Revamping the MLS Playoff Format

Revamping the MLS Playoff Format

  • Posted by Drew Epperley
  • On October 1, 2010
  • 2010 MLS Cup Playoffs

RSL and FC Dallas could be a first round match up this season. (Getty Images)

It seems like this is a yearly article around these parts. In some way or form the MLS Playoff structure continues to baffle and upset me. If it wasn’t the 10 team league allowing eight teams in the playoffs enough to get most fans going on message boards now days it seems we have a new problem. Unbalanced structure in the playoffs.

With the eastern conference set to only have two teams in the playoffs this season we’ll see two western conference teams head east to be in the eastern bracket of the playoffs. Can we please do away with this format? The last two years we’ve had either a western team win the east or an eastern team win the west. It just doesn’t make any sense!

Those single table lovers out there will be all over this sort of thing but its time for the league (starting next year of course) to adopt a new format. Do away with this east v west nonsense and move to a eight seeded bracket. They’re already doing that as it stands right now by letting in the top two from each conference and then the best four after that. Typically we won’t see a team that deserves to be in the playoffs based on points not make it in that situation.

But its time to take it a step further. This year the clubs out west like LA and RSL won’t be rewarded in the least bit for their efforts this season. Then again neither will Columbus or New York. As it stands today the playoffs would look like this:

LA vs. Colorado
RSL vs. Dallas
Columbus vs. San Jose
New York vs Seattle

You can’t tell me that RSL and LA deserve to face two teams that could very well end the season 3rd and 5th in points. A RSL-Dallas series should easily be a conference final not and opening round matchup.

Top teams should face the lowest ranked teams period. I say this for New York and Columbus too who will have to travel cross country in the playoffs with the way things are looking now. Honestly that’s no advantage for anyone involved.

I think the playoffs should be in the 1 vs 8 format. If we had that the playoffs would look drastically different and a bit more even to present the league with the best possible matchup in the MLS Cup.

LA vs San Jose
RSL vs. Seattle
Dallas vs. Colorado
Columbus vs. New York

Now I know the two eastern conference teams playing one another isn’t too fair but based on points in the standings its more even really. ¬†You can keep your conference champions if you like but let’s at least get the best matchups as possible here each time out to get an even better MLS Cup. At the end of the year that’s all we want for the most part anyways is the best MLS Cup the league has to offer.

  • reddevilyank

    Amen brother.

  • WantMLSPhilly

    Next year, with the added games, I would rather see only seven teams make the playoffs and the Supporter Shield winner would get a bye week. One and done and each round would be receded, so that your rewarded for the effort of the season with a home game. This would give an advantage to the SS winner as they would have all home games and the teams that make it in an eighteen team league would have a winning record. Now when you win the SS, it would truly be special and help you become the cup champion.