So when Major League Soccer announced their new playoff format at the end of February this year, I knew it was still broke. Some people out there like the idea of expanding to 10 teams and giving each conference 3 guaranteed spots, but I don't know many of them. I wrote back then that I favored the following:
- The top 8 teams make it into the playoffs.
- The parings will be 1vs8, 2vs7, 3v6, and 4v5
- Each series will be home and away, ties broken by total goals, then away goals, then extra time, and finally PK shootout.
- The higher ranked team will have the option of hosting first or second leg, including MLS Cup.
- and I stick by that but instead let's take a look at what we have with just 4 weeks left in the MLS season. The top 5 teams in MLS are in the Western Conference, two of them will have to play their way into the playoffs while teams with a worse record are awarded a spot because of their geographic location.
- We also would end up with RSL and Seattle, the #2 and #3 best teams in the league having to play in the first round of the playoffs while teams #7 and #8 in the league would face off in the Eastern Conference. Teams #4 and #5 would have to play their way into the playoffs by taking part in the "wildcard" system. Yup this new way of doing this is so much better.
- So after the jump a look at what my playoff system would look like this year:
So if the season ended today we would have the following set up for my playoffs:
#1 Los Angeles Galaxy vs #8 Sporting Kansas City
#3 Real Salt Lake vs #6 Houston Dynamo
other side of braket
#2 Seattle Sounders vs. # 7 Columbus Crew
#4 FC Dallas vs #5 Colorado Rapids
This would leave Philadelphia currently #9 and New York currently #10 out of the playoffs. Notice how 3 of the 4 series pit East vs. West and while MLS Cup could end up with two teams from the same conference facing off, at least you aren't punishing or rewarding teams because they play in a stronger or weaker conference.
The current playoffs would have the following:
New York Red Bulls at FC Dallas
Philadelphia Union at Colorado Rapids
The winner of those matches would move on to face the conference winners, the lower seed would face the overall #1 seed Los Angeles Galaxy and the higher would face the overall #2 seed Houston Dynamo. That is painful to type as the Houston Dynamo would trail both Colorado and FC Dallas in a system not based on geography.
The other matches would feature RSL and Seattle in the West with the winner facing the winner of LA and the lower "wildcard" team and Sporting KC and Columbus in the East, with the winner facing the winner of the Houston Dynamo vs. higher 'wildcard" team.
You would then have your conference winners face off at MLS Cup, a match that could see the #1 team LA face off against at best the #6 best team in the league. That is a MLS Cup that I want to see.
Now this might get Don Garber a matchup between teams from the East and the West but it clearly will not give him the best two teams or anything close to it. Now some things could change over the next couple weeks, but it is still very likely that a team from the west with a record better than any of the guaranteed spots of the East will have to play their way into the playoffs. That is wrong, and on a day when I proposed a leap of adding instant replay to Major League Soccer, I am also proposing that we make the playoffs fair and simple.
Now I get it, I am complaining again. Yes I am, and until we start to get things right I will continue to point out the things that clearly are not working.
OFF MY SOAPBOX