Standings

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Atlanta United finished 20-7-7 and won the Supporters' Shield Courtesy of Football Manager 2020

In the Eastern Conference, Atlanta United edged out surprising FC Cincinnati to win the Supporters' Shield while playoff teams from a year ago like Philadelphia, D.C. United and Toronto FC all missed out on the postseason. 

In the Western Conference, the LA Galaxy lost 12 matches but still managed to win the conference while the Tab Ramos-led Houston Dynamo made the playoffs. The projection also has last year's MLS champions, the Seattle Sounders, finishing in last place.

In total, there are six teams that made the playoffs in 2019 that miss out this season.

Playoff results

Eastern Conference
First round
New York Red Bulls 2, New England Revolution 0
Montreal Impact 1, Inter Miami 0
NYCFC 2, FC Cincinnati 2 (NYCFC advances on penalties) 

Semifinals
Atlanta United 2, New York Red Bulls 1
NYCFC 2, Montreal Impact 0

Final
Atlanta United 1, NYCFC 0

Western Conference
First round
Vancouver Whitecaps 2, Sporting Kansas City 1
Houston 1, LAFC 1 (Houston advances on penalties)
FC Dallas 3, Real Salt Lake 1

Semifinals
LA Galaxy 1, Vancouver Whitecaps 0
FC Dallas 1, Houston 0

Final
LA Galaxy 3, FC Dallas 2

MLS Cup

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Franco Escobar scored the winner in extra time for Atlanta United.  Courtesy of Football Manager 2020

The Los Angeles Galaxy go to Atlanta United for MLS Cup and take the lead twice in the first half with Cristian Pavon and Javier "Chicharito" Hernandez scoring, but Josef Martinez's second goal of the game in the 55th minute ends up forcing extra time which sees Franco Escobar bag the winner in the 98th minute as Atlanta adds its second star.

Other notes

  • Expansion franchise Inter Miami surprises in year one by making the playoffs under experienced manager Diego Alonso. 
  • Nashville SC didn't have the greatest opening season by finishing in 10th place in the Western Conference.
  • FC Cincinnati, not expected to make the playoffs, finished in second place in the Eastern Conference while MLS Cup runner-up Toronto FC finished in 10th place in the Eastern Conference. 
  • Seattle and a talented Portland squad are both expected to contend for the cup, but they both miss out on the playoffs in this projection.
  • Pity Martinez of Atlanta United wins MVP with 17 goals, which is also enough for him to get Golden Boot. 
  • The Galaxy's new star, Hernandez, scored 14 times in his first season in MLS.

Major League Soccer's 25th season begins Saturday when D.C. United hosts the Colorado Rapids.

CBS Sports Writer

Roger Gonzalez is an award-winning writer based in Virginia that has covered pro soccer from Europe's top clubs to Argentina's first division. Roger started out his pro soccer writing career with Goal.com... Full Bio

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