- Posted by Drew Epperley
- On October 3, 2007
- 8 Comments
Sometimes repeating the obvious helps. Even though I feel this has been the best season to date for the MLS since it’s first season, I still fear for the playoffs to be a complete mess-up due to the fact that the league still hasn’t managed to get a proper system in place for the playoffs.
Sure the league can argue that more games this season have added interest and meaning due to the change in format that was introduced at the beginning of the season. Its cute, interesting but it still remains mostly the same. It just helps a conference more than the other if one or more teams are doing better than in the other conference. Its a step up from the previous formats, but not a full leap into what needs to be done.
But the fact still remains, in a league that currently has 13 clubs (soon to be 14 and then 16), eight of them get into the playoffs. That’s nearly two-thirds of the league reaching a post-season. Look at other leagues in the US, some have half of their teams reaching the playoffs (NBA, NHL), and the other two has around a forth with great success (NFL, MLB).
I’ve said it before, and I will say it again here: less is more. I feel until the MLS lowers the number of clubs reaching the playoffs or switches to a single table format for good that they will continue to be looked like fools to people in the US and other leagues around the world.
We have playoffs to determine the best team right? Over the last three years the MLS has seen three of its worst champions. Look no further than to 2005’s champion the LA Galaxy who limped into the playoffs as the eighth and final team (or the forth seed in the west). LA was able to knock off one of the best clubs in league history (San Jose) and were able to play another club that upset a higher seed (Colorado over Dallas).
As much as I keep trying to care over who gets in the final playoff spots I can’t help but to worry that one of them (meaning whoever gets in those last two spots) will get on some sort of hot streak in the playoffs and upset a better club and win the league title. Quite frankly I would be a bit embarrassed for the MLS if a club reaches the playoffs with a losing record and wins the MLS Cup. It sadly could happen (all seeds 5-8 could end up with sub-.500 records).
The league will only hope for DC or a Houston to win this season instead of a New York, Chicago, or LA. Of course the league will point out that the new format works if a DC or Houston wins this season thus meaning no needed change. But if they don’t win it will only prove what is already been shown, the MLS playoff format gives way to a mediocre champion.
I said before the season this year that the league needs to switch to a playoff format with only four clubs. Thus meaning that the regular season actually has real meaning. I know they would argue that lowering the number of playoff contending teams would hurt the revenue and other things but it would at least give the best clubs the championships year after year. Hell, I’d even settle for six clubs reaching.
However, with the league growing, the number that reaches the playoffs will not change, but let’s hope it doesn’t increase. I am just wanting the league to produce their best champion each year like most leagues and not their average.